If you’ve got or are considering getting a German Shepherd, one of the first things they should learn is to attack on command. We will walk you through how to teach your dog this essential skill.
An Attack Dog by Nature
Some dog breeds are more prone to aggression than others, and German Shepherds are one of them. They are, by nature, attack dogs and often used by law enforcement for this reason.
Since they already exhibit this trait, you must learn to control your dog’s tendencies to ensure they only attack when you command. It will keep both you and your dog safe.
Training Your German Shepherd to Attack on Command
Step 1. Bond with Your Dog
Before training your dog to listen to any commands, you must first develop a relationship with them. There needs to be trust and mutual respect and friendship between you and your German Shepherd. Here are a few ways to connect with your dog:
- Spend at least 20 minutes per day playing with your dog
- Take your dogs for frequent walks
- When they exhibit good behavior, reward them with treats
- Don’t lose your temper or get angry at your dog
- Keep their crate near to you and where you spend a lot of time
It’s ideal to start connecting with your dog when it’s young, and it can take several months to strengthen the bond.
Step 2. Preparation
Ensure you prepare for attack training by equipping yourself with the necessary gear. Ideally, you should get a bite sleeve, which will protect you from being bitten during training.
There are many bite sleeves available, but a great one is the Didog Dog Bite Sleeve (link to Amazon). They are durable and reliable, keeping your safe regardless of how powerful the bite is. It’s excellent for most medium-sized dogs and will allow them to grip onto you, practicing their attacks over and over again.
3. Start with the Basics
Start by training your German Shepherd with basic commands such as stop, sit, stand, etc. It’s crucial in this step to make sure they know the “stop” command as it will come in handy later.
4. Teach Them the Command
Once your German Shepherd is comfortable with basic commands, it’s time to try the “attack” command. The best process is to put on your gloves and tap on the face and nose of your dog. This action will cause annoyance, and eventually, they will respond by biting the gloves. When this happens, state the command “attack.”
5. Reward the Action
As with basic training, reward your dog each time they obey the command. Continue to use the phrase “attack” while repeating the above step until they are used to it and associate the sentence with the action.
You can then move on to stepping away from your dog and using the command. Your German Shepherd should come and attack your gloves. Make sure to give them a treat when they do so.
6. Practice with A Doll
Now that your dog is familiar with the command, you will need to get them to attack an object other than your gloves. The best place to start is with a doll. Set the toy a distance away from your dog and use the “attack” command. Point towards the toy so your dog will understand the action you are trying to get them to perform.
It may take some time as your dog will likely be confused and may even attack your arm instead, as was practiced before.
Keep at it until they attack the doll and make sure to give them treats when they act correctly. Try places it in different locations each time.
7. Train Them to Attack a Person
The hardest part of the training is to transition your dog from attacking a doll to attacking a person. The most important part of this step is teaching them the command “stop.” This command will ensure you have control, and the dog will stop attacking when you say so.
You’ll need two people for this step; one person to utter the command and the other to sub in for the doll. It may be daunting to ask a friend to volunteer for this, and you can always acquire assistance from a dog trainer. They will understand how to react if anything goes wrong during the training.
Either way, ensure the other person is wearing protective gear to protect them from the attack. When choosing a protective suit, make sure it is good quality, with durable materials, and that it has excellent reviews.
We would recommend going for one like the Dean and Tyler Full Protection Bite Suit (link to Amazon). Its French Linen composition is proven to protect against all bites and cover each part of the body for enhanced safety.
It includes Velcro straps on the waist and leather hand protectors as well. The suit does tend to limit movement, so your subject likely won’t have much agility while in it. They are an investment, so make sure you’re sure about the purchase and your commitment to the training.
Once your guinea pig is fully protected, you can begin commanding your German Shepherd to “attack” the subject, using the phrase and pointing. Now the key is the implementation of the command “stop.”
As your dog approaches the person, use the phrase “stop” and make sure to say it loud and with conviction. They should already know this command from basic training.
For safety, it’s recommended your subject be near a door which they can close if your dog doesn’t obey. If they do follow instructions, make sure to reward them with a treat.
Repetition is key.
Keep repeating it over and over until the dog responds immediately to your commands. The goal here is to maintain control over your German Shepherd. Any dog can attack, but the important part is for the dog to obey you and stop attacking when you command it to.