Can your dog prevent burglaries?
Your pup can be a beloved pet, great with kids, gentle with Grandma, and restrained when it comes to shoes and furniture chews. But can it also serve as an effective home security measure?
It depends, experts say. “Certain breeds and sizes of dogs are better suited to provide security than others,” says Julie Burgess, Certified Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). “For example, smaller breeds like Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers, and Miniature Schnauzers will most likely be unable to provide serious protection.”
However, even small dogs can make enough noise to scare off intruders. “Research shows that ‘occupancy cues’ like dogs are major deterrents in attempted home burglaries,” says K. Campbell, a Certified Protection Professional. “In fact, research shows that dogs of all sizes are effective. Large dogs pose a physical threat and small dogs tend to be loud.”
But what does the evidence really show? We’ll take a look.
Can a barking dog deter criminals?
If your dog’s only requirement is that he bark to alert you when a stranger is approaching the house, most dogs will do, as they will usually make noise when someone rings the doorbell or will walk outside your home.
“I’ve heard several stories from burglars who say that all things being equal, they’ll always opt for a dog-free home,” says Louis Wood, owner of a private security company in San Antonio.
A barking dog, Wood says, no matter how small, can be enough to prompt the burglar to decide to go do their business elsewhere, in a home without potential traps. “A good mindset for a landlord is how to make my house as unattractive as possible to steal,” he says.
But the data is not so decisive. In a study published in the journal Society and Animalsresearchers from the University of Louisville found that “households with licensed dogs … had property crime rates 1.71 percentage points lower than households without a licensed dog” – a significant difference, but not dramatic.
The idea of dogs barking as a deterrent is popular, however, and has even led Amazon to offer recordings ofas a security measure.
But can your dog protect you?
Your pet may view you and your family as its “pack” and may intervene if you are attacked. But that doesn’t mean he will make an effective security animal.
Small breeds like Chihuahuas, Schnauzers, and Miniature Pinschers aren’t big enough to do damage to a thief, although they may bark to alert you. Carefree breeds like Labs and Golden Retrievers usually don’t help much either.
Dog breeds more suited to security work include larger breeds that have a reputation for being aggressive. But there’s an inherent downside to this solution, says Mark Friedlander, director of corporate communications at Insurance Information Institute. Dogs bred or trained for aggression can be dangerous.
Beyond the risk of visitors or family members being seriously injured, insurance claims related to dog bites ($71 on Amazon) and other dog-related injuries cost owners $854 million, Friedlander says. “Some insurance companies won’t insure owners who own certain dog breeds classified as dangerous. Others decide on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether a dog of any breed has been found to be vicious.”
However, several states, including Illinois, Nevada, and New York, have passed legislation prohibiting insurers from restricting coverage based on dog breed. New York state law goes even further, says Friedlander. “It also prohibits insurers from charging an additional premium because a dog is considered aggressive.”
Best Types of Guard Dogs
Brandi Hunter Munden, Vice President of Public Relations and Communications at American Kennel Club, the suggested breeds best suited for security work. “Some breeds have a natural instinct to protect their family as well as their homes,” she says. “These breeds tend to be loyal to their owners, brave in the face of danger, intelligent and alert.”
Munden’s suggestions included the following:
- Boxer: This working breed is a guide dog by instinct. They are lively and alert but also need human companionship. They have a patient and protective nature and are both an effective watchdog, hard to scare, and reliable at guarding homes.
- bullmastiff: This working breed has a history of being a watchdog. They learn quickly and are fiercely protective. They are an alert and reliable breed and have the courage and confidence of a guardian combined without the aggression of some other breeds.
- cane corso: This working breed can be extremely intimidating. Their appearance is imposing, but they are intelligent and intensely loyal to their owners.
- doberman pinscher: Dobermans are the definition of a “purebred dog”. They are not easily scared and stand out as one of the best protection breeds – often used as military or police dogs. They are courageous and exceptionally loyal.
- German shepherd: The German Shepherd was bred to be a versatile and willful worker. They are considered one of the most focused and trainable breeds. This herding breed has an instinctively protective nature and makes excellent watchdogs. Plus, they tend to be pleasant, well-behaved housemates.
- Rottweiler: This working breed has been used as a police dog and they are often sociable. They have strong protective and territorial instincts which make them excellent watchdogs. They are calm and extremely loyal.
Training is needed
Whichever breed you choose, Munden warns, if you want to use your dog as a security measure in your home, it will take careful training.
“It’s best to hire a professional trainer to teach your dog boundaries and limits,” she says. “It will allow them to do their job of protecting the home, as well as being a lovable companion.”
“Look for dog trainers who specifically offer safety training,” says dog trainer Burgess. Training your dog properly will take time, effort and skill – and it’s best left to someone who has experience with guard dogs.
The last word
All our canine experts have confirmed that it is not a good idea to use a dog like your only security method. Of course, they can alert you and, if properly trained, protect you. But they can’t call 911, and they can’t be left unattended in a house while you’re on vacation for two weeks.
A sturdyis more efficient in many ways than a dog. Install some and to keep your family safe, including your dog, using the best and most effective technology to protect your home and loved ones.