Are Guard Dogs Really Effective?


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GUARD DOGS – A BIT OF A MIXED BAG

Alright, most of you that are reading this probably already love dogs, are biased, and will defend their effectiveness to your grave.  So, we’re going to, ahem, throw you a bone if you will. Dogs CAN be effective deterrents to criminals.  On the other hand, we’ll also talk about why they aren’t foolproof.

FIRST, LET’S DISPENSE WITH SOME MISCONCEPTIONS

Let’s go through the arguments you may think of to support the effectiveness of a dog.

1. My dog barks at everything, so he’s as good as an alarm.

An alarm that goes off all the time (false alarms) is useless, because you will turn it off so that it doesn’t drive you crazy.  A dog that barks all the time is just as useless. It’s could actually be worse than an alarm system, because you can’t turn it off.  And, it’s just as ineffective because you and your neighbors won’t pay any attention to it because it always barks.

  1. My dog is very protective of us/our home, so she’ll defend our house.

If a person your dog doesn’t know approaches you on your lawn, how does your dog react?  If she doesn’t bark and otherwise show some discomfort until getting a signal from you that it’s OK, then you have to wonder if she would be just as docile meeting a stranger in the home.  

Even if there is a naturally protective nature that you encourage and do not train that behavior out of your dog by getting on to her when she acts that way, are you confident that she will not quietly and happily chew on a steak rather than attacking a stranger in your house? This will most likely require training your dog, and can cost quite a lot.  And, even trained guard dogs fail this distraction, the most obvious of attacks.

NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS

Dogs are definitely a deterrent.

  1. Just like some of your neighbors may not be comfortable with dogs or you may not trust dogs that you don’t know.  There will be some criminals that either don’t have or don’t like dogs or have an innate mistrust of dogs.  I haven’t been able to find any stats on what percentage of the population that is, but at least you take a portion of the criminals out of the equation.
  2. To get around an aggressive guard dog, a certain level of preparation is required.  That can mean tranquilizers slipped in a door or windows in a piece of meat and waiting 10 minutes before the dog is asleep. Or, it could mean some steaks wrapped in butcher paper in a backpack.  Either way, your dog may turn away the thief that doesn’t come adequately prepared.
  3. Good dogs bark at the right times.  And, if you are a criminal breaking into a house, a sudden source of extra noise to draw attention to you is the last thing that you want.  So, add one to the dog column once again.

AND . . . THE BAD NEWS

Some of these, we have already covered.

  1. First, your dog needs to be effective as a guard dog.  Most of the dogs that I meet are very friendly with strangers, so the odds are against you here.
  2. It’s not that hard to shut even a trained dog up. Just bring a large, tough piece of meat with you when you go robbing houses or a tranquilizer in some meat that you pick up from the vet. This has been proven many times in Bugs Bunny cartoons.
  3. Even if your dog barks and acts tough, without training it probably won’t actually attack and interrupt a burglar’s routine.  After all, burglars usually just need a few minutes in your house to grab any cash, jewelry, and small electronics that they can find.  Even if your dog follows them around barking or confronts them at the door, they may be able to keep him calm long enough to steal some valuables.
  4. Some people are just great with pets.  What dog doesn’t become friendly when a person acts like a friend and gives him rawhide treats.
  5. Dogs are expensive.

SO, WHAT’S THE SCORE?

Of course, this is your decision.  But one were to look at it objectively, you can do a lot more with your money by increasing the robustness of your home security with an alarm system and other home upgrades.  So, if one were to get a dog, it’s mainly because it would make a nice pet. Sure, some of you will disagree and may even have great stories of how your dog has helped you.  Feel free to share those with us in the comments below!

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