Dogs have offered more than just companionship. Dogs assist in hunting be it tracking, capturing or retrieving prey. They have been steady assistance in agriculture by herding livestock. They carry items for nomads and those trekking. But they have also performed an even more important role: serving as guardians. Dogs have protected homes, people and property throughout the ages.
Which Breeds Make the Best Guard Dogs?
Dog breeds have distinct personalities and while there’s always exceptions to the rule, there are certain dog breeds you can readily count on to be protective of you and your property.
Shepherd breeds like German or Australian Shepherds are a good choice if you’re looking for a guard dog. They bond with humans, are intelligent and loyal but also don’t love strangers. While they can, and should, be socialized they are not dogs that immediately love someone who shows up.
What does Security Look Like?
Dogs provide security in different ways, so there are lots of other options. For example, I once had a 22 pound mutt who was absolutely the sweetest thing but she had a ferocious, deep bark. More than once she scared people away because she would stand behind the door and bark. We were the house no one came to on Halloween! A dog with a deep bark, even if it’s friendly, can be a great form of security.
Dogs that look intimidating can also be great security. Let’s face it, if someone thinking of causing mischief sees your huge German Shepherd they are likely to move along. We associate German Shepherds with prisons and police, a fantastic deterrent, even if your dog is afraid of his shadow!
Research proves that burglars are less likely to break into homes with dogs. Does the breed matter? Sort of. While some burglars are going to take the risk, many will avoid a large, barking dog. That said, in a suburban neighborhood or urban apartment building, even a yippy little dog is likely to be avoided. After all, barking draws attention.
While some burglars bring treats to distract a dog and others will spend time befriending the dog, sometimes just a sign that says, “Beware of Dog” is enough. Even a household pet dog is a great form of security
How do I Train a Guard Dog?
If you are seeking a dog to protect your home it may not require much training. Many dogs are naturally suspicious of outsiders. Whether the person sounds or smells unfamiliar is an obvious sound, but also behaviors can stand out to a dog. For example, unless your windows break on a regular basis, your dog will likely have a strong reaction to someone breaking a window to break in. Especially if you’re not home. Some dogs will run away and be fearful, others won’t stop barking.
It is important to note that dogs that are trained as protectors are usually only bonded to one person. You can read more about this here.
If you want your pet to be aware of strangers so that they guard your house, the first step is knowing their reaction to strangers. The second is making sure your dog understands basic obedience. Your dog must consistently obey you to be a good guard dog.
If your dog is already wary of strangers, chances are they will deter a burglar simply by barking and acting aggressively. That said, you must be able to call your dog off because there are times when someone is not an intruder. You do not want your dog to view guests or workers (such as repairmen) as the enemy.
If you have a dog that is ambivalent or loves strangers, you must teach it to bark at strangers. This should not come from fear but more a command of “speak” triggered by meeting someone new or not from the household. We find this to be the most effective way to train a dog to guard your home and family. Teaching your dog to attack could be incredibly dangerous to you and to your dog. Having your dog bark at strangers should be enough to keep one out of the house.
Dogs as Protection
Your dog loves you and if it believes you are in danger will likely step in to protect you. It also feels safe in your home and does not want bad things to happen there. Most dogs naturally protect their domain and pack. But there are plenty of professionals who can help.
If your dog already barks at strangers, that’s great. But if you need help work with your vet or a licensed trainer to teach your dog to “talk” to strangers.
In the event you wish to choose a dog for protection it will require extensive work. We recommend using a professional. Your dog will learn that you are the only person it should listen to. You will be the only person to feed, water, play with and train the dog.
It takes many months to train a dog for protection if it’s done properly. Generally these dogs are trained before they are even brought into your home. In fact, a dog trained for personal protection is usually purchased from the trainer.
Training is expensive and varies by geographic area. This site will help you get an idea of the cost but you should seek out protection dog training in your area. If you just want a dog who barks at strangers you can do this at home
Should You get a Dog or an Alarm?
When it comes to weighing a dog over a security system we think a combination is the best choice. A dog that barks at strangers is a great first line of defense. However, a determined criminal may still come into your home. A dog that attacks can be a significant liability (yes, a burglar can sue you if your dog injures them) and can be dangerous to people who are non threatening. For this reason an alarm is a great second line of defense, especially one with video capability.
Dogs are wonderful companions and can offer protection, however this requires obedience and smart training. A dog that barks is a great deterrent and a home alarm or surveillance system further protects you. There are options for trained personal protection dogs, however these are not great pets. Depending on your needs, you can decide which is the best option for you, your home, your family or your business.