Can Dogs Really Deter Burglars?

Canine pets have no shortage of positive qualities. But in addition to providing love and companionship, can dogs really protect your home against burglaries?

The answer depends on a few factors, including the burglar. While some home invasions are random, spur-of-the-moment acts, most burglaries are carefully planned. Some burglars study their targets intricately for days, weeks, or even months, to map out exactly how and when they will execute the burglary. In this case, a burglar will know ahead of time if there is a dog on the premises. While this might sway them to avoid your house altogether, a pro will probably be able to either sneak in unnoticed or distract the dog using treats.

That’s not to say that dogs are completely useless in the event of a home invasion. Depending on the type of dog, they could potentially be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful burglary. There are two types of dogs that can potentially be helpful in an intruder situation:

Biters

Dogs are territorial creatures, and certain breeds will be on the attack at a moment’s notice as soon as an intruder poses a threat. A a big, intimidating, tough-looking dog that will either scare off burglars or physically attack them is ideal for burglary prevention. But looks can also be deceiving; even if your dog is a sweetheart, simply having the demeanor of a dog who is stereotypically aggressive or capable of attack could be enough to deter a burglar.

Examples: Pit Bull, Saint Bernard, Bloodhound

Barkers

Dogs can also act as an excellent alert system, especially if they have a loud and/or high-pitched bark. Not only will this potentially scare off the burglar, but it will alert you (and wake you up if you’re asleep) so you can take action before it’s too late. Even the most advanced home security systems have the potential for error, so it doesn’t hurt to have a dog acting as a sort of backup alarm.

Examples: Rottweiler, Yorkshire Terrier, Golden Retriever

In addition to size, appearance, and bark, it’s important to consider other factors like age and natural demeanor. For instance, an older dog probably won’t be as quick to attack as a puppy with boundless energy. Similarly, a dog with a naturally friendly or calm disposition probably won’t be as aggressive towards an intruder. A well-trained dog is also more likely to be an effective deterrent than an untrained dog, and basic obedience skills will shape your dog into a more effective guard. Socializing your dog frequently will also help him or her distinguish between normal and unusual behavior.

If you’re not entirely sold on getting a dog, consider putting up a “Beware of Dog” sign in your front yard, even if you don’t have a dog, to ward off burglars.

The bottom line? Dogs can definitely be a valuable line of defense in a break-in situation, but should be considered a supplementary tactic to your home security systems.

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