When there’s a break-in in the neighborhood, the impulse to go running to the shelter to adopt an intimidating dog can be strong. You can add a family friend to cuddle with on dark nights, and maybe they can even help you beef up your home security while they’re at it.
But can a guard dog really prevent break-ins? The answer here is maybe … but not necessarily.
A dog might help keep burglars away
Some dogs are born with a natural instinct to protect their family and their home, and that can go a long way as a sort of natural security system.
Scaring burglars off: Anyone who has ever walked past a yard with a big barking dog knows that the critters can be intimidating, especially to strangers. In one survey of former home invaders, the crooks admitted big, loud dogs were more likely than small dogs to scare them off the premises. In another survey of ex-cons, a barking dog was second only to video cameras on the list of home security measures most likely to scare off a burglar.
Read our guide on what makes your house an easy target for burglars.
In-home alert system: Who needs an alarm system when you have someone with four legs and fluffy ears who barks the minute a car pulls into the driveway or anyone gets anywhere near the front door?
But, a dog isn’t really the best home security option
So that sounds good, doesn’t it? Burglars are scared of dogs, and dogs can help alert you to danger. While that may be true of some dogs and some burglars, there are plenty of times where technology-based security systems win out over our pet pooches.
- Guard dog breeds require a lot: The American Kennel Club cites certain dogs as better suited to protect your home, but raising these types of dogs is no easy feat. They require significant socialization and training to ensure they can be true family pets whose instincts to protect are only put to use when necessary.
- Dogs aren’t always great at security: There’s no way to guarantee that your family pet will turn into a barking machine when a stranger shows up to steal your laptop (though, you should be using a laptop lock.) Plenty of dogs look at strangers as new friends to play with, or they can be bribed with a few slices of rolled up meat. The sensors that alert professional monitors or sent an alarm to your app can’t be bribed.
- Your dog can’t call the cops: Sure, they may bark and act intimidating, but what happens if the burglar does manage to get in anyway? Your dog can’t grab a phone to alert the police that there’s been a break-in, the way a monitored security system would. Nor can they report back any information about the home invader, the way security cameras can.
- Your dog could get hurt: It’s the last thing any pet owner wants to think about, but the people who break into houses aren’t always kind to the animals they meet. Family pets are sometimes killed or injured by intruders who see the dog as standing in the way of their crime.
- You could be sued: In many states, if your dog bites someone, you may be liable for medical expenses and other damages. If your dog bites an intruder who was clearly trespassing, you might be able to fight any legal claims, but then again, you may not. Intruders have sued in the past, and at the very least it adds an extra headache to the stress of a home break-in.
FAQs about guard dogs
According to the AKC, some of the best dog breeds for home security are:
- Anatolian Shepherd Dog
- Australian Shepherd
- Belgian Laekenois
- German Shepherd Dog
In general, you won't need to do much for a dog to be an effective deterrent. As we mentioned, the bark of a dog is what will turn thieves away. Most dogs do not require any specific training to bark when there's noise on the other side of the door.
So, is it worth it to get a dog for home security?
If you’re looking to add a dog to your family because you want a new furry pal around, scaring off intruders may be a side benefit. But there are a lot of variables at play, so if you want to be sure that your home is more secure you will probably want to invest in a technology-based home security system. Leave the couch snuggling and backyard games of fetch to Fido and they heavy lifting of home security to the professionals.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.