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Do Dogs Deter Burglars? An Analysis of the Effectiveness of Canines as a Security Measure

A house with a dog in the foreground

When it comes to protecting your home, there are a variety of security measures you can take. One of the oldest and most traditional is having a dog, or several dogs, on your property. But just how effective are canines as a deterrent to burglars? In this article, we’ll explore the history of dogs as a security measure, the factors that influence their effectiveness, the psychology of burglars in relation to dogs, and how canine security compares to modern security systems.

As the use of dogs for security purposes evolved, so did their training. In the early 1900s, the German Shepherd breed was specifically developed for police and military work. These dogs were trained to track and apprehend suspects, as well as detect drugs and explosives.

During World War I, dogs were used extensively for military purposes. They were trained to perform a variety of tasks, such as carrying messages, locating wounded soldiers, and detecting enemy activity. The use of dogs in war continued through World War II and into modern times, with military dogs playing a crucial role in operations such as the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.

Outside of the military and law enforcement, dogs have also been used for security in other settings. For example, many businesses use guard dogs to protect their property and deter theft. These dogs are trained to patrol the premises and alert their handlers to any suspicious activity.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards using dogs for personal security. Some individuals hire trained guard dogs to protect their homes and families. These dogs are trained to be loyal and protective of their owners, and can be a highly effective security measure.

Overall, the use of dogs for security purposes has a long and fascinating history. From ancient civilizations to modern times, dogs have proven to be loyal and effective protectors. As technology continues to advance, it will be interesting to see how the role of dogs in security evolves in the future.

Factors that Influence a Dog’s Effectiveness as a Deterrent

While dogs can be powerful security measures, their effectiveness ultimately depends on a variety of factors. Here are some of the major considerations:

Breed and Size

Not all dog breeds are created equal. Some breeds, such as German Shepherds and Rottweilers, are well-known for their guarding abilities. Other breeds, like Chihuahuas, may not be as intimidating to intruders. Size is also a consideration, as larger dogs can be more intimidating than smaller ones.

However, it is important to note that breed and size are not the only factors that determine a dog’s effectiveness as a deterrent. For example, a well-trained and alert Chihuahua may be more effective than a poorly trained and unresponsive Rottweiler.

Training and Obedience

Training is essential for a dog to be an effective security measure. Dogs that are not trained to protect their property or owners may not know how to react in a threatening situation. Additionally, obedience is important so that the owner can control the dog’s behavior and prevent any accidental aggression towards friends or family members.

Training should include not only basic obedience commands, but also specific commands for protection and guarding. A well-trained dog should be able to differentiate between a friendly visitor and a potential threat, and respond accordingly.

Temperament and Alertness

The temperament of a dog is a crucial factor in its suitability as a security measure. Some dogs are naturally protective of their owners and fiercely loyal. Others may be more laid back and friendly. Alertness is also important; dogs that are easily distracted or aloof may not be as effective at detecting potential threats.

However, it is important to note that a dog’s temperament and alertness can be influenced by its environment and upbringing. A dog that is well-socialized and exposed to a variety of people and situations may be more confident and less prone to anxiety or fear, making it a more effective deterrent.

In addition to breed, size, training, temperament, and alertness, other factors that can influence a dog’s effectiveness as a deterrent include its health, age, and physical condition. A healthy and fit dog is more likely to be alert and responsive, while an older or less healthy dog may not have the same level of energy or stamina.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of a dog as a deterrent depends on a combination of these factors, as well as the specific needs and circumstances of the owner. By carefully considering these factors and selecting a dog that is well-suited to their needs, owners can ensure that their canine companion is an effective and reliable security measure.

The Psychology of Burglars and Fear of Dogs

While dogs can be an effective deterrent to burglars, it’s also important to understand the psychology of burglars and their relationship to dogs. Here are some of the major considerations:

The Role of Intimidation

Dogs can be intimidating to potential intruders, as they are seen as an unpredictable and potentially dangerous wild card. Burglars may be less likely to target homes with dogs, as they fear the unpredictability of canine behavior.

However, it’s important to note that not all dogs are created equal when it comes to intimidation. Some breeds, such as German Shepherds and Rottweilers, are known for their protective instincts and are more likely to deter burglars. Other breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, are known for their friendly nature and may not be as effective in deterring intruders.

In addition, the size of the dog can also play a role in its effectiveness as a deterrent. A small Chihuahua may not be seen as much of a threat, while a large Great Dane can be quite intimidating.

The Sound of Barking as a Deterrent

Dogs are known for their loud and persistent barking, which can alert homeowners and neighbors to potential threats. The sound of barking can also scare off burglars who do not want to attract attention to themselves.

However, it’s important to note that excessive barking can also be a nuisance to neighbors and can even result in noise complaints. It’s important to train dogs to bark only when necessary and to not bark excessively.

Burglars’ Experiences with Dogs

Burglars who have had negative experiences with dogs in the past may be more hesitant to target homes with dogs. Conversely, burglars who are comfortable around dogs may not be deterred by a canine security measure.

It’s also important to note that not all burglars have the same experiences with dogs. Some may have had positive experiences with dogs and may even be dog lovers themselves. Others may have had traumatic experiences with dogs and may be more fearful of them.

Overall, while dogs can be an effective deterrent to burglars, it’s important to understand the psychology of burglars and their relationship to dogs in order to determine the best security measures for your home.

Comparing Canine Security to Modern Security Systems

While dogs can be an effective security measure, they are not foolproof. Here are some of the pros and cons of using dogs as a security measure:


  • Dogs are natural deterrents and can be highly effective at protecting homes and property
  • Dogs provide companionship and can be loyal and affectionate family members
  • Dogs can be trained to protect their owners in a variety of situations


  • Dogs require significant time, effort, and money to train and care for properly
  • Dogs may be unpredictable and their behavior can sometimes lead to accidental aggression
  • Dogs are not a foolproof security measure and can be circumvented or harmed by determined intruders

Technological Advancements in Home Security

With the advent of modern technology, home security systems have become more sophisticated and effective than ever before. Here are some of the major advancements:

  • Smart home security systems that allow homeowners to monitor their property remotely
  • External cameras and motion-activated lights that can deter intruders
  • Alert systems that immediately notify law enforcement in the event of a break-in

Combining Canine and Technological Security Measures

While dogs and technology can both be effective security measures, combining the two can provide an even greater level of protection. For example, external cameras and motion-activated lights can alert owners to potential threats while also scaring off burglars who fear being caught on camera. Additionally, well-trained dogs can provide an extra layer of protection and companionship for homeowners.


So, do dogs deter burglars? The answer is not a simple one, as the effectiveness of a canine security measure depends on a variety of factors. However, for those willing to put in the time, effort, and resources to train and care for a dog, they can be an incredibly effective and loyal way to protect your property and loved ones. When combined with modern technology, dogs can provide an even greater level of safety and peace of mind in an uncertain world.