Guard Dogs that Don't Guard


Reader Drew Smithfield submitted this video about guard dogs...who don't actually guard. 


Drew is a security expert and knows a thing or two about effectiveness of guard dogs on deterring home intruders.  He had this to say:

"When we say a dog's bark is bigger than its bite, we're usually speaking metaphorically – maybe about a pesky neighborhood bully or an outwardly stern boss. The expression has come to represent someone or something that's far less forceful than it appears.

Rarely do we consider the phrase verbatim.

But around the animal kingdom, no animal abides by its own idiom better than the canine (I struggle to believe curiosity has contributed to more cat deaths than, say, old age, and skunks don't have the tolerance or fine motor skills to get drunk). Oddly enough, the dog, with its reputation for protection and home security, often lacks the pluck or viciousness to stop a potential intruder.

Dog portrait 2

While research typically shows thieves are less likely to target houses that keep a dog in the household, it's not because of their ferocity or aggression. It's more often because of the perception of ferocity or aggression. Certain experts have even dispelled the myths of select breeds – like the Rottweiler or the German Sheppard – acting more aggressively, or making better guard dogs. In fact, some argue that smaller dogs are better guardians, because of their highly energetic nature.

Ultimately, the dog can play a role in home safety – it's just not the starring role. The protective benefit of having a guard dog is its sensitive ears. Most dogs will react when they hear the creak of a doorknob or muted footsteps. Once you're alerted, it's up to you and your home security system to handle the bulk of the work.

So thank Fido, and feed him lots of treats. Just don't expect a virtuoso performance when the spotlight comes on."


David Mizejewski is a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. His goal is to inspire others to appreciate the wonders of nature. Meet David >







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