Do Dogs Deter Burglars? Yes, And Here’s Woof (Ahem.. Proof)


Will you favorite canine friend be enough to deter burglars?

A loud, barking dog is a good deterrent. Also, the bigger and meaner your dog is, the better. But it shouldn’t be the only deterrent you have in place.

An alarm system is the best deterrent based on almost all the studies and interviews with convicted offenders. Security cameras come at second place. Furthermore, you should secure your doors and windows with strong locks and reinforce them to withstand forceful break-in attempts.

But the point stands: a loud, barking dog is a solid deterrent. If common sense is not enough, here are some studies, reports and interviews with convicted burglars that prove it:

  • Co-op Insurance consulted with 12 former burglars to ask what bugged them the most about their job. The first thing on the list were CCTV cameras followed by “loud barking dogs, strong heavy doors, a TV being switched on and locked UPVC windows as the next most likely to put them off breaking into a home.”
  • A study by Animals & Society Institute looked into the impact of having dogs on property crime in Milwaukee. It concluded that “parcels with reported licensed dogs experienced property crime at rates of between 1.40 and 1.71 percentage points lower than the property crime rates for parcels that were zoned the same and did not have licensed dogs. This association between the presence of dogs and reduced property crime suggests dogs have a deterrent effect on property crime.”
  • Career burglar Jack Black revealed in his memoir that dogs wreak havoc on a burglar’s well-laid plans: “Dogs, young or old, are the bane of the burglar’s life.”
  • An investigative report by KGW8 out of Oregon surveyed 86 burglars. The study concluded that if “a homeowner had a big, loud dog most burglars would stay away.” One of the convicted burglars even said, “dogs are a deal breaker for me…Big breeds, home protectors are the best to keep people out.”
  • story by the Miami Herald provided a report from an interview with a K-9 services expert. Tony Guzman, a specialist with three decades of experience said, “For deterrence, there’s nothing like a canine. It’s the fear factor…They just fold up when a canine shows up.”

Dogs deter only some criminals

Some criminals are not fazed by dogs, especially smaller ones. There is some real-life evidence to back this up:

  • A story out of Norfolk, Virginia reports on a break-in where the offenders attempted to spray the dogs with ammonia during the course of the break-in.
  • Another report from KGW3 highlighted a study where a fake intruder entered a home with dogs to test their reaction. While the dogs initially barked and growled at the intruder, they soon retreated.

Why do dogs deter some criminals and not others?

  • With a large dog like a German Shepherd or a Pit Bull, the burglar might be afraid of being attacked by the dog and sustaining injuries. A large dog can keep them trapped in a room, increasing the likelihood of being caught. Most burglars want to get in-and-out as fast as possible.
  • The greatest deterrence factor, regardless of the dog breed, is loud barking. The barking is similar to an alarm or a motion sensor camera going off because it may alert the homeowner or a neighbor of the intrusion. According to virtually all studies on burglary deterrence, alarms and cameras are most highly rated due to this simple fact.
  • Some burglars are not afraid of dogs because they are prepared to neutralize them with a pepper spray, a firearm, a blunt weapon or, in the best case scenario with delicious dog treats. This is especially true in cases of planned burglaries, which in this study that interviewed over 400 convicted offenders were 12% of them. Finding ways to neutralize security measures (dogs included) falls into the planning process.
  • Not all dogs bark and growl at strangers. Some dogs are very trusting. For security purposes there’s a significant difference between a trained guard dog, a dog that is naturally more aggressive and one that is docile and not very protective of their territory.
  • Some dogs are just too small to pose a threat. If they’re both small and friendly to strangers you shouldn’t expect much deterrence from them.

Final tip: Use “BEWARE OF DOG” warning stickers/signs to warn potential burglars that you have a dog and aren’t afraid to use it.

I hope you’ll find this information helpful. Also don’t forget to check out my top 43 home security tips, the implementation of which would make your home an impregnable fortress!

Peter Boné

Chief editor of Security Latest with 5 years of real security work experience. I'm also a family man with wife and two sons. When I'm not turning homes into fortresses, the Boné family is usually on the Nintendo or on California's best hiking trails.

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