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In this article, I want to talk about dogs for home protection and tell you about a recent reaction from my dog, Porter.
Disclaimer: Before I get started, I have to say that even though I’ve lived with dogs my entire life, that in no way makes me an expert. I’m just a prepper and an animal lover. I have never claimed to be a dog trainer, handler, or expert of any kind. I feel I’m a great dog owner, but that has little to do with this topic.
Dogs For Home Protection – A Good Idea?
Among prepper community conversations, home protection is a common topic. Alarms, firearms, fortification, and even dogs for home protection.
A common thing people research when it comes to using dogs for home protection is size and breed. Since I haven’t owned every breed of dog, I don’t feel qualified to go there. That’s not what this article is.
So let’s look at the pros and cons of having a dog in the first place.
Without going into a good dog being a great part of a family and how important it is to care for your pets, I want to speak directly to dogs for protection and a few things to consider.
Liability: As the owner of a Pitt mix, I am very conscious of the potential liability a large dog can have. Any dog can be problematic, but we all know the stigma certain breeds have with the law and the community in general. The last thing we want is for one of our pets to hurt someone or eat the little girl next door’s cat. Common sense tells us that the more aggressive a dog is, the higher the risk. The same can hold true to size as far as the ability to inflict severe damage or even death. Pets and animals are our responsibility, and so is keeping our community safe from them.
Time Freedom: I’m a homebody. I don’t like leaving the house, truth be told. I still have to work, shop, and even vacation once a year. In my opinion, pets shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves for long periods.
Pet arrangements have to be made whenever a trip beyond a typical day is scheduled. We have a fenced-in backyard and a dog door for those work days and shopping trips. Personally, I don’t trust dog boarding, and I wouldn’t put mine through the stress of it all even if I did trust them. So we either take our dog or get a family member to stay at our house while we’re gone. It’s not a huge issue for us, but it is something to understand if you’re looking into getting a dog for the first time. Just like children, pets have to become part of the equation.
Mean Dogs: Having a mean dog just for the purpose of home protection is stupid. I don’t know how else to describe it. If you can’t allow the dog to become a member of the family, you should look at other options for home protection.
Dog Personality: Every dog has their own personality. I don’t care that the word ❛person❜ is actually in the word. Just like people, many factors will determine a dog’s personality. Like people, thinking you will ❛fix❜ them isn’t generally a great plan. Raising a dog from a puppy can influence your dog’s personality, but they will always have their own temperament and disposition.
Expectations: You can only expect so much from even a well-grounded and trained dog when it comes to home protection. My dog has shown me he’s probably well-suited to protect this family (See story below), but there’s only so much we can expect.
How many dogs are going to worry about an intruder once a slab of meat is tossed in front of them? The same weapons that are a threat to humans are a threat to even the biggest dogs. I’ll dig into this more in a minute, but expectations deserve a place here.
Pets Are Expensive: Porter sees the vet at least once a year. I have never left the vet without dropping a few hundred dollars. Earlier this year, he needed minor surgery, and that was over $800. And that was cheap. The follow-up visits were a couple of hundred dollars each. He gets his shots and heartworm pills. Dogs are expensive.
Are you ready for this? I spent $100 on a bag of medicated prescription dog food for his allergies. Twice!
Food, toys, treats, grooming supplies, and even the occasional trip to the ice cream stand. It all adds up. Let’s not forget about the constant clothes washing and carpet cleaning. We spend less on our home security service ($30/mo). He’s worth every cent, but I’d find another solution if it were for security alone.
Dogs Take Work: Preparing our dog’s food can be time-consuming. I already mentioned his food allergies – which are common with pit bulls. We went through bags and bags of dog food, people food, and even a raw meat diet, trying to help him.
Now I have to buy whole chicken or quarters, cut them up, and pressure cook them in our instant pot for thirty minutes. I pull the meat off and put the bones and scraps back in for another two hours. The result is impressive. The chicken bones are so cooked I can crush them with my fingers. There are no sharp pieces of bone (it’s literally mush), and he gets the chicken meat, fat, skin, bone marrow, and amazing bone stock. Not one ounce of the chicken goes to waste. I still add in the expensive dog food but not as much. I got this idea from Jack Spirko, and it’s working.
Dogs take time and effort. Some more than others. Dog walks, attention, and grooming. I feel they’re only worth it if you truly love pets.
Guard Dogs vs. Alarm Dogs
Our last dog was a Sheltie, and she was loved by everyone. She was an alarm dog. When it comes to dogs for protection, she would let you know if someone was around that shouldn’t be, but I had no illusions about her ability to physically fight off an intruder.
Smaller dogs can still be very useful as a deterrent. Generally speaking, most intruders aren’t looking for attention. A barking dog adds to the potential of being caught. If the intruder is looking for conflict, any size dog might be nothing more than an annoyance to put down.
You might be able to sneak into a house without waking me, but it would be unlikely that Sadie (Our last dog) wouldn’t have noticed. She would have alerted me, and that was enough. Even though I am convinced Porter (Our current dog) would attack, I wouldn’t stand there waiting for the dog to handle the situation. At best, he’d be a short distraction giving me a second to gauge the situation and react.
I hate the title ‘attack dog.’ I don’t want an attack dog. I want a dog willing to protect, but I wouldn’t have a dog that’s going to attack someone because they crossed the perimeter of our property or even jumped our fence. Remember how stupid you were as a teenager? Stupid stuff happens. That doesn’t mean it justifies getting shot or attacked.
Relying On Dogs For Home Protection
Dog diversity is extreme and not just among the many different breeds. Genetics, experience, training, and treatment all play a role in how your dog will react to an intruder or even during a physical assault.
I believe most people would be disappointed with their dog’s reaction when faced with protecting their human family members. There are two reasons for this:
- First, we tend to assign human traits and emotions that aren’t necessarily accurate to our pets. Just as we tend to do with our children or ourselves, our bias doesn’t always allow us to see objectively. Many people find that they aren’t up to the task of protecting themselves when the situation arises. The same holds true for our pets.
- Second, most pets rely on you, the pack leader, for protection. With that said, many dogs will die protecting their family. You’ll find the same differences when it comes to humans.
Meet Porter – My Personal Story
I want to tell you about my dog and how he has impressed me regarding protection. We took in a rescue pit a couple of years ago. This is his forever home. I’ve wanted to do it for years but wouldn’t while my grandkids were living with me. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a potentially mistreated 90+ pound pitbull, but he’s been amazing.
Someone has trained him, but we don’t have his history. He can do all the basics like sit, lay, stay, shake, jump, roll over, etc. He won’t come back unless he wants to, but I may not be using the right commands.
My wife was home alone with just her and Porter a couple of months ago. Porter adores my wife. He was lying next to her on the loveseat during the day when he started growling. He jumped up and looked out the window, and started barking. My wife cracked open the door (she should never open the door) and found a man walking through our yard from a van parked around the corner, approaching the patio. Porter almost made it out the storm door before she got it closed.
This is as worrisome for me as it is comforting. Imagine him getting through the door thinking a package delivery person was a threat. He’s gotten out before when a kid wanted to mow the yard, but all he did was lick the boy like mad. Oh, I forgot to mention he won’t jump on people when he’s excited. Someone has trained him to jump up and down in front of people, but he’s careful not to jump on them.
As soon as the man saw them, he ran back to the van and took off. It may have been something as innocent as a surveyor or a solicitor, but my wife is convinced Porter scared off a would-be threat based on the man’s expression before he realized he should go back. We’ve noticed on several occasions that this dog is far more protective when I’m not home.
But wait, it gets better.
Our bedroom is our saferoom, with an insulated steel exterior grade door, including a reinforced frame and bolt lock.
A few weeks ago, I was asleep when Porter started barking. Yes, he sleeps with us, even on the bed when he wants. Don’t judge 😉
I was tired. I told him to be quiet and tried to go back to sleep, even though he doesn’t make a habit of barking at every little noise. That was risky on my part.
He wasn’t having it. He went from barking at the door to getting in my face barking. Now I knew something must be wrong. I grabbed my 12-gauge protection stick and slowly opened the door, careful not to stand in front of it. I’ve watched all the TV cop shows.
Porter carefully stepped out the door, listening and smelling the air. He didn’t bolt out like I would have expected. He was convinced someone was in the house, which made me convinced.
He walked into the living room, looked around for half a second, and then entered the pantry. Then through the kitchen and down the hallway, down and into the three bedrooms on that side of the house.
That dog cleared the entire house like he’s been trained to do it. He looked at me before walking into each room and waited for me to gesture for him to go. He went in without barking or growling and even intentionally walked quietly.
The dog’s reaction was impressive. He didn’t seem afraid and aggressively entered each room, obviously ready to charge, yet he made eye contact with me, looking for confirmation. A quick nod and gesture were all he needed to proceed.
I have no doubt he would have attacked an intruder. I also have no doubt that would have been the least of their problem.
Thankfully, it was a false alarm. Five minutes later, my wife and Porter were lying beside me, back asleep. It took me a while to find sleep.
Wrapping Up Dogs For Home Protection
My advice is simple. A dog can be a great addition to your home and personal protection if you love dogs. It depends on what you expect from the dog and if the dog agrees.
I said in addition to. We still have motion sensors, an alarm system, fortified entry points, and cameras. Our yard is lit up like a sports arena all the way around our house. Even with that, we think strategically when storing our few valuables inside our home. Safes are bolted down, and I always assume someday, someone will get inside and take what’s not theirs. Sadly, that’s the world we live in. In my opinion, common sense and insurance will trump cockiness every time. The person that has the attitude, “I dare someone to break in,” is an idiot.
I hope you found this article helpful. In an upcoming piece, I will discuss how our prepping lifestyle may make us more vulnerable to theft and break-ins.
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