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Since their domestication thousands of years ago, dogs have been
used to protect the home and the workplace, giving owners a sense
of security against intruders. The most common dogs used for
protection are larger breeds like Dobermans, German Shepherds,
Rottweilers, Chows, and Pit Bulls.
"But pet owners should be careful when using a dog solely for
protection," says Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, Clinical Assistant
Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine &
"When dogs are trained to protect the home, they are using their
natural territorial instinct and can attack anyone unfamiliar to
them, which may include a friendly visitor," says
Dogs used for protection can also be unreliable depending on
their own unique personality.
Some dogs are naturally aggressive and may attack any animals or
humans that violate their territory. Guard dogs are often trained
to be aggressive toward people and may view anyone outside the
family as a potential threat. This may present a constant danger
since owners can never be completely sure that their pet will not
someday view a family member or friend as a threat.
Aggressive behavior in a pet dog may become an added liability
for its owner, especially if the animal has bitten before.
"Many cities have laws regulating aggressive dogs and some
require a special type of permit for those that have bitten other
animals or people. In most cases, owners of protection dogs should
look into increasing their liability insurance," said
However, if you do need a specially trained guard dog, try to
maintain control of the animal. Dogs in the wild remain submissive
to the dog they view as the leader, referred to as the "alpha dog,"
and will protect it and the surrounding territory.
"Owners and family members should all assume the role of 'alpha
dog' by taking control of their pet while they are still young,"
says Blue-McLendon. "Puppies often view humans as dominant because
of their greater size and age. Owners can further reinforce
this image by controlling access to toys and food."
Rewarding animals for good behavior helps them to see the owner
as the leader or alpha figure, which provides them with greater
control of their pet and may prevent attacks.
"Most guard dog owners do not realize that the presence of a dog
is usually security enough and that specialized training may be
excessive," said Blue-McLendon. "Dogs are sensitive to their
surroundings and will usually alert their owners to a disturbance
by barking, which may be enough to scare away potential
Other security animals include some surprising ones - peacocks,
geese and parrots, which can also offer some protection by using
vocalized, "alarm calls" to announce someone's approach.
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