1. Understanding the Purpose of a Guard Dog - Protectors of the Family Within
If you are purchasing a dog for the protection of a business or professional facility, the aggressiveness of your dog does not need the control that most guard dogs need.
Guard dogs that are to live within a home around their masters, however, indeed do have a real need for aggression control.
Despite what many may believe, a residential guard dog is not meant for severely aggressive protection.
Instead, it is best to expect your dog to alarm you when predators are near, and to remain calm and friendly when around family members.
Overly anxious dog owners may expect their guard dogs to physically harm any intruders. While this is not a far fetched notion, the danger lies in the dog making a mistake when identifying a true danger. It is best to instead expect your pet to serve as more of an alarm and a deterrent.
To Alarm the Family
One of the best uses of a guard dog is its’ ability to alarm the family of not only impending intrusions, but also of any sort of harm. Dogs have an excellent sense for danger, and they have been known to save families from various harmful situations. Some of the dangers that your guard dog may warn you about include:
- children in danger
- dangerous animals in the area
- suspicious activity in a neighboring yard
Your dog’s bark is your first defense against intruders. However, it can also be the first, and sometimes only, warning that you receive in the event of other dangers. For instance, most guard dogs have the ability to sense when a family member is either in danger or is injured.
If your child is flailing in your pool, for example, and is in need of a rescue, your dog’s bark may very well alert you to the matter. If an elderly member of the family has fallen, your dog can be trained to alert assistance in other rooms. Anything that presents a danger is likely to receive a bark, whimper, or some sort of response from your dog in an effort to let his master in on the situation at hand.
To Deter the Predator
Most home burglaries, robberies, and other invasions do not occur on a whim. In most cases, a predator, no matter what his purpose may be, will closely examine a home for several days, or even weeks, before making his move. He will memorize your family’s daily routine, taking note of any sudden changes.
He will become well aware of when you finally turn out the lights in your home at night. He will listen for signs of any family member being awake at the hour that he plans to eventually invade. Finally, he will look for anything that could make his invasion more difficult. This is where your loud, barking, protective furry friend comes in.
Ideally, the mere presence of your guard dog will be enough to deter any potential predator during the stake out stage of the intrusion. Convicted rapists, murderers, thieves and child predators have confessed to having overlooked houses completely when a dog of any kind was present. When assessing potential victims, criminals are always looking for an easy target.
If one home has a guard dog, the home down the street may not, therefore making it a much easier target than the previous home. If your dog’s presence is not enough of a deterrent, however, your dog may still drive away a predator with its’ behavior and body language. Signs that a dog may exhibit when a predator is near may include:
- intense staring at one area
- sniffing of the air
- pointed ears
- pointed tail
- unresponsiveness to its’ master
- deep, low growling
- deep, low, excessive barking
- showing of the teeth (this is always a red flag, therefore never approach a dog showing his teeth)
To Approach the Predator
The aforementioned warning signs are usually enough to make a predator run for safety, preferably far away from your home. However, truly determined predators may try to press their luck with their canine opponents. A well trained guard dog will give a warning first, and then it will proceed to the chase. The chase involves approaching the predator, perhaps carefully at first. Some dogs, however, will sprint to their targets immediately.
The chase is meant to drive the predator away from the property, and it may or may not include quick action. A guard dog that is properly trained will size up the danger first, determining whether or not further action is necessary. An example of this kind of behavior is seen often when innocent pedestrians are walking in residential neighborhoods.
Many trained and experienced walkers will carry sticks, rods, or other defensive objects with them on their journey due to the danger of dogs approaching them as they pass different yards. Usually, the aggressive behavior ends as soon as the walker has passed the home in a calm manner. These individuals are smart to carry a tool of defense. The chase phase immediately proceeds the attack phase.
To Attack the Predator-The Last Resort
If a predator is not responsive to the warning phase or the chase phase, he will be forced to respond to the attack phase. The attack phase involves “catching” a predator and “conquering” him, much as a dog might do to a potentially dangerous creature in the wild.
To a dog, the fight is not over until his prey is unable to respond at all in most cases. This may mean that the predator is severely injured, or that he has been killed. Both can lead to a troublesome lawsuit for homeowners, even if the person injured was in fact trespassing, as having any overly aggressive dog is illegal in many areas.
The attack phase should only be employed if there is an immediate threat to a master’s life. In other words, if a predator is actually physically harming you or a family member, it may be necessary to use lethal force.
Also, if a predator has broken into your home after having to handle bolts or locks, he is considered more dangerous than one who has come in through an unlocked entryway. This makes the use of a guard dog more viable legally.
Otherwise, a guard dog is usually prohibited from fatally wounding an intruder, contrary to popular belief. A dog should be trained to avoid this tactic whenever possible to prevent potential mishaps.