Sunday, September 2, 2012

Security: Are Small Dogs OK?

File:BostonTerrierBrindleStand w.jpg
Boston Terrier

I’ve noticed in a number of your posts that you recommend getting guard dogs to help with protection.  It goes without saying that a guard dog must be big, intimidating, and well disciplined, but the question I have for you is about watch dogs.  What do you think about smaller dogs used to alert you when something is wrong?  I own a Boston Terrier, and she has incredible hearing and instincts.  Whenever anything is wrong, she will alert me to it.  Even if she isn’t in the same room, she uses a very distinct bark/snarl that only means one thing: someone is around, and I am not aware of it yet. She will usually get my attention well before the person is even on the front porch. She’s the same way at night too.  While she wouldn’t be able to defend the home or the family, she allows plenty of time to get my side-arm ready (9MM with Gold dot +P) before checking things out.  I always sleep better knowing that it is highly unlikely I will be surprised by an intruder.
The reason I bring up the watch dog is because some people might not have enough land/time/resources to deal with a bigger guard dog.
So what do you think?
I really enjoy the blog.  Thanks for all the great info!
At one point in life I was living in a house with a big yard and had a Jack Russell Terrier as our family dog. My next door neighbor had just moved in and he had this huge Rottweiler. He would walk the dog puffing out his chest, bursting with pride. He apparently didn’t notice that his dog barked at everything and anything, from butterflies, to cars passing by, and also to us, the neighbors, that constantly walked by everyday, basically making it impossible to know if the dog was barking because of a real threat or not.
 One day after the usual “hi” we talked a bit more and of course he just had to talk about his pride and joy, how it would destroy any intruder and how mine was only good for barking and warning. I told him I was fine with that because I only needed the dog to let me know someone was inside, the killing him part would be my job. He didn’t talk to me much after that. Some people are weird that way. Its ok for them to have their dogs attack an intruder but they find it offensive to shot a bad guy themselves.

Indeed, as you describe, some dogs are just great for that. Many years ago I had a  Pekinese with some Dachshund blood in it. That dog was one of the best “alarms” I ever had. It would know from the sound of the engine alone if the car approaching was ours or not and start barking before it even parked.  Great hearing and light sleeper too. The Jack Russell is also a nice compact animal, courageous little fella, but pretty stubborn of character and not for someone that is inexperienced.

As you say, sometimes you just don’t have the space, the time or desire to deal with a bigger dog, and a smaller dog can warn you in advance. In fact, many criminals don’t like to deal with dogs no matter how small they are, for them its an extra problem to deal with. During hard economic times, a smaller dog will be easier on your budget too, requiring less food. They take up less space and can be carried easier if you have to leave in a hurry.

Spike with a bone
The dog that I have now, an English Bull Terrier, it’s a nice compromise between small and medium size dog, yet very strong and to a point intimidating to some people. “Is he good?” or “Does he bite?” seem to be the most common remarks I get and I noticed that people will usually keep their distance when I´m walking it. On the other hand this English Bull Terrier fan basically jumped out of his car and ran towards me when I was walking Spike, he went to the ground and started petting my dog. He was just a few months old back then and this guy obviously liked these kind of dogs a lot.

Big dogs are great, but they take up space and resources and can be problematic to a point, so they are not for everyone. A small dog that warns you in advance, barks and makes bad guys think twice about breaking in? Absolutely, it’s a great idea to have one in the house.
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Anonymous said...

Some dogs (big or small) are good for a lot more than guard/watch duties. They're also really good at forewarning storms. I guess they sense the changes in atmospheric pressure. In tornado alley that alone is a great quality for a dog.


Don Williams said...

1) When the economy collapses in an area like Detroit, USA you tend to get an increase in rats and other vermin due to weeds growing in unmowed yards, abandoned houses, uncollected garbage,etc.

2) And rats like to trade up in housing just like people, so they tend to move from overcrowded rat ghettos to decaying but still middle class areas.

3) I vaguely remember Ferfal mentioning a year or two ago that people in Buenos Aires found that terrier type dogs were good at killing any vermin that showed up.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the English Bull terrier would take a Rotweiller any day.

Anonymous said...

#Don Williams

I second your observation. I keep a cat for perimeter control of rats and rabbits (in suburbia there are more rabbits than in the country as they don't have predators). And my border collie dispatches any rat/rabbit that makes it inside the fenced backyard.

Cats are slow hunters compared to dogs, but they are stealthy and nocturnal. Dogs have relatively poor vision but they have great smell to locate burrows.

Both complement nicely and their cost to keep is cheaper than pest control guys.


DougFromOz said...

Wow, that is one seriously green lawn!

Pitt said...

Much like Fernando, I find that the bull terriers make excellent dogs for fulfilling the mission of SHTF protection. I train and use American Pit Bull Terriers for personal protection and schutzhund. They are compact, quick and powerful working dogs and make formidable guardians of hearth and home. If I could only have one guard dog, I would have to look hard at the pitbull as a that dog.

DJBroo said...

Although terrier comes from the word terre, meaning a dog who goes to ground after vermin, not all dog breeds with "terrier" in their names are true terriers. I have a Boston Terrier, and he is a great little dog and a good early-warning system, but he has no prey drive at all. For a dog who will alert you to intruders and also will go after mice and rats, try a Welsh Terrier, Fox Terrier, or (my favorite of all) a Border Terrier.