You want to safeguard your home a little more, and that’s great, but there are several ways to go about doing it. A home security system with sensors and cameras is the more traditional way of going about things, but it isn’t the only way. Many Americans have decided to own a guard dog as a home security measure. But the question is, is this effective? In the following, we’re going to address a few questions you should ask yourself before you start relying solely on a dog as your home security measure.

A Regular Barker Isn’t a Great Alarm

If Fido tends to be very vocal, you might be thinking that he is just as good as a security system. Not exactly. The truth is if your dog barks a lot, then you and your neighbors are probably already used to all the barking. So if someone breaks into your home and your dog starts barking up a storm, is it really going to sound that out of place? If you’re away and your neighbors hear all the barking, they’ll probably just ignore it because that’s what your dog always does.

Are You Willing to Pay for Special Training?

To put it simply, your dog isn’t going to make a very effective guard dog without special training. Sometimes, guard dog training can cost up to $40,000 and can take years! Guard dog trainer Leighton Oosthuisen has said the 95 percent of dogs will not protect their homes or home owners unless they’re trained. This is regardless of whether or not they own an “aggressive” dog breed such as a pitbull or rottweiler. Considering the time and money spent, it might be wise to put your efforts elsewhere.

Dogs Are Hit-Or-Miss Deterrents

This doesn’t mean that dogs are totally useless when it comes to home security. As a matter of fact, some professional burglars will turn away completely from a home that has a dog because it raises too many variables. If they see a dog, they won’t want to take the risk of breaking in because the dog might not be friendly to strangers. It’s wiser to just move on to the next house. On the other hand, some burglars know how to react to dogs when they come across them. One Reddit AMA involved a burglar who claims he was very good with animals and knew how to calm them down in just a matter of minutes. On rare occasions, experienced burglars will have some steak or tranquilizers with them to neutralize the dog if they react too heavily. For the most part, though, dogs are an effective deterrent and will cause burglars to pursue the next target.

Dogs Are Great Companions

Nigel Barber Ph.D. made an astute observation in Psychology Today that dogs/wolves behave very similarly to humans in their social behavior, which makes them great companions. Humans and dogs/wolves are similar in that:

• We are territorial
• We hunt cooperatively
• Pack members are emotional bonded
• We greet each other enthusiastically after we’ve been separated

About 40% of owners identify their dog as a member of the family. In the same article, Colin Groves of the Australian National University said “the dog-human relationship amounts to a very long lasting symbiosis. Dogs acted as human’s alarm systems, trackers, and hunting aides, garbage disposal facilities, hot water bottles, and children’s guardians and playmates. Humans provided dogs with food and security. The relationships was stable over 100,000 years or so, and intensified to the Holocene into mutual domestication. Humans domesticated dogs and dogs domesticated humans.”

Dogs Require A Lot of Upkeep

This will vary depending on the size and breed of your dog, but owning a dog is no small responsibility. Dogs must be fed, be walked regularly, and should have regular medical exams along with spaying/neutering and shots. According to a study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, you could be spending well over $1,000 off the bat to own and care for a dog. This includes spaying/neutering, medical exams, a carrying crate, and a collar or leash. When it comes to annual expenses, you’re looking in the ballpark of about $700. This includes food, the aforementioned medical exams, toys, treats, pet health insurance, and a license. It’s also not a bad idea to consider having a stash of $1,000-2,000 kept away in the case of a vet emergency, as well. Make sure all of these elements are factored into your monthly budget when considering adopting a dog.

The Verdict

When it comes down to it, dogs shouldn’t be relied on as the sole source of security for your home. Unless your dog has received special guard dog training, it’s probably not ready to guard your home from potential intruders. The upkeep of owning a dog can also be expensive if you’re not already used to the price tag. In essence, dogs can be a great addition that will help deter burglars from your home and are a wonderful addition to many families, but it’d be best to rely on a traditional home security system as a primary source of security.

Some top rated home security systems can cost as little as $20/month and feature licensed professionals that will remotely monitor your home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For an extra cost, home automation features are also available such as thermostat regulation, remote lights, and remote door locks that can be activated from a smartphone. Compatability with devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are also becoming more popular.

When you consider the cost, home security is also much more affordable, especially if you’re considering guard dog training.

Depending on the home security company, a $25/month plan will only cost half as much as the annual upkeep to owning and caring for a dog. Be aware that some companies will charge higher monthly fees along with high initial start-up costs, but the best companies in the industry are doing away with these. It would pay to do some research before deciding what options are best for you.