By Brian Ramsey
Throughout the Caribbean, it is very common for homeowners to have dogs. When asked why, they say that it is for the security of their home. Persons often ask what type of dog is best for securing their home. Actually, almost any breed will protect their home turf, including the common mixed breed dogs. However, there are certain breeds that are known to be especially good as protection dogs.
Among the dog breeds that are good for home protection are the:
- Bullmastiff – This breed is known for its physical strength, protection instincts, courageousness, and extreme family loyalty. If an intruder crosses its path, a Bullmastiff will typically use its strength to knock them over or block their path. This breed is very docile in the family environment and makes a great household pet.
- Doberman pinscher – Dobermans are very fast, loyal, fearless and alert. They are considered to be among the smartest of dogs.
- Rottweiler – This is an intelligent dog that learns quickly and bonds with its owners. It will stand and protect its owners and their property. Their size alone is often enough to scare off an intruder. However, they can be strong-willed and need firm leaders.
- German shepherd – German shepherds are not only beautiful to look at, but very intelligent and learn quickly. These dogs like being around people. They are very calm dogs, but will quickly react to any threat they perceive to the home or family.
- Rhodesian ridgeback – Ridgebacks are natural watchdogs. Since they were originally bred to hunt lions, they do not easily back away from a perceived threat. They have a very independent nature, so they must be trained and the owner must be a firm individual. They are said to be selective in their barking so when a Ridgeback barks, it needs to be taken seriously.
There are certain things that should be done in order to ensure that you have a good watch dog no matter what breed of dog you acquire. If you get a puppy, one of the first things that you should do is train the puppy to not be friendly with strangers. This can be difficult to do, especially if you have little children. Everyone will want to play and have their friends play with the cute, cuddly puppy. But then the puppy gets the idea that everyone is their friend, and anyone that enters the yard has come to play with them. Playing with the puppy is inevitable and is indeed good for the puppy. Playing helps exercise the puppy’s muscles and helps it bond with family members. However, as the puppy ages you should begin keeping it away from people other than immediate family, so that it begins to understand that not everyone is to be played with.
Though training the puppy to know that not everyone is their friend is important, it is equally important that you give the dog obedience training. You do not want a dog that is “bad” and you cannot control it. Obedience training should be a must. Obedience training for dogs can start at any age, but it is best if started while the dog is a puppy.
There is one type of obedience training that some people give to their dogs without realizing that it is not good. When visitors come to the gate, the dog, naturally, goes to the gate and begins barking at the visitor. The owner comes out and tells the dog to go to the back or go in the kennel. The dog obeys, but, eventually, some dogs will automatically go to the back when they see people at the gate. The owner has unconsciously trained the dog to do this. The better approach is to pat the dog so that it is rewarded for alerting you, then take the dog to the kennel.
There are people who ask if they should give their dog aggression training. For most part, having a dog barking at strangers, baring its fangs is enough to scare off the common thief. But if the individual is in a neighborhood where there have been burglaries of houses with dogs or the individual has a specific threat, then aggression training is warranted. The purpose of the training is to give the dog the confidence to stand its ground when it engages a stranger. Most of us have experienced a common mixed breed dog backing off when one simply stamps their foot, or shouts, or waves a stick. Aggression training gives the dog the confidence to stand its ground when confronting a stranger, even if that stranger makes some overt move at the dog. The aggression training should never involve physical harm to dog.
Homeowners also face the dilemma of having unfriendly guard dogs and entertaining guests. The practice of locking the dogs away is the action chosen whenever the homeowner has to entertain guests. However, this exposes the property to the possibility of a home invasion/robbery. Fortunately, there are more secure choices a homeowner can make in this situation. If the activity is indoors, the dogs can be released once all of the guests are inside. The dogs are then able to patrol the yard while the homeowner and guests engage in their social activity. If the homeowner hosts social activities often that involve the guests being both indoors and outdoors, he/she should consider dividing the yard in a manner that allows the dogs to roam and protect one section. If dividing the yard, it is important to use chain-link fencing or steel grills to allow the dogs to see into the other section. If anyone enters into that section while the guests are indoors, the dogs can alert the residents by their barking.
Undoubtedly, dogs are a good form of home security no matter the breed. However, the key to having a good guard dog is in the training that is given to that dog. This training should start from an early age.
Brian Ramsey has a BA in Accounting & Management, along with an MBA in Finance. He also has over 29 years in the field of security in the Caribbean. He is the Regional Development Director for Amalgamated Security Services Limited which is the parent company of Alternative Security Services (St. Lucia) Limited. He can be contacted at email@example.com. Amalgamated Security operates in Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.