Do Burglars Avoid Houses With Dogs?

Common wisdom indicates burglars avoid houses with dogs for a lot of reasons. Intruders are supposed to be put off by dogs of any kind, especially larger dogs or breeds traditionally used as guard dogs such as German Shepherds or Rottweilers.

These large pooches are especially seen as a threat by burglars for a fear the dog will attack them if they try to enter into the house.

Do burglars really avoid houses with dogs? Yes, though there’s no guarantee that you won’t be burglarized if you have one. Burglars may also avoid houses with smaller dogs because the animal is more likely to detect their approach, then draw attention.

This article aims to outline the actions and practical steps you can take to make sure that the next time a burglar lays eyes on your house, it will avoid it when it sees or hears your dog.

Dogs as Deterrent to Burglary

Generally speaking, dogs seem to have a reliable effect on reducing burglary. Those studying FBI and Department of Justice analysis of crime data pertaining to burglary find that most burglarized houses do not have a dog inside: This is about as far as we can go with it.

As it turns out, there has not been much in the way of legitimate in-depth study or scientific inquiry done on the subject. We are operating off of a basically flimsy observation and common sense.

But common sense is far from useless. What we do know dependably is that burglars will typically choose homes that afford them more advantages when it comes to breaking it, all other things being equal.

If a home is easy to approach under cover of darkness, has many visibility blocking plants or features around it to ward off witnesses and allows them easy entry and exit you can depend on that house being preferred over a similar house and a similar neighborhood when considering a crime of opportunity.

It stands to reason that the threat posed by the known presence of a barking dog should factor somewhat more highly into their calculus than terrain and structural features alone.

Note that when I say “threat” I am referring particularly to the threat of discovery or of forewarning the occupants of a house or neighbors that something untoward is going on. If the burglars think their cover will be blown they may decide to retreat or go somewhere else.

One assumption that is commonly made is that a bigger, brassier bark is presumed to come from a bigger dog, and a bigger dog is presumed to always be better at deterring burglary or other crimes than a smaller one.

This is a fairly reasonable assumption, but again there is not much data to suggest that this is in-fact the case.

There have been plenty of police reports and crime reports detailing homes being burglarized or even subjected to legitimate home invasion robbery when the criminals knew there was a dog inside, even a large dog or multiple large dogs.

Savvier or more professional burglars in particular know how to deal with dogs, and know that statistically most typical pets will not bite under any circumstances outside of being directly harmed.

One noteworthy report showed that the burglars made use of tools and materials found around the home to simply shepherd the dogs into a room before closing them in, unharmed. They then went about their business of completely ransacking the homes valuables. 

Under the circumstances, we are concerned with a small dog might be just as valuable as a larger one, especially if it is attentive and generally starts yapping whenever it detects something unusual happening outside.

Dogs Do Not Deter Other Kinds of Personal Crime

We would be remiss if we did not inform you that, seemingly, the presence of a dog, even a large dog, has no effect on other kinds of personal crime including robbery, and assault.

There are countless reports of people who are out hiking or walking with their dogs being directly attacked, whether they are robbed or not.

Very rarely, the victim’s faithful pooch leaps to their rescue, or at least attempts to, but much of the time, the dog does nothing or has no effect whatsoever on the attacker.

It does seem odd that criminals would be brazen enough to attack someone that has a large and potentially dangerous dog present right next to them but in case of a burglary the presence of the dog or dogs seems to serve as a deterrent.

Again, contrary to what you might think there have simply not been very many worthwhile studies performed on this topic and the data we have to inform our own decisions is very much open to interpretation and incomplete.

Nonetheless, whether or not your dog actually deters burglars may be immaterial to the advantages the dog can confer during an attempted burglary or home invasion. We will talk more about the topic in the remainder of this article.

Choosing the Right Dog

This may be obvious, but researching different dog breeds, finding out about their strengths and evaluating their weaknesses (all dogs will have both) is going to make a difference later on

If all you need is some early warning that bad guys might be near, almost any dog will do so long as it is alert and barky.

But if having some legit “backup” on hand in case the baddies don’t avoid your house is one of the main objectives of you having a dog, you might want to investigate traditional “working” or “protection” breeds such as German Shepherds, Rottweiler’s, Dobermans, or Bullmastiffs, all of which are commonly used as guard dogs.

Train your Dog

It’s agreed on that by the time an emergency arises, if you haven’t trained your dog already, it’s too late. Appropriate preparation should be taken well in advance (ideally from when the dog is a puppy and if that is not possible, from when it is introduced to the household).

Working together with the dog and professional, accredited trainer is highly recommended, so that you can guarantee that the hound picks up the necessarily skills you want it to, especially if your aim is that burglars avoid your home.

Given it is impossible to know when a burglary might occur, dogs must be trained properly and their behavior must be predictable in day-to-day life. There is little point in having a dog that will act in exactly the way you want in the face of an intruder, if it is badly behaved the rest of the time or poses a threat to your family by reacting in a dangerous way.

Training is great, but don’t let the dog forget what it has learned by not keeping the training fresh and repeated at regular intervals. Upkeep is important.

Make sure the dog stays vigilant and your training doesn’t fall into predictable patterns, which they can learn to anticipate (although consistency in training with method, same commands and so on is important – a trainer can give you necessary tips).

Keep challenges fresh so the dog knows it is expected to react in the same way to different scenarios – it will make you think as well as the dog!

Does your Dog Know Friends From Strangers?

A further aspect of having a dog at home which admittedly may not prevent burglars, but can be excellent at helping you to prepare, is that dogs have a natural instinct to be friendlier to people approaching the house that they know and don’t perceive as a threat.

While a dog might not be able to outright stop a forced entry (especially in SHTF scenarios when intruders are more likely to take extreme actions), watching its reaction can make you aware of the difference between a known visitor versus an unknown person.

Ensure the Dog can Identify Normal vs. Abnormal Behavior

Dogs should be able to socialize with other dogs and people often. Doing so will allow it to understand normal circumstances and actions, and this means that in burglaries or forced entry circumstances, they will react differently and as per their training or your commands, without confusion or delay.

Make Sure it is Clear to the Outside World you Have a Dog

Putting up warning signs about the presence of the dog can also help to avoid and protect against burglary. Signs that you have a dog should be clearly visible and make it clear what kind of dog is on the property.

Making sure signs are visible enough to be taken seriously should be balanced with overuse, which may give the impression that they are for defensive purposes only, rather than because there is an actual dog – we’ve all seen yards with these signs where the dog doesn’t exist!

Commands to Teach your Dog

It may also be beneficial to consider training your dog to obey specific commands, which can help to avoid home intruders. Teaching your dog to bark on command is one method that can deter burglars. Likewise, making sure your dog is trained to stay quiet on demand is also important (fit can give you the element of surprise if the intruder is already in the house).

Burglary cannot always be avoided, especially in circumstances in which tensions are high and unprepared communities may act irrationally.

In these instances, a dog trained to search the home and identify any burglars is valuable as house owners can rely on the dog to ensure the coast is clear and the house is free from intruders if, for example, you have to leave the house and return later. This can be an especially useful command for children or weaker relatives to be able to give the dog.

At the very least, the dog should be taught to make a controlled commotion of visitors on your command – this could be barking, jumping, pulling at clothes etc.

The dog behaving in such a way may at least buy you some time in the event of a burglary, and give you the advantage of initially distracting and surprising the intruder in the case they’re already inside.

Will Burglars Still Avoid Houses with Dogs after the SHTF?

Being able to expect a burglar to avoid your home in a SHTF situation depends on the seriousness of the conditions you find yourself in. In a SHTF scenario and when the unprepared may be desperate, few citizens would hesitate to harm a dog, especially if it would allow them easy access to a home.

The likelihood of burglary will probably increase when the burglar thinks that the property has something likely to aid their survival, but everything hinges on the ability and preparedness of the dog.

As a general rule, thieves or looters will try their easiest options first in SHTF circumstances choosing abandoned homes, houses with easy access, or properties without dogs. When those options are exhausted, they may be forced to try and all opportunities, even if that means approaching a house with a dog.

What this does highlight though, is that having a dog may buy you time: you remove your house from being the easiest target for burglary, giving you more time to assess the environment and make plans specific to the situation you are experiencing.


Essentially, with burglaries, as with all emergencies, preparation is key. In this case, groundwork and training go hand in hand. Owners should consider themselves responsible for identifying which behaviors in a dog will be most useful for them to prevent burglaries and training the dog accordingly.

In conclusion,  a dog is an excellent resource for protecting your home and avoiding burglary – the only question remaining: which dog?

1 thought on “Do Burglars Avoid Houses With Dogs?”

  1. I have dogs that are versatile dogs. Their main job in life is bird hunting, but will retrieve from water, track fur animals and blood trails. They are also good guard dogs and great family dog. If you are going to feed a dog you might want one that is multi purpose. I you need to hunt to survive, a trained hunting dog can make the difference between success and failure. You can also loan it our to others in a pinch.

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