Friday, December 7, 2012

Would Your Dog Protect Your Home? (From SomethingWagging)

Head over to Something Wagging This Way Comes, where Pamela posted about a topic I've ruminated upon before (most recently in September): Would your dog protect your home? Thsi is a topic visited periodically on the Doberman board, and I guess amongst dog owners in general. There's a video, you see, wherein CBS Atlanta first planted cameras in a home, then took a dog trainer in a bite suit and had him "break in" to each house.

The "test" was interesting to watch, though not scientific in any regard. More for fun, I guess. My issues with it are somewhat nitpicky, but hey, if we're going to play at housebreaking, it might as well be realistic as possible, for the dogs' sakes, right?

I did comment on Pamela's entry, but I'll repeat myself here.

(guy in a bite suite, from the Wikimedia Commons)





Issue #1: The dogs were home when the cameras were installed, so they already all kinds of strangers coming inside and messing with things with their owners present. I'm not sure how much time elapsed between the installation of the cameras and the "break ins", but I wonder if the original activity sort of set a precedent. Most dogs don't "learn" something in one go; certainly, if these dogs were particularly protective, they wouldn't have been loose and sniffing people while they were placing the cameras.

Issue #2: The front door was unlocked, so the intruder just walked right in like he was supposed to be there. If he had come through a window, or kicked the door in, I wonder if the dogs would have reacted differently (on either end of the spectrum, really: more fearful OR more protective).

Issue #3: The owners were not home in any of the break in scenarios, which leads me to wonder if the dogs would have behaved more protectively with an owner present. A personal protection dog is different from an estate guardian dog. I guess there are thoughts of territory as well that could play into this



If you watch the video, the only dog that even gets nippy is a German Shepherd of woeful physical conformation. He is also extremely fearful, and I wonder if it was more a fear bite than a "protection" bite, as that dog struck me as rather fearful each time he was on camera, even with his owner holding the leash. He also seemed somewhat young (but I could be incorrect on that).

Most of the time, we're here if somebody enters the house and interacts with Elka. At least once, I asked one of my coworkers to come and let her out when we were at a Renaissance Faire, and said coworker encountered no problems entering the house with a borrowed key, approaching Elka (who was baby gated in the kitchen at the time), and taking her out back to empty her.

A friend of ours, who had met Elka many times, had a somewhat different experience coming to let her out. Again, Elka was baby gated in the kitchen, and said friend had a key to come in the house. Our friend got the front door open and looked towards the kitchen door; while you can see the kitchen from the front door, it's a funny angle looking back, and Elka couldn't see who was at the door all that clearly. But oh, our friend could see Elka! She said that Elka's lips were pulled entirely back from her teeth, clear up to the gums (which I've never seen). Elka's ears were laid flat against her head. Her fur, from neck to base of the tail, was fully erect. And she was totally quiet and still. Our friend thought "uh-oh", but from the door said "Elka, it's me!" and Elka put all of the Scary Doberman stuff away and wiggle danced in greeting, and they went out back and had a good time.


It's comparative situations like this which make me think it would be interesting to take Elka to a Working Aptitude Evaluation (WAE). From the Doberman Pinscher Club of America web site:

The WAE tests the temperament of a UNTRAINED dog. The "evaluator" scores each dogs reaction at each of the 7 testing stations. No training is required, nor preferred, to properly evaluate the dogs temperament. A trained dogs reaction, to any portion of the test, can be misleading and defeat the purpose of the test! The WAE is designed to give owners and breeders a better understanding of the dogs temperament, but not it's working ability! A review of the test results will give a good understanding of the strengths and weakness of each dogs temperament.
Of course, at 3, Elka isn't exactly "untrained", so the evaluation wouldn't be entirely "pure", but as I said, it would be interesting. Some of the components of the tests are things like a gunshot, a neutral stranger, and a threatening stranger. I've read other Doberman owners' accounts of having taken their dogs to a WAE, and do regret not having attended a recent one that was downstate. However, Elka gets carsick without Dramamine, so not only is she not "untrained", but would also have been drugged...that's a confound to a study if ever there was one!

Really what it comes down to is if your dog is not tested realistically, you don't know how your dog would react in a given situation. Nobody's broken into our home, so I don't know how Elka would react. Nobody's approached us in a threatening manner on the street, so I don't know how Elka would react or try to follow through. I hope to never have to find these things out, really. It would be nice to live life without these occurrences. 



17 comments:

  1. Oh I think Elka would be a great protector. The only thing an intruder would suffer in our house would be a basset taking out their legs just by trying to get at them to be petted. I guess that could work! LOL!

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    1. Hey, a basset to the legs is nothing to be taken lightly ;)

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  2. I agree with you, I will be perfectly happy to go through life without real life experience about how the dogs would react. Of our four, I think Morgan is the only one who would be protective at all, and a lot of her reaction would be based on fear. I agree very strongly with you about the point of it making a difference if the owner were home or not. Morgan would not be happy if someone she didn't know came in and we were gone, but I think she'd be more likely to keep an eye on the person and stay out of their reach. If I were home, she would be a lot more aggressive. This is just my instinct, but I've seen several things happen that give me some clues about her behavior. I think somebody would mess with her at their peril, though, because if she felt the bets were off, she'd do what she felt she had to.

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    1. Really, I think most people "casing" places to break in steer away from houses with dogs in them, be it big dogs, small dogs, one dor or many. You've got 4 (!), so that already stacks the deck in your favor.

      Funny how nobody ever talks about protective instinct in greyhounds, isn't it?

      I dont know if Kuster is from what could be considered "working lines" or not, but there is debate on the Doberman board about whether the protective instinct is in the breed in general, or stronger in working lines. So, from an outsider's perspective, it might be 2 of your 4.

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  3. No way. If you got cheese come on in!
    Benny & Lily

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  4. We mallies are terrible guard dogs BOL, especially if food is used as a bribe!

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    1. But I've heard you're fabulous WATCH dogs! ^^

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  5. Oh, an intruder would get themselves knock on their arse!! No, not necessarily because I was 'protecting' my house, butts because I do zoomies when someone comes home! BOL

    Kisses,
    Ruby

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    1. Ah, the zoomies! Yes, they can really take people unawares ;)

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  6. I have no doubt that Silas would protect the house. I'm not sure he would bite, although with his temperament I have to live my life as though like he will bite anyone at any time. (Fearful, easily startled.) He does, however, bark hysterically and ferociously at everyone who comes to the door. We've terrified many a delivery person. Sigh.

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    1. Yeah, our mailman apparently feels so threatened that he must toss packages onto the porch. Nevermind that he's never actually SEEN Elka.....

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  7. I think she'd be a great protector!
    Funny (funny interesting, not funny haha) story with Nola. We went to take the CGC test, and before we took it the evaluator was talking to me about the test. She quickly ran me through everything we'd be doing, and when she got to the "reaction to distraction" portion she kind of lunged toward me in (what would have been) a threatening manner. Nola's fur stood up from neck to tail, she pushed herself in front of me (from the sit/stay she'd been in at my side), her lips curled back and she started this deep, feral snarling. I said "Nola, enough." and she returned to her stay, still watching the evaluator but her fur was down and she was no longing growling.

    A similar thing happened when I was visiting family in Richmond, VA. A "family friend" was over, and he made me uncomfortable. It was just me and him in the kitchen, and he came toward me in a suggestive manner. Nola dashed in from the living room and started barking, snarling and snapping (did not even try to lay a tooth on him, just bite at the air). He backed off and didn't bother me again.

    Those have been the only 2x Nola's showed any sign of aggression. I do believe 100% she'd protect the house, much more so if I was there.
    Nola's Mom

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    1. Nola does sound like she's your little protector, wow. I know I would have appreciated it for sure in that second incident you describe. The fact that you have only seen it those two times shows she seems to have really good judgement.

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  8. I really don't know how Kyuss would react, but I can hash a guess that if someone walked straight in, he's wiggle his butt and do a happy dance. If someone knocked or 'tried' to get in, I think it would be quite a different story.

    Some days Kyuss will suddenly start giving a low, deep growl and his hackles will raise. He won't move from where ever he is, but it's pretty frightening. We never really know what he's growling at, but I think it may be neighbours outside, or something he just senses.

    Also, if someone happens to walk onto the property when we're outside, he will bark and charge at them. He has never attacked anyone and stops short before reaching them, but I've had people turn tail and run. I don't blame them. =O

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  9. Nice insight! Dogs are great watchdogs, protectors, and man’s best friend. However, it's still wise if you installed security cameras for protection. There are cameras that can be connected to the internet that can automatically trigger an alarm to a police department whenever there’s a crime in progress.

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  10. You try all the possible ways to make the dog training fun and interesting. So follow the tips given below to make your dog well trained.

    Trained Home Protection Dogs

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