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Is there any evidence to suggest that owning a dog or that evidence of a dog (barking alarm, beware of dog sign) reduce the likelihood of your home being broken into?

Example 1:

Most burglars do not want to have to deal with a dog. Dogs can deter robbers in several ways. First the burglar does not want to get bit so a big mean dog may very well deter a burglar.

Example 2:

Beware of Dog is another sign that is a good deterrent. Who would want to take the risk of being mauled by a Rottweiler or pit bull?

Example 3:

Barking dog alarm is the most efficient way to deter burglars and to keep your home safe and secured especially if you are out for travel.

  • 3
    Depends on the dog a lot. We've had one huge dog who loved everyone and never barked at strangers, and one large dog (German shepherd) who would instantly aggressively attack any stranger to step foot in the garden. The former could deter only by looking scary; the latter would make theft impossible without incapacitating the dog. – RomanSt Sep 4 '12 at 6:29
  • Answer this question: If you had the choice of two houses to break into and one had a dog. Which house would you choose? – SaturnsEye Mar 3 '15 at 17:23
  • What kind of dog? Rottener? Poodle? – GordonM Oct 1 '15 at 11:57
  • @SaturnsEye Depends – PyRulez Oct 4 '15 at 0:48
  • Jack Russell, one hell of a watchdog - no training required. – PCARR May 26 '16 at 16:58
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There is suggestion of moderate deterrence in the 1980s Kirkholt Crime Study (in north west England) reported on page 7 of this burglary statistics report

Based on findings from a small sample of burglars in a study in Kirkholt (Forrester et al., 1988; n=76), over half of the offenders felt deterred by occupancy, visible burglary alarms or high visibility at the point of entry. Findings from a small group of active burglars (Cromwell et al., 1991; n=30) indicated that for a sample of 30 active offenders, 90 per cent stated that they avoided selecting houses that appeared to be occupied and 70 per cent were deterred by the presence of a dog.

On the other hand, advice to homeowners from Crimestoppers (an official English crime prevention organisation) from an ex-burglar said

Avoid ‘Beware of the dog' signs. They are a sure indicator that you don't have an alarm in your property. A thief will also think that you probably leave your back door open to let the dog into the garden. The same goes for an ‘I love cats' sign, or something similar. Pet owners often don't have an alarm.

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    I'd take a study over the opinion of a single ex-burglar (anecdote at best). – geoO Feb 27 '15 at 19:05
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    Man, that is very little data. I couldn't do better by searching myself. There is so little good information about this. Your linked report seems inadequate. It is confined to a small section of a nation with low incidence of personal firearms ownership. The link didn't work for me, were the types of dogs even considered? Additionally, the report is quite old. Between me and you maybe we can come up with better data. – geoO Oct 2 '15 at 15:51
  • @geo - I have fixed the second broken link – Henry Oct 3 '15 at 16:11
3

Even in cases where the dog isn't a physical deterrent, dogs tend to bark at strangers. This barking can alert owners who can in turn arm themselves or call the police. It is hard to imagine a situation where a dog makes theft more likely. The worst case is that the dog simply fails to deter a thief.

So yes, a dog can provide a deterrent effect, or sometimes just no effect.

"On average, burglarized houses are less likely to have dogs than are non-burglarized houses, suggesting that dog ownership is a substantial deterrent."

http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/e07021611.pdf

"Most big breeds, unless they're trained as guard dogs, aren't barkers. What you want are 'yappers,' small dogs that make a lot of noise." -Walter Shaw, reformed cat burglar

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/big-dogs-other-mistakes-54581

"Only one thing will deter most burglars: a dog."

http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1991-07-14/news/9101250909_1_burglars-palm-beach-county-pickings

"Having a dog is a huge deterrent. Ironically, burglars are far more likely to avoid a house with a small dog than a big one — small dogs tend to be nervous and less easy to trick into calming down. They’re less trustful and bark louder and longer."

http://www.scambusters.org/homeburglary.html

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    Have you ever had a small, yappy dog? You're far more likely to ignore the dog's barking because there are so many false positives. Mailman at the door? Barking. Familiar friend entering the house? Insane barking. Kid quietly cycling past on the street? Utterly unhinged, fearful barking plus the dog shaking in abject terror. Squirrel chirps half a block away? Dog completely loses their shit, runs to their owner, pees on their feet. It never ends. – Ernie Sep 21 '15 at 19:43
  • Are any of your references based on empirical datw, rather than opinion? – Oddthinking Oct 1 '15 at 6:03
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    The first link uses statistical data, though as typical in dog vs burglar data, it is weak. – geoO Oct 2 '15 at 15:44
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    @Ernie. Sure there can be a lot of false positives. Metal detectors also provide a lot of false positives. Motion alarms also provide a lot of false positives. The question is does a small, yappy dog deter a burglar? It's just about making life harder for the bad guy so he moves on to the next (easier) house. How does the burglar know the dog's yapping will be ignored? – geoO Nov 11 '15 at 21:43
  • Oh, sure, said dog will detect a burglar. But you can't tell if the dog is detecting a burglar or one of 14,000 other things that aren't burglars. So when the burglar does show up, you're reflexively telling the dog to be quiet, only to also discover that there's a burglar. And then it's too late. – Ernie Nov 13 '15 at 0:05

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