6 min read


Can Dogs Sense Robbers?



6 min read


Can Dogs Sense Robbers?


It’s the middle of the night and a bad-guy-burglar is making their way through a back window in the house. Suddenly, a low growl is heard and the robber decides to try his luck somewhere else. The threat of the family dog was enough to send them scurrying! 

So, how does a dog know the difference between someone popping in for a late night coffee or a robber that’s come to steal the family jewels?  Having a dog in the home could be the best security you'll ever have, as it seems burglars don’t fancy their chances against the family Rottweiler. Can dogs really sense robbers? Let's find out.


Signs a Dog Can Sense A Burglar

Dogs have stupendous hearing powers and no matter how quiet a robber might be, the family woofer is likely to hear them. It seems your pet Papillon or Retriever could be the most efficient security there is. A barking mutt is a scary proposition for a thief trying to raid your home.

Imagine coming face to face with a Bull Mastiff, who likes their beauty sleep and is not pleased that a thief has entered their realm. Staring down the barrel of a dog that was once used by ancient Romans to viciously attack their enemies, is likely to give a robber the shakes. This gutsy guard dog is now on red alert, revealing his pearly whites with a cold, staring look that says, “Come on robber - make my day!”

With nowhere to run, the thief will be frozen with fright, wishing he’d listened to his dad’s advice and got a proper job. Meanwhile, the Mastiff is holding its ground pacing ever so slightly back and forth, the saliva from its mouth drooling all over the robber’s shoes. Then an ear-shattering bark echoes through the home as lights go on and the humans are grabbing the baseball bat under the bed and heading for the scene of the crime.

Perhaps that’s why ex-cons say that homes with CCTV cameras and dogs are not a robber’s target of choice. According to “The Guardian,” if a burglar hears a dog barking, they move on to the next possibility. That’s no help to the thief standing in the living room with a macho Mastiff guarding their turf and a family looking on in amazement. If the robber were to turn and run, the Mastiff would give chase and you’d probably read the headline in the paper the next day - “Brave Dog Apprehends Burglar!”

Undesirables who take up a career in this line of work should do their doggy check and then they would know some breeds are just born to defend. Meeting a Neapolitan Mastiff mutt who senses the burglar has the moral code of snake would be a harrowing experience as these Herculean creatures are as big as a pony.

Even the sight of a manic Maltese hurtling toward a robber might make a burglar think of switching careers. These pups will pick up these vibes and sense the robber is not okay. The fur will rise on the back of this fluffy pup’s neck as they snap at the perpetrator's heels. A dog of any breed will sense a robber is not to be trusted, as their body language is a dead giveaway

The Daily Mail reported the story of an attempted burglary thwarted by a massive Mastiff called Cromwell. His owner heard screams in the backyard and found Cromwell with a ripped-up t-shirt, in the backyard, where he had been hanging out eating his bone. This gentle giant sensed the robber was there to steal his master’s lawnmower and sent him packing with a reminder never to ever come back. That was a bad day for a burglar - who met his match with a Mastiff!

Body Language

Signs a dog can sense a robber include:<br/>

  • Growling
  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Guarding
  • Drooling
  • Snapping
  • Exposed Teeth

Other Signs

More signs a dog can sense burglars in your home are:<br/>

  • Running To A Door Or Window
  • Attacking The Intruder
  • Sensing Their Nervous Body Language

History Of Dogs Guarding Humans and Their Homes


Dogs in antiquity were recognized as hunters and guardians of the home and flock. Some were depicted as Grecian gods, like the 3-headed canine Cerberus, whose vocation was to guard the gates of Hades. Early Romans saw dogs as protectors from wild animals and thieves, as well as supernatural entities.

In caveman days, it was a tough time to stay alive, let alone protect their kin from predators. Some say a miracle happened and wolves became friendly with humans, while others think wolf pups were raised like dogs and appreciated for their guarding instincts. So began the era of the woofer and the many versions that were to follow.

Today, dogs are a powerful force in police and private security, keeping celebrities and businesses safe. With security technology at a premium high, it is still accepted that the humble woofer is "el supremo," when it comes to sensing robbers. They are a valued member of the military and police force plus they are a deterrent to prowlers and thieves.

There are certain dog breeds that appear to stand out from the rest with a history of success as guard dogs. First up is the German Shepherd, a loyal pup ready to take on the person crazy enough to illegally enter their home. While a Bull Mastiff might be kind to children, a cat burglar trying to make off with your treasured artwork is likely to be knocked to the ground. 

The Doberman has the look of a dog you wouldn’t mess with and if you have a large property to protect, this mutt is fast on their paws. Rocky, your relentless Rottweiler, is a robber's worst nightmare. Just the sight of them will terrify a thief. Chow Chows, Belgian Malinois, and Staffordshire Terriers make top guard dogs, and believe it or not, a Chihuahua's small size is immaterial when it comes to defending the family turf.

Science of Dogs Sensing Robbers


Did you know dogs are not that easily fooled? They also appear to have the ability to figure out people – good or bad!  Our woofers have finely tuned senses, so when a robber appears in your home and Thor, your bold Boxer, kicks up a fuss, it’s because he’s not feeling the love.

Right about now, the biology of the thief is going through a few changes. His heart is pounding in his chest as adrenaline pumps into his bloodstream, triggering a flight or fight response. His palms are sweaty and he’s getting aggressive, hoping to chase the dog off. Thor is not budging, as he senses this uninvited house guest is not the real deal.

Is it a 6th sense that alerts woofers to a person who can’t be trusted? That’s up to the individual to decide, but most of it could be down to their off-the-chart sense of smell. We can recognize the delicious casserole cooking on the stove, while dogs like Thor can tell you every ingredient in the mix. He can also smell the adrenaline hormone being emitted from the thief.

Healthy Pets featured a Japanese experiment to see whether dogs could tell if a person wasn’t being honest. A researcher pointed to a container with food hidden underneath and all the dogs involved went and got their treat. Then, the dogs were directed to a container that had nothing. They were given the impression there was food waiting, but there wasn't. Next, a researcher pointed to a container that definitely had a hidden treat. The dog’s response by then was “who do you think you’re kidding,” and most ignored the request. It seems our intuitive mutts are aware when someone tries to trick them.

Training a Dog to Guard Your Home


Some dogs are naturally protective and take the initiative with intruders while other woofers go through rigorous training so they can guard the rich and famous. These elitist mutts cost around $35,000 to $250,000 and are trained by "Harrison-K9," to protect and attack if necessary. Business Insider ran the story about these priceless pups, designed to keep high-profile people safe. If you can’t afford the hefty price tag for a ready-made guard dog, why not train your pup to defend your home and valuables?

"The sooner the better" seems to be the motto when training a guard dog so a woofer can learn the right moves from day one. A professional trainer might be a better choice, as they have the experience to create a magnificent guard dog who is also a loyal companion. You might already have the latter and want to teach your pup how to protect and guard all that you own.

Basic training is essential with the classic sit, stay, come, and heel being necessary tools for a guard dog in the making. There are a few rules that need to be followed, like training your dog to listen to your commands only and to never accept food or treats from someone the dog doesn't know. If a thief is dog-command savvy, they may be able to avert your dog and steal your stuff.

Stranger barking is an important training step as your Collie, Husky or German Shepherd learns to alert family members if something doesn’t feel right. Your dog also needs to know the boundary lines of your property and not to take on the neighbors cat or woofer.

Guard dogs can be taught to attack on the owner’s commands or by taking the initiative if their guardian is under threat As you can see, there’s a lot involved in training a top dog yourself, so calling upon a well-established trainer, even for advice, is a wise move.

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By a Japanese Chin lover Linda Cole

Published: 03/23/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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