When I was a teenager, my dad acquired a vacant house in not-the-best neighborhood. He tried to fix it up so that he could sell it, but anytime he would purchase supplies, local gangs would steal the materials and vandalize the house. Dad replaced broken windows and missing supplies over and over again. Eventually, he had a 6’ chain link fence put up around the house. He knew someone who had a couple guard dogs, so the dogs were put inside the fence, and from that point forward, the home was less attractive to “bad guys.” It actually made a difference.
If you want to protect your preparations and make your home less of a target, you may consider getting a big dog (or multiple big dogs). My husband and I have a giant breed dog, and we selected her partially for preparedness reasons. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of having a big dog to help you protect your preparations.
First, let’s consider some of the advantages of having a big dog around:
- I don’t know whether it is a saying or a story, or where it comes from, but I’ve heard a quote before that basically says, “If a dog is chasing you and your friend, you don’t have to outrun the dog, you just have to outrun your friend.” A big dog is probably not something that will make or break whether you’re able to defend your preparations. However, a big dog will make your house a little less appealing to looters when they’re choosing between your house and another house in your neighborhood.
- The main reason for this is that big dogs are intimidating. So, they will deter some people. Even if “bad guys” are still set on targeting your home, your dog can alert you when people sneak up, so that you are able to defend yourself (and/or your things).
- Big dogs can protect you. Dogs can become fiercely loyal to their owners, or to their families, and in a physical conflict, they can intervene to help defend (or rescue) you.
- If you’re not part of a survival group, a dog can guard your stuff when you need to leave your home. Unattended preparations will be at much higher risk for theft, because most people don’t want to deal with confrontations. If you’re on your own, a dog may greatly minimize this risk.
- A dog can also provide comfort in uncertain times.
- Different breeds of dogs may provide additional useful services for you. If you have hunting dogs, and they are trained to do hunting jobs, that may be useful if you’re hunting for food in an emergency, and it may give you an advantage over other people who are also hunting in an emergency. Or, if your dog is trained in search-and-rescue, it may provide very-needed services for some sorts of emergencies. Or, some dogs are good at guarding livestock, which would be valuable in an emergency (if you have livestock to protect).
Now, some of the disadvantages of (or special considerations for) having a big dog around:
- Big dogs require planning ahead. When hard times come, you’ll want to already have a (well trained!) big dog—a big puppy will do you no good whatsoever. If you are able to acquire someone else’s big dog, it is unlikely that the dog will be trained to do what you need it to do, and it will probably come with bad habits.
- One more mouth to feed: as long as you want the benefits of having a big dog around, you’ll need to keep feeding the big dog. This means that as you plan your food storage, you’ll probably want to include a lot of dog food. Obviously, this is an additional expense. You will also need to make other preparations for the dog—you may even want to have a 72-hour kit specifically for the dog. Depending on how intense your level of preparation is, you may keep extra medical supplies for your dog(s).
- Dogs require a big time commitment. If you want your dog to be useful in an emergency, it will probably be pretty important that your dog is well trained. A poorly trained dog could become a liability—for instance, a barky dog may alert others to your location when you are trying to lie low. Training requires time and money.
- You’ll be committed to dog things for a while. Whether or not you feel like you need extra protection, your dog will need exercise and potty breaks, and so forth. This investment of time may or may not result in a worthwhile return.
- Big dogs have more surface area to shed fur from, bigger mouths to drool from, and they make more poop. They require bigger dog houses and more food than little dogs.
- Big dogs usually don’t live as long as smaller dogs.
- Even if you go to the trouble of training and maintaining big dogs, if someone really wants to get to you or your house, dogs are not difficult to shoot.
Those are some of the advantages and disadvantages of having a big dog, or big dogs. Here are a few other considerations:
- Before you choose a guard dog, check with your insurance, and your city. Our homeowners insurance will drop our policy if we obtain one of several “aggressive” dog breeds. Some cities have breed-specific laws, such as laws that prohibit pit-bulls.
- Research different breeds that you are considering. Big dogs come with a wide range of personalities and skills. Choose a breed that you’ll be happy to have in times of emergency and in non-emergency times. If you can, try to interact with dogs from the breed you’ve chosen before you commit to a dog, just to be sure that it is a good match for you and your family.
- Be responsible. Think about spaying or neutering, keep up on shots, and take care of your dog adequately.
So, readers, what do you think? Have you considered keeping a big dog around?