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Home Security: Alarm System vs. Dogs


As a career security professional, I can tell you without hesitation that a dog is a much better defense against burglars. Alarm systems in and of themselves do nothing to prevent a potential criminal from breaking into your home. The only proactive component of an alarm system is the decal, sticker, or sign warning that there is a system installed. This has a deterrent effect which may dissuade an amateur or professional burglar with limited experience. An experienced burglar will know exactly what initiating devices to look for. And what triggers them to send a signal to the panel. They will be proficient in silencing any local sirens or strobe lights and will know exactly how to interrupt phone line communication with a monitoring station. This does nothing to stop a break-in.

Human Interface Problem

One of the primary problems with alarm systems is the human user interface. The vast majority of people who either have an existing system or have one installed are initially diligent about turning the system on when they leave or placing it in “stay” mode when they are home. As a matter of time, that diligence begins to wane. The alarm system can only function if it is “told” to.

Guard dogs are trained to ward off threatsA dog, on the other hand, is vigilant at all times. It has superior vision and hearing and comes with a “hard-wired” sense of territorial boundaries. Anything or anyone that even approaches those territorial boundaries evokes an immediate response. It is the potential for the attention that a loud, barking dog will draw. That causes a burglar to choose a different target. The possibility of being attacked by the dog obviously holds some sway over their decision as well.

Alarm systems require a source of electrical power. That is usually supplied by a step-down transformer that is plugged into the wall outlet. In the event of a power outage or should the transformer somehow get dislodged from the outlet, a backup battery inside the alarm panel provides power. As the battery has a limit as to how long it can provide that power, should the battery “drain,” the system cannot function. It will not respond to initiating devices and can sound neither a local device nor use its dialer to alert a monitoring station (provided the system is monitored and not a “stand-alone”). The dog apparently has no such external energy requirements.

Sans Complication

Alarm systems have become much more complicated over the last 20 years. They are capable of providing intrusion response, fire and carbon monoxide monitoring, and even lighting and systems control. They can be operated either locally or remotely. What they don’t do is prevent burglaries.

Proactive measures which include a dog, bright exterior lighting (either static or motion activated), window film, and deadbolt locks prevent the occurrence of a break-in. Last but not least, establishing kind, supportive, and openly communicative relationships with your immediate neighbors is the best deterrent of all. When everyone in a neighborhood is watchful, any presence that is unusual will draw scrutiny. When a potential burglar knows that they are in that kind of community, they move on to another area.