Some people may not see the need to pay for expensive, professional security installations, or don’t want to transform their homes into Fort Knox. Luckily, there are other practical ways to protect your home against intruders without security systems and surveillance equipment. Have you heard about Watchdogs?

A Watchdog, also known as “Alarm Dog”, is a dog that is used to warn their owner when something isn’t right – typically by barking. If an intruder or trespasser tries to enter the house, the watchdog warns their owner by barking and making noise. Watchdogs are not supposed to to attack people or protecting the house by biting or threatening the intruder, their job is simply to “sound the alarm”. For example, if a stranger walks into your backyard, or tries to enter your car, or your front door. A good, well-trained watchdog can sound the alarm and stay out of danger until “backup” arrives. Additionally, a good watchdog also knows when not to “sound the alarm”. If a jogger passes on the sidewalk, the mailman drops by, or someone shouts in the garden next door, a well-trained watchdog knows there is no reason to bark and call for help.

The best watchdog breeds

Even though watchdogs come in many different sizes and shapes, and most dogs instinctively act as home guardians, there are specific breeds that are known for possessing the characteristics needed to become watchdogs. Most of them have similar attributes: imposing size, impressive physique, intimidating appearance, courage, loyalty and, above all, intelligence. It is essential that a watchdog understands its job, and never frightens or threatens its master or family members. Good watchdogs have an instinctive understanding of the job and, at the same time, make fine family pets.

The following dog breeds are among the best watchdog breeds:

1. Bullmastiff – Because of the size and protective nature, Mastiffs are excellent watchdogs. This breed is also known for its physical strength, courageousness, and extreme family loyalty. With its instinctive watchdog tendencies and fearlessness in the face of danger the Bullmastiff is the perfect guardian. The breed is very docile in a family environment  and also makes a great household pet.

2. Doberman Pinscher – If you have a large piece of property that you are trying to protect, a Doberman Pinscher is a great watchdog for you. Doberman Pinschers were bred to be tough, alert and intelligent, and they are known as the fifth-smartest dog breed in the world. Dobermans are fearless, alert, and loyal dogs.

3. Rottweiler – Originally bred as cattle-protecting dogs, Rottweilers are known to be protectors of their pack. They are an intelligent breed and extremely loyal to their owners. Rottweilers are known to be aloof with strangers until properly introduced to them and are very quick learners.

4. Komondor – The Komondor possesses a natural watchdog ability. This breed is active, courageous, loyal and known for its dignity and strength. With their shepherding background and calm temperament — except in the face of danger — the Komondor is a natural watchdog.

5. Puli – Pulis are known for their suspicious nature. They are always alert and will bark to warn their owners of anything out of the ordinary. Pulis are very smart and require constant companionship. They are great for families with active lifestyles, as they love hiking, running, and outdoor activities.

6. Giant Schnauzer – With roots as country dogs used to guard farms, Giant Schnauzers are strong, powerful, and dominant dogs that require strict training. This breed requires a lot of mental and physical stimulation and requires constant attention. Giant Schnauzers are powerful and intimidating, and their extreme family loyalty makes them excellent watchdogs.

7. German Shepherd – German Shepherds are fearless police dogs often used in search and rescue units. They are bold, confident, and fearless. They are extremely intelligent and quick to learn commands. German Shepherds are calm when in a household but can quickly react when their family or home is threatened. The protective nature of this breed makes them exceptional guardians of the home.

8. Rhodesian Ridgeback – Originally bred to hunt lions, Ridgebacks are loyal and make natural watchdogs. They are said to be selective in their barking so when a Ridgeback barks, it needs to be taken seriously. Rhodesian Ridgebacks must be properly trained and managed, as they are not naturally obedient. The breed loves family time and loves to cuddle.

9. Kuvasz – This breed is originally used as a royal guard dog in Hungary. It is very territorial and has a strong instinct to guard its family and home. The Kuvasz can be a reliable protector of small children.

10. Belgian Sheepdog – Alert, smart and highly sensitive to their surroundings, Belgian Sheepdog have a strong work ethic. They are aware of strangers and protective of their home and family.

11. Entlebucher Mountain DogThis breed is fiercely protective of those they love, while suspicious of strangers. Entlebuchers are energetic and devoted companions.

12. Weimaraner – The Weimaraner is built to run and over half of its brain is devoted to its highly developed sense of smell. This breed’s alertness and loyal nature ensure it will alert its owners of any suspicious activity.

How to train a watchdog

Training your dog to be a watchdog will take some time and patience, but the result will be a dog that will not only protect you against a threat, but will also be comfortable and well behaved in non-threatening situations. Before you start the watchdog training, you have to ensure your dog can follow basic obedience commands. Your dog should be able to obey basic commands like “stay”, “sit”, “down” and “come”. When your dog knows how to master these basic obedience skills it is easier to teach him more difficult techniques like alert barking and standing guard. To train your dog to alert you when a stranger is at the door or on your property, you need to teach your dog when the barking is OK and when it’s not. Most dogs are natural barkers and do not need a command to bark at the sound of someone approaching or a sudden noise. The key here is to get your dog to bark at specific situations. In the first part of the training you have to teach yourself to go to your dog every time he barks – every time! You need to answer your dogs every bark by rushing to his side. Then, depending on what he is barking at, you must either praise him, or sharply tell him “NO”. If he is barking at something you want him to bark at, like a stranger opening the gate, you praise and pet him, and maybe give him a taste of dog biscuit. If he was barking at someone just passing on the sidewalk or a bird, tell him “NO”. If you provide your dog with that kind of feedback, it won’t take him long to figure out what is to be barked at and what is to be ignored. To challenge your dog’s understanding of the “correct bark”, keep your dog inside your home and step outside your front door. Once you are outside, knock on the door and see if he reacts by barking. Reward him with a treat when he barks. You can also ask family members and friends to test your dog that it’s not always you ringing the doorbell. And most important, be patience and consistent with your training!