Dogs put to the test during staged home break-ins - WSMV News 4

Dogs put to the test during staged home break-ins

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Most dog owners wonder whether their four-legged friend would protect them during a break-in, so the Channel 4 I-Team put that question to the test using our hidden cameras.

We set out to see if a trusted canine companion would come to their owners' rescue if someone broke into their home or tried to attack them, and some might be surprised to see which breeds had the best guard dog instincts.

Our collection of test subjects included Scout, a loyal corgi; Dorothy, a poodle-terrier mix; Herschel, a lab mix; Charlie, a feral rescue who had to be rehabilitated for aggression issues; his brother, Richard, a territorial German Shepherd who happens to love bananas; and Bindi, a corgi mix who enjoys long runs with her owner, who is one of our Channel 4 producers.

Now, it was time to send in our intruder, Todd Vehring, a Nashville dog trainer who goes by the name "The Doggie Lama."

Vehring is seen breaking into Scout's home, and she doesn't seem to mind. Scout is curious and following the pretend burglar around but shows no aggression. She doesn't even mind when the intruder picks her up and walks right out the door with her.

Scout's owner, who is also a Channel 4 employee, said she was not surprised to the reaction.

"Baby girl is a lover not a fighter, you know. She's going to go with anyone who is sweet to her, and he goes by the name the Doggie Lama, so I feel like she sensed that he was peaceful," said owner Mary Katherine Rooker.

Dorothy had much of the same reaction to the intruder. As the man walks in, Dorothy appears happy to meet a new friend and even plays with him on the couch.

She only gets scared and runs away when our pretend bad guy turns on the radio and tries to get a closeup of the pooch with one of the I-Team's hidden cameras.

Dorothy's mom, a Channel 4 News executive producer, was hoping for a different response.

"I was really disappointed to see her greet him and wag her tail," said owner Roberta Petterson.

Then it was time to sneak into Herschel's place. Herschel is seen greeting the intruder and even gets on the couch with him. Herschel then leaves the intruder to do as he wishes as he hops on the bed to take a nap.

Charlie and his brother Richard are known to be territorial, so they did not like the I-Team's cameras watching them. But when the intruder entered, they calmed down.

That's because the Doggie Lama has trained them before. This shows that even the most aggressive dogs might have a different reaction if a burglar is good with animals.

"If the person who breaks in is very relaxed and calm about the presence of the dog, they are less likely to be bitten then someone who comes and says, 'Oh, my gosh, a dog,'" Vehring said.

Charlie and Richard's owner wasn't surprised by their reaction, but she said had our intruder been anyone else, this would have ended with a much different story, especially when it comes to Charlie.

"I think he would attack somebody who came in the room," said owner Ann Loughridge.

Finally, it was Bindi's turn. We put her to the test on a morning jog with her owner as the intruder hid in the woods pretending to be bad guy.

Bindi has the best guard dog potential of all the dogs we tested. She may be small, but she packed a big punch when protecting her owner. She barked and lunged at the bad guy when he touched her owner.

Most of the dogs, except for Bindi, didn't do anything to react or protect their turf when our intruder broke into their homes or threatened their human companion.

But our expert dog trainer has an explanation for that behavior.

"Most burglars that are coming around with evil intent are probably going to have an energy about them that is going to set a dog off, and at least having them bark is going to be a great deterrent," Vehring said.

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