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Doggie Burglar Test: Would your dog protect your home?

For a lot of us, our dogs are like family. But do they really make the best security system? Would they protect your home from an intruder?

ST. LOUIS — If you're like a lot of dog owners you've probably wondered what your dog does when left alone at home. We put some family pets to the test.

How good of a guard is your dog?

"I would have to say that the bulldog is probably considered a guard dog and the Chihuahua is considered a lick dog,” said dog owner Robin Ehrlich.

How would your dog perform if left to protect your home?

"Probably going to go on the sofa and see if I went out. Or take a nap,” said Greg Steinbrueck, an owner of two dogs.

We tested three houses and the canines who call them home to find out if we really rely on our dogs to protect our property.

Helping us out was Sgt. Justin Rayl, a K-9 handler with the Granite City, Illinois police department.

Rayl was wearing a padded bite suit for protection when he posed as a burglar for this experiment.

First up: Jovie. She's a one-year-old Labrador-Australian Shepard mix.

Her dad, Matt Michaels, was hoping Jovi could at least act tough.

“If I'm going to be completely honest I don't see her being much of a guard dog,” Michaels said.

With the house wired with cameras, Michaels slips out like he's leaving for the day and Jovie curls up on the sofa, until she hears something in the hallway.

When Sgt. Rayl walks in, at first Jovi seems less hostile and more host.  It takes her a minute to find her bark.

"Oh, okay. She looks a little terrified,” said Michaels as Jovi allowed the burglar to grab a laptop computer and exit the home.

“I’d say that was pretty close to what I expected. She was a little more vocal than what I thought she'd be,” said Michaels.

"I guess it's a little concerning.  If I was out of town they might be walking away with a TV,” he said.

Next up, a doggie duo, Auggie and Mazzie, a 7-year-old Bulldog-Boxer mix and an 8-year-old Chihuahua mix.

"I feel safer with both of them in the house because both of them will bark.  They let me know if someone's around,” said Ehrlich.

With our camera's rolling in Ehrlich's house, she tells her dogs she's headed out.

A few minutes later Sgt. Rayl creeps in and the Bulldog starts barking.  No attack. But no backing down either.

"Hopefully her bark is enough of a deterrent,” said Ehrlich.

Our last house was home to 9-year-old Lab-Bulldog mix and a 4-year-old Lab-Vizsla mix, both trained to hunt.

"They'll make some noise and look intimidating.  I am confident in their skills and knowing when to use them,” said Greg Steinbrueck.

Again, the cameras were wrolling and nobody was home and when Sgt. Rayl came to the door, but not even a bark.

In fact, he's welcomed in.

"That was a tail wagging. Kill ‘em with kisses," said Steinbrueck.  "I thought they would at least bark."

Sgt. Rayl says we shouldn't expect our pets to attack an intruder, that usually takes some training.

“To train a dog like that for your house, you wouldn't be able to have any visitors.  You'd be afraid to have the dog around your family.  That's not what anybody is looking for I don't think,” said Sgt. Rayl.

The real lesson is for us?  We should think of our dogs as an extra alarm system.

Sgt. Rayl said the barking alone is enough to make most would-be intruders move along.

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