BLOGS Ask the Animal Expert Ask Annie about Animals: August 2016

Dear Annie,

My husband wants to get a dog for a watchdog, but dogs scare me. Are there
other animals that can be trained as watchdogs?

Scaredy Cat

Dear Cat,

While dogs have made themselves invaluable as guardians of our families, our homes, and our belongings – including other animals – for thousands of years, there are other species that have proven useful in that capacity as well. For starters, cats have proven quite capable as protectors. Tara the cat became famous when a video of her attacking, and chasing away, a dog hit the Internet back in 2014. The dog became the target of Tara’s wrath when it attacked a human family member. Tara actually received the Los Angeles SPCA’s Hero Dog award for 2015 for her act of bravery. Many years ago, my cousin had a very protective Siamese cat that attacked unwelcome visitors… especially the mailman! Of course, cats have been protecting people’s homes and property from pests such as rodents and snakes for thousands of years.

If you recall the Hitchcock film, The Birds, you no doubt realize how useful birds might be as attack dogs. There are many species to choose from. Geese are common farm fowl and they delight in charging and driving off intruders. Their beaks can inflict some pain and damage as well. I personally know of a furnace repairman being ‘bitten’ by a turkey after the watchdogs were put away! And Guinea hens are excellent, or should I say ‘eggs-ellent’, burglar alarms with the way they screech at interlopers.

Donkeys have been employed with great success as livestock guardians. They have great hearing and are naturally protective of their territory. They will bond with the herd they are designated to protect – when they have no other individual of their own species to bond with. Socialization and some training may be necessary to encourage the bonding. Donkeys are less flighty than horses and also have a wider field of vision than their equine cousin. Donkeys tend to be aggressive to canine intruders of all persuasions and can be dangerous to humans after an episode of protecting their herd. They also have the capacity of scaring off unwelcome guests with their braying. Llamas have also been utilized in the same fashion, and tend to be less dangerous to humans even after a protective episode.

While goats may not offer much protection against predators for your flock or herd, they may offer some protection to your home and family. Full-grown goats, depending on the breed, weigh from 60-300 pounds. When you add in the pair of horns on their heads they make an imposing sight to unwary humans trespassing on your property. Of course, you do need to check your zoning ordinances since some of these animal options may only be available for you to choose from if you live in a rural area.

Overall, dogs do tend to be the better choice for the job of watchdog. Unlike some of the other species, they bond to their human family members as well as any animals they have been taught to look after. Perhaps you could conquer your fear of dogs? Please feel free to call or email me if I can be of assistance in helping you overcome your
canine phobia.


Send your ‘Ask Annie About Animals’ questions to:
Wolf Song Enterprises, LLC
1657 S. Getty, Suite 28 Muskegon, MI 49442
or email your question to:

Annette_VidaAnnette Vida is a licensed veterinary technician with multi-species experience in day clinic, emergency clinic and mobile veterinary care facilities. She is also a certified dog trainer with 40 years experience. Annette has been involved with rescuing animals for decades and shares her home with her wonderful husband and many (rescued) animals. She owns and operates Wolf Song Enterprises, LLC, where she offers animal related consulting services and training. Her office is located at 1657 S. Getty, Ste 28, Muskegon, MI 49442. Call 231-740-3879 for an appointment—home consultations also available.

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