Pets need proper training to be effective watchdogs - WFLA News Channel 8

Pets need proper training to be effective watchdogs

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The Jackson-Tolberts were surprised when their giant Neapolitan Mastiff Kanye became fast friends with an intruder. The Jackson-Tolberts were surprised when their giant Neapolitan Mastiff Kanye became fast friends with an intruder.

The Murrays, the Johnsons and the Jackson-Tolberts all believe their watchdogs will protect their homes from criminals while they're out. But are their personal guardians really watching their homes when they're away?

Certified dog trainer Jake Kemp said there's a common misconception about large dogs that they will be natural guardians, but that's rarely the case. He said most animals will need specific training from professionals to be proper watchdogs.

Neither the Murrays, Johnsons nor Jackson-Tolberts have dogs trained to watch their homes, so Kemp went to each of the family's houses to see how the dogs would react

At the Jackson-Tolbert's home, their giant Neapolitan Mastiff Kanye became fast friends when Kemp walked into the house. Kanye even obeyed the intruder's commands.

"He came over and happily walked around the house with me while walking around with all the valuables," said Kemp, with Topline K9 Obedience.

Kemp said Neapolitan Mastiffs are normally more protective of their owners and are "supposed to be weary of strangers," but Anthony Jackson acknowledged that he may have played a part in Kanye being a "softy."

"Yeah, I made him like that -- holding him constantly when he was a puppy. I babied him," Jackson said. "That's why we have a security system."

In Wake Forest, the Johnsons were confident their Golden Retriever Guinness wouldn't be as sweet. But that wasn't the case when Kemp walked into their home.

"From the owner's description, I was expecting to walk up to the house and find a dog barking at me through the window," Kemp said. "We walked around the house, looked through some drawers, explored the kitchen to see if there's anything good to eat."

Jennifer Johnson said her family was assaulted at their home a year ago with Guinness was much smaller. They hoped he had grown into a protector.

"I'm very surprised that he didn't bark or notice him," Jennifer Johnson said. "We were hoping for some sort of alert or alarm."

At the Murrays's home in Raleigh, their dogs Mario and Oscar weren't so welcoming for Kemp.

"I actually had to push them out of the way to get them in the house," Kemp said. "If I was a burglar, and I didn't know anything about dogs, I definitely would've skipped that house for sure."

All three families say they didn't know dogs needed to be specially trained to be real watchdogs, especially when put to the test. But Kemp said "99.9 percent of most typical household pets would react similar to this."

With proper training, Kemp said a dog should obey commands -- including to bite, to back-off, and to move away, all while still being a loving pet to its owner.

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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