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KSL Investigators put family pets to the home security test

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — If you’re a dog owner, you’ve likely wondered how your canine would react to an intruder breaking into your home. Will they bark, bite or lick the crook to death?

The KSL Investigators wondered the same thing, so Mike Headrick put on some padded clothing to confront about a dozen family dogs.

The goal was to see if these untrained family pets would react to a stranger the way their owners believed they would.

In each case, Headrick knocked, entered the home and attempted to take an item with him while the pet owner waited outside.

MALAMUTE & GERMAN SHEPHERD

At house #1, Eddie Rajab was convinced his dogs would sink their teeth into Headrick. Convinced. Rajab has a Malamute named Thor and a German Shepherd named Gioviny.

“Should get bit, dude,” said Rajab, “definitely get bit.”

With cameras rolling in every corner of the apartment, Headrick entered the home while Rajab watched a live feed outside.

From the very beginning both dogs made their presence known. They bark loud and they bark often. But once that door opened, it was just a lot of sniffing with a few jumps and uneasy barks.

The guaranteed bite never happened.

And like a bandit, Headrick fake-steals a vacuum cleaner from the home.

The encounter was not what Rajab expected.

“Disappointed,” said Rajab. “You literally took the vacuum out. I’m really surprised. That is one of his jobs, to protect the house when I’m gone.”

But protecting doesn’t always mean biting.

LAB MIX & MALTIPOO

At house number two live Blossom, a Labrador mix, and Charlie, a highly intimidating Maltipoo.

The expectation for that little guy?

“Run and hide,” said owner Lance Strosser.

But he believed Blossom would make some noise. “I think she’ll be a lot of bark,” said Strosser, “I don’t think she’ll be any bite.  But I think she’ll be pretty protective.”

As Headrick approached the house, not a peep. And when when the door opened, not a whole lot of protecting.

Watching the live stream outside his house, Strosser laughed at his dog’s reactions. “OK, he’s going to help him carry a TV out. Yeah, it’s like ‘welcome.’”

Welcome is right. With their tails wagging, these two seemed happy to greet Headrick.

No bark. No bite. And 30 seconds into the break-in, they were nowhere to be found.

“Ha, so now Blossom runs away and hides,” said Strosser. “Great.”

That left Headrick full access to whatever he wanted to take.

“When I walked through the door, what did you think?” Headrick asked the owner.

“I was shocked,” said Strosser, “because Blossom was very friendly of course. I thought she’d bark. I think I would have liked her to bark.”

AMERICAN BULLY & BORDER COLLIE MIX

If you’re looking for a bark, the dog owners at house number three guaranteed their pets would deliver, with the added expectation of a bite.

Dustin and Kirstie Gore own Shamus, an American Bully, and Lady, a Border Collie mix.

“I’m hoping he’ll do something, because it would be nice to know he’s going to protect us in case something ever happens,” said Dustin Gore before Headrick entered the home.

As promised, both dogs did a lot of barking, clearly uneasy. But before long, both dogs did the unthinkable – high-tailing it out of the room to hide.

“Oh my gosh!!!” said a shocked Kirstie as she watched the life feed. “Oh my gosh!!!”

In the end, Headrick casually walked out with an electronic device.

GREAT DANE & MIXED BREED

To make things interesting, Kirstie went into the home and released two more of their dogs, and Headrick went back inside.

Added to the lineup: a fluffy, black, medium-sized dog named Dixie (breed unknown); and Brooks, a very intimidating looking Great Dane.

The thought was to see if a pack mentality combined with protecting the owner would make a difference.

Within seconds of re-entering the house, we had our answer: a little bit of bark, absolutely no bite.

It should be known, on each of these tests we had a professional dog trainer on-site.

David Broderick is the owner of Innovative K-9 Academy and has been working with dogs for decades.

“[Pet owners] think, ‘my dog is definitely going to protect my home because it barks at everybody,’” said Broderick.

In his experience, Broderick says a good protection dog is one who’s confident. Most untrained family dogs don’t have that confidence. They get nervous and react out of fear.

“They’ll bark,” says Broderick, “but as soon as they see that you don’t act threatening, that you don’t act like you’re scared, they’ll retreat, they’ll run, they’ll hide.”

DACHSHUND & CHIHUAHUA

Speaking of running and hiding, welcome to house number four.

Eevee is part Dachshund and Keena is mostly Chihuahua.

“They may run away from you,” said their owner Kristen Tripodi, “but they’re going to be very loud.”

As soon as Headrick stepped through the door, it was clear Tripodi was right. There was a lot of barking in the beginning. But just a few seconds later the barking was gone — and so were the dogs.

“Eevee is just sniffing and wagging her tail and being friendly,” said Tripodi, “Yeah, Headrick is the dog whisperer. They at least barked. A deterrent at best.”

BULLDOG MIX

Onto house number five, protected by Dozer, a bulldog mix.

He looks indifferent. He sounds indifferent. So it shouldn’t be a surprise when he acts indifferent.

His reaction to Headrick: just a whole lot of sniffing. He even allowed Headrick to give him a nice head scratch behind the ears before he walked out with the pet fish.

“He is not a guard dog for sure,” said Dozer’s owner Brandon Rumel, “he said ‘come on in, take a seat, I’ll show you where the treats are.’”

“And I took your fish,” said Headrick.

To which Rumel jokingly replied, “You can keep the fish!”

PIT BULL MIX

Next up, house number six, guarded by Han Solo, a Pit Bull mix.

And no, he doesn’t have the force, because he’s not a Jedi.

His owner Mallory Denison says he’s a sweet dog, but she hoped his protective instincts would kick in once Headrick walked through the door.

“I just want to know he’ll at least scare someone off a little bit,” said Denison.

No question, once Headrick entered the house, someone is scared. And it’s not Headrick. After a little bit of barking, Han Solo began to whine and then?

“Ah! he’s hiding!” screeched Denison.

“As soon as he felt threatened,” said Broderick, “he ran and his voice changed. His bark was very confident in the beginning and then it became more of like a whiny bark, and then it stopped completely and just turned to whining.”

“He’s not as brave as the real Han Solo I guess,” said Denison.

HABIBI BEAR

Or maybe he needed a little motivation from say, the dark side.

House number seven is Headrick’s house, protected by 10 month old Brody, the Habibi Bear.

Headrick wore a Darth Vader mask to keep his identity concealed from the dog, and as soon as the front door opened, Headrick’s 14-year-old son Dylan egged on the dog.

“Go get him!” he said.

Brody barked and continued to bark loud and often. [Watch the full encounter below.]

This time, Headrick was a little more convincing in his role as a nervous burglar. When he moved forward, Brody backed off. But when Headrick retreated, the little guy made up some ground and moved towards him.

“That one would probably scare off some intruders,” said Broderick, “He kept going. He stayed in there and it looked like he was going to come after him a little bit.”

In the end, Headrick took off with one of the most valued items in the house: the TV remote.

“If I was a burglar and I opened the door and a dog came charging at me like that and didn’t retreat, I would probably shut the door and move on to the next one,” said Broderick.

LESSONS LEARNED

Thirteen dogs put to the test, with 13 different reactions.

While many of the pests didn’t respond as expected, let’s be honest, who can stay disappointed at those cute faces.

Broderick said in all cases, the dogs responded the way you would expect a family pet to react. A true security dog takes months of special training. But the bark alone may be enough to dissuade a would-be burglar from taking a chance.

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