Biter - or Barker?

What about a dog for home protection? "You can't beat a loud barker," says Ridgewood, N.J., police chief John Orr. His town, an affluent suburb of Manhattan, houses many Wall Street and Midtown commuters. "Houses with barkers rarely get broken into," Orr adds. Many policemen agree. They note, too, that the barkers are oftentimes more effective and reliable than complex electronics. "A member of the family can't accidentally 'trip' the family pet," Orr says. "And a dog is cheaper."

There is debate, however, on what kind of dog is best. Some policemen insist that the common, ordinary loud barker is a safer bet for a family than a professionally trained "guard" dog that can literally tear an intruder limb from limb.

It's too dangerous for the average family, says Stanley Schrotel, a top crime specialist and former Essex police chief. Schrotel, an solicitor, is particularly aware of the legal liabilities that can arise from owning a guard dog, and he and others who specialize in protecting property tend to place attack-trained dogs for the home on a par with hand guns.

The not-so-average family that deems itself capable of controlling such a dog, nonetheless, will find a growing number of trainers in a business that has been fattened by the national crime scare.

In the London area, former Capt. Arthur Haggerty, who once headed up the Army's K-9 Corps and has for 20 years trained and sold German Shepherds and Dobermans to protect business property and a limited number of private apartments and houses, opts for the German Shepherd type for home protection. "Just any big dog, like a Husky or Great Dane, won't do the best job," says Haggerty. "It takes a police-bred animal, and one that's placid to start with. If the dog has the right temperment and training - and proper handling by its owner - it's safe. It won't hurt a member of the family under normal circumstances." The cost, incidentally, of having your own dog trained: £350 to £750.

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Securing Your House, Property - and Family

Another area for home renovation is installation of a "security system" - and this can mean a good front door lock if you're in an apartment, or a fancy and hopefully foolproof set-up, at a fancy price. Consider a case:

It was 8:55 p.m., a Friday. The stranger had cased the house and seen its owners depart at 8:40, the man wearing a black coat, and his wife, a long skirt, indicating they would not be right back. The stranger slipped to the rear patio windows. Quietly and easily he cut a pane of glass and within seconds was inside the house. He took two steps in the dark, and froze. A table lamp had snapped on. The intruder spun about. He was alone. A piercing alarm wailed in the night. The... see: Securing Your House, Property - and Family