3 Alternative Guard Animals

Guard dogs can be a great way to protect your home or property from intruders. However, most people aren’t aware that a guard dog is not the only choice when looking for an animal to help guard your home. There are several other animals that, when trained effectively, can help to prevent potential intruders from being able to enter your home and property. These animals are usually fairly easy to keep, requiring little to no maintenance. In addition to this, they also have a strong territorial instinct that will help motivate them to defend against any potential intruders. Here is some useful information about some of the most effective alternative guard animals for your home or property.

Guard Geese

Many people aren’t aware of the potential value of geese as effective guard animals. Though some people are familiar with the occasional aggressive behavior of  certain geese, it is a generally accepted opinion that they do not have the capacity to understand the concept of “guarding”. However, this is not the case. Geese are fairly territorial, and will act as they see fit to defend their domain. In addition to this, geese are alert to any sign of danger. This danger could be intruders, potential burglars, or even predatory animals.

Keeping Guard Geese
Geese are most effectively used as a guard animal when they are kept in flocks. When searching for guard geese that are right for your home’s security, you may want to pick up a flock that consists of three to five females and one male. Try to keep only one male goose in your flock, since this will mean that you will not have to deal with hormone-induced fights between males in your flock during mating season. This will also help your flock to focus only on defending your property from intruders. In addition to this, you may want to use discretion when keeping other animals in addition to your geese. If your geese feel that their territory is being threatened, they will often attack. If you have dogs, cats or other small animals, be sure that they are kept in an area where they won’t have a direct confrontation with your guard geese.

Feeding Guard Geese
Most guard geese will be able to live on a diet of scratch feed, as long as they are allowed to have sufficient time outdoors to forage for food. Try to keep your guard geese in the area of your property where you need protection. This can be accomplished by placing your bird’s food in the same area each day. Eventually, your guard geese will remain in that area naturally. Scratch feed is fairly inexpensive, and can be purchased at most livestock supply stores. If you wish, you can also find highly nutritious and affordable scratch feed online.

Territorial Behavior
Geese are territorial animals, and may display aggressive behavior when they sense an intruder. As stated before, this behavior most often occurs when geese are kept in groups of two or more. As an example of this behavior, you may view this video:

These geese undoubtedly feel like the maker of this video is becoming a threat to their territory. Just before the video ends, you can see them poised in “attack” position, ready to strike at the intruder who has trespassed onto their property.

Dangerous Geese
As you can see, underestimating the potential value of geese as a guard animal can be a mistake. They are fairly inexpensive to keep, and will often alert you of any danger by giving an auditory “alarm” signal. You may view more examples of the aggressive behavior of geese by viewing the video below.

When Geese Attack

When geese feel that their territory is threatened, they will usually attack. Another example of this behavior can be seen below, in a video caught by a security camera in a commercial parking lot.

Two Geese Attack AIG Employee

 Since the event where the individual in this video first encountered the geese was off-camera, it’s difficult to discern exactly why these geese felt compelled to attack. However, due to the territorial nature of most geese, we can assume that these particular birds thought that they were defending their domain against an intruder. If you are able to establish your property as the territory of your guard geese, you will have an effective (and quite loud) measure of security against any potential intruders.

Guard Donkey

Some people are already familiar with the concept of guard donkeys. Indeed, many donkeys will display wary or anxious behavior around strangers, even when they have not been trained to be guard animals. Due to problems with predators, sheep herders were the first to begin training donkeys to guard their flocks. In terms of success, it is said that over 70% of donkeys are able to effectively and completely protect a flock of sheep from dangerous predators. Now, you have the chance to take advantage of this unique guard animal for your own home security needs.

Why Donkeys Make Good Guard Animals
A donkey relies primarily on its sense of hearing, as well as its visual input to detect when potentially dangerous intruders are nearby. Donkeys can be territorial, and may defend a set “domain” that has been established as their property. A donkey’s primary method of guarding involves a combination of kicking, stomping and chasing of intruders. This, in combination with the loud “braying” that a donkey emits when agitated, should be enough to deter even the most stubborn intruders.

Choosing a Guard Donkey
If you wish to purchase a donkey to help defend your property, the first consideration that you will have to make is size. There are generally four sizes for donkeys, each of which will stay within a height range. These sizes are generally within these guidelines (though may be adjusted for gender):

  • Miniature – Under 36″
  • Small Standard – From 36″ to 48″
  • Large Standard – From 48″ to 56″
  • Large – Over 56″

Aggressive Donkey Behavior
When they feel threatened, or when their territory is being “invaded”, a donkey will exhibit aggressive behavior. You can see an example of this behavior in the following video:

Vicious Guard Donkey

Donkeys will attack dogs, since they have an instinctual dislike for most types of predatory animals. This is one of the main reasons why guard donkeys are commonly used by sheep farms, since they are an effective defense against wild dogs, coyotes and wolves. The following video provides some insight onto the unique job of a guard donkey when protecting sheep:

Meet Bonnie, the guard donkey.


Guard Llama

The llama is an animal that is subject to a lot of misconceptions. Many people believe llamas to be docile, slow-learning, slightly eccentric animals that are able to projective vomit on command. However, as any llama owner will tell you, this is not the case. Llamas are curious, alert and have a natural desire to explore their habitat. Llamas are also fairly territorial, and will defend their domain with aggressive behavior. Llamas, like donkeys, are often used by sheep herders in order to protect livestock from dangerous predators. As a guard animal for your home, it’s possible to train a llama to defend your property from any potential intruders.

Choosing a Guard Llama
Depending on your needs, you will want to make the choice of your preferred guard llama carefully. It’s important to remember that non-gelded male llamas may display aggressive behavior outside of their territory, and may even attack small animals that come onto their domain. In addition to this, you may want to consider purchasing a single llama to guard your property, instead of a group of llamas. En masse, llamas aren’t said to be as effective at guarding against intruders or predators. You also want to avoid choosing a llama with an overly docile temperament, since this may mean that they will not able to be an effective guard llama.

Cost of Guard Llamas
In general, the llama is classified as a fairly low-maintenance animal. The diet of a llama varies with age, as younger llamas will require more high-energy, nutrient dense food. As a llama ages, it will require a food formula designed specifically for “adult” llamas. However, these food formulas are usually fairly inexpensive when purchased in bulk. Depending on the specific breed of guard llama that you choose, you may have to shear their coat on a semi-regular basis. Many llamas also need their nails clipped often, as well as vaccinations and worming medication. If you have other large animals, you can combine the visits of a livestock veterinarian in order to save on expense.

Llama Guard Behavior
Llamas have many traits that help them to be effective guard animals. Like donkeys, llamas primarily attack by stomping, kicking and chasing their intended target. In the following video, meet “Skoo”, the guard llama. This video displays his behavior when protecting his owner from a rival female llama.

Llama Protective Behavior
Many llamas are specifically trained to protect livestock against predators. In this low-resolution video, you can see “Gallo”, a guard llama, as he protects a flock of black-and-white sheep from a dog. He stays in between the dog and the sheep, displaying typical protective behavior.

Guard Llama Alarm
When a llama feels threatened, it will often make a unique “alert” sound to warn of approaching danger. If you plan to keep a guard llama, it is important that you are familiar with this sound, since it could be your llama warning of you of an intruder. In this video, a llama is sounding the “alert” in response to a fox spotted in nearby woods:

Guard Llama Alarm Sound


Guard Animals Protecting Livestock

Some livestock owners use a combination of guard llamas, guard donkeys and guard dogs to help protect their flocks. This video is a portion of a BBC Documentary, which covers the unique use of these animals to help protect against potentially dangerous predators. As you can see from the behavior of the animals in this video, they are able to bond with the animals in the flock, to the extent that they defend against potential threats.

Controlling the coyote population – BBC wildlife