Preventing Overly-Territorial Behavior
(this website well worth a visit)
(this website well worth a visit)
Have you ever noticed how hindsight brings such a clear vision of things you wish you had realized earlier? Dogs behaving in ways that are overly-territorial is one of the most common times we see hindsight at work. This problem, while easily prevented before it starts, can be difficult to alleviate once underway.
One of the things that makes this so difficult is that very often, pet owners who adore their pet find it difficult to imagine that their sweet puppy could ever turn out to be aggressive in any way. If they see small signs of such behavior developing, they don’t worry because they figure that it will never turn out to become a real problem.
Other times, people think they want their dog to be aggressive and protect the home, but later realize that biting their children’s friends or other invited visitors was not what they had in mind.
For years, I’ve been telling people not to encourage or accept any aggressive behavior from their pet at all. Most of the time, people listen and everything ends up just fine. Other times, people stick to their guns, saying things such as “The whole reason we got this type of dog is because we want him to protect the house.”
Remember, most dogs have a natural instinct to protect their home. Trust me when I tell you that your dog can be friendly, well-socialized and sweet to all visitors. Should an incident occur (such as a masked man breaking in your window), dogs instinctively recognize this as “not right” and they will bark, growl and protect you then… at the appropriate time.
What is not appropriate or helpful is to have a dog who is timid, fearful, or aggressive toward visitors, repair men or kids playing football in your yard. In these situations, your dog’s behavior is not helpful at all… you’ll have to lock him away in order for the repair man to be willing to come inside and do the work, other visitors will feel uncomfortable and surely it is a huge problem if your dog gets aggressive when your children and their friends start roughhousing.
The best way to avoid this problem is to examine your dog’s behavior ahead of the problem. As soon as you see a sign of aggression, such as your dog growling, barking, mounting, getting stiff or otherwise acting like these normal occurrences are a problem, you need to tell your dog “no!” The worst thing to do in this situation is to pet your dog in an attempt to soothe him. Instead of feeling soothed, your pet will feel as if you’re saying “Good barking.”
Timid, skittish or fearful dogs are also at risk of developing overly-territorial behavior. Build your dog’s confidence through obedience training and small at-home agility exercises, work on thorough socialization and teach your dog not to be afraid of every day things.
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, and this situation surely fits that phrase. If you are not sure how to prevent this problem or if your dog is already behaving aggressively (or starting to) toward visitors, you may need to work with a knowledgeable, experienced trainer to alleviate the problem.
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The Threat of Stillness. We are taught things about dogs early on. We learn that a growl is a warning, and that if a tail is wagging, that dog is happy (although that isn’t always the case). If a dog is lunging and barking we know to be careful, because the dog is emotionally aroused in a potentially dangerous way. But what we’re not taught is to beware of stillness.