On Dog Behavior: Is Your Dog Over Protective?

Do you ever wonder – is your dog over protective? 

Some people like their dog to be over protective because it gives them a sense of being protected and secure.

The dilemma comes when their dog is being over protective with the wrong people. Visits from friends begin to dwindle.

An over protective dog can often become a problem and a liability

On Dog Behavior: Is Your Dog Over Protective?


The problem with an over protective dog is that it can significantly limit your enjoyment of your dog in normal, every day circumstances like when you have house guests. And you certainly can’t take your dog out in public.

Not very many people like to walk into a home to visit a friend only to be confronted with a dog that growls, snaps or worse yet, bites. And, the bigger the dog, the worse the threat. A dog bite from any size dog creates a potential liability on many levels. It can create lawsuits, loss of friendships and can get you and your dog, a reputation you never ever wanted.

Then you’ve got to consider the embarrassment factor as well. You have to admit it’s pretty embarrassing to have to pick up your barking dog or try to somehow restrain your big dog to keep your house guest from being jumped on or worse.

Often times this necessitates crating, gating or putting your dog in the back yard so that you can enjoy your visit. This many times creates non-stop barking which can quickly become a nuisance and also spoil the visit. Your dog quickly begins to dislike visitors because every time a visitor comes over, he gets the boot. Get the picture?

Most friends don’t know how to handle these kinds of awkward and anxious dog situations so they avoid the visit altogether. To them staying away from your home keeps them safe.  Now that’s a bummer.

A better alternative to your dog being overprotective

Wouldn’t you agree the better scenario would be to have your visitor greeted by your tail-wagging, non-jumping happy dog?   Being able to enjoy your friends along with “the company of your nice dog” that sits comfortably by your feet or on the couch next to you has got to be a much better alternative to a growling, biting and over protective dog.  

What creates an over-protective dog in the first place?

Many people get a dog to satisfy their own personal needs. Did you? Did you get your dog to have a companion to love on, be affectionate with and be with you all the time?

If your answer is yes, that’s okay. It’s okay as long as you put structure in your dog’s life so there is a fair and equitable balance of needs. In other words, if your dog wants on the couch with you, he should sit. If he wants love and affection, he should sit. In fact he should sit to earn everything including his food. Otherwise the relationship you have with your dog becomes lop-sided because nothing is earned – it’s all free to your dog.

What does this have to do with you and your dog? Constant free doting and petting satisfies your own personal needs with no thought given to how your dog is interpreting the interaction with you.

Over time the lack of structure or inconsistent structure begins to affirm in your dogs mind that you are a valuable provider of good things for free. Many dogs begin to guard things of high value; i.e. YOU. An over protective dog is born. Is that your dog?

It starts off with guarding you and then often times can and does extend to the house and yard. Here is another common owner mistake:

When your dog is allowed to run the fence line in the back yard, the gate across the driveway or the bay window in the front living room barking at dogs and people, he is able to rehearse territorial aggression. This all begins to complicate greetings at the front door.

And if you have a dog that is fearful because of a lack of socialization to people, that too can further complicate your over protective dog situation.

What to do?

They say that hind sight is 20/20. That always seems to be the starting point when dealing with dog behavior problems. Fixing an already over protective dog problem requires going back historically in the relationship with your dog to understand what caused your dog’s behavior problem in the first place.

In this case, no structure and too much unearned love and affection over time created your dog’s symptoms of growling, barking and over protectiveness. It was his way of protecting you as his valuable possession from intruders (your visitors.)

Changing how you view your relationship with your dog so that you begin doing the right things can allow you to start seeing improvements almost immediately.

What are the right things? Controlled, structured walks for exercise and exploring, learn-to-earn program (sit for everything) and regular dog obedience training sessions 3 times daily for only 2 minutes are all a good start to showing your dog a “different you.”

How protective your dog is will determine whether dog behavior modification exercises will be needed to put the final touches on your newly improved happy dog.

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.  Do you deal with this scary situation in your house?

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog.  Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.