Fixing Territorial Behavior in Dogs and Puppies
It’s very natural for dogs to show some territorial behavior. It’s an animalistic instinct, and it isn’t something we should try to erase from a dog’s personality. However, it is something that should be under the owner’s control, so that the territorial behavior does some escalate to inappropriate levels. If your puppy develops territorial behavior after puppy training, here is how you can address it.
Territorial behavior can excessive, or it can be something small, almost unnoticeable to the untrained eye. Does your dog stand by their food bowl when another dog is approaching? That is a sign of guarding and territorial behavior, and something like that might not be anything serious. However, a dog could take that simple guarding and then take it growling and baring teeth. If a dog reaches that level of territorial behavior, it could stop right there, or the dog could take further with lunging and attacking.
The other day I began working with a dog named Klaus who was very territorial of the home and of their owner. When I came to the home for the initial in-home consultation, Klaus had to be kept on the leash, otherwise he would charge at me and potentially bite me for being in his territory and too close to his owner. His owner said that he ignored the early signs Klaus was showing with his territorial behavior, because he wanted Klaus to be a good guard dog that barked when people came the near home. Unfortunately, because Klaus’s behavior was never controlled, he took the role as the leader and took total control, including over his owner! What was once just barking at people outside the home, led to barking people that were allowed in the home, plus the possibility to jumping and biting!
Most people want their dogs to be territorial to some extent, but never to the point where they have no control over the behavior. Klaus became uncontrollable and his owner needed to grab the reins again before anyone got hurt. Working on territorial behavior isn’t as complicated as it may seem…it’s just setting boundaries and demonstrating leadership for the dog, so that the dog defers to their owner and their wishes. When his owner took control again in the home, Klaus learned to calm down and seek their direction, rather than following their own inappropriate impulses. Klaus is still protective of his home and owner, but the communication between Klaus and his dad has improved dramatically, where he can now command Klaus to go to his place and be behaved around welcomed guests in the home.
Training should not take away your dog’s natural instincts and personality, but only giving the owner more control so they can set their dog up for success and good behavior. If your dog has problematic territorial behavior, we can help! Call us at 800-649-7297 and we’ll help you regain control of your dog’s behavior with our in-home training program!