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Dogs That are Over Protective of Their Owners
Often owners of aggressive dogs confuse their dog's aggressiveness for protectiveness. These owners believe that what their dogs are doing what is a natural and are often even quite appreciative for it. For instance, a dog that growls every time a stranger comes near their owner is not being over protective actually, the dog is being in charge.
This is like if the dog is saying ''Go away, I am in charge here''. This behavior is not indicative of stable temperament rather it is a sign of instability. Generally, the stronger the protectiveness the more unstable the dog. Any type of dog may resort to this behavior given the opportunity.
A very protective dog, a dog with ''body guard'' instincts generally will resort to an over exaggerated response to non- existent threats. For instance, if an owner is sitting by the sidewalk with the dog and a stranger stops by to talk, this dog will very likely snarl, bare its teeth and growl if this person gets too close.
Often the owner, with a little bit of pride may tell the stranger ''Yes, Buddy is very protective of me'' while in reality the dog is acting out in an unacceptable manner. These are often cases where dogs have preference for a particular family member and that will protect with their teeth and claws when confronted with anybody getting close.
In some severe cases, some dogs may be so protective of an owner that they will not allow anybody, even the spouse near the bed where the owner is resting. These are extreme cases of over protectiveness which seem to get worse and worse because the dog starts feeling powerful since it learns that by growling it actually scares people away.
Telling the dog ''It's ok''or petting it not will not make much change. You may be interested in reading "can dog fear be reinforced " Punishment however will not work as well. Desensitization and counter-conditioning by demonstrating alternative behaviors may be the solution. You can read more about this by reading "Dog behavior modification terms"
For instance, the dog should be next to the owner and exposed somebody the dog knows well and to whom it does not react. The dog is put in a stay, the two people hug and a treat is given to reward the well mannered behavior. Then gradually the dog is exposed to more and more people following the same dynamics. Slowly the dog will learn that by applying a non responsive behavior it gets rewarded.
In reality, the real protective guard dogs are in reality very stable minded. They will guard but they will also use their common sense. This requires serious training and a very stable temperament.
In other words, a stable guard dog will be able to recognize real threats and they therefore, will not overreact to seeing strangers or friends. They will look at the person more out of curiosity than any thing else. This is what people should want. These are the dogs that are able to discern threatening from non threatening people.
These basically are dogs that will welcome family, friends, relatives and strangers as long as they sense every thing is acceptable. However, let there be something odd like a crisis situation going on and they will intervene to defend and protect their loved ones.