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Help! My Dog is Too Protective

Let’s be honest, one of the reason people get and like dogs is because they feel more confident and protected by them. It has been proven that even the bark of a Chihuahua will drive away a burglar. For most criminals it simply isn’t worth getting involved with someone with a dog, let alone an overprotective dog!


When I was 18, a requirement of marriage was getting a Rottweiler. I got 2! My female Rottie was around 100# and was the sweetest, kindest, doggie soul you could ever meet. She almost never met a person she didn’t immediately adore. I use to laugh because if you simply placed a finger on her she was thrilled by the affection.

As I walked her to the park one day, a man jumped out from around a van. I had NEVER seen her hackle or her show her teeth to a person before that moment and a growl resonated from within her belly. I was just an 18 year old kid and definitely not a dog trainer yet.

He hastily scurried around his van entered through the passenger side scooted over and his wheels screeched as he tore out of sight.

It still gives me goose bumps to remember that moment. I don’t think at that time I truly realized the danger I might have been in, but in hindsight I realize that she sensed something sinister that I did not recognize. She never showed aggression toward another human being for the rest of her life, she was too busy wagging and soliciting affection to everyone else!

I truly believe that even the most social dog would protect his owner in a crisis. The good news is that there is rarely ever a true crisis to put my theory to the test.

However, many dogs have a very strong protective instinct. These dogs feel it is their job to keep their owners safe and they take their job very seriously!

The other problem is that countless people admire and promote this behavior. When the dog is young and first growls or barks at someone not only are they praised, sometimes people actually feed and reward the dog for showing this behavior.

It usually isn’t until this overprotective dog behavior gets out of control and the dog decides EVERYONE is a threat and no one can get close that the person realizes the danger they have put themselves, their dog, and other people in by encouraging this protective instinct.

I once trained a Labrador Mix as a Service Dog. She adored everyone. She use to finagle her way around at the grocery store to turn toward the closest person and then she would begin to flirt. Those brown eyes would wink and call out to the person and her tail would wag incessantly until they gave in and asked to pet her. She was relentless about seeking attention and affection, but I liked that trait because it meant she liked people and enjoyed her work.

Then I placed her with her new owner and within several months she began getting protective. I was mystified because I had never seen even a hint of a problem. But, her new mom was easily startled and a bit prejudiced and she would scream when she was startled or caught off guard.

This screaming and fear brought out the protective instinct of the dog and she began to associate certain people and men with her new mom’s fear. Screaming showed weakness an inability to take care of herself and probably also scared the dog. Within a short amount of time the dog just decided, in her mind, if she kept all men away from her mom there would be no more drama or fear so she started to get protective. So sometimes the problem can actually be overprotective dog owners.

Part of the reason she never showed this propensity with me is because I am a very dominant and strong willed person, most dogs would think never think I needed them to protect me because they can clearly see I am in control. I project an image that I can take care of myself.

How You Can Stop An Overprotective Dog?

  • You need to take this behavior seriously! If left unattended this behavior usually only gets worse and it can rapidly become a behavioral pattern over time. Behavioral patterns are often very difficult to break. So stop this behavior as soon as possible or keep it from ever happening.

  • Never praise your dog for barking or growling aggressively at another person

  • Always correct your dog, by telling him NO when he shows aggression toward people (My exception is when someone first comes to the door. My dogs are allowed to bark but must be quiet when I tell them to)

  • If he is nervous or unsure of people, use your clicker and make sure meeting new people is fun

  • ALWAYS use a leash! A LEASH = CONTROL and when a dog shows aggression of any kind you need as much control as possible.

  • If your dog is protective at home and you are having people over, ALWAYS leash your dog prior to their arrival

  • Take control! Dogs takeover situations they think you cannot handle. Show your dog that you don’t need to be protected by being confident and in control at all times.

  • Work tirelessly on obedience! Obedience puts you