If you are a pet parent, you must have experienced a situation where your furry friend starts barking, growling, or lunging at people or cars passing your home. It can be stressful for both you and your dog, especially if it happens frequently. However, it is essential to understand that this behavior is not necessarily a sign of aggression or disobedience. In this blog post, we will explore why dogs exhibit territorial behavior and what you can do to help your furry friend feel less stressed.
The Reason Behind Territorial Behavior
It is vital to understand that territorial behavior is a natural instinct for dogs. They see your home as their den and feel responsible for guarding it against any perceived threat. Dogs can feel stressed and anxious when someone or something enters their territory unexpectedly. They express their discomfort by barking, growling, or lunging, which might seem aggressive to a passerby. However, barking is the only way they can communicate. It is crucial to recognize that, in most cases, your dog is just trying to protect you and your home.
Breeds That Exhibit This Behavior
Although territorial behavior is natural to all dogs, certain breeds are more prone to it than others. Breeds such as:
- Doberman Pinscher
- Bull Mastiff
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- German Shepherd
- Giant Schnauzer
These breeds are highly protective of their owners and property, and they have a strong working or hunting drive. However, it is essential to remember that each dog is unique, and their personality might differ from their breed’s standards.
Training Options to Help with this Behavior
It is essential to recognize that territorial behavior is part of your dog’s personality. However, you can teach them to control their behavior through proper training. First you will want to identify all of your dogs “triggers” and prioritize which one you want to work on first based on your level of priority. i.e. the mail man who visits your door everyday. After we have determined a list of triggers to work on, we want to choose a strategy to try consistently for at least 2-3 weeks (you can see the strategies we suggest below). It is important to note that you have to be as consistent as possible with these training tips. This behavior may take a long time to correct if you work full-time or are out of the home a lot where the behavior can continue without training. Here are some tips you can try:
a) Positive Reinforcement: Reward your dog with treats and praise when they exhibit calm behavior around strangers or cars. It helps them understand that good behavior will be rewarded.
b) Pet Corrector Spray: This product emits a harmless hissing sound to mimic warning sounds found in nature. You can use this spray to interrupt your dog’s barking and distract them from the perceived threat. Braxton’s offers Pet Correctors in our training section, ask an associate to help you find them and how to use.
c) Socialization: Socializing your dog with people and other dogs from an early age can help them understand that not everyone is a threat.
d) Exercise: Most of the working breeds that we mentioned above are usually under exercised, which may result in the desire to “work” by guarding the home. Vet’s usually recommend an hour of exercise a day for every dog breed so if you have a dog that is exhibiting territorial guarding they may need more exercise on a regular basis.
In conclusion, understanding the reason behind your dog’s behavior can help you become a better pet parent. Territorial behavior is a natural instinct, and not necessarily a sign of aggression. However, training your dog to control their behavior can help them become more comfortable around strangers and cars. Remember, each dog is unique, and it is essential to find the training method that works best for them. With patience and consistency, you can help your furry friend feel less stressed and more comfortable in their home.