Most dogs will exhibit some territorial behavior. This could include chasing squirrels out the yard or barking at the mailman. In most cases, such behavior is harmless. However, sometimes such behavior can get quite aggressive and can become a problem. Below are a few signs that your dog’s territorial instincts have got out of control – and what you can do to fix this.
What are some signs of negative territorial behavior?
A few behaviors that are not acceptable include:
- Barking excessively at anyone who comes near your property
- Lunging at people through fences, windows and doors
- Growling and showing teeth
- Snapping and attempting to bite strangers/guests
Are some dogs more likely to be territorial?
Some dog breeds are renowned for being a lot more territorial than others. German shepherds, huskies, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Jack Russells and Chihuahuas have a much more aggressively defensive instinct when it comes to strangers than some other dogs. Younger dogs in adolescence are also more likely to display territorial aggression than older dogs.
Of course, the breed and age is no excuse for them to be able to behave aggressively to the point that it scares off guests or puts people at risk.
How can I reduce this behavior?
Some dogs may behave less aggressively to people that they have already met outside of their home. In other words, if you find that your dog barks or snaps at friends or family members, you could try meeting up with them first in a neutral location. Your dog may then behave less calmly when this person comes to your home.
Of course, this is no use when it comes to strangers who may still need to approach your home such as handymen or mailmen. This post offers a few tips for dog owners when it comes to preventing aggression towards mailmen. This includes keeping your dog away from the front of the home or accepting mail in a mailbox away from the house.
Training your dog to not behave aggressively is also an option. You may not be able to stop your dog from instinctually barking and running to the door, however you may be able to get them to stop on your command and sit while you answer the door. You may be able to train them to do this with simple commands and treats, while possibly asking someone your dog doesn’t know to act as a stranger. Even if your dog still barks initially, many guests are likely to be put at ease knowing that you can control your dog’s aggression.
Should I hire a professional dog trainer?
Aggressively territorial behavior is not easy to train out of some dogs. As every dog is likely to be unique in the behavior they display, it could be worth hiring a professional dog trainer to help offer some training advice. This is particularly advised with older dogs or rescue dogs that may have greater trust issues due to neglect or abuse in the past. Look online for top rated local trainers in your area.