Our dogs are not only our companions, but they are also our guardians. However, these guardians can sometimes become hypervigilant, and bark at anyone who comes too close, including our family members. Read on to find out what can cause this behavior, and how it can be countered.
Why is My Dog Barking at Anyone Who Comes Near Me?
Several reasons can make a pup overly possessive of his/her owner, and the most common among them are as follows:
Lack of Direction
Dogs need structure in their lives. They need to know what’s allowed and what’s not, and what is expected of them. Dogs that lack this direction become anxious and adopt a defensive stance.
Lack of Socialization
Overprotective dogs are often those that have not received required exposure to the outside world. They see everyone besides their owner as a threat. Anything unexpected, like being bumped into by a person or being startled by their loud laugh, can reinforce the idea that the world is dangerous.
Coddling of the Dog
Many dog owners pet or pick up their pup to calm him/her when it shows signs of aggression or fearfulness. This is a terrible idea because it does more harm than good. It makes the canine think that growling is the appropriate behavior and that it is right to be afraid. This leads to the dog reacting aggressively to anyone who approaches their owner.
Reinforcement of the Behavior
Overprotective dogs behave aggressively in an attempt to drive away what is disturbing them. If they are successful, their effort has been rewarded, and they are more likely to repeat the behavior. The reward becomes double if they could also draw the attention of the owner. This could be in the form of a laugh, head pat, or even anger.
Mistaking Insecurity for Love
Some dog owners are actually quite proud of their dogs’ protectiveness. They fail to appreciate the crucial difference between a dog’s love and his/her insecurity. An insecure dog is unpredictable and poses great risks to unsuspecting bystanders.
How do I Stop My Dog from Possessive Guarding?
You can put an end to your dog’s overprotectiveness by making it more confident and less fearful of the world. A few different ways of achieving this goal are outlined below.
NOTE: The exercises may seem simple, but you should consult a professional to ensure that you can conduct them safely.
Distance Yourself from Your Dog
You may wish to spend all the time you can with your dog, but he/she needs to learn to cope without you. Smaller dogs particularly feel the need to guard their owners because they consider themselves vulnerable when alone. For this reason, they want to ensure that no one can separate them from you.
It can be extremely problematic for your dog (and yourself) if you allow this impression to grow. Teach your dog to spend some time away from you by leaving him/her alone in a separate room. You can use a special treat, like a chew toy filled with peanut butter, and ignore any whining. Let your pup out after it’s been quiet for a minute or two to start with. Keep increasing the lonely time as your dog gets used to it.
Alternatively, tether its leash to a chair and sit on the opposite side of the room. Ignore your pet for 20 minutes to build up the confidence of your canine companion.
No Dogs on the Furniture
Overprotective dogs often bark at anyone approaching the couch or bed they are sitting on with their owner. If your pooch does this, consider adopting a “no dogs on the furniture” rule. This means that you won’t allow your dog to sit on the furniture, at least for a few days.
If you find your dog sitting on the couch, move him/her away. If he/she jumps up again, repeat the discouraging action. You can also block your pet by putting your arm or leg in his/her way. The dog must be taught that you are the one who gets to decide who can sit on the couch. You’ll know you’ve trained him/her successfully when the canine doesn’t jump onto the furniture without your permission.
Reduce the Fear of People
This is something you could work on with a simple exercise. Put your dog on its leash, tie the leash to a chair, and sit on the chair. Then, have a person slowly approach you and the dog. As soon as he/she starts barking or growling, get up from the chair silently, and walk off.
The dog will learn that its bubble of safety that’s centered you breaks when he/she barks. This will disincentive it from repeating the aggressive behavior. Your pooch should eventually stop barking at anyone who approaches you without any malicious intentions.
Bond Your Dog with Other People
An overprotective dog is generally bonded to a single person. This is the person that caters to all his/her needs. The best way to train such canines is to connect them with other people. Ask your family members to feed your dog and play with him/her. This will help your pup to realize that people other than you can also be trusted.
Recommended Dog Training Courses for Dogs Barking when People Come Near
There are two online video based training courses that I recommend.
These two courses serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan course is the best behavioral training course that I’ve ever used. It tackles problem behaviors like barking in ways that are innovative and kind and most of all WORK.
The Brain Training for Dogs course is a course that will help give curious and bored dogs something to do so that they don’t get destructive. Bored dogs often behave badly. The games in this course are fun to play with your dog and they go from easy to very advanced. If you think your dog is barking out of boredom this video course is a good choice.