What to Know About a Territorial Dog

If you have a dog who displays aggressive behavior, such as being territorial and guarding possessions or even people, it can be problematic.

If you have a dog who displays aggressive behavior, such as being territorial and guarding possessions or even people, it can be problematic. It could be risky for your family and other people. If your dog were to attack and injure someone, you could have to pay the associated expenses, for example.

It’s also just stressful to deal with a dog with issues with aggression, but the more you can understand the problem, the more likely you can take steps to fix it.

The following are some things to know about a territorial or generally aggressive dog.

An Overview of Territorial Aggression

Territorial aggression usually begins with warning behaviors when a dog is triggered. Warning behaviors can include barking, but those warnings can turn into other behaviors such as lunging or biting. Territorial aggression tends to be most frequently directed at the same species, meaning another dog but not always.

Territorial aggression means that a dog becomes aroused in response to dogs or strangers approaching their property.

Territorial aggression can be genetic, and it can also be due to environmental factors, a lack of early socialization, or an underlying medical condition.

Certain breeds are more likely to display signs of territorial aggression than others. Theses breeds include bullmastiffs, German shepherds, and giant schnauzers. Of course, while it might be more common in certain breeds, any breed can show signs of aggression.

Signs of Territorial Aggression

Some of the signs of territorial behavior that might go beyond what’s normal include:

  • Growling
  • Freezing in place
  • Barking
  • Lunging
  • Snapping

Urine marking is another territorial behavior. You may notice urine on pieces of furniture or in areas of your home when a new item is brought in when your dog is having issues with other pets in your home, or your dog is reestablishing their territory.

What Can You Do?

The following are some strategies you can do to help curb your dog’s aggressive and territorial behaviors. While there are things you can do on your own, it may also be a good idea to consult with a behavioral expert or trainer.

Participate In an Obedience Training Program

Obedience training is the foundation of having a healthy and well-behaved dog. If your dog hasn’t gone through obedience training yet, it’s something you should really consider.

Obedience training focuses on helping your dog learn not to react to other people and dogs.

You may be able to do obedience training on your own, but a group training class can provide your dog with socialization that may be valuable to eliminate territorial aggression.

Work on Desensitizing Your Dog

You should work on gradually and positively desensitizing your dog by walking him around other dogs or people in a controlled environment. You might have someone help you, such as a neighbor. They can start slowly walking closer and closer to your home each time you practice with your dog, and you should take a step back if your dog starts to show signs of being reactive or anxious.

As you’re desensitizing your dog, you can provide rewards when they behave well, but don’t push them too far at any one time.

Practice Recall

Recall means that your dog knows to come when called, and it’s a command that’s important for a territorial dog to learn. You can start working on recall indoors, and then once your dog has mastered that, you can move outside.

You always want to be gradual but consistent with your training.

Teach Your Dog a Quiet Command

If your dog barks whenever a threat is sensed, teach a command for being quiet. Begin in a peaceful indoor environment, and then over time, you can add more distractions as your dog gets better at calming himself down on command.

You want the cue to bring your dog to a relaxed emotional state.

Find Ways to Manage Your Dog’s Anxiety

Territorial aggression is very often rooted in anxiety. There are many ways you can help manage your dogs anxiety.

For example, maybe you close the curtains to your home while you’re still training your dog on basic concepts. You could also feed your dog in a place where they feel they have privacy.

Using a ThunderShirt or pressure wrap can help calm some dogs, as can having long-lasting chew treats.

Too often dog owners don’t realize that territorial aggression can be very problematic. It’s important to work on limiting and then eliminating the behavior sooner rather than later if you see it happening with your dog.

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