We hear this frequently from clients asking for help. They like having a dog that is protective of them, but are often fearful and very nervous that the dog will end up making a very bad decision and hurt/injury someone or something, or worse!
Let’s break it down.
You should never be content with owning a dog that displays both protective AND aggressive traits or behaviors. Especially a dog that exhibits these behaviors at his/her own will. Having a dog with both mentalities is a disaster waiting to happen. What is happening is that the dog has taken over the relationship and is now protecting you, often out of fear, insecurities, and often claiming/dominant behavior.
If your first purpose of getting a dog is “protection” you need to understand that this requires PROFESSIONAL protection training from a reputable trainer. These dogs go through INTENSE training for true protection work. Think of a Military or Police K9 for instance. Hours and hours and months and months of repetition, consistency, etc. This includes bite training. Long story short, it becomes a game to the dog, where the handler gives a command and the dog bites the sleeve or another part of a padded suit and ultimately the dog is rewarded for the action. In no way shape or form is it a negative emotion from the dog. It certainly isn’t anger, aggression, or fear. The dog doesn’t necessarily “hate” the person wearing the bite-suit (decoy), they mostly see it as a game. So dogs trained in true protection can be a great thing to have… but with great power comes great responsibility. Most of these dogs are high energy and powerful breeds. This wouldn’t be beneficial for most domestic situations involving a busy family with many children for instance. Protection work must be maintained and practiced on a daily basis as well with the owners, or the dog will lose it’s drive, sharpness, and overall obedience.
So in closing, our dogs should see us, the owner, as the leader. If/when they bark it should be to alert us to handle the situation. Dogs should know that we can handle situations and that they can relax and be a calm, happy pack member. The ONLY dogs that should ever put their teeth on a human is a dog that is properly trained in protection work from a reputable trainer… and even so it should be a command, not at will.
Thanks for reading, and remember to wag more / bark less!