Aggression Parts 4, 5, & 6: Protective, Territorial, And Possessive Aggression

2 02 2009

mailman-and-dogSince these forms of aggression are pretty similar and involve the defense of something the dog considers to be of great value, I have combined their information into one article.  The traits associated with each of these types of aggression are similar, with slight differences that we will examine.

Protective Aggression:

This type of aggression is generally directed toward another animal or a person that the dog perceives to be threat to his pack or his position in the pack.  This is evidenced when you see a dog confined to a car, whether with their humans or left alone.  This is also evident in homes with windows or doors that a dog can see activity outside.  This protective aggression is not only directed to strangers, however.  Oftentimes, dogs show aggression toward certain family members.  This type of aggression is sometimes encouraged by their humans, and they are not even aware that they are causing the problem.  Usually, this happens in a situation, where the human feigns fright, or is genuinely frightened.  Their dog senses the fear, putting them on “high alert” toward the stressful situation.  He or she feels that it is his duty to protect his pack.  It is very important for humans to always be in control of their pack.  Remember, your dog believes that if you are not in control, then he must be.

Territorial Aggression:

Many times, protective and territorial aggression go hand in hand with dogs, but it should be noted that a dog that is territorially aggressive may not be possessively aggressive.  Take Barney, the former First Dog, for example.  Late last year, he bit a reporter from Reuters while he was on a walk on the grounds of the White House.  The reporter was a stranger to Barney, and he reached over his head to pet him, without a proper dog introduction.  Barney was showing a slight territorial aggressive response to this reporter, who was perceived as invading Barney’s territory.  Most dogs will fiercely protect their territory, that is one of the reasons they mark it.  These markings outline their perceived territory to warn other dogs that the territory has been claimed, kind of like when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the moon.  As they grow from pups into dogs, they begin to think of their yard, home or car as their territory and as a defenseless being in dire need of their protection.

Territorial aggression is a trait that many humans seek out in dogs they wish to use as guard dogs.  This has made German Shepherds, Rottweillers and Akitas quite sought after by those desiring a good guard dog for their home or other property.  The “dog biting the mailman” stereotype perfectly describes territorial aggression, since the dog is protecting his property from those evil bills and junk mail.  Territorial aggressive dogs, regardless of breed, position themselves as a nemesis of meter readers, mailmen, and door-to-door salesmen.  If you find that you have a territorial aggressive dog, it is impoerative that you establish yourself as pack leader.  Fencing your yard greatly helps the dog to clearly understand its territory.  You should also allow friends that “intrude his territory” to take your dog for short walks.  When there are uncommon visitors, it is very important that you act like the leader.  If you show a hint of fear or weakness, your dog will feel the need to step up to protect his territory…  YOU!

Possessive Aggression:

This type of aggression is also known as resource guarding.  It is exhibited when dogs guard their toys, bones, food bowls or even people.  To help curb such issues, I suggest that you, the pack leader, restrict your dog’s access to the thing or things he is possessive of.  Aggression does not go away on its own.  It requires intervention on your part to correct.  First, make an appointment to take your dog to the vet for a checkup.  If he gets the all clear, seek out the help of a professional behaviorist or trainer.  True professionals that should be dealing with matters of aggression will not be found at your national pet retailer, who also spends their shifts ringing up customers at the cash register.  Your situation requires real help.  Working through aggression problems will require working outside of classes with a trainer in your own home, where the behavior is actually occurring.  If you are uncertain about your dog’s reactions to external stimuli involved with social situations, take precautions when you leave home with him or her.  It may be necessary to muzzle him.  When you are working through aggression issues, safety for you, your dog and others should be your primary concern.  These precautions should be continued until you have gotten clearance from your behavior specialist to cease them.

Also, if you are noticing aggression issues, and you have an intact male or female, get them fixed ASAP!



2 responses

5 02 2009
The Chihuahua Dog Breed And The Info You Need To Know | Dog Care Tips

[…] Aggression Parts 4, 5, & 6: Protective, Territorial, And … […]

14 03 2009
Aggression Part 7: Food Aggression « Ask Spike Online

[…] aggression is a form of possessive aggression, and your dog must learn to respect you (and other humans) as the pack leader, realizing that […]

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