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Overly Protective Dog?
01-23-2013, 09:37 PM,
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amberra824 Offline
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Overly Protective Dog?
Right before Christmas, my mother finally gave in and decided to add a dog to our household. She picked up a beautiful golden lab from a local shelter after visiting with several of the dogs to see which was the best, and we all instantly fell in love with Buckwild, or "Buck" as we all call him. He's an incredibly sweet dog, and doesn't seem like the type to hurt a fly. We've had a cat for years, and although she seems to hate Buck and spends much of her time hissing at him and even taking swipes at him at times, Buck refuses to attack her. In fact, he either ignores her or retreats when she is attempting to attack him - he'd rather run than stay and hurt her, because he knows that we consider her a pet as well and that she belongs there.

However, with other dogs, Buck is extremely aggressive, but only when we are around. When he's out on his chain and another dog strays into our yard, Buck will wag his tail and play with the dog in a friendly, welcoming way. But the moment that any of my family walks outside, he begins growling at the other dog and chases them away. If the other dog gets near my family or I, he'll lunge out at them and attempt to bite them.

Also, the other day, Buck was tagging alongside me while I was refilling the cat's food bowl and cleaning her litter. She came up and began to hiss and take a swipe at Buck, who retreated behind me. As I usually do, I reached out to tap the cat's nose and tell her "No!" in an attempt to get her to realize that this behavior is completely unacceptable. For the first time in her life, she swiped out at me and scratched me, drawing blood. I yelped in surprise and pain, and suddenly Buck became aggressive. He didn't actually attack the cat, but he growled at her and chased her away - it actually almost looked like he was herding her away from me, and she retreated behind the couch.

So obviously Buck is incredibly protective of his owners, which is a good thing at times. But I can't have him attacking our cat (although he's usually fine with her) or any other dogs who stray into our yard. Are there any ways to teach him when it's appropriate to protect us and when it's not?
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01-24-2013, 03:43 PM,
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haopee Offline
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RE: Overly Protective Dog?
Based on what you said, it seems that Buck is only protective when it comes to you guys (I am sure including your cat). Since he is now part of your pack and so is he to yours, then his protectiveness is understandable. However, since he feels that there is a need to growl at other dogs (specifically, those not belonging in his new pack), then it means that he might be taking a more dominant role.

What he did to your cat is a perfect example of his leadership. He growled at her and chased her away but not in a sense as to attack her.

So, what's there to do? Re-establish your role as the pack leader. If that requires for you to correct his behavior when he growls at other dog, then that's how it should be. Try to take him out for a walk around the block, but be careful to avoid heavily dog-populated areas. The trick is to introducing him one dog at a time, showing him that growling at others (or baring teeth) is unacceptable.

By the sound of it, I am sure he'll pick it up easily. Good luck.
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01-24-2013, 04:04 PM,
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amberra824 Offline
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RE: Overly Protective Dog?
Thank you! The 'pack' thing definitely makes sense, and his behavior does seem like he's just trying to be dominant and protect us. It looks like you're right - I'll have to 'show him whose boss!' Are there any ways to let him know specifically that growling and baring his teeth isn't something we'd like him to do? For example, when training my cat to not do something, we would spray her with a spray bottle every time she did the think we were attempting to keep her from doing. What can I do with Buck when he growls or bares his teeth to get the same effect? Would just saying something like, "No, Buck!" in a stern voice be enough? Or would I have to implement some sort of punishment into it? I just want to make sure that all of my bases are covered Tongue
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02-06-2013, 10:09 PM, (This post was last modified: 02-06-2013, 10:10 PM by haopee.)
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haopee Offline
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RE: Overly Protective Dog?
I am glad you are asking. An owner who is willing to learn is a great owner.

With regard to growling or baring his teeth to other dogs, the leash tugging should suffice. However, one should understand that in leash training, timing is everything. Does Buck pull his leash? Because if he does, you might want to consider getting a Gentle Leader as it is easier to tug and pull the dog away from his fixation with this type of collar. This type of collar sits nicely on the topmost area of the neck making head halting action less straining to the human.

Dogs who pull their leads often develop stronger, less sensitive neck muscles. This is why I am emphasizing on the type of collar and it's placement on your dog's head.

The spray bottle works with dogs too. However, using a tool is somewhat discouraged as it rises the question "what happens if I don't have the spray bottle when he does something wrong?"

A stern no often works like a charm. Sometimes, the word "Tsst" as Cesar Milan uses does the trick all by itself. However, his "Tsst" comes with a stance which indicates standing tall and wide as if to intimidate the dog with body language. This is a good thing as it somewhat teaches the dominant dog who the big boss is.

Let me warn you though, that not a lot of people approve of Cesar's ways. So you be the judge of it.

So last, but not the least. If Buck's doing a good job, make sure to reward him.

Good luck.
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02-14-2013, 10:35 AM,
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4sweed Offline
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RE: Overly Protective Dog?
You said Buck growling at the cat after it scratched you, but he did not attack the cat. I think a gentle no to Buck, and saying it's ok, would work since he was letting the cat know its behavior toward you was wrong. Labs are very tender-hearted dogs and are protective of their owners, but I do not think he would hurt the cat.
As for the aggressiveness toward other dogs when your outside I agree with the above he is being overly protective and you must curb that behavior with firmly saying no, and bringing him back to your side and sitting him down. Some dogs are harder to train then others. My dog "Goodboy," was very protective when someone came to our front door or in the yard, but we trained him to trust our judgement, with the people we let in the house and in the yard. In the house if he did not like someone we let in he would watch them very closely and not allow them to touch him. But outside with us he allowed other people to pet him.
Goodboy, needed to be giving female horomone pills for one month, to crub his aggressiveness, that mellowed him out enough that we no longer had to worry about him. He was neutered as a baby, but the vet said some breeds still produce extra male horomones. If you need to go that route, don't have him on them any longer than necessary because there hard on their heart.
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