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Protection Aggression

Protection aggression is when a dog protects someone from perceived threats by others. The someone is usually the dog's owner(s), but not always. It can be another dog or even another species. I heard of a dog in a shelter environment who was very protective of her littermate and would not let anyone near her. She would position herself in between her sister and any person who walked by. Many people believe it's a good thing that their dog will not let other people or dogs near them because they feel this means the dog is a good guard dog. The problem is that protection aggressive dogs are not under owner control. A good guard dog will turn off the protection when asked. Protection aggressive dogs will not. If your dog is threatening others, strangers or not, when they come near you, it is a serious problem - NOT a blessing! 

What to do about it

FIrst off, don't encourage it. Many people think it's funny that their dog won't let anyone touch them and even set the dog up so they can show it off. How many times have we seen THAT video on AFV? It won't be funny when she bites someone, so nip it in the bud before it escalates. Don't give her an opportunity to practice the behavior. Remember, the best way to get good at something is to practice it. If she "guards" you from others while sitting in your lap, for example, don't let her sit in your lap in the presence of others.

If you want to stop the behavior, work on conditioning a new behavior. Let her sit in your lap with others present, but tell her WRONG and make her get OFF your lap the instant she threatens someone. Practice until she learns that she can only sit in your lap if she doesn't threaten others.

Also, remember that it is the leader who protects the rest of the group. Parents protect their children, not the other way around. If your dog is protecting you rather than you protecting her, you're not being a very good leader. Work on your leadership exercises!

Additional Resources

Protection Aggression is closely related to Territorial Aggression

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