• Brad Keating

Signs Your Dog Is Protective of You

Updated: Nov 13

Dogs have been one of the humans' most loyal companions for thousands of years. The bond that owners create with their dog can grow as they spend more time together, which leads to a more special relationship. This can help owners figure out what their pet wants in a specific context.


The best way to develop this relationship is to train the pet until it develops an exclusive way to communicate with its owner. However, if the owner doesn't train their pet to show what it wants but still spends time taking care of it, giving it treats, and showing affection, it may still find a way to show its feelings.


It's important to tell the difference between protection and over-protection since the latter could lead to aggressive behavior, translating to dangerous scenarios with another dog or owner. Dogs are not complicated to understand; if the owner can take enough time to spend with their pet, it's going to become easier to figure out what they want.



Protective Dogs vs. Over-Protective/Aggressive Dogs


Not all pets show the same behavior, which means that each owner needs to work with their dogs to know how they can communicate what they want. While it's a good sign to have a pet that's always looking out for its owner, it's not as good if they feel a threat in every scenario since it can lead to aggressive behavior. Thankfully, it's easy to tell if a dog is over-protective with its owner. It's also vital to take notes and try to correct any early indicators of aggression or potential aggressive behavior.


General Signs

The best way to tell that a dog is over-protective or aggressive is by analyzing how they change their behavior whenever they're close to another person or animal. The most common way to test this is by placing the dog in an environment with different people or animals. If the dog starts stressing out or growling to everyone who comes close to the owners, it may be an over-protective dog.


Socialization

This is an important aspect of training a dog to behave correctly without any aggression signs. If a dog isn't well socialized, it may become aggressive whenever a different person comes near it. To avoid this, the dog must be socialized from a young age to make it less likely to react with aggression in some circumstances.


Distance

Whenever a dog walks into a new family, it's common for the family to stay as close to the dog as possible. While this is great for the dog to help develop a loving relationship, it's not recommended that the family is always near their pet. If there are many people in a single home, it's great to make the dog spend time with everyone at separate times so it can trust them equally.


If the keepers don't do this early on, it can make the dog engage in aggressive actions with other people in the house.


Affection

Some dogs may ask for attention or treats by barking or nudging people. Giving affection and treats for no reason is fine up until a certain point. If someone's dog gets accustomed to this, it may get aggressive if that person ever refuses to give it attention.


A good way to correct any aggression caused by this is to make the dog earn those treats by doing a trick or sitting.

How To Deal With an Over-Protective Dog

As said before, it's common for dogs to guard their owners, but it's not appropriate if they act with aggression whenever they feel a threat. There are many things that people can do to make sure that their dogs act with positive behavior most of the time, regardless if they're at home or somewhere else. Here's an overview of the most common things that dog keepers try to regain control of their pets.


  • Teaching the dog to be by itself sometimes.

  • Socializing the dog at a young age.

  • Making the dog earn wanted attention by doing a trick or sit.

  • Talking to a canine behaviorist.

  • Doing obedience training with the dog.


Why Is Your Dog So Protective of You?


The main reason why dogs are so protective of their keepers is that they consider them family. In most cases, dogs are used to having their keepers around, meaning that they act with a more protective/aggressive behavior under specific circumstances. If the keepers treat their dog with constant love and care, it's likely to give back by protecting them from all possible dangers during the day.


Another reason why dogs tend to be protective of their keepers is because of a self-preservation instinct. Normally, the dog's keepers are supposed to provide food and shelter to their new friend. If these people get harmed, that could mean that the dog may not get that food and shelter, which causes it the natural need to give them protection.


Last but not least, dogs with a background of previous abuse may be extremely aggressive, but they can also become protective of their new keeper who is caring and loving. This is because they're used to this abusive behavior from someone in the past. If they're exposed to a more positive environment, they're likely to give back by trying to give their new friend some protection instead of responding with aggression.



Signs Your Dog is Protective of You


A dog tends to use every part of its body to communicate with its keepers; the stronger the bond, the easier it can be for the keeper to tell what the dog is feeling at the moment. As said before, all dogs act with different behavior, depending on their life circumstances. However, there are some general body language indicators that dogs usually exhibit to tell their keeper something.


The Dog Gets Excited Whenever It Hears Its Keeper's Name

With proper training and time, dogs may be able to recognize their keeper's name. A dog that gets excited whenever it hears a particular person's name means that it has developed a strong relationship with them. Even if that person isn't present at that place, hearing their name may make the dog expect them to appear.


The Dog Shows Guarding Behavior

Dogs are likely to act with protective/aggressive behavior, even if they don't feel any immediate threats nearby. If a dog feels like their keeper is someone special, it may sit down nearby to guard them. This is more likely to happen whenever people are relaxing or eating somewhere.


However, this is not always a good sign since it can develop future issues with over-protective behavior, leading to aggression to people who come near their keepers. Aggression can often lead to an attack or bite, which can cause problems for the owner because Ohio has strict dog bite laws.


The Dog Tends to Take Personal Items to Its Keeper

Most people see their dog taking a toy to them as a play request. However, it can also be two other things that can be seen as trust and love signs. A dog taking an item to its keeper may also signify that it trusts them, meaning that it feels like it can share something of value with that person.


On the other hand, if a dog takes a broken item to its keeper, it can also signify that it trusts the keeper's intelligence to fix that object. This can become even more evident if the dog whines after presenting the item.


The Dog Makes Constant Eye Contact

Dogs can exhibit their feelings in many ways; some even use facial expressions to indicate things they like or dislike. In most cultures, eye contact between pets and their keepers is seen as a sign of love. Japanese researchers have concluded that dogs are likely to react positively whenever they see their keeper straight in the eye since they release oxytocin, which may positively affect the keeper's mood.


However, this is not always the case; if a stranger looks at a dog straight in the eyes, there's a chance of them reacting with aggression, depending on the circumstances. Other subtle signs can represent either positive or negative feelings, such as raising the eyebrows, shifting the ears, etc.


The Dog Yawns When It's Near Its Keeper

A dog may yawn for many reasons, such as stress, sadness, or sleepiness. However, a dog that has developed a strong relationship with its keeper tends to mimic their yawns. It's complicated to tell specifically why a dog is yawning, but it can help analyze the dog's behavior whenever it yawns.


The Dog Can Feel Whenever Its Keeper Needs Comfort

Most dogs can tell if their keeper is feeling down since they're sensitive to mood changes. Whenever this happens, the dog may try to help by cuddling up to its keeper, rest its head on theirs, or just being nearby.


It's important to note that all dogs can exhibit different behavior, so there's no general answer to how they're going to act whenever their new friend feels down.



The Dog Sits on Its Keeper's Feet

Some dogs might need to sit on their keeper's feet to represent ownership. This is the dog's way to tell someone else that the keeper is under its protection. In some cases, these dogs might react with aggression if someone they don't know comes near their keeper, even if they don't pose any harm.


The Dog Continually Cuddles Up to Its Keeper

One of the most obvious signs of attachment between a dog and the keeper is snuggling. Dogs that tend to reach out to their keeper during the day for gentle touches or snuggling usually means that they feel a strong bond.


Snuggling mimics maternal attachment between the dog and its original mom, so it's common for a dog to do this with people it's closest to.


The Dog Takes the Keepers' Shoes When They Leave

Dogs tend to take and keep items that smell like their keeper when they go away for a certain period. This is usually seen as an exhibit of attachment. However, if the dog tends to destroy the items it takes from the keeper, it can be seen as aggressive behavior, so it's important to train them at a young age not to do those things.

The Dog Gets Excited to See Its Keeper

This is the most common sign that a dog is protective of its keeper. Most pets exhibit sad or aggressive behavior whenever their keepers leave the house, which changes to over-excitement whenever they come back.


Keepers can easily tell if a dog's excited to see them by looking at the dog's face, tail, and overall body behavior.



How To Improve the Relationship Between Pets and Keepers


It's vital to make sure that the dog has proper training throughout its life to prevent aggressive behavior. While the process can be different from dog to dog, there are some general tips that can help the keeper promote the best behavior possible instead of aggression.


  • Having a training session once every few days.

  • Promoting healthy eating habits for the dog.

  • Playing with the dog constantly.

  • Giving the dog one grooming or massage session from time to time.

  • Giving treats whenever the dog exhibits positive behavior and corrects aggressive behavior.

  • Correcting aggressive acts as soon as possible.

  • Keeping the dog around whenever it feels upset or anxious.


Does a Dog Know When to Protect Its Keepers?


A dog can exhibit protective/aggressive behavior by instinct; if it feels like a loved one is in danger, it might exhibit signs of aggression toward the thing that poses a threat to them. However, the dog can't always tell if those external factors are actually dangerous for its keeper, which causes aggressive behavior even if there's no risk of danger.


Some breeds are more likely to respond with aggression in dangerous situations, whereas other breeds are not as protective or aggressive. A herding dog is popular because of its ability to keep its "pack" together, making it perfect for taking children to safety in dangerous situations without being too aggressive if it's well-trained.


While breed can help determine the rate of protective or aggressive behavior of the dog, it isn't a determining factor. With proper training, treats, and care, every dog is likely to exhibit general positive behavior and aggressive behavior if the situation demands it.



Is a Dog More Protective of Female Keepers?


This isn't a general rule, but some pets are more likely to exhibit protective behavior with female keepers. This is because women generally have a softer voice and are gentler whenever they care for the dog.


On the other hand, a dog can easily sense changes in human behavior and hormones. For example, if a woman gets pregnant, the dog might pick up the difference in hormones and behavior and act more protectively toward her.



Conclusion


A dog generally works to please its keeper and keep them protected. To promote the best behavior possible, it's important to take note of changes in behavior when the dog is around another human or animal being, pay attention to what they want, and correct early indicators of aggression.

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