If your dog is overly protective of you this post will show you a number of reasons why it might be the case and what you can do about it.
So, why is my dog so protective of me? Possible reasons why your dog is overly protective are that it has been trained to be that way either intentionally or inadvertently, it didn’t socialize much as a puppy so it is not trusting of other people and pets or that it is naturally overly protective.
There are actually a number of reasons why your dog might get too protective around other people. However, there are also a number of things that you can consider that will help you in figuring out the exact reason.
Why your dog is so protective of you
Each of the different reasons that your dog is protective will likely come with some signs in the way that it does it.
Below, I will show you why your dog might be doing it and what would make each of the reasons more likely.
It thinks you’re in danger
The reason why your dog becomes overly protective of you could be that it thinks you are in danger. This would be more likely if it does it when you are talking to people that it has not met before, when someone else is on your property or if it does it when someone touches you.
In this case, it would help to train it to listen to your command, to train it using positive reinforcement training and to avoid negative reinforcement. Each of which will be discussed below.
It was mistreated when younger
It could also be the case that it was mistreated as a puppy so it is now not so trusting of other people or that it was trained to be aggressive by previous owners. This would be more likely if you recently adopted it from a shelter.
In this case, it would help to give it lots of training as discussed below. It might also be worthwhile to seek the guidance of a dog behaviorist or trainer.
It could be the case that your dog is naturally very protective. This would be more likely if it has always behaved that way and if it is a breed that is known for being overly protective like German Shepherds are.
Even if it is naturally protective it will still be possible for you to get your dog to be better behaved around other people and dogs by training it. I will show you some things that you can do below.
Related: Why is my dog mad at me?
It has been rewarded
It could be the case that you have been encouraging the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats when it becomes overly protective then it might be doing it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.
Puppies will naturally explore the world a lot and learn about what they should and should not trust while they are puppies. If your dog was not able to get much exposure to other people and dogs as a puppy, it might never have learned that they can usually be trusted.
Things to consider
Below are some things that you can consider in order to help figure out why your dog does it.
When your dog is protective
It would help to consider when and where your dog tends to become overly protective since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
It is normal for a dog to be more protective when someone it does not know is in its home. However, it could still be the case that you have been reinforcing it by giving it things that it wants when it starts being overly protective.
Whereas, if your dog does it when you are walking past other people on walks, it would be more likely to be due to things such as it being reinforced, not getting to socialize as a puppy or not being trained to be well behaved. This would be a more serious issue and something that will be necessary to stop with training as shown below.
When your dog first started being protective
It would also help to consider when your dog first started being overly protective since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it.
If it did start doing it suddenly it could be due to things such as learning that it gets rewards when it does it or someone mistreating it.
How to get your dog to stop being so protective
Below are a number of options that you have when getting your dog to be less protective of you.
Train it to associate other people and dogs with rewards
One option you have is to train your dog to associate other dogs and people with rewards. By doing so you should be able to get it to have a positive and less aggressive response to seeing other people and dogs.
To do this you would start giving your dog special treats when you are approaching other dogs or people with it and stop when your dog begins to start being aggressive at them. By doing this it will learn that being aggressive around other dogs results in it not getting rewards.
Train it to listen to your command
If you have not given it much training already then it would help to start by training it to do things such as sit or stay. By doing so you should be able to get it to be more responsive to your command and to be easier to control when it is around other people and dogs.
Avoid negative reinforcement
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have been reinforcing the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it starts doing it. Instead, it would help to give it rewards when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it starts being overly protective.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you can’t get it to stop or it becomes aggressive then it would help to seek the guidance of a dog trainer or behaviorist in your area. By doing so you should be able to see how to get your dog to be better behaved around people in a more secure manner.