Lots of dogs are anxious and this can show itself in many ways, but probably the most common is as aggressive protection of the owner or territorial guarding behaviour of the home. This is often because they don’t know where they are in the pack and feel it is THEIR job to look after you. Not the other way around.
So, to change this behaviour, you the owner need to change where the dog feels they are in the pack, ie. at the bottom.
This may feel uncomfortable, but you need to establish that YOU are in charge, YOU are top dog and that YOU are looking after them and therefore they don’t need to worry about it. The home is not their responsibility to guard. It is YOUR responsibility and when you’re out, YOU are watching out for danger, not them.
This doesn’t have to be a permanent situation – 5 seconds stroking only??? – and once the new regime is established you can relax things a little so you can have some more cuddles. Follow these rules consistently and make sure everyone who has responsiblility for your dog, is following the same rules as much as possible.
- Train on a regular basis (every day)
- Don’t play tug of war or hand teasing games
- No food treats unless the dog has worked for it. g. Sit, down.
- The dog is only fussed for five seconds at a time and only after s/he has been made to respond to a command such as SIT. He is not stroked for minutes on end.
- When the dog demands to be fussed he is given a command such as SIT before he is fussed. Only fuss for 5 seconds.
- At the end of 5 seconds, the owner says NO MORE or ENOUGH, folds his arms and ignores the dog. Never resume fussing for a full 10 minutes after you have told the dog NO MORE.
- Always call your dog to you. Do not go to your dog.
- Owner must go through all narrow openings like doorways, stairs, and passageways first. Make the dog follow you.
- Do not allow your dog to demand a walk. Make the dog sit to have its collar and lead fitted.
- Do not allow the dog to dictate the route you take, i.e. don’t’ let your dog walk in front of you. You’re pack leader, you walk in front or at the side.
- Mix the dogs food up in his presence. Make them wait for it whilst you go through the act of eating it yourself. This instinctively tells the dog that YOU are pack leader.
- Teaching the dog to fetch will help him to learn to work for you.
- If the dog is in your way as you move around the house, tell him to move even if you have to wake him up. This also tells the dog you are pack leader.
- Tell your family and friends not to fuss the dog if you haven’t given it a command.
- Deny your dog freedom of movement around the house. Shut doors for a few days until your dog accepts its new lower rank. Only pack leaders have complete freedom.
- You keep the dog’s toys, give out to play, then put away.
- Sometimes stand in your dog’s bed or anywhere else it likes to sleep.
- Do not allow your dog to sit on the furniture, on your lap or sleep on your bed.
- Groom your dog daily
I know this can seem drastic, BUT for an anxious dog displaying what can be seen as aggressive behaviour, especially in a strong dog, it is essential to create a safe situation for all, INCLUDING your do. They must know how to behave and that you are in control of them, not the other way round.