How can you discourage territory guarding behavior?

asked 2014-11-25 12:44:45 -0500

I have a dog-friendly office and I take my puppy to work with me most days. He's got a little ex-pen area by my desk he hangs out in, when we aren't having playtime with other dogs or attending meetings. He's pretty content to be in there, with his chew toys and antlers and whatnot to keep him occupied. But lately he's started barking and lunging at dogs that pass by the pen. It's not crazy aggressive, but it's starting to feel like it could become so if left unchecked. If it happens when I'm looking, I'm able to ask him to "leave it" and then praise him when he's calm, but there are times when I don't catch it proactively. He's also randomly started doing it with his big brother at home (when he's just chilling in his pen there). Sometimes he'll lunge and bark at him when he passes the pen, other times he's fine.

Is there any way to discourage this behavior without having to catch it before it occurs? Or is that my only option? I don't want this to turn into a big problem with being aggressive about territory.

edit edit tags flag offensive close merge delete

4 Answers

Sort by ยป oldest newest most voted
answered 2014-12-26 11:58:05 -0500
  1. Is he neutered? If not, get him neutered if appropriate for his age and health...
  2. He could be guarding you, see if he reacts aggressively towards others when you are not near him? If he doesn't then the answer is, it is you.
  3. Don't allow him to pee or poo around that area or building, if he can't mark his territory, it is not his territory to guard.
  4. Don't allow him to walk through the threshold of the door first. You are the pack leader, you walk in first.
  5. Try covering his cage or pen with a blanket so he can not see out. This MIGHT change his behavior if he can not see other dogs but can only smell them. If this helps, continue to cover until he can be trusted to not react aggressively, then you can uncover. The moment he reverts back to aggression cover up his area again. That will be the punishment he will understand, that when he does an unwanted behavior, the other people and dogs go bye bye. If he doesn't react, he gets to see out.
  6. I keep using the term "aggression" for lack of a better word but please understand, what your dog is going through does not sound like true aggression, he could just be acting out for several reasons.
  7. Exercise him more if he is not exercised enough.
  8. All of these tips could help but are not a cure all solution, the best thing is to keep trying new things until something works. Just know your dog is going through a stage in his life where he will be acting like this, but all these tips might be small ways to help.
edit flag offensive delete link more
answered 2014-12-04 18:00:28 -0500

A lot of dogs show fence reactivity. Normal dog-dog interactions don't happen nose to nose, but fences force that more confrontational approach. Maybe he'd be less reactive if he were on a lead attached to something solid nearby? You can also try and desensitize him if you can grab a volunteer dog and have it walk nearby the pen, outside of the range where your pup reacts, praising and rewarding him for staying calm, then decreasing the distance over time, always rewarding for positive behavior, and taking a step or two back if he becomes overwhelmed and reacts. If you can do this with a few other dogs you may be able to curtail the behavior in these limited circumstances, at least with the dogs he's familiar with. Depending on his age, he may be at that stage where he begins testing all his boundaries, with you, with his sibling dog, and with the other dogs in the office. Hello, rebellious teenager!

edit flag offensive delete link more
answered 2015-10-02 10:04:24 -0500

I would also consider the possibility that he is guarding his toys and chews that you are providing him, so I might take him out of his pen and put him in a small room with supervision and toys and chews and see if he is guarding his toys and chews and also see if you get the same behavior from him if you put him in a room without the toys and chews. If it is the case where he is learning to guard food, toys, etc., then you can focus on that issue. However, if you find out it is not the food and toys then it is most likely you or the fence boundary he is guarding. Try process of elimination first and then you can work towards eliminating the problem by following the steps that were outlined by some suggestions from the others.

edit flag offensive delete link more
answered 2015-10-02 19:42:59 -0500

Hi Olivia- Allison has a Lot of really great suggestions to try in combination. It sounds like (s)he needs more exercise. Puppies, young and high energy dogs do need to get more exercise. When you take breaks and/or go to lunch, maybe you and a couple others could walk the dogs together. Make it a faster pace than a leisure, sniff, sniff, pause walk. Does your workplace have either a fenced area for the dogs to be exercised or fenced dog park nearby? They are social beings just like us. If your cage is expandable, ask if a volunteer dog(s) could spend short times throughout the day with him/her. There are also mental games that you put treats in and they have to figure out how to get the treat. Kathleen D.

edit flag offensive delete link more

Your Answer

Please start posting anonymously - your entry will be published after you log in or create a new account. This space is reserved only for answers. If you would like to engage in a discussion, please instead post a comment under the question or an answer that you would like to discuss

Add Answer