That is my place

Dog guards his spot

What do we do when our dog guards a spot and growls when we come near it? This question was given to me by a colleague. Because this question is not only important to my colleague but to many dog owners, here is some advice that might answer the question:

Firstly, consider a common situation: a fairly large dog is lying down beside the front door and growls whenever the owner comes near or tries to leave the house. The owner fears to leave the house and therefore approaches the dog with ham slices every time she wants to exit: it is only when the dog is busy eating the ham that it stops guarding the spot. This approach does not change the situation as the dog still growls when she tries to exit the house.

We can look at the above situation from two perspectives:

  • The human’s point of view: The owner knows the dog well and knows that she will not calm the dog down with punishments. She instead uses treats in the hope of calming the dog down and stopping the growling. This approach has no visible positive affect, in fact it may be doing quite the opposite.
  • The dog’s point of view: According to the newly presented rule by its owner, the dog believes that it is being rewarded for guarding the spot and therefore thinks that it should guard this spot more vigorously and aggressively in order to gain more treats.

How can this problem be solved?

We should try to change the status of the spot: show the dog that the spot is not important. We should try to call the dog and reward it every time it obeys and approaches us. The dog should also be taught to lie calmly in any other given spot around the house.

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