My dog is overly protective or possessive of me

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My dog is overly protective or possessive of me

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Old 07-05-2019, 04:36 AM
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My dog is overly protective or possessive of me

We have a 1-year old maltese / bichon / poodle mix (we think at least). He was born in a shelter, and we got him as a new pup at an adoption fair. We have 2 other small dogs- one just a few months older than him, and one senior dog (both females). He gets along well, and is tightly bonded to the other dog his age. They play non stop. He is fearful of strangers, and unknown situations in general, but this has improved with socialization and positive reinforcement. He's cute as all get out, and has a wonderful quirky personality. He really is the dog that lights up a room and makes everyone adore him.

Ever since I picked him up at the pet adoption fair, he has been very very close to me. You might say he's obsessive. He loves everyone else in the family, and gets excited when they come home, etc. But he wants to be wherever I am at all times, and if I'm not there (traveling for work or something) you can sense that he's uneasy about it. All in all, though, he deals with this and it really isn't problematic... at least most of the time...

One of his personality quirks is that at night around bedtime he gets super tired and grouchy. He growls, for example, if you try to move him off his favorite pillow. He's never bitten anyone, but will gesture like he intends to. He's only done this a few times toward me, but he does it with other family members just about every night.

One thing he has started doing is to act very aggressive whenever people approach me at night, while we're all lounging watching TV. For example, if my wife walks up to hug me or even if someone walks over to hand me a phone or something, he'll charge at them full speed. Again, he has never actually bitten anyone. He growls some and lunges but I think he's afraid to bite. At first this behavior seemed humorous- but it seems to be increasing and I'm concerned that it's an unhealthy situation.

He's also gone berserk and attacked the other dogs when they got too close to me - even just walking over me on the couch. He's only done this a few times, but the other dogs were freaked out when it happened.

Whats funny is he is also kind of independent- he doesn't usually actually sleep on my lap or anything. In fact, he'll often go sleep in my wife's lap. But then if she gets up and approaches me, he charges at her to try to prevent it.

As I noted, this behavior only comes out at night, when he has wound down. Any other time he could care less how we interact, or if I play with the other dogs. He definitely is not a 'night dog' that's for sure. He crashes hard at about 8pm.

Any thoughts on how to work on this behavior? Thanks!

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Old 07-05-2019, 05:56 AM
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My dog is exactly the same way. My husband brings treats when he comes to bed at night because of it, lol. I'm laughing but it's really not funny, I have no idea how to fix it either.
Mine is a 40 lb 2yo eskimo/husky/lab/heinz57 rescue.
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Old 07-05-2019, 07:56 AM
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My dog was doing similar things but he hadn’t gotten as far as growling or trying to bite others. He is 7 months and obsessed with me, too much, like your guy. If this behavior isn’t corrected it can cause some major issues down the road, similar to what your experiencing. I got a trainer to work with my boy cause he is a large dog and still growing so I wanted to nip this issue in the bud before it gets out of hand. I highly recommend finding a trainer who can help you and your pup get through this and fix this issue because god forbid he does end up biting someone, you can have a major liability on your hands.
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Old 07-05-2019, 09:57 AM
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We got a trainer but his recommendation for when reactivity on leash was to spray her with a water bottle. Heck no. She's already freaking out, how in the world would that make it better? But his advice to 'correct' the dog with a deep BAH when she does something inappropriate seems to help overall (as long as she's not over the edge already). Then praise like crazy when she behaves properly. It's a work in progress.



We tried the treat approach and it didn't work (with a very patient guest) - she's just too freaked out too focus. She's just a mess of a dog. We mostly do prevention - we crate/gate her when we have people that she doesn't know in the house, avoid people during walks (I don't walk her too much anymore, honestly, because it's NOT fun for either of us), and she got muzzled at our last vet appointment.
Really, that's why people shouldn't breed random dogs (she was a rescue). Shockingly, she actually loves dogs when she's off leash, lol.
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Old 07-05-2019, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elsol View Post
We have a 1-year old maltese / bichon / poodle mix (we think at least).
He really is cute and he looks very content in the picture.

Quote:
... snip...

One of his personality quirks is that at night around bedtime he gets super tired and grouchy. He growls, for example, if you try to move him off his favorite pillow. He's never bitten anyone, but will gesture like he intends to. He's only done this a few times toward me, but he does it with other family members just about every night.
There are multiple things happening here. He is "claiming" you and he is "claiming" a space/pillow or whatever. The behaviour is being generated because you're not being clear about his boundaries; he doesn't know what you want him to DO, so he does what his instincts are telling him.

The good news is that you can break this very easily with a well socialized dog. All you have to do (I know it's easier said than done) is to not let him lay claim to things you don't want him to claim, including you. That's so easy to write down but it can be hard to get a grip on it in practice, especially when the dog has been "trained" or "permitted" to claim spaces, objects or people over long periods of time. In your case, you're on time. the dog is only a year old so it may only take a few sessions/corrections to teach him what you need him to know.

You're going to need to teach him a command or two. He needs to know how to "get down" without having to reach to him/touch him, to "go to your bed/crate etc" and to learn how to snap him out of his obsession to protect you (if that is, indeed what it is) with a corrective command like 'stop', 'wait' or 'sit' (whatever works).

DOWN
-------

commands will normally be taught in the current paradigm by positive reinforcement. In my experience, you may need to "show" the dog what you mean by "down", for example, by attaching a leash to him as you train him so you can "steer" him "down" at the same time you are saying "down", especially the first few times. (don't PULL, just put tension on the leash in the direction you want him to move and wait until he gets it. Be patient). Once the dog understands WHAT you want him to do then take the leash off and repeat the exercise over and over, rewarding the bejezus out of him doing it on his own after that. I taught my dog "down" when he started to claim the sofa in 2 days (4 sessions of less than an hour) using this approach. I only used the leash during the first session.

I must also point out at this juncture, that this would be MY approach and there are people who believe that "corrections" or "steering" of this type is taboo, but I can tell you that it works, that it works quickly if you need a quick result and it can improve communication with the dog early on in the process if they don't seem to understand what you want them to do. There are other approaches but any way you look at it, you're trying to "correct" behaviour, so let's call it what it is, regardless of how you approach the "correction".

If you are not comfortable using a leash for the "steering" you can try a pillow if you think he might bite you, or just push him if you don't, but I personally think that the direct tactile feel of the leash will get you the quickest result. The difference is that you're not "pushing" him away with the leash, you're "inviting him to come to you", which is something the dog will generally accept more quickly. Again, this is just my experience.

"corrections" are quite a bit trickier than reinforcement because it's SO easy to go overboard and create new issues by either being impatient or too rough. I would definitely consult a trainer to learn how to do this if you don't have any experience.

After learning those few commands you'll have a "vocabulary" at your disposal to communicate to the dog what you expect it to DO at a given moment in time. This is what you're missing and this is the goal of ALL commands, including "down", "bed" and "stop", which is the vocabulary you're missing.

BED
-----
The reason I believe "BED" is important to break claiming isn't because I think the dog needs to be banished to bed. A dog that is "claiming" will be easier to redirect if you give it something else to claim, namely, his own bed! My dog has a little doggie bed and a crate in the house. When he goes in either of those places it's a "no go zone" for humans. Particularly, when he is in his crate, we don't interact with him at all. The door of his crate is always open and when he goes in there, he's saying, "leave me alone" so we LEAVE HIM ALONE. The dog NEEDS a space like that, so teach him with BED that when he's claiming and he goes to his bed then you will leave him alone. Again, it is a NO GO ZONE if you teach him this. Once the coin drops you'll find that he'll calm down a lot when he can just lay in his bed/crate and "chill" while other people are there.

Think of the dog's bed like his meditation cushion. You wouldn't interrupt a human while meditating and you should create a space like that for your dog where he can go and "center" himself, as it were.

STOP
------
This, I believe, speaks for itself. What will help immensely when you are first teaching the dog not to claim you is to PHYSICALLY turn and face away from him when he is trying to do it. Do not look at him, do not talk to him and do not interact with him an any way, shape or form. Reward him for "calming" coming to check out what's going on but completely ignore the behaviour that you do not want to see. Just say STOP and then turn away and say NOTHING else.

This could take some training and I know it has worked with my dogs but it may not work equally well with all dogs. IN order to set yourself up for success with this, you MUST .... TOTALLY .... ignore the behaviour you want to break him of.

It will also help if you have a partner to work with. When breaking training by turning the back it helps to have someone else to "model" the behaviour you want to see from your dog. So if you say STOP and turn, and your partner stops and just calmly faces YOU (not the dog... YOU) without saying or doing anything, then the dog will catch on faster that this is what you want it to DO..... just like using the leash in the first example.... show him what you want first and then use rewards to reinforce the behaviour once the hook is in.

I know this is a long post but it gives you a rough sketch of how I would personally approach a "claiming" dog that is otherwise mentally healthy.

Finally, I will repeat again that I do not own a monopoly on approaches to this. Other people will certainly have other approaches and I would advise you to pick and choose what fits you and your dog the best.

Good luck and keep us up to date on his progress
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Old 07-05-2019, 03:08 PM
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.... sorry ...... last minute thought here.

The walk. If you want the dog to stop claiming you as much, then a very easy way to reinforce that is to get him to bond with your partner. Let your partner walk him. ALONE and go for long walks with him.....

A long walk for a dog that size is an hour, more if he doesn't get too tired.

Let your partner do this a minimum of 3 times in the first week that you start with breaking his "claiming" and you'll probably find that you have a totally different dog at the end of the week.

The keys are...
- long walks
- alone. You cannot be there. Just 1:1 with the person who is triggering his claiming behaviour.
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Old 07-07-2019, 10:08 PM
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Thanks everyone for the good advice, especially dogslife for the detailed info. I'm already doing most of what you said, so thats a good start. But even just knowing the right term for the behavior is already a big help. Thank you!
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