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“My dog is so protective of me.” Is that really what is going on?

I was recently talking to a lady who said that her dog “is so protective” of her that he would even bark, growl and lunge at her husband if he walked toward her. I have heard this phrase from many people and think it’s worth mentioning that this is NOT the dog being protective. This is resource guarding. The dog is saying “this is MINE do not challenge for this or come near it!” When a dog acts that way toward a person that they are familiar with, who lives in the home, or whom they see on a regular basis, this behavior is not okay. We see this often with small dogs who are carried a lot by one person.

Trust me, dogs know when there is true danger and the reaction will be quite different. Dogs inherently have a keen sense of danger. They can smell (chemical changes in a human’s body emit an odor) it and sense it!

This behavior must be corrected rather than encouraged! People often think it’s cute when a little dog does this, but when the dog seriously bites someone, it will cease to be humorous at all.