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Territorial behavior in dogs: when it gets out of control


Each dog shows a certain natural territorial behavior with which he wants to protect his "territory" - and be it just your two-room apartment. However, if this behavior gets out of control and the four-legged friend may even become aggressive, you have to intervene. Territorial behavior: This shepherd defends its territory with loud barking - Shutterstock / DTeibe Photography

A dog instinctively defends its territory - this manifests itself in an exaggerated territorial behavior, which is not always pleasant for masters or mistresses. For example, when the four-legged friend barks as soon as a visitor comes through the stairwell or the garden gate, or by jumping up on people. In the worst case, the dog tries to press intruders into its territory through threatening behavior or even begins to bite them. In such cases one speaks of territorial aggression.

The dog defends its territory

The territory is the ancestral territory of a dog. The four-legged friend marks this with scent marks, by urinating or by pawing in the ground - just as you experience it every day as a dog owner during everyday dog ​​walking. The cold mustaches guard the places and objects that are particularly important to them: For example, their food bowl or the basket. Dogs develop such normal territorial behavior when they grow up, usually from the age of two or three. In some cases, however, the natural need to protect the ancestral area can expand into territorial aggression.

How does territorial behavior and territorial aggression come about?

The reasons for excessive territorial behavior and territorial aggression can be varied. Sometimes the behavior is based on the character of the dog - especially dominant dogs tend to extreme territorial behavior. Some dog breeds have a genetically stronger instinct to defend their territory than others. For example, the German Shepherd Dog, the Doberman Pinscher or some mastiffs.

In other dogs, the cause of the aggressive behavior can also be in childhood. A lack of socialization as a puppy or inconsistent upbringing by owner or mistress play a role, for example.

German Shepherd: Versatile herding and family dog

What to do if the dog gets aggressive?

A dog that becomes aggressive as soon as a stranger enters its territory is usually a case for the dog trainer. In less serious cases, you can use obedience training under professional supervision to teach your four-legged friend that it is you, not him, who determine the limits of the area and the degree of danger of intruders. In some cases, on the other hand, it is enough to offer the dog more variety and activity in everyday life - a busy dog ​​is also more relaxed when it comes to the limits of his territory.

Ideally, you should ensure that such territorial behavior does not occur by educating your puppy from an early age. It helps if the young dog has a lot of contact with visitors and learns that intruders do not dispute his territory. Also, a dog that respects its owner as head of the pack will show little aggressive territorial behavior because it recognizes that it is his philanthropist who controls and defends the boundaries of the territory for him.