Guarding, protecting or both?

Published by Theo Stewart on

Charlie growls when man enters the room, but only when the lady is there.

Protecting the lady?

The Cocker Spaniel may also sometimes growl at the man or the son if they touch him when he’s in his bed. That also is most likely when the lady is in the room.

He may also guard high-value resources like a bone, which they avoid by no longer giving to him.

He is very alert to certain sounds and jumps up immediately, sometimes barking.

The sofa

It all began when three-year-old Charlie was about a year old with a face-off with the man over his going on the sofa.

The man didn’t want Charlie on the sofa because Charlie had growled at him when he was on there. Was he protecting the lady back then? It’s impossible to say.

The man, in his own words, immediately dominated him, stared back at him and pinned him. Then pulled the angry, defiant adolescent dog off the sofa by his collar.

Now Charlie doesn’t get on the sofa when the man is in the room. A click of the man’s fingers gets him down.

Wary of the man?

The net result, in my opinion is that the super-sensitive Charlie is a bit scared of the man. There has been fallout.

When he enters the room with, say, a cup of tea for his wife, Charlie is protecting her.

He growls.

The man now walks back out.

This is a lot better than using dominance, but it won’t resolve the problem. If protecting is what he’s doing, his is growling successfully keeps the man away from the lady.

Changing how the dog feels

The way to deal with this is to make Charlie welcome the man’s entrance. One way the man can achieve this by calling Charlie to him as he enters the room – and then dropping him some food to way ‘thank you’.

Everything should be bright, reassuring and non-confrontational.

Any ‘Alpha’ or ‘dominance’ behaviour would only scare Charlie more and confirm to him that the lady needs protecting. It invites confrontation.

Showing the dog who’s boss isn’t the way we do things nowadays.

‘Let sleeping dogs like’.

A family rule: no more going over to Charlie when’s he’s resting or asleep, most particularly when he’s in his bed.

Charlie’s is another clear case of a dog much more likely to be guarding – or protecting – when he’s already stirred up. This is evident by how his behaviour is variable.

Excitable dogs like Charlie are permanently aroused to some extent, so doing everything they can to keep him as calm as he can be will dividends.

They have already made my connection between Charlie’s highly reactive behaviour and stress, and are trying a herbal product on him. The right behaviour work, however, should really make all the difference.

Later: “Myself and my husband had a really good online session with Theo today with regards to guarding. It put our minds at rest and Theo offered some great advice and strategies going forward which we have started already.”

A week later: “Hi Theo we have seen a big improvement in Charlie the last few days. He is more calmer so will re-watch the video back but just changing little things have really helped. …. ‘R’ bought me a cup if tea, Charlie went to get up but ‘R’ called him (and followed advice) and he was able to hand me the tea.”

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help

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