An introduction to territorial behaviours in dogs

Posted by Argos, 28 June 2014, last updated 16 February 2023.

Dogs have been man’s faithful companion for many years now. However, it’s still important to remember that dogs are not humans and as such, they cannot be treated in the same way.

Certain dogs can pose a danger to other dogs, whilst others can even cause a threat to humans. Dogs can become aggressive when it comes to guarding what they believe to be their property. For example, items such as food bowls and toys. They can also become very territorial, and if an unknown individual tries to enter their domain, they may attack.

Dog aggression is not uncommon. Yet despite this being normal ‘dog’ behaviour, it can be extremely dangerous to others if not controlled. Dogs are bred to protect their owners, which makes it important for their owners to be able to control them. If your dog is territorial, keep on reading to find out everything you need to know.

Signs of a territorial dog

Aggressive behaviour in dogs often ensues violent barking, growling, snapping, biting, lunging and the lifting of the upper lip. Sounds, people and other animals can trigger these symptoms.

For example, a postman arriving at the door may cause your pet to leap into a barking rage. You may also notice an extreme reaction from the dog when an unknown individual approaches their space, for example, the backyard.

Territorial Dog 1


What makes a dog territorial?

If a dog has had successful results in the past when defending food, territory and humans, they may become accustomed to this behaviour. In certain cases, such aggression can be due to an underlying medical condition, the environment they live in, pack order behaviour or poor socialisation as a puppy.

Other causes include malnutrition, inbreeding or genetic reasons.

A cute Coonhound communicates with its owner

How to stop your dog being territorial

If this sounds like your dog, and your vet has ruled out any primary diseases, you may wish to invest in the services of an animal behavioural specialist.

Such a professional will have many years of experience when it comes to training aggressive dogs.

How to deal with territorial dogs

Although curing this aggressive behaviour may be near impossible, you can control it. Decreasing the number of aggressive incidents certainly means you’re on the right track. A dog-training specialist is there to offer a helping hand and will assist you in cultivating a number of management and safety tools.

Safety is of the utmost importance and by avoiding a situation that could potentially cause an attack of aggression you may be able to get around this. You should never use dominance or punishment-based training methods as this will only increase your animal’s aggression levels.

In extreme scenarios, you may have to teach your dog to wear a basket muzzle or a head halter and in the worst case situation, euthanasia may be the only way forward – especially if it prevents your dog from seriously harming others.

What to remember

When training your dog, it’s important to remember that behaviour modification requires patience. Your animal isn’t going to become well-behaved overnight and such a solution takes time.

You may even undergo a few setbacks along the way, but if the treatment works then the end result will be well worth the wait.

Now you understand territorial dog behaviours, remember to protect yourself from unexpected vet bills with Argos Pet Insurance provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Explore our dog insurance policies today.

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