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How to socialize an overprotective dog



Dogs can become overprotective for any number of reasons. Perhaps you’re projecting fearful or submissive energy and he feels like he needs to take charge and keep you safe. Or you haven’t done the best job at following the exercise, discipline, affection model and your pooch simply sees you as a free source of food and love.

Why wouldn’t he try to protect such a valuable commodity from other dogs and people?

Whatever the reason that your pup’s overprotective nature developed, it’s something that you need to curb before it gets out of control. Left unchecked, this behavior can lead to more serious aggression, and no one wants that for their dog.

One of the best ways to rehabilitate her overprotective behaviors and have a balanced dog is to socialize her. But how do you do it with a dog that’s already acting out around others?

Steps to socializing an overprotective dog

You can’t just expect your dog to change his behavior simply by forcing him to interact with more people. But you don’t want to keep him locked away, either, because doing that will only reinforce their overprotective and aggressive instincts.

The key is to control the socialization as much as possible — especially in the beginning stages. What does that mean?

  • Practice maintaining calm-assertive energy
    At least part of the reason your dog acts out when you’re with her is because your energy is telling her to do so. That probably seems odd if the problem is that she growls whenever your significant other comes over, but it makes sense. 

    If you become nervous that she’s going to act out, she’ll read this energy and become nervous herself, causing her to behave aggressively. When you can keep your own feelings in control, your dog will be more in control, too.

  • Choose your guests wisely
    It does your dog no favors if you try to socialize him by inviting over your neighbor and his aggressive dog. When socializing a dog that’s overprotective or aggressive, you need to seek out dogs that are calm and balanced and people who are calm and assertive. 

    Just as your dog reacts to your energy, he will also feed off of the energy of others, so you want to make sure their energy is projecting a sense of peace and safety.

  • Social-cize
    One of the best ways to get your dog used to other dogs and people is to go on a walk with them. Now this doesn’t mean that you should necessarily have your Uncle Ed walk your pooch if she tries to bite him every time he comes over, but what you can do is have him accompany you both on the walk and maintain your calm-assertive energy. 

    This, in conjunction with the calming effects of getting a workout, will eventually help your dog to relax more around him. It’s something that works with other dogs, too, though you may want to have the other owner walk several paces ahead with their pooch until your dog gets used to their presence.

  • Work with a professional
    For many people, it’s not easy to establish pack leadership with an overprotective dog on their own. Using the help of a canine professional who is willing to work with both you and your dog can make a big difference, and it can be especially important if you have any safety concerns.


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