Territorial Behavior of Dogs

territorial behavior of dogs

Territorial Behavior of Dogs

The territorial behavior of dogs can take on many forms.  If you’ve noticed this kind of behavior in your dog, it may be different than another dog.  To some extent, territorial behavior is just part of being a dog.  The degree to which a particular dog will be compelled to act on this instinct varies from breed to breed and dog to dog.  Knowing what to expect, and what behaviors should be addressed, are helpful for all dog owners.

Male vs Female Dogs

We tend to see stronger territorial characteristics with male dogs.  However, a female dog is also territorial to an extent.  Therefore, whether your pup is male or female, or has been neutered or not, you’re likely to observe territorial behavior of some form in your pet.  This is as much an instinct for them as their pack mentality.

Territorial Dog Breeds

territorial behavior of dogs
A Doberman Pinscher is a highly territorial breed

While there are exceptions to every list, these six breeds are well known for their territorial behavior:

  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Rottweiler
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • German Shepherd
  • Gian Schnauzer

The Types of Territorial Behavior of Dogs

Without reading further, you probably have a general idea about territorial behavior in dogs.  

Guarding their Home

Dogs tend to guard their home, patrol their yard, and act as a general deterrent toward unwanted people or other animals.  This may be one of the reasons you wanted a dog in the first place.  It gives us some level of comfort knowing that we have an active alarm system patrolling for us.

Guarding their Family Members

territorial behavior of dogs

Dogs are often territorial about their family members, too.  Pet owners often find this type of behavior endearing.  It seems to speak to your bond with your pet.  Your dog may react in a clingy or pushy fashion to get your attention when you start interacting with someone else.  

Scent Marking

If you’ve seen one dog do it, you’ve seen a thousand.  Dogs, especially males, pee on just about everything as a way to mark their territory.  This behavior alerts other dogs that a particular space or area is theirs.  Sometimes when walking your dog, does it feel more like an endeavor to mark territory than the joys of exercise in the fresh air?

Guarding their Possessions

In addition, dogs are sometimes territorial about their possessions.  This type of behavior is called resource guarding. 

Have you ever tried to take your pets food, or favorite toy, and been met with a growl or an aggressive bark?  If you have, your dog is telling you that he doesn’t want you to take his possession.

Territorial Behavior: Has it Become Too Aggressive?

territorial behavior of dogs

Some aggressive behavior is normal and expected.  Such as barking at passersby or when the doorbell rings.  And once the perceived threat is gone, the barking stops.  This type of behavior is more of a defensive reaction that one that warrants concern.

However, if your dog takes it further and you or others feel unsafe, their behavior should be addressed.  An aggressive dog that pursues other people or animals (among other behaviors) can be dangerous.  If your dog is blocking you from spaces in your home, or growls aggressively when you try to touch something of their, this behavior is unacceptable.  If this sounds like your dog, ask us about training for this type of behavioral issue.

For more information about this subject or general questions you can contact:

Christi Knight, CPDT with Posh Paws Pet Care, LLC
Visit our website at PoshPawsPetCareSC.com
Or send us a note from our contact page here.