How To Deal With Door Aggression In Dogs
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What Is Door Aggression: All dogs are territorial. All dogs will come to check out visitors. Some dogs show their territoriality by being friendly, others are afraid, and others are aggressive. That’s just the nature of dogs and they can’t help it. There really isn’t such a thing as “door aggression”, but I understand what people are referring to when they use this term. They are referring to a dog becoming upset, or even dangerously aggressive, when someone comes to or through the front door.
Case Study: Territorial aggression is something that must be managed properly. There was a recent incident in London that demonstrates this vividly. Five police officers were in the process of issuing a search warrant on a property. They were looking for a suspected criminal. The police arrived at the property, broke down the door, and the resident dog attacked them. Four of the officers were severely injured, one with a broken arm, and another lost several fingers. Some lost big chucks of muscle and flesh. The dog was just a dog. Dogs can’t tell the difference between a police officer breaking down a door and a home invasion robber doing the same thing. The invasion of the dog’s territory triggered the attack. The dog was eventually killed when another police officer arrived on the scene to shoot the dog to death. This dog did NOT do anything wrong. It was provoked to attack. But, the dog was put in an impossible situation. This was a tragic death for the dog. This is what we expect a dog to do when intruders violently break into our home.
The Law: On the other hand, we have human laws that make it the responsibility of dog owners to protect innocent people, those that aren’t committing crimes, and innocent animals, those that aren’t entering property illegally, from being attacked by dogs. Thus, it is important to obey these laws and take reasonable precautions. It is also important to give guests fair warning of the dangers, to shift some of the burden onto them for their actions. Such warnings include use of “Dog On Premises” signs, verbal warnings, and such. And obviously, you’ll need adequate security, such as fencing.
Training: If your dog is aggressive at the door, then you are in over your head. You shouldn’t be looking for do-it-yourself (DIY) dog training answers over the internet. You are not a qualified dog behaviorist, and you are taking chances by getting advice from who knows where. You need to hire a professional and come up with a plan for your situation. Guarding breeds, and many watchdogs, will never be friendly greeting strangers. No amount of training is going to fix that. Some breeds are known for not liking strangers… ever. Some individual dogs might not like certain people… I’ve met dogs that took a disliking for a certain person, yet the dog liked everyone else. It’s strange that people get watchdogs, guard dogs, or personal protection breeds and then expect them to like strangers at the door. So, you’ll need a plan for all territorial dogs. Fearful dogs can sometimes be made less fearful of guests. You’ll need a plan for that. No bark collar or other device is going to remove your dog’s need to greet and check out guests. Your dog doesn’t have a barking problem. The barking is just an expression of how the dog is feeling. You also need to devise a safe procedure to allow guests to come onto your property (such as relatives, friends, utility workers, gardeners, pool guys, etc.), and a way to attempt to get your dog to accept your guests. Again, that takes getting professional help.
It Is Up To You: Even with professional help, that doesn’t mean that your dog will be 100% safe from hurting someone or another animal. No trainer can prevent dogs from being territorial… that is impossible. Territoriality is hard wired into every dog. The safety part is, therefore, up to you. It will still fall on you to ensure that your guests are safe, regardless of how the dog feels or what the dog does, or what the trainer did or didn’t tell you.
Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.