Stop The Dog’s Protective Instinct: 3 Professional Tips

“My dog protects me!” – that sounds great at first and we humans love to be protected.

But when a dog begins to protect its territory, its resources, and its mistress to an increased degree, it quickly becomes exhausting and even dangerous, because the dog defends its caregiver.

But how can you stop your dog’s protective instinct so that you both have a relaxed life?

In this article, you’ll learn why dogs have protective urges, which breeds are most likely to be protective, how to tell when your dog is protective, and how to break your dog’s protective habit.

In a nutshell: This is how you break the habit of overprotecting your dog

If your dog feels they have to protect you, this can quickly become a problem. His instinct tells him he MUST take care of you! Come what may, he has 42 razor-sharp teeth and he’s ready to use them for you!

You’re probably already reading the urgency: Dogs that aren’t limited in their protective instincts may soon no longer let you hug your partner or kick grandpa to the cot.

Your dog needs to learn that YOU are able to take care of yourself and him at all times. So your first task is to strengthen your bond, to position yourself as the leader in your pack, and to relieve your dog of his task.

Dog defends owner – why do dogs have a protective instinct?

The protective instinct is in the nature of the dog. It is present in different degrees in every dog ​​and can be both strengthened and limited through targeted training.

Dogs are pack animals. In their community, each pack member fulfills a task and one of those tasks is protecting the pack.

Dangers are recognized and reported immediately – not consciously, but instinctively and completely “automatically”. Dogs with good social behavior will first try to fend off a potential threat by barking and growling.

If this does not help or if they have not learned to announce an attack, dangerous situations can arise for both dog and human.

It’s important to realize that the protective instinct is ingrained in our dogs and cannot be completely eliminated.

What you can work on with your dog is controlling his instincts and, most importantly, relieving your dog of the task of seeing you as extremely helpless and worthy of protection.

How do I know that my dog is protecting me?

Something is wrong in your relationship with your dog, but you can’t interpret his behavior correctly?

How to know your dog is protecting you:

  • Visitors and strangers are loudly announced/attempted to bark?
  • Dog encounters (especially on a leash) quickly degenerate into bullying and stress on the part of your dog?
  • Does your dog snap at creatures that come too close to you and try to intimidate potential sources of danger by raising the hair on the back of its neck and tensing your posture?
  • Does your dog interfere when you hug your partner, other family members or friends?

Resource defense from the dog

Yes, it may sound strange, but get used to the fact that YOU are also a resource for your dog. In many dog eyes you are even HIS resource and who wouldn’t defend what is theirs?

But honestly… do you want to own your dog or does he “own” you?

The approaches to training when your dog is protecting its toys, food, or bedding are slightly different than those appropriate to discourage the protective instinct.

But the fact is that your dog has to learn that everything is yours and you give him something because you are nice and count him in your pack!

Good to know:

The solutions are just as individual as we and our four-legged friends. For every symptom, it is important to find out the cause in order to understand your dog and get to the root of the problem.

Research into causes: Dog defends its caregiver?

Do you find that your dog controls and protects you? He’s always where you are and if someone gets close to you, he almost doubles in size?

Then your dog just doesn’t trust you to be the pack leader, or would you put your life in the hands of someone whose leadership qualities you don’t see?

Reflect on when your dog started being overprotective and if there may have been one or more situations where he might have lost trust in you?

An attack by a rushing dog?

A burglary at home?

An accident?

Tip for women:

We don’t want to offend you, but are you pregnant? Dogs that are expecting new members of the family (yeah, human too!) tend to expand their protective instincts. Even if the baby is just born, the new addition can be the reason for a sudden change in behavior!

Weaning off protecting the dog – this is how it works!

Once your dog has taken on the protective role, it’s up to you to take it away from him. You have to convince your dog that he can trust you even in difficult or threatening situations.

Three tips on how to break the habit of protecting your dog:


Get out the door before your dog and let them follow you on walks. So you have everything BEFORE HIM in view, can react in good time to approaching passers-by/dogs and relieve your dog of its protective function.

Take control

Thank your dog for watching, for example when it announces a visit. Keep calm and don’t scold him. If you raise your voice, your dog may interpret this as “cheering” or “barking along.” Send him to his place and show him that YOU have the situation under control – even without him!

Work on your appearance

Your dog can sense when you are unsure or tense. So before you can make it clear to him that you are the leader of the pack, you have to internalize these qualities and LIVE them! Unfortunately, our dogs don’t let themselves be fooled and feel feigned sovereignty!

Which dog breeds have a strong protective instinct?

There are dog breeds that are protective, some with it more in their genes than others, and dogs that have absolutely nothing to do with guarding. You bring a true bodyguard into your home with one of these breeds:

  • German shepherd dog
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Cane Corso
  • Doberman
  • Rottweiler
  • Hovawart
  • Malinois
  • Terrier

Good to know:

The protective instinct of Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and Dalmatians is usually limited, but misbehavior on the part of the two-legged friends can also increase immeasurably here.

In short: This is how you can break the habit of protecting your dog

Dog protects mistress, dog protects master, dog protects children, car, yard, garden, refrigerator, biscuit crumbs… This can not only be annoying, but can quickly lead to unwanted behavior.

If you just let your dog do it, a strong protective instinct will quickly turn into aggression.

In order for your dog to be able to hand over the important but also stressful task of guarding and protecting to you, it must be able to trust you completely.

If your dog has the feeling that he has to take care of you and doesn’t trust you to be the leader, you first have to prove him wrong.

You could work on it and grow together, because above all for you this means: Strengthening self-confidence and self-confidence and remaining authentic in your new role.

All this is a process that you need to give enough time and patience. If you are unsure, it is best to contact a local dog trainer with whom you can arrange individual training.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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