Canine Territorial Aggression

Aggression which occurs in the context of a familiar environment. These environments can be a home (esp. surrounding activity at the front door), fenced yard or while on leash. It is important to understand that territorial activity is a NORMAL behavior is dogs. Protection of a resource such as territory is necessary for survival of the individual and the species. It is this normal behavior taking place in an inappropriate location and context which results on the behavior becoming a "problem". 

Territorial displays do not have to involve bites. Barking, Growling, baring of teeth and snapping can all precede an actual bite. Also, "unprovoked" biting can occur. Often what is termed unprovoked is actually the misinterpretation of clear signals of aggression and/or fear that the dog was displaying prior to the bite. Territorial aggression can often occur in conjunction with a fear based response. The typical history of a bite as the person is walking away from the dog is a good example of a dog wanting to protect territory but not feeling confident enough to do so until they are no longer directly confronted by the individual. Treatment includes:

  • Avoiding uncontrolled access to a fenced yard
  • Avoiding uncontrolled displays at the front door
  • Avoiding uncontrolled greetings of strangers on walks.
  • Training the dog to be relaxed
  • Gradually introducing the provoking stimulus