How Protective is Your Dog?

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Most of us have dogs because we love them and the fact that they might contribute to the security of our home or our family is just a side benefit. Sometimes I wonder what Jack or Maggie would actually do if someone broke into our home or tried to cause harm to us outside of the home. I don’t think I could count on Maggie to do much of anything, but Jack, well that’s a different story – having him does make me feel more secure as I’m pretty certain he would protect me. I felt the same about Tino – I knew he would have my back just like he always had Sally’s back.
 
If push came to shove, I bet we’d be surprised at what our friendly dogs might do to protect us. I remember years ago, back when I lived in Syracuse and had my dog Max. She was a Lab but on the small side, maybe about 55lbs, but she was a typical Lab and loved everyone she met.
 
One night, I was out walking Max on our way to meet some friends. We were waiting outside a gym where they were playing basketball. As I was walking through the parking lot, two guys I knew came out and they started to come towards us to say hello. Max didn’t know them and she started barking and growling at them. I was shocked – I’d never seen her react like that towards anyone. Once I told her it was okay and greeted my friends, she was fine, but it struck me how ready she was to warn off strangers approaching us and protect me.
 
beware of the dog
Why one dog becomes more protective than another is most likely a mix of nature and nurture. Certain breeds, by their very nature are more protective – that’s what they were bred to do, protect sheep or other livestock. Some dogs are trained to be protective and wary of strangers or to be aggressive on command (police dogs). But I think all dogs have some innate protective instinct for their pack and most especially for the children of their pack. It’s one of the reasons dogs can be so gentle with babies.
 
Judging your dogs protective nature is certainly not something that you can ‘test’ easily but I think dogs may have a much stronger protective instinct than we believe. I know Max did.

 
What about your dog – have they ever had to demonstrate their protective nature?
 
Additional Reading:

What makes a dog protective?
The Nature of Dogs
Protection Dog, Natural Guard Dog
 

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37 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, I’ve been able to test this out. I was walking the girls at a park near my work and a guy jumped out at me. Both of my dogs didn’t take it very well and started barking and growling. The guy changed his mind and took off. I’m assuming he didn’t see the dogs? I’m not sure, it could of also been a joke but my dogs didn’t take kindly to it. They may only be 30lbs but the two of them together?? Yeah no. It was so weird, too because Zoe is a pretty sensitive girl and she loves people. They also didn’t take kindly to the maintenance guy coming in unannounced, either.
    Lauren Miller recently posted…Unhappy Feet – Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  2. Wow Max immediately was on alert as she noticed the peeps she never saw before. Easy is sometimes a little over the top, but it’s more the fact that strangers in his crib interrupt his daily routine. And that we have to pick up our mails at the post office speaks for itself LOL :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog TREMENDOUS THURSDAYMy Profile

  3. You know….I never thought my huskies were protective of me at all. It is just not in their nature. Until a couple of incidents made me feel different. One, I was walking Mika, there was a strange man wearing a cowboy hat smoking leaned up against a wall in an alley were passing. When we walked by, I didn’t see him, but I knew she was looking that direction (it was night time) and then as soon as he took a couple steps in our direction, she growled and bared teeth at him. I was shocked, but felt safe though!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…My dog saved my lifeMy Profile

    • They surprise us sometimes don’t they. Glad Mika was there for you just like Max.
      mkob recently posted…How Protective is Your Dog?My Profile

  4. If a robber had treats with them I think Eko and Penny might help them carry out the couch.

    • But I bet if that robber tried to carry out Emily, it would be a different story 😉
      mkob recently posted…How Protective is Your Dog?My Profile

  5. Blueberry has growled at people before, but this mostly occurs during our night hikes. I’m really not sure how she’d react if someone broke into the house. I had workers at the house inside doing repair work from storm damage and she actually made friends with one of them. The others she was cautious with, but not aggressive. I think she has a pretty good idea of who is safe and who isn’t – just like she can gauge other dogs really well and react accordingly.
    Blueberry’s human recently posted…Pick PocketMy Profile

  6. I always wonder about Torrey. She is very aware of what’s going on and will only bark if something isn’t right. I took her walking in the desert to go find the hubby, as we got closer to him he was upwind so she wasn’t positive who it was. And he was hiding behind a bush. I just stood still so I could watch her reaction to a potential threat. I think if she had sensed I was afraid she would have been protective.
    Mary recently posted…Celebrating my 4th Blogaversary with a saleMy Profile

  7. As much as we don’t want Luke to be afraid of strangers, I do like the fact that he will bark and potentially scare off anyone who meant harm. Our golden Moses had a very fierce bark too, but I don’t think he would have ever gotten aggressive to protect me, but I think Luke would.
    Jan K recently posted…#52Snapshots – Impossible “Dream”My Profile

  8. Bentley claims he will defend me if the need ever arises. He also asked if I can work it so he won’t have to prove it. ☺
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Do Our Dogs Communicate With Us?My Profile

  9. We would defend Mom to all ends, but robbers can come in anytime if she isn’t home. It would be polite to give us some treats before they leave with the valuables, though.
    Emma recently posted…Cheating And Other IssuesMy Profile

  10. Chessies are hard wired to be protective. It is in their dna from the beginning of the breed when the creators selected for that trait. The market hunters used to leave the dogs with their birds and they were to protect them and the boat. I have no doubt if needed, our dogs would protect us if needed. Thanks so much for joining the hop!
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–LeibsterMy Profile

  11. I’m sure my Poodles would help anyone find all the valuables in the house.
    jan recently posted…1,700 private jets fly to Davos to discuss climate changeMy Profile

  12. Hi Y’all!

    I’m very friendly. However, to my Humans shock, someone came up to the hedge at the edge of the property and my hackles went up and I charged without making a sound other than a soft low growl in my throat. I returned to my Human as soon as she called me back, but not before showing my barred teeth to that person! You’d have to know me and how verbal I am when strangers come to the door to realize what a departure my behavior was.

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Wow! Y’all Can Really Bark!My Profile

    • Sometimes there’s just something off about someone or a situation and you have to let your feelings be known.
      mkob recently posted…How Protective is Your Dog?My Profile

  13. Barley can be very protective. If a male neighbor comes to the door, she’ll sit on my feet with her nose at their crotch level and growl. They usually stay on the porch long enough to ask whatever question the7 came over to ask and that’s it. (Strangely enough, Barley has never thought twice about my dad, my brother, or a couple of my coworkers.) Her hackles raise sometimes on our walks if we pass someone that she thinks is suspicious, which differs from one day to the next.
    Beth recently posted…Welcome to Stars Hollow, OhioMy Profile

    • Interesting – they are very sensitive to your feelings, so your family doesn’t raise any alarms.
      mkob recently posted…How Protective is Your Dog?My Profile

      • Yes–most of the time she’s very in tune with my feelings! She’s also very protective of her kitty brother, which just melts my heart. She’s allowed to chase him, but if one of her cousins tries to chase him, she intervenes 🙂
        Beth recently posted…Welcome to Stars Hollow, OhioMy Profile

  14. Laika is by far the most protective dog I’ve owned, and I’m really not a big fan of that behavior. She’s never gotten close to being in a dangerous situation but I really don’t like how easy it is for her to get that stance going. Whenever I read somewhere that someone’s looking for a guard dog for their family I start to shudder. Like you mention many breeds are naturally protective, it scares me when I see people who’ve gotten a new Shepherd or Rott pup and then enlist the help of a trainer that will help them work on protection. To me it seems lik a major liability; those dogs will mostly likely be decent protectors without extra persuasion.
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…Is Your Dog a Jerk When You’re Sick?My Profile

    • I think you’re right – there’s so much natural instinct a normal family dog doesn’t need extra training on top of that.
      mkob recently posted…How Protective is Your Dog?My Profile

  15. Rita is very protective! (Probably mostly because of the GSD in her, but we also theorize that she doesn’t want anything to mess up this sweet gig she’s got now!) I don’t feel too worried when I’m out with her (well, I worry that she’ll be attacked by another dog, but that’s a different story!). She will turn around and stare and even growl/bark at people who just happen to be walking down the street behind us. (It can be a little embarrassing.) And when the hubs is away for business now, i sleep really well knowing she’ll be up and at anyone that would make the mistake of trying to come in.
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted…Lots to Celebrate! (Including Book News!)My Profile

  16. Of my two, Delilah is the more protective. Sampson is more along the lines of “you’re a person, you’re my friend” kind of dog. He’s in it for the attention. I only ever saw him growl at one person and I immediately thought, ‘that is not a nice man.’ 🙂

    Delilah takes attention from those she cares about, she normally doesn’t take attention from strangers, although she fell in love with one person on our vacation to Tennessee. She has protected me on so many occasions, I can (and will) make a blog post about it. 🙂 Of course I’ll link back to you.

    Thank you for joining the blog hop.
    Jodi recently posted…Follow-Up Friday – January 23, 2015My Profile

  17. oh yes mine are protective, and will have your back. I remember our first chessie Brooke who would dive in the water if you went under to swim and would grab your hand and swim you to shore, she thought something bad was happening so she went into saving mode.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Senior Wellness ~ Nellie’s Health Series Part 6: Pulled TendonMy Profile

  18. It’s nice having a dog like Max that will step up when needed. Haley is protective, but I think she’s all bark and no bite. I do wonder what would happen if someone physical assaulted someone in the family though. I just hope I never find out!
    Elaine recently posted…Do Dogs Barter? – Trading Toys for TreatsMy Profile

    • I never expected Max to step up – but she did. Yeah, it’s not something you want to put to the test.
      mkob recently posted…J.J. Fuds Dog Food RecallMy Profile

  19. Aren’t dogs just great? I used to always worry about being able to protect my dogs, but they’re a force to be reckoned with; even the girls, whom I’ve always thought as sweet and timid. Nope, my dogs protect me and I’ve taken the brunt of someone’s offense that my dogs saw them as foe instead of friend.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Raw Feeding and Diabetes in DogsMy Profile

  20. Early one Sunday morning, before the sun was completely out, A jogger decided to stay on the sidewalk as approached us from behind. Not a great idea. Leo and Harley were not amused and the jogger was scared to death. I’d never seen them like that, nor heard that tone of bark. The jogger scared me, and in return my boys became very protective.
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…PET PRINTS 3D | PRODUCT REVIEWMy Profile

  21. Oh yes! Pibbles are known to protect their family but they are not good property defenders. You can see many examples on YouTube where if the family is not home they’ll practically help the burglar find the goodies.
    We did not adopt our dogs for their protective nature but it’s definitely a bonus! Especially since I do a lot of hiking without my hubby. Dante loves almost everyone but we’ve been approached my skeezie men before when out on hikes and Dante does a great job of cuing in, he raises his hackles and growls.
    Another time I was home sick and a ratty looking dude showed up wanting to help me with yard work. Dante went nuts when I opened the door so I made a show of keeping him inside with for barely open and the guy left pretty quick. LoL
    DZ Dogs recently posted…Ethics of Hiking with DogsMy Profile

  22. When the sheepdogs were around, I was convinced the reason I never had trick-r-treaters was because they scared the stuffings out of everyone. With Sam, he’s only protective of the house when the mail gets delivered. Unless he’s outside when our mail lady comes, in which case, she’s his BFF-just don’t understand that whole “I’don’t recognize you when you’re on the other side of the glass door phenomena”with that doofas! 🙂
    Monika recently posted…From pitiful to ‘pawsome’My Profile

    • Haha. Tino used to bark ferociously at the mailman until he got to our mailbox and then he would sit and politely take the biscuit he was offered…and then resume barking. Nutty.
      mkob recently posted…What are Functional Foods?My Profile

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