Being territorial is a resources issue – the dog with the most resources is likely to survive and maybe get the girl/ boy.
Some breeds that have been bred to be guard dogs or watch dogs are more likely to develop territorial issues – not always the case, but that is what their breeding was done for in the first place.
Typical Dog Territory guarding objects
Causes of dog territorial behavior
Besides the breed, and specifically breeding traits/ personalities into a susceptible breed of dog, LACK of socialization is the main cause of unwanted territorial behavior. When a puppy learns what is acceptable in playing with other dogs, they don’t get so stressed about sharing. They realize that they need to fit into a pack and that they wont always get their way. They will work out ways of bargaining that are not always going to result in a fight.
IN adult dogs, particularly smart dogs and working dogs – that are taken out to parks – if they are taught to retrieve a ball over and over, in preference to allowing the dogs or encouraging the dogs to socialize with other dogs – a strong guarding of the ball and territorial behavior can result.
I cant tell you how many times I have visited a park and an owner standing in one spot, throwing the ball over and over to their bored, agitated or obsessed dog thinks they are giving the dog exercise and doing the right thing. How would you enjoyu having to do the same repetitive task over and over – just ask a human factory worker about job satisfaction and how crazy they sometimes get driven by repetition for seemingly no reason.
Dog training to remove territorial issues
Definitely don’t use negative reinforcement – that is punishment or physically forcing or pushing a dog around to get what you want. A dog with territorial and aggression issues is likely to be reinforced in its behavior and resent the owner when force tries to overcome force.
Likewise giving in to a dog, letting it bully you around is not the solution, that also reinforces bad territorial behavior.
Usually distracting a dog – by giving it things it values more than the thing it is guarding give the best results. Bribing with food to move from a spot or giving affection ONLY once the dog is calm and not in guarding mode – so your human dog bond is reinforced and they want to do things that you will reward them for, will eventually work.
A dog doesn’t usually enjoy being aggressive or scared or having its adrenalin all jacked up because it feels it HAS to guard something. This is not fun, and a social dog always picks fun over a fight or aggression. A learned behavior such as being territorial is usually rooted in a dog that is insecure. It is like a person in prison trying to protect the few things it can control.
BUT when a dog realizes that working in harmony with you will get it better things and take the stress out of its life, when it accepts your judgements as pack leader and can give up the hardships of always being in control of guarding – well it and you will have a much better life.