The Overprotective Dogs

Posted by jiggyj
Apr 8, 2009
Our family has just made some huge changes in our lives that have caused some overprotective aggression in our two Rhodesian Ridgebacks. We moved from Chicago to just outside D.C. 4 weeks ago, I'm currently pregnant, and have been home with our two dogs for the last 4 weeks. They have become very attached to me, constantly following me around but become aggressive as soon as someone comes to the door or if a dog approaches us on leash. I am now 32 weeks pregnant making walks quite difficult when approached by other dogs. I have tried to have them sit and stay when another dog approaches us which lasts up until the dog is about 3-5 feet in front of us, then they lunge forward and bark. What can I do to get my dogs more under control again before I have a child attached to me too on our walks?
Posted by LetsPlay
Apr 8, 2009
Hi there,
changes in a dogs routine can cause some behavioral problems. RR's are known to have a strong sense of protecting their pack.
Have your dogs only just started doing this?
I have heard of dogs before that become very protective when their owner is pregnant. Dogs can smell the different hormone levels and know whats going on.

You might need to get some help from a friend, your partner or a professional dog trainer, especially if you are in the later stages of your pregnancy. You don't want to end up in a situation where you can't control your dogs and risk being drag along on the ground.
It is important however that you make the dogs realize that you are the pack leader and therefore you are not the one who needs protection.

You could walk them together with a friend who could have one of the dogs on the leash, while you control the other. That way you don't have to hold on to two big dogs at the same time. Or walk them separately altogether. Getting them to sit and stay is a good idea. Give them treats when they do it and tell them of sharply as soon as they start lunging. You might find that walking one at a time works better as they don't copy each others behavior and perhaps feel less strong as well.

Did your dogs get a lot of socialization when they were younger? How old are they now?

Posted by jiggyj
Apr 9, 2009
Our dogs were pretty social when off leash but definitely were more protective on leash. Its just that now the behavior has escalated. I started carrying a small bag of dog food the last two days to work on training. When they see a squirrel or a dog approaching I make them sit and stay diverting their attention to a treat rather than what is in their sight. What would be the next progression with this exercise or am I approaching this the wrong way? What do you think.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Apr 18, 2009
Hi jiggyj,

I think you are doing the right thing to make your RR ignore other dogs by having them sit and pay attention to you when other dogs are approaching or your dogs see squirrels, etc.

However, I am more concerned about yourself and your baby's safety.

I am walking 2 dogs, and sometimes all 3 dogs of mine together and I know how physically hard to control multiple dogs. Furthermore, RR are bigger than my border collies. Also, it can happen that your dogs sense squirrels before you notice and they can just dash and drag you on the ground.

I would recommend you walk one dog at a time as LetsPlay suggested. When there are mulple dogs they tend to sense aggression, fear, excitement of each other instantly and it makes much difficult for you control them altogether. Dogs usually behave better when walked by himself and you can pay more attention to the dog.

It is not a good idea for you to get stressed out when you are pregnant. Make short walks and enjoy them and have your partner do the necessary trainings

Take care
Posted by KOPsarah
Apr 21, 2009
Hi there, thanks for your post. I think the current training you are doing with them is excellent and will eventually fix the problem however I also agree that while you are pregnant you may need an extra safety mechanism to prevent being dragged etc by two strong dogs. I would recommend using head collars on the dogs.

These are sold under many brand names including halti and gentle leader but are basically all the same. The idea is that instead of the collar going around the neck the collar goes around the nose but also has a part that clips behind the ears to hold it on. The lead is attached to a ring that hangs under the nose and when the dog pulls the nose band tightens. This is no way hurts the dog it is just annoying for the dog like someone holding your nose. However the main idea of the design is that the dog is attached to the lead via its nose and head rather than its neck and shoulder area where its powerful muscles are. The dog cannot pull you using only its nose so you can assert full control over the dogs behaviour because the dog can only go where you let it go. Because the dog cannot pull you towards other dogs on walks it also learns to react more calmly to the situation and also to look to you for guidance as to how to react because you are in control of it.

If you do decide to try the head collar it is important that you read the instructions that come with it in order for it to work properly especially the instructions on introducing your dog to the head collar as dogs may initially dislike having a band around their nose.

I hope this helps you enjoy walking both dogs while pregnant and maybe also while your child is young and you have your hands full with pushchairs and dog leads.