We get this question a lot, let's try to explain this in a simple to understand way and also try to provide easy solutions along the way.
For most dogs, becoming overprotective is long and subtle. Their owners don’t realize it’s happening until the behavior progresses to a dangerous level and someone often eventually ends up getting hurt.
Whether the aggression happens purposefully, accidentally, or subconsciously, many overprotective dogs are rewarded for their behavior in some shape or form. The problem is, their owners don’t realize it’s happening until it's too late. Rewards don’t always have to be about treats and praise; anything that gives your dog attention is a potential reward and a good thing for everyone.
Every time you respond to your dog’s behavior with a pat on the head, laugh, or any other kind of attention or acknowledgement, you reinforce whatever your dog just did. Your dog eventually understands that aggressive behavior is doubly rewarding: he gets your attention (even if you’re mad), and the person he doesn’t like goes away. It slowly becomes a win win for your dog.
You won’t be able to solve your dog’s overprotective behavior in one day, sometimes it takes years of trying. In the meantime, you don’t want to put your life on hold or that of your family. You can still invite guests into your home as long as you prioritize managing your dog’s behavior and keeping your guest informed. You’ll need a short-term strategy to start showing your overprotective dog what behavior is unacceptable while also keeping your guests safe. There are a few ways to do this.
Leash: Keeping your dog on a leash while friends are visiting gives you control over your dog’s actions. Leash him up before the doorbell rings and keep him close as you greet your guests. During the visit, you can let the leash drag and only use it if you have to.
Muzzle: If your dog is a bite risk, they should be muzzle trained. Even dogs that have never bitten a person benefit from muzzle training, and it doesn’t mean your dog is a “bad dog.” But before you muzzle your dog, you need to make sure they’re comfortable. Take time to create positive associations with the muzzle so wearing it doesn’t cause more stress
Separate Room: Your dog won’t get better without practice, but sometimes you have to weigh the risks versus rewards. If your overprotective dog is in the beginning stages of training, keeping him separated from guests might be best. You don’t want to put a friend’s safety at risk or needlessly stress out your dog. As long as you keep working toward stopping the behavior, separating an overprotective dog from company is a temporary management solution.At the end of the day the bottom line comes down to you as the owner managing the situation and reinforcing good behavior in your dog.