Have you ever wondered why dogs protect their owners? Maybe you have observed your dog playing with your children as they tug and pull on it’s ears?
Dogs and humans have had a very close relationship for a very long time. According to the BBC, humans and dogs have been living together for 20,000 years! Humans have since bred dogs for different purposes. One of these purposes is to protect humans. In times when survival was hard it was always a good thing to have another level of protection. Dog served this purpose well!
To find out why dogs did this so well we must examine a dogs psychology and history.
To understand dog psychology we can look at dog breeds in the wild. There is a very clear social hierarchy in wolf and many other wild dog breed packs. There is always one dog the serves as the leader ultimately. Wild dogs have survived for a very long time because of this hierarchy.
Dogs go through great lengths to established their place in the group. Dogs higher up in the hierarchy get to boss dogs lower in status around. This competition starts very early in life while vying for a position to get milk from mom. The stronger dogs get more milk which solidifies this mentality very early.
According to Cesar Millan dogs have 3 levels in a pack. These positions are Alpha, Betas and Omegas.
- Alphas – Alphas are the leading male and female pair. They are in charge of leading the pack and setting the limits for what is acceptable. They run in the front of the pack.
- Betas – Betas are the second tier down in a pack hierarchy. They are subordinate to the Alphas and help enforce the pack rules. They run in the middle of the pack.
- Omegas – Omegas are the lowest tier in the dog packs. They are subordinate to the Alphas and Omegas. They run in the back of the pack and their job is to alert the pack to danger.
When dogs were brought into human groups as pets, they carried this psychology with them. In this new group situation dogs naturally see the one that provides food as the Alpha.
In family or companion settings dogs see themselves as part of a pack. Because they are fed by humans they see the humans as the Alphas, and they feel it’s their job to help protect and alert the pack to danger.
For thousands of years humans have been breeding dogs to encourage characteristics beneficial to humans. According to David Grimm, there is evidence of dog breeding as long ago as 9000 years in Siberia.
Humans also found it benificial to breed dogs as protection. They are great fighters and can be obedient making them a great companion when protection is needed. One example of a dog bred for protection in the doberman Pinscher which was said to have been bred to protect a tax collector. Another example are Mastiffs which were bred to protect hunting grounds from poachers.
Your dogs training plays a really big part in how protective it is. Training your dog can help you control your dog when strangers to the family enter but are not harmful. You don’t want your dog to be aggressive towards everyone that walks through the door but only to people who are a threat.
Smart dogs can also be trained to protect owners and families. However some trained guard dogs are not necessarily pets. These dogs can be highly trained to guard houses for instance from all intruders but may not be willing to lay in front of the TV with you.
Should you get a Protective Dog?
One thing go keep in mind about some of the more protective dogs is some can be over protective or aggressive towards all strangers. Personally looking for a breed that recognizes threats but remains calm when visiting friends for instance is a good mix.
If you are looking for more of a guard dog then choose a breed that’s very trainable such as a German Shepherd or Dobberman Pinscher.