Help! Dog guarding me from husband in mornings- barking, growling, bit him this morning.

My 7 yo cattle dog has always had behavior issues- we have worked with a behaviorist in the past for severe seperation anxiety. He is on amitryptiline for the SA otherwise medically healthy. The problem is in the mornings my husband gets up before me when he comes back into our room Gizmo barks and growls getting between us. Usual response is to calmly redirect him to something appropriate usually husband asks him to sit or do a trick and then rewards calm positive behavior. Well, this morning was the worst- I am sick so I don't know if this has to do with anything but Gizmo was stomping all over me and growling- husband took him by the collar (bad idea) and Gizmo made a nasty sound and snapped at him then hid under the bed for an hour. I will be working again with a trainer just desperate for some insight and if anyone has encountered this? Gizmo is the dog love of my life I just want to do what is best for him. Thanks!

Asked by Gizmo on Mar 12th 2008 Tagged aggression, training, behavior, guarding in Aggression
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Best Answer


I need some more info on the dog,
being a cattle dog; its JOB is to heard and protect..I am thinking it sees u as a sheep, and your husband as the preditor. when u go to training classes your hubby HAS to also go..make sure u have classes with other dogs; and make sure the trainer knows what is going on.. HAVE hubby spend more time with the dog, go for walks.ect. also have him HAND feed the dog its breakfast and all of its meals. IT REALLY DOES HELP! maybe take it to agility classes too, to help with the energy. AND don't let the dog get away with this behavour! does it have a crate? if not i wouldn't let it sleep with u, start to crate or message if ya have any other questions, i have been training for about 20 yrs. good luck

answered on Mar 12th.

Other Answers


Gray Dawn Treader

Sounds as though he doesn't trust your husband. Treader is like this, but not as intense. When I'm asleep and my mom comes to wake me up (or sometimes even someone walking by), Treader will bark and growl at her, which wakes me up anyways but don't tell Treader that. He is very protective of me. Good job on choosing a trainer, and I hope that you are able to curb this problem.

Gray Dawn Treader answered on 3/12/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer

Shayne CGC, RL2

It sounds like Gizmo is resource guarding you.

Redirecting him to another behavior is a good thing to do but it doesn't solve the problem--but what is really encouraging is that he will listen to a command given by you or your husband. He is not so elevated in his guarding that he shuts out everything else. I'm sure that since you are contacting a trainer that this behavior will be fixed!

Ask your pup to "go to your mat" or place and have him wait on his bed/mat away from you and your hubby. Give him a job to do while hubby gets ready--his job is to go to his mat and stay there...

This really doesn't necessarily get at the root of his guarding but it is something to try in the mean time until you get the trainer's advice.

Shayne CGC, RL2 answered on 3/12/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 3 Report this answer

Sugar Magnolia

Victoria Stilwell had a similar situation on her show "It's Me or The Dog" we saw recently. The husband couldn't approach his wife for anything without the dog going ballistic! The diagnosis was that there was a dominance discrepency - the dog thought he ruled the roost. Of course at the end of the half hour all was well again, but you could tell it was not an easy fix.

Growling and especially biting are totally unacceptable toward the two people in the house who out-rank him in the pack! Taking him back to the trainer sounds like a good course of action. Best of luck!

Sugar Magnolia answered on 3/12/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Maybe Gizmo should not be allowed in the bedroom until this issue is resolved. Gizmo has established himself as top dog as I'm sure your aware having worked with a trainer already. He should never be allowed on the bed unless you or your husband invite him up. You both need to be the leaders in your home, you have made Gizmo the leader in your life not just the love of your life and he will continue acting like this until you and your husband take over that roll.

Loomis answered on 3/12/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer

Cordelia B.

Your being sick has definitely aggravated the situation. In most cases, the redirecting response is the best advice. Here, the redirection and reward may be rewarding the wrong behavior. In Gizmo's mind, the whole routine of growl, trick, reward may be getting tied together. As someone else mentioned, this is a dominance problem. Your husband has to regain his place in the pack as the protector of the sick. The more difficult problem may be yours, making it clear to Gizmo that your place in the pack is to be protected by your husband.

Cordelia B. answered on 3/12/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer

Sir Winston Wright

You husband needs to have a relationship with the dog without you around. He needs to take the dog on walks and feed the dog. Of course he will need to be the dominant leader. Give this a try for a few weeks. It may be hard for you but it will be worth it in the end.

Sir Winston Wright answered on 3/13/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


My 10lb Papillon, Miguel, sleeps in bed with me. Sometimes when my husband goes out of town and then returns and tries to get in bed,Miguel has growled and tried to protect me. I was told to nip it in the bud immediately to let Miguel know my husband is still higher than him in the pack. I hold Miguel down in the mother dog clinch like the Dog Whisperer uses and then my husband comes and does the same in a firm way to show his dominance. Then all is back in order again. My husband always takes Miguel out at night and feeds him treats and meals occassionally and Miguel loves him. I'm glad he is protective of me when my husband is gone, it's just the transition that is a pain. Let Gizmo know your husband is dominant at all times.(Is Gizmo having trouble identifying your husband when he enters the room? When the growling has occured by Miguel he was often just awakened in the dark of night and reacted immediately rather than take the time to determine who has intruded upon our home.

Miguel answered on 3/13/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I personally have not had a pet with this aggression problem, but I may have some helpful ideas. I do not think Gizmo sees either of you properly as his pack leader. It sounds like he sees you as his female & your husband as a challanging male. I am a faithful watcher and practicer of Cesar Milan's methods from the Dog Whisperer. Without knowing more about your particular situation, I can only suggest walks with both of you leading him instead of him leading you & a calm, assertive energy when Gizmo does challenge you; don't back down, just calmly stand your ground. Don't allow him on your bed unless you say he can & make him get down when he disrespects you by walking on you. I'm not saying that either of you should do anything to get bit but he needs to know you are in charge. Cesar is awesome & I strongly suggest you watch his shows. You will get to see others that share your problem & get lots of information on how to handle this problem & possibly even his anxiety one.

Member 604122 answered on 3/14/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer