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Why do dogs guard vehicles?

No doubt you’ve seen a dog in a car somewhere and thought, "What a nice dog. I think I’ll go speak to him." Then as soon as you get close to the car that nice dog goes ballistic. That dog doesn’t want any part of you -- except maybe to take a bite.

Why do dogs guard their vehicles? Is it really a good idea to go up to a dog in a car or to knock on the window when there’s a dog inside?

First, you should know that you really can be bitten by a dog in a vehicle. That dog is not bluffing. It doesn’t matter if the dog is a cute Chihuahua or a Mastiff, when that dog barks, growls or shows you his teeth he is just as serious as a dog who is defending his home. In fact, as far as that dog is concerned he is defending his territory. He may not be in his house but he is defending his owner’s property and he knows it. This is where his owner left him and it’s his job to guard it until his owner returns. That is basic knowledge that every dog instinctively knows. And he knows that you have no business coming near the vehicle unless his owner says it’s all right.

If you want to avoid being barked at or bitten, you should look at the situation from the dog’s point of view and take it seriously. You may be trying to be friends but the dog is guarding his owner’s property.

Even for dogs who may be relaxed at home when someone comes to the door, when they are in a vehicle they may be in a strange place, such as a parking lot. They are surrounded by windows which may make them nervous. When a stranger approaches they will act defensively. At the very least they will bark. If a stranger tries to reach inside and pet the dog they very well could bite.

If you leave your own dog in your vehicle and want her to relax without barking or feeling anxious it’s critical you follow the 4 simple rules to provide your dog CALM leadership. A CALM dog doesn’t feel the need to protect your car or property but can relax whether you are present or while you’re away.

Of course you should always be cautious about warm temperatures when leaving your dog alone in a car for any length of time, but the more you both get out & about together the more your dog or puppy can learn that you always come back & as long as they have confidence in your CALM leadership she’ll know she’ll be OK!

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