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Canine Behavior/New Boots - Aggressive Dogs


Why would my dogs lose their minds over new boots?

My wife and I were downstairs this evening and our yellow lab began deep growling and barking.  I looked outside to investigate...nothing.  The rest of the evening it was off and on growling and barking, each investigation...nothing.

Finally, my wife and I turned in for the evening.  When we went into our bedroom, both of our labs began getting anxious and panicky.  The yellow lab oriented at my nightstand and growled a very aggressive growl.  Almost like you see in ghost movies.

But, being practically minded, I assumed something was out of place and after much meditation, the only thing different about how my nightstand area was arranged is my footwear.

Ordinarily there is a pair of cowboy boots (which are my daily footwear) sitting where I take them off every afternoon.  Today I wore a new pair of hiking boots to break them in, so those were sitting there.

I picked up the boots and both dogs assumed a very defensive posture and growled and barked continually.  I tried to slowly approach them so they knew nothing is wrong, but they really lost it then.

As soon as I hid the hiking boots and brought my cowboy boots back to their usual place, both dogs immediately laid down, curled up and went to sleep.

What???? Are dogs really that attuned to change? Is it that my cowboy boots smell like me (the yellow lab especially curls up and lays her head on the cowboy boots every night)...and so the new boots and new smell were foreign?

Hi Michael -

Yes, it is quite possible that your dogs found the new boots "offensive." Kudos to you for figuring that out!  It is important to remember that a dog's sense of smell is hundreds of times more sensitive than ours so there may have been a smell about the boots that caused your dogs to alert especially if they were worn around other animals, had another animals feces on them, or had an unfamiliar "chemical" new smell about them as new leather often does.  I am sure that the longer you wear the boots and have them in your home that the dogs will pay less attention to them and be less alarmed by them as they start to smell like the rest of their home environment.  Best of luck with your dogs!

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Jennifer Ganser, LMT, ABCDT


For canines I can answer questions related to behavior, obedience training, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) For equines I can answer questions related to behavior, barn management, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) I am not a veterinarian and it is not within my scope of practice as a licensed massage therapist or certified dog trainer to diagnose health conditions. Please contact your pet's veterinarian for illness related questions and emergencies.


I am a licensed massage therapist for people, horses, and dogs and a certified dog trainer. I teach group obedience classes as well as private lessons. I also work with horses and help barns establish good management practices.

Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) National Certification Board of Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)

2009 - graduate of Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy 2010 - certified in canine/feline first aid + CPR by Red Cross 2012 - graduate of Post University equine program 2012 - graduate of Animal Behavior College Obedience program

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