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Dog Training/protective of me, couch, kitchen

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Question
My rescue dog Ginger has been acting protective of me but also of her couch  when another dog comes close ever since I got her. I knew this behavior happened exclusively with other dogs (that's why I no longer allow  friends' dogs in my home), until now. Last week, my son came over after finishing college and she looked OK with him, but then when he pet her on the couch this morning, she charged at him and as he moved away and came closer to me she kept on charging and eventually bit him on the arm, but didn't break skin, just left a black bruise. How do I deal with this situation? I always thought aggression towards dogs wouldn't generalize to people, but apparently I was wrong. I guess she does it now to people as well. How can I deal with this issue? Thanks.

Answer
First, Ginger needs to be kept off the couch.  Get her a dog bed for the living room and insist she lay there, not on the couch.  When she's on her dog bed, no one should bother her.

Next, how old is she and is this a new behavior for her?  If so, she needs to get checked over by the vet to be sure she's feeling good.  When dogs aren't well, they can be afraid that anyone that approaches might possibly hurt them and act out as you described.

Since she's bitten your son, you need to get professional in-person help. It sounds to me like she's got some serious fear issues.  This isn't something that can be addressed by a professional through this type of forum.  If you're in the Phoenix or Tucson area, I can give you specific recommendations.  If not, please check out these groups for professional trainers in your area:

http://www.karenpryoracademy.com/find-a-trainer
http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/
http://positively.com/dog-training/trainersearch/
http://www.ccpdt.org/
http://www.apdt.com/petowners/ts/default.aspx
http://iaabc.org/consultants  

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Barb Gadola, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP

Expertise

I can answer questions related to problem dog behaviors, teaching polite manners, puppy raising, and any type of training-related issues. My website page, www.DistinctiveDogTraining.com/resources offers a wealth of information on training and behavior issues as well.

Experience

I've been training dogs since 1989 and own and operate Distinctive Dog Training LLC in Keller TX. I specialize in providing practical and positive solutions for families through personalized training in their home.

Organizations
Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
Victoria Stilwell Positively! Licensed Trainer
Association of Pet Dog Trainers
Association of Animal Behavior Professionals
Truly Dog Friendly Coalition

Education/Credentials
BS in Education
Graduate work in Behavioral Psychology
Karen Pryor Academy Dog Training Program
Certified Professional Dog Trainer

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