What Experts Are Saying About Why Dogs Guard Cars
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 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 may very well bite.
If you leave your own dog in your vehicle you cannot expect him to remain completely calm and relaxed while you are away from the car. Some dogs may be relaxed but others may be anxious while you are gone. Any dog may be prone to barking in the car when an owner leaves them alone. If you travel with your dog a great deal and he gets used to occasionally being left in the car alone then he may relax more when he’s left alone, but he is still likely to become upset when stranger approaches.
If your dog becomes protective of the car while you are still in the car, then you should be able to tell your dog to stop and he should pay attention to you. Your dog should be able to relax in the car when you are present even if stranger approaches. You need to be able to speak to people when your dog is in the car without him overreacting.
But, when it comes to dogs who guard their vehicles when the owner is away for a few minutes, this is a normal dog behavior. Your dog believes that he is protecting his territory and the owner’s property from a potential intruder. It’s not wise to disturb a dog in this situation.