Protection or Fear Aggression?
I'm curious regarding a specific behavior my 4 year old GSD displayed last weekend. If it makes a difference, Hondo has never been a social butterfly. He is not aggressive, but he isn't friendly either. When someone comes to the house, he'll bark, but quiet when I tell him. He'll greet and walk away. He doesn't need to be anyone's friend.
I was out of town. My husband was building a deck at our pond. He had Hondo with him. They were behind the house. We have a long driveway that goes from the road, past the house, through a gate and to the barn. While at the pond, you can't see the drive way until it's past the gate (to the barn).
Hubby was on the tractor when he saw Hondo jump up and take off running towards the house. He then noticed a friend of his (been to the house twice) had walked through the gate (that was open) and was walking towards the pond. Apparently, when he saw Hondo running towards him, he turned back and took off running with the intention to make it back to his truck.
Hondo caught him just as he made it back to the gate. He said he knew he'd never make it to his truck, so he turned, faced Hondo and said, "Hondo! It's me! Hondo!" He was standing on one side of where the gate would be and Hondo was standing on the other side, barking at him. But Hondo never passed the imaginary barrier of the gate. They were less than two feet apart.
At this time, Hubby had jumped off the tractor and was running towards the gate. He didn't turn the tractor off, so (he thinks) Hondo might not of heard him calling his name (at first).
The friend saw Mike coming up and took a step towards the imaginary barrier (gate) and Hondo moved towards him, still barking. He said that he felt at that point, Hondo was warning him not to pass that barrier. He said Hondo's face was now inches from his groin area (he said that was when he was scared!).
Hubby called to Hondo again, but Hondo wouldn't budge until Hubby made it to them. (I asked hubby when he called Hondo what command did he use and hubby said he was just calling his name. He should have used "Enough!" but I really don't know if that would have done the trick for Hubby.)
The friend and Hubby worked together on the deck all afternoon. Hondo behaved as he normally would, pretty much ignoring the friend. He just layed in the shade of a tree watching them work.
I'm curious, because it seems as though Hondo created an imaginary barrier of where the gate would be, was he thinking he was protecting Hubby? Perhaps, if the friend passed the gate then he'd become a threat? Was it like a line drawn in the sand in Hondo's head?
I would think if the 'barrier' was a safety line for Hondo and he was reacting out of fear aggression, then when the friend stepped forward, Hondo would have backed up instead of moving forward. Or maybe even bitten. Hondo's never shown fear aggression, but he's never had a real chance to test his threshold.
Hondo Von Dopplet L Bauernhof "Hondo"- GSD
Lilie's Tug McGraw "Tug" - Golden Retriever
Maggie - Mini Dachshund (Rescue)
Lonestar Pivo - Texas Blue Lacy
Ashe - Barn Cat
Katie / APHA