Everyone knows that Boxers love to guard their families but the ‘Nature vs. Nurture’ argument poses a very good question. Are Boxers territorial?
Boxers will have varying levels of territorial instinct that will be different with every dog. They DO tend to respond to anything which frightens them by ‘puffing up’ and trying to frighten that person or animal back, but they really aren’t as inherently territorial as you might think – sometimes they just don’t know what to do.
In this article, we’re going to explore some of the myths and truths about the Boxer breed in this regard. We’ll tell you if males or females, are the most territorial, what you can do to calm down such behaviors, which dogs get along best with Boxers, and more.
Read on and get the facts about this beloved breed!
Why are Boxers so territorial?
Boxers are tough and very strong-willed dogs, but if they aren’t socialized to be used to humans and other animals, then they can become overly territorial quite easily. It’s not so much an instinctual thing, as it is a response to fear.
While some dogs will ‘tuck tail and run’, a Boxer is much more likely when they are afraid to ‘up the ante’ by showing aggression. This is done in hopes that whatever if frightening them will think twice and leave them alone. Once they have done this a time or two and it works, then this response becomes a habit.
A little time at the dog park can help your Boxer to learn to relax a little more around other animals and they will surely even make a few new friends. You can also get them used to humans by introducing your dog to them.
While your dog is harnessed to a leash, simply walk them over and tell them to sit, then make introductions in a soothing, friendly tone. You might even let your friend give your dog a treat if they seem amenable. This will help to relax your Boxer’s ‘territorial’ response.
Are males or females more territorial?
Ultimately it will boil down to the individual dog, but if we had to make a ‘in most cases’ argument, then the males are typically more territorial than the females. Not always –mind you – as a pregnant female Boxer can become quite territorial indeed, sometimes for as long as 2 weeks after having her pups.
In most cases, however, the males tend to be more territorial, though they also tend to be more affectionate. Females also will become more territorial if another female is around, so this is another thing to consider with territorial behavior.
With females, that territoriality is a bit easier to deal with, since they mature faster than the males and are more amenable to training. That said, no matter the gender, there is a possibility of territorial behavior with any Boxer but a little socialization can help to calm them down quite nicely.
How can I make my Boxer less territorial?
Aside from trips to the dog park and introducing your dog to your friends, there are a few other things that you can do to help make your Boxer a little less of a ‘territorial grumpydog’. We’ll detail a few options below but before we do, let’s establish one little rule for owners – no yelling.
When your dog is barking at an ‘intruder’, yelling is just making a loud sound right along with them, and if your dog notices your displeasure then it’s also just going to stress them. Stick to positive reinforcement methods only and bring your ‘a-game’ when it comes to patience with the techniques below.
Commands have a cumulative affect on your dog’s overall attitude. For one thing, Boxers can be aggressive and territorial sometimes simply because they don’t know what to do or how to interact with new people. Each command they learn teaches them to rely on you when they are confused.
So, make sure that your dog knows the basics, such as ‘sit’, ‘come here’, and ‘stay’ as a start. Use ‘sit’ the most and get in the habit of carrying treats, so that when your dog is about to run to the window to bark or moving towards a friend, you can say ‘sit’ and give them a treat when they do.
Over time, they will get better and better at sitting down immediately and then you’ve got an excellent tool. Also, fill a can with some pennies right up to the halfway mark, put a lid on it, and when your dog wants to bark at someone outside in the yard, you can shake the can to get their attention and say ‘quiet’.
Give your dog a treat when they stop and sit in silence for a moment and stary consistent with this. Once they’ve learned this command, they’ll still bark, but they’ll learn that they just need to ‘inform’ you briefly rather than continuously barking non-stop. The more commands you teach them, the better!
Aside from teaching commands, your Boxer can also mellow out with a little more exercise outside – though we don’t mean the backyard. Get your dog outdoors with you where they will see and be around other people and the occasional dog.
Frequent walks like help your dog to become more socialized and every now and again, tell your dog to sit and give them a treat. Take a little more time on occasion of letting them sit, as this teaches stronger obedience and also they learn to tolerate people walking around them more and instead learn to focus on you.
More exercise indoors is fun and fine too, but try to incorporate a little socialization there as well. Have a friend visit occasionally, for instance, and if you’ve taught your Boxer how to fetch, then let your friend throw the item.
Make sure that you hand the item to them where the dog can see you , though – some dogs are fussy about their toys – and then let your friend throw the item and say ‘fetch’. Your dog will learn that your friends are okay and might even start nudging them for play later!
Optimizing the environment
Finally, while you are training, take a proactive approach to minimizing territorial behavior by optimizing your home environment. This means pulling drapes closed, for instance, so that your dog doesn’t see that mailman in the first place!
If they keep running to a certain room because a squirrel is in the backyard, then shut the door to that room or install a baby gate and put some blinds on that window. Reducing the temptations to bark and other project their territoriality will help to minimize occurrences of this behavior while you are training them.
It’s easy to do and it also gives you a way to gauge progress, as some days you can open those drapes or ‘unblock’ the ‘squirrel room’ and see how your dog reacts. With exercise and obedience training, you will definitely see a difference in their behavior over time. Just be patient with the process.
Remember – with most Boxers, the rule is basically that ‘Boxers don’t back down – they bark!’, and it’s mostly a response to fear or not understanding how they’re supposed to behave. The more that you work with them and reward their progress, the more they will learn to trust you and look to you when they don’t know what to do!
Are Boxers overprotective of their family?
Yes, Boxers are extremely protective of their family and despite the myth, they absolutely adore your children once they’ve bonded. When they feel that you are threatened, the transformation can be almost frightening, so proper training and socialization is vital.
Teach your dog basic commands first and then expand on it. Make sure that they are around other animals and people often enough so that they don’t get instantly defensive. With a little discipline and a whole lot of love, they can still be great ‘guard dogs’ when they need too, they’ll just have much better manners.
Boxers and other dogs
Getting your dog a buddy can help to put some of that territorial behavior on the backburner and to slowly replace it into playtime. You want to make sure, however, that you pick either another Boxer or a breed that is going to be compatible with their natures.
If you pick another Boxer, get one of the opposite gender, as they’ll be much more likely to get along with minimal problems. If you get the same gender, then it will become a battle of dominance, so you want to avoid that altogether.
Lots of other canine companions from different species are a good fit for your Boxer, but among the best choices are Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, Beagles, and German Shepherds.
Beagles are one of our favorites because they can turn that territoriality into something much milder for your Boxer, as Beagles tend to have fun with everything they do and this can mellow out your serious-minded Boxer. That said, just pick any breed that you like, but research first to make sure that they’ll get along!
Are Boxers overly jealous?
Boxers can become a bit jealous, especially if you live alone with them. Socialization training can help with this and it’s definitely something to consider, because jealous behaviors can turn into codependent ones quickly if your dog doesn’t get enough socialization.
Socialization training even at its simplest form – dog park trips and meeting your friends – helps to teach your dog that they don’t have to rely on you for 100% of their attention needs.
They’ll learn that they can play with others and become a little more independent but don’t worry – you’re still and will always be the best thing in their life – this training will simply help them to relax and keep them from having anxiety when you have to leave the home. It’s much healthier for the both of you!
Should my Boxer live outside?
No, your Boxer is and should be an indoor dog. Their short coats and their short snouts mean that they can get too cold or too hot quite easily and despite their ‘tough guy or gal’ attitudes, they need a lot of your attention and love to stay happy and healthy.
Boxers are big ol’ teddy bears when you get down to it!
Some closing words
Today we’ve explored whether or not Boxers are naturally territorial and as it turns out, it’s all a matter of the individual dog. Boxers know that they look tough, so even when they are scared they will bluff and bark and hope their fears away.
As their owner, you’ll understand that, and with a little obedience training and socialization your Boxer will lose their social fears and insecurities and you’ll soon see a whole new dog.
You can count on it!