Why Are Some Dogs Protective When Owners Get Intimate?

Updated on February 11, 2020
alexadry profile image

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author of the online dog training course "Brain Training for Dogs."

It's no secret that a dog jumping in between a kissing couple can kill the romantic mood. Learn what this behavior might mean and how to address it.
It's no secret that a dog jumping in between a kissing couple can kill the romantic mood. Learn what this behavior might mean and how to address it. | Source

Why Is Rover Interfering in My Love Life?

You are on the couch with your new significant other, and things are starting to get romantic. Suddenly, the movie you were watching together is no longer relevant, and the bowl of popcorn you've been snacking from has been put aside. Suddenly, everything disappears and it's just about you and your partner. You start hugging and kissing, and one thing leads to another . . . suddenly Rover barks, jumps up, and wedges himself in between the two of you. ''Oh, Rover! Go back to your place!'' you exclaim. ''Now, where were we?''

Soon after, the scene repeats, and you end up shutting Rover in his crate or in another room. Your significant other asks you what's wrong with Rover, and you both naturally assume he is jealous. But do dogs really feel jealousy toward humans, or could there be a simpler explanation for this behavior?

Kissing, hugging, and other displays of human affection do not exist in the dog world, so it is unlikely that they would incite jealousy in a canine observer.
Kissing, hugging, and other displays of human affection do not exist in the dog world, so it is unlikely that they would incite jealousy in a canine observer. | Source

4 Reasons Why Dogs Interrupt or Get Between Kissing Couples

Anthropomorphism is a term used to describe human qualities being bestowed on non-human animals. While dogs may appear to be jealous when they get in between two lovers, there are usually other motives at play behind such behaviors. The following are a few more likely explanations.

1. They Are ''Splitting'' a Perceived Conflict

Some dogs may not feel comfortable watching their human being hugged and kissed and may feel the need to intervene by wedging their way in between the two parties in an attempt to deescalate what they perceive as a conflict. Turid Rugass, a Norwegian dog expert and author of a great book called On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, reports that dogs tend to wedge themselves in between other dogs that appear to be in conflict in an effort to calm them down.

In the dog world, kissing and hugging do not exist, so your pet may have a hard time clearly understanding what is going on, particularly when the romantic behavior they observe is on the more passionate side. Dogs may interpret intense intimacy as something confrontational going on between you and your partner. Rover wedging his way in between you may be his way to calm you down and deescalate what he perceives to be a fight.

2. They Are Seeking Attention

Some dogs are attention seekers—plain and simple. They notice that something interesting is going on, and they want to be part of it. If this is the case, your dog might try to join in by licking you and wagging their tail or barking. Rover may simply be looking to get his dose of attention. Some attention-seeking dogs become pushy when their owners are on the phone or simply ignoring them, and others become pushy when their owners are getting intimate with a partner. They just want to be part of the fun!

3. They Are Curious

If the house has been quiet for a while, and you and your partner suddenly start kissing and making smacking noises, you will certainly attract your dog's attention. Rover's ears may perk up and alert him out of a relaxing snooze. His next logical step is to rush to you to see what's going on. It is also possible that he interprets your smacking noises as you calling him, especially if you often use similar types of noises to get his attention.

4. They Have a Protective or Anxious Nature

It is typical for some dogs to act protective and be wary when somebody approaches their owner. Generally, this results in barking, growling, and perhaps even some snarling. Oftentimes, however, dogs that are perceived as protective are simply insecure and anxious. Dogs who have not been fully socialized may be aloof, suspicious, and wary of strangers. Dogs like these are more likely to be vocal or engage in aggressive behavior when their human is interacting intimately with someone they don't know well.

Regardless of the reason for your dog's inconvenient behavior, there are steps you can take to try to condition it away.
Regardless of the reason for your dog's inconvenient behavior, there are steps you can take to try to condition it away. | Source

How to Stop Intrusive Behavior With Training

I once worked on a case where an owner's dog became anxious whenever they hugged—or were hugged by—another person. In this case, as with most, the dog did best when given an alternate behavior to engage in instead of a punishment. Depending on your specific situation, you may have some success with one of the following training methods.

Differential Reinforcement

One way to attempt to curb your dog's intrusive vocalizations or behaviors is to use differential reinforcement of incompatible behaviors. Let's say you want Rover to stop putting himself in between you and your partner or barking when you kiss or touch—you should teach him the ''go to your place'' cue. Place a rug at a distance from you and prepare a stuffed Kong. Say ''go to your mat" and toss the Kong on the rug. When Rover goes to the rug and gets the Kong, say ''good boy.'' After several repetitions, he will learn what ''go to your place" means. If you stuff the Kong very well, chances are he'll be distracted by it, allowing you to finally share some alone time with your partner. If you do this every time you want some time alone, your dog should eventually learn to enjoy their own "alone time," too!

Counter Conditioning

Another option is to desensitize and counter-condition your dog to hugs, kisses, etc. This technique works best if your dog seems worried or anxious about your intimate behavior. If Rover has hugging issues, for instance, start by having your partner place their arm lightly on your shoulder while you toss Rover a treat. Progress gradually in small steps to a real hug, and continue giving him treats. If your dog reacts at any time, it means you're moving too fast with the process. If this happens, stop and restart a few steps back. With time, your dog should look forward to hugs and smooches because great things seem to happen every time they take place!

A Note About Safety

This article should not be used as a substitute for professional dog behavior advice. If your dog is displaying any aggressive or violent behavior, contact a dog behavior professional for an assessment and appropriate behavior modification program.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2011 Adrienne Farricelli


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      8 years ago

      Cresentmoon it could be protectiveness, anxiety or attention seeking from not understanding what may be going on (and for this reason she may be in conflict, thus displaying opposite and contradictory behaviors), I would redirect to another place and feed a stuffed Kong or bone so Tinkerbelle can relax, what breed is she? Some breeds with a history of herding can be the most obstructive!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I do recall a dog we had some time ago that had this behavior and I did not know what her problems waas.Rated up and useful.

    • Cresentmoon2007 profile image


      8 years ago from Caledonia, MI

      We have two dogs in our house hold, while my own dogs won't really get too bad when it comes to this my mother's dog will. Her name is Tinkerbell. Now Tinkerbell will jump at us, she'll bark and growl and even a couple time snapped at my boyfriend but what gets me is that the entire time she has her tale wagging. What do you make out of this behavior?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)