Protective behavior in my 2 year old doodle

My doodle, Emma, has just recently started growling and acting protective of me when we attend training classes.  It was so bad today, I was so stressed out that I had to leave.  We were there less than 10 minutes and she was growling and lunging at the neighboring dog.  This has happened a couple of times before, but it seems to have gotten worse.  The first time it happened I took her to "play care" at a local training facility to see if this behavior was something we had to work on.  She had a wonderful day and showed no signs of aggression.  Of course, I was not there.   I have noticed from the last three training classes she is behaving this way when I am around.  I am coming to the conclusion that this is a protective response for me.  I really don't know what to do.  The girl in charge of the class is going to call me tonight to set up an individual session for the class we missed, but my main concern right now is the growling and lunging at the neighboring dog at the class.  Is there something I can do?  This is just a recent behavior and Emma is now 2 years old and we never had this problem before.

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  • Two is about the age, many of our dogs seem to mature into showing 'guarding' and protective behavior. over their humans.  Your trainer should be helping you with this and if they aren't, you need a different and better trainer.  This is much more serious than just be embarrassing to you.

    • Nancy, Ned and Clancy, I feel the same as you.  Believe me I am most concerned.  There is another trainer that I have contacted already and will be talking to her tomorrow.  Thanks for the reply.

  • If this continues I would take her to vet for thyroid check.  Would be good to rule out any metabolic/physical cause.  It's probably not so much "protective" behavior as "territorial."  Sometimes doggies just don't like "the cut of the gib" of another dog.   Does this happen with any of the other dogs in the class?

    • LucyR, it could very well be territorial, but it does not seem to happen when I'm not around.  That is why I was guessing protective.  Yes, it happened with the other dog the first week.  This was week 4.  I'm not understanding what's going on.  Emma will play just fine when off leash, but put me and the leash together and that's when the trouble starts.

  • I don't have any words of wisdom but at my class the instructor said that when a dog acts like that it was usually started by the other dog and we just don't see it.  Maybe the other dog was the problem and you could go to the other side of the room.  

    • The instructor asked if we'd like to move to the other side of the room.  I would sit in the corner (literally), but by the time it was suggested I was so stressed out, I decided it was best we leave.

  • It seems very strange to me that the class instructor did not know how to handle this and your only alternative was to leave. Most experienced instructors would not only have known how to handle it, but would have turned it into a learning experience for the whole class. Perhaps you need a different trainer?

    • Karen, The instructor said we should maybe move to the other side of the room.  Over in the corner to remove Emma from proximity to the other two dogs.  By the time this was suggested, I was stressed.  

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