Two days ago my husband and I adopted a dog from the SPCA. She's 4 years old and her name is Kona. She was surrendered to the SPCA a short time earlier by her owners because they were workingin new jobs and felt that they could no longer give her the attention and time that she needs and deserves. Kona is a Jack Russell Terrier "cross" and she has been crossed with something larger; we suspect perhaps a small lab or a cattle dog. She's approximately the size of a small lab or border collie. Kona took to my husband and I right away, playing with us, walking easily with us on a leash, listening to us. She is very cuddle, friendly and affectionate. She is also very patient with our 12 week old kitten, Mungo, and when he chases her or swats at her tail, she ignores him and just walks away. We are really happy with Kona and how well she has fit into our family, we just have one concern about her behaviour. On the afternoon that we got her, I was driving along with her and pulled into a gas station. While I was waiting to pull up to the pump, a man in another vehicle started talking to me about my dog, and came walking over to the vehicle to talk for a minute and take a bit of a closer look at Kona. She was sitting in the back seat behind me, and as he approached, she put one paw up on my shoulder and made one low-sounding "ruff!" at the man, who admired her for being protective and didn't come closer. When I told her "its ok" she backed off and layed back d own, and she never snarled or growled or anything. Then last night, my husband was walking her alone and stopped to hat with a neighbour, who came walking over to admire Kona. As he came towards her and my husband, she started to make the same bark, he told me, but didn't jump, pull on her leash or snarl. When my husband told her it was ok, she continued barking at the man, but remained sitting, until the man stopped approaching. Then she was fine. This morning my husband took Kona to the farm where he works and while they were inside the barn, one of the farm hands (whom Kona met yesterday when my husband and I took her to the farm, and seemed to like and be quite friendly with him) came up to give her a pat. She moved back a bit, crouching down and moving away from him slowly, and when he reached out to pat her, she made the same bark and lunged a little towards him. She didn't bite him aid didn't snarl, and when my husband called her name she backed off immediately and lay down, but she was definitely being protective.
Kona never does this to people when both my husband and I are with her and she meets someone new. In circumstances like that, she is friendly and seems to enjoy meeting new people. She is very friendly and playful. Furthermore, she didn't bark at all when I took her to Petsmart alone and she was patted by a woman that works in the store whom I was speaking to. It seems that she only acts this way when she is with just one of us, and when a man approaches her, not a woman.
Before we adopted Kona we read her records at the SPCA, including a 4 page sheet her previous owners filled out, attesting to her behaviour. They stated that she had never bitten anyone, was calm, placid and friendly with other animals, children and adults, didn't snarl when people came to the door, and though she would bark sometimes she was not aggresive or hostile.
I was just wondering, do you think she is just being protective of us? Is it perhaps because she feels that when she's just with one of us it's her job to watch out for us? Perhaps her previous owners trained her to be wary of men when she was alone with one owner?
Also, do you think that taking her to obedience training classes would help with this matter and give us a better understanding of why she is acting this way? Is she too old at 4years to attend such events?
Thank you very much for all your help!