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Protection Or Sleep Startle?

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Last night my husband and I stayed the night at my parents house with Zeppelin (he has been to my parents and stayed the night several times). Due to home renovations we had to sleep in the living room so I slept on a mattress on the floor next to zeppelins bed. My dad came out to make coffee in the morning and when he came around the corner to where we were Zeppelin got up and started barking his head off with his tail straight out at my dad. It woke me up right away and it took about 15 seconds of me and my dad saying his name before he stopped. He does sleep startle but has always stopped when he's awake and realizes who it is, but this was different he was definitely awake and conscious. He is usually very comfortable with my parents.


My question is was this him protecting me? He never barks when someone knocks on the door... Or could this have been a sleep startle? It was just very strange and a little scary as it seemed that he was in attack mode and would have lunged if my dad came any closer. After he realized who it was he just laid back down and acted normal.

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Probably a combination of Zeppelin's fear, feeling vulnerable and threatened, attempting self-protection, his automatic reaction to being startled awake, not realizing where he was right away, and not recognizing the advancing, potentially threatening scary man.


A good thing to do in that situation is stop (the perceived threat) immediately. Then slowly back up or turn slightly sideways from the dog while avoiding direct eye contact. (Direct eye contact is threatening in dog language.) The threatening person should leave the room until the dog feels relaxed, calm and secure.


Typically, Greyhounds aren't considered protection or guard dogs but some may become more watchful than others.

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