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I would suggest you try allowing your kids to sit on or near your lap and keep Massimo on the floor and see what he does.
He sounds like Scooby when he is on hubby's lap, if I go too close to hubby sometimes he does the very same thing. I would be more inclined to think there is some jealousy going on and he needs to be taught that the kids are ok and that you are going to fuss with the kids no matter how he reacts. Maybe you should sit on a sofa with the kids first and then allow Massimo to join in and see how he is with that. You need to break the jealousy or possessivness before it becomes a real porblem as when he gets older he may turn to biting the children when they approach you while he is on your lap or anywhere for that matter. He needs to be shown that the children belong near you as much as he does. I wouldn't think he would be protecting you from your kids as there is no danger and dogs are good at sensing when there is a threat. Normal interaction between family members should not be taken as a threat.
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