©Copyright VCA Hospitals all rights reserved. If the owner tries to take the object the dog growls. Just like all dogs are individuals and have individual behaviors, dog aggression comes in varying degrees and forms. Dogs that protect their food can be given a less palatable diet, and fed in a separate room away from family members. Some trainers recommend a multi-step process that conditions a dog to willingly move on from a resource. Have a question you can't find the answer to? Place several dog bowls around a large room. McCann Dog Training. Have at least two of all toys and beds but remove food-based toys unless supervised. Underlying medical conditions 2. Keep Highly Desirable Items Away From Your Dog, How to Handle Your Dog Being Aggressive During Nail Clippings, How to Stop Conflict Aggression in Puppies, How to Tell if Your Dog is Choking - And What to Do, How to Stop Your Dog From Peeing in the House. You go to grab a chew that your dog has whittled down to a tiny piece, so they don't swallow it — but are confronted with teeth-baring, growling, or even lunging and biting. Possessive or Territorial Aggression in Dogs; Dogs are social animals. When a dog shows aggression to protect his food, it can be a serious issue. You could get injured and your dog will learn nothing. Repeat the exercise often, each time your dog is resource guarding. Sexual maturation 4. However, this needs to be part of a training program where your dog is taught to drop objects of low value and reinforced with rewards of much higher value. Signs of possessive aggression can be a component of dominance aggression where other bad behaviors are observed. Some dogs only show aggression in connection with a specific object and nothing else. Some dogs never do more than curling a lip or mildly growling. They may solicit attention and then respond to the attention with a challenge. But the same dog may snap or growl if it's approached while it's chewing on a pig's ear. Canine possession aggression is also sometimes referred to as food aggression or resource guarding. The most common causes include conflict aggression, fear-based or defensive aggression, possessive aggression, food guarding aggression and redirected aggression. Or, you could see it over a piece of trash they managed to sneak out of the garbage can. For instance, some dogs are just as likely to snarl and snap over a tissue fished out of the trash can as over a favorite toy. After your dog stops guarding and gets the other reward, you can let him have the item he was guarding back. This can work well with meals. However, you must first have good control and a well-trained dog. This is the dog's way of saying, "Back off! Learn more. Some canines keep their aggression toned down and never act out more than the occasional growl, while others can attack other dogs or even people. Territorial aggression can be seen in dogs that attack strangers, such as the mailman, for no reason. If your dog is holding the item he is guarding, you can use the "drop it" cue to get your dog to give up the item. But you can’t do those same things to an owner. Dogs that protect their treats or toys should have them taken away, and only allowed access to them when alone in the crate or confinement room. Instead, teach your dog to trust you around its treasures. Start behavioral modification exercises like those described above, with items that are guarded less heavily, then work your way up to the items that are more valuable to your dog. Just make sure you have a valuable reward. Over time, your pet will learn that there is no need to protect its possessions. For example, you may need to trade for stolen items of value or for those that are dangerous to the pet; these items need to be retrieved quickly before they are damaged or the pet is injured. Your dog isn’t trying to take over the household. She has written more than 100 articles on dogs. Possessive dogs are guarding resources, and the longer you let them get … Make sure these items are kept away from your pet so that they can't steal them when you're not looking. Only the adult that has the most control over the dog, never children, should attempt this exercise. The goal is to teach the dog that it will receive a favored treat or reward that is even more appealing than the object in its possession (see Handling and Food Bowl Exercises and Teaching Give and Drop). This is the dog's way of saying, "Back off! Not only is there the danger of other dogs or humans in the house being bitten, but over time it can lead to the dog becoming possessive over everything. Possessive aggression is when your dog guards over things that they deem precious. Don’t pet one animal at the expense of the other. A dog with possessive aggression targeted toward his owner is often called a jealous. If a puppy is eating, calmly approaching and talking softly while perhaps petting and dropping delectable food treats into the bowl may help some puppies learn that your approach is nonthreatening. Why Do Some Dogs Display Possession Aggression? Although prevention can help to ensure safety, if you are to correct the problem, you will need to teach your dog to accept approaches and give up objects on command. symptoms people associate with possessive aggression in dogs. Put a dog leash on both dogs when walking two at a time and consider a gentle leader for better control. If you offer the dog an alternative activity, you must follow through, even if it is short. Even if your pet learns to drop on cue, this does nothing to prevent stealing. Edited by: VCA Inc. (Parent Account)This article has been modified from its original text as supplied from LifeLearn and may not reflect any views of, or is certified to be accurate by, LifeLearn. Maternal aggression is a specific type of this aggression in which mother dogs become defensive of their puppies. Just as their wild relatives, like wild dogs and wolves, they would form their own territories and would protect it from intruders. Genetic (or normal to the particular dog or breed) Check out our Leerburg Questions and Answers with nearly 3000 previously answered questions. In this case, your dog will need to be trained to respect boundaries and that protection is unnecessary. Dogs that do not relinquish toys or objects to owners. A dog may start off with a small growl over its food bowl, but if its warnings are ignored, it may resort to biting to protect its things. It could be a wide range of items; not just the obvious. Other dogs may nip or bite someone who approaches while they're eating. Veterinarian approved Behavior Support products. There are times the dog develops the habit of defending food, objects, and territory by being aggressive because it has had successful results in the past. That’s why possessive behavior should be dealt with to reduce aggressive behavior. One of the best tips on how to stop a dog from being … And it's not just larger dogs and so-called " dangerous breeds " that are prone to aggression; any breed is capable of becoming aggressive under the right circumstances. Aggression is the most common and most serious behavior problem in dogs. They quickly learned how to guard what was theirs, fighting if necessary. What can be confusing for some owners is that it is not always food that brings out the most protective displays. Different dogs display aggression differently as well. If your dog has this problem, it may growl, snap, or bite to protect a resource, such as food, toys, beds, or other objects, from being taken away by another dog or person. â ¢ Possessive aggression: When aggression is directed toward a person that the dog views approaching something of high value (food, toys, family members). While your dog eats, add a more desirable food to another bowl that is at a distance. Once they are comfortable with this type of approach, you can gently restrain the puppy and remove the bowl, then praise the puppy and promptly return the bowl. Reasons for resource guarding may include: If the sign your dog exhibits is growling, be sure you are dealing with the growling properly. Environment 6. Possessive aggression is an extreme reaction to a person or another dog who wants to take or use something the dog sees as his. Get our FREE training guide when you sign up for the Spruce Pets newsletter! Then the food reward is shown to the dog from 5 to 6 feet away and the dog is called to “come.” When the dog leaves the item, the owner backs up and calls the dog again and adds “sit.” This is repeated 2 to 3 times without giving the dog the food reward until he is at least 15 to 20 feet from the object (preferably in another room). The dog is then given the food, gently taken by the collar (if he will reliably allow that), and put outside or into another room with a closed door. Although it's useful, necessary behavior in the wild, it has no place in your home and needs to be managed before it develops into a serious problem. If your dog will not sit and stay, come, or allow approach when it has no object in its possession, then there is little chance of correcting a possessive problem. Canine possession aggression is also sometimes referred to as food aggression or resource guarding. Nothing in Life is Free. If they are left on their own, they would live together in small packs. When the dog has the stolen item, the owner goes and gets a highly valued food reward that the dog reliably wants. Novel and highly desirable objects, such as a tissue that has been stolen from a garbage can, a favorite toy, human food, or a piece of rawhide are some of the items that dogs may aggressively protect. If your dog has escalated the behavior and exhibits signs of aggression, such as growling, snapping, or biting, do not attempt to correct this on your own. You may need the help of an animal behaviorist to deal with a possessive dog’s aggression. A territorial dog may show signs of aggression when another human or animal approaches the item he feels possessive of, such as a toy or even his favorite human. Preventing Possessive Aggression in Dogs. Resource guarding is normal behavior. This may be a walk, a ride in the car, ringing the doorbell, etc. In the initial stages of treatment, it is best to keep highly desirable objects away from your dog, or only given in confined, controlled circumstances such as in their crate. You can follow a similar pattern while a puppy is playing with its toys. We got him when he was 8 weeks from a friend, he showed signs of food aggression then but that seem to be an easy fix once he got use to the house, when he was around 1 to 2 […] Fear-based, possessive and redirected aggressions are discussed in other handouts in this series. This problem is dangerous and serious and requires the intervention of a veterinary behaviorist. Note that what your dog considers an object worthy of possessing may not be something you think has any value. Teaching puppies when they are young that handling their food and possessions results in good outcomes can help deter possessive behavior. Poor socializing as a puppy 3. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet. In part 1 of this article I talked about how to identify the behaviours that demonstrate that your Husky may be displaying Jealous, Over-Protective, Possessive behaviours.. If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. If we look at wild dogs, the dogs that don’t guard their food, don’t eat. We’re committed to keeping clients and staff safe during COVID-19 with NEW admittance and check-out processes. There are multiple reasons that a dog may exhibit aggression toward family members. Approaching calmly, offering a food reward and taking the possession, praising the puppy and returning the object teaches the puppy that your actions are not to be feared. Only at that time does the owner retrieve the item. This aggression generally stems from fear: fear of losing the item or fear of you the owner if you aggressively come after your dog. These subtler signs include: Of course, if there are items that your dog might steal and then protect, you should keep them out of the dog’s reach by using sealed containers, or keeping them behind closed doors or high enough that the dog cannot reach. In some situations, this may not work or be appropriate. Possession aggression in dogs is natural behavior that originates from the instinct to react to a perceived threat. If your dog has this problem, it may growl, snap, or bite to protect a resource, such as food, toys, beds, or other objects, from being taken away by another dog or person. This is a natural behaviour wired into their brains. If, at any time, the dog shows aggression such as growling, snarling (lifting the lips), snapping, lunging or biting, leave the area immediately and do not attempt to take the item from the dog. ASK CINDY YOUR DOG TRAINING QUESTION. When someone says their dog is aggressive, the first thing that comes to mind is that they have a dog that bites, but aggression can mean a lot of different things. The exchange never takes place right in front of the dog and the item. Canine aggression is a serious problem for dog owners and a common reason that dogs are referred to as companion animal behavioral specialists. Using a leash can help ensure success at the outset with a minimum of confrontation (see Handling and Food Bowl Exercises). For example, you might see this behavior with their favorite toys. It's also possible for aggression to escalate over time. This is mine!". For instance, a dog may not care if people or other animals approach while it's playing with a toy. To prevent stealing and to teach leave, you should keep your dog supervised with a long leash attached to a head collar so that your dog can be prevented from wandering off, and immediately interrupted if it attempts to raid a garbage can or pick up inappropriate objects (see Stealing and Stay Away and Teaching Give and Drop). It is important to prevent any possibility of injury when you begin treatment. For some dogs, a diversion with something else they really want to do will result in them leaving an object. After all, you can always manage toy possessiveness by removing it, or manage food possessiveness by providing more of it. At first it may be best to confine or supervise your dog so that it cannot gain access to any items that it might pick up and protect. In fact, by giving these items exclusively in your pet’s confinement area, your dog may learn to be more comfortable resting and relaxing in this area since it is a place where chew toys are given and where the dog is left alone. In today’s article I will talk about how this behaviour was created, what you can do about it, and how to prevent it from ever becoming an issue with your dog. When a dog behaves aggressively toward people or other animals that approach valued objects, the behavior is described as possession aggression. Possessive Aggression: Possessive aggression involves the defense of valuable resources. It’s also the number-one reason why pet parents seek professional help from behaviorists, trainers and veterinarians. As always, if you feel as if your dog may pointedly bite or attack you please, please seek the help of a boarded veterinary behaviorist. My dog is going on 3 yrs old Hes a German shepherd pit bull mix. According to Dr. Spano, there are also less obvious signs that your dog may be developing — or exhibiting — possessive aggression. If you are not seeing improvement on your own, or if your dog's aggression is getting worse, consider getting help from a dog trainer or behaviorist to correct your dog's behavior. Possessive aggression is aggression that is directed toward humans or other pets that approach the dog when it is in possession of something that is highly desirable, such as a favorite chew toy, food, or treat. In serious cases, it may be worth consulting a professional trainer or … If you determine that this is the cause of your dog's aggression, you may be able to modify your pet's behavior. The level of emotional excitement will diminish, preventing signs of aggression from occurring. It’s important to remember that the aforementioned tips should only be attempted when your dog is exhibiting mild possessive tendencies. While our dogs get regular meals, that doesn’t mean the instinct to hang on their food doesn’t have a legitimate basis grounded in instinct. Anytime your dog is showing aggression, have your vet check him out to make sure there’s no medical issue bothering him. Often the dog will present the object for play, and then strike when the owner reaches for the object. If your dog is actually trying to bite, you must be very careful. This aggression […] Put a bland food in one bowl. If the dog already has the item, he will need to have been taught a “give” or “drop it” command that tells him to give up the object for a reward. Do not get close enough to evoke an aggressive response; just let your dog see that you are offering a valuable alternative. Other dogs display aggression over practically anything they find around the house, including children's toys, your shoes or clothing, and other random objects. Although protecting possessions may be necessary if an animal needs to survive and thrive in the wild, it is unacceptable when directed toward people or other pets in a household. Booby traps (Snappy Trainers™, motion detectors, unpleasant tastes) can also be used to teach your dog to stay away from selected objects and areas. The problem with possessive behavior is that it triggers aggressive behavior. The key introducing a new dog to a jealous dog is to get a dog that will back off quickly to signs from your current dog and will also not push your current dog to “do something about” the new guy’s behavior. Other common causes include: 1. To determine whether your dog is displaying possession aggression, watch it closely for signs of aggressive behavior in certain situations: Different dogs may display different degrees of aggression. She is also the founder of The Vetitud, a site for veterinary professionals. Get Help From a Professional. Dr. Smith is part of The Spruce Pets' veterinary review board. Inbreeding 5. Growling when a person or another animal approaches its food bowl, Growling, snapping or biting when someone tries to take away a toy or bone, Showing physical signs that it may bite when approached with something of value to it or resting in a coveted spot. Enforce Rules and Define Who’s in Authority. If the object is non-essential, it can be removed from the home, such as a toy. Resource guarding in dogs, also called "possessive aggression," can be quite alarming and scary for a dog owner to experience. Aggression is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with immediately. Signs of possessive behavior Growling, lunging and biting are the three big (and sometimes scary!) Continue to add more valuable food to additional bowls, but stop if your dog shows aggression. Possessive Aggression in Dogs. When they were in the wild, dogs needed to compete for everything including food, mates and nesting places. The worst thing you can do is to force your dog to give up the item he's protecting. It's better to find a way to convince your dog that giving up the item means something good will happen. Possessive Aggression has its origins long before dogs were domesticated. Pack order behavior 7. They go hungry and die. Contributors: Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB & Gary Landsberg, DVM, DACVB, DECAWBM. Highly valued items (e.g., the ones the dog is most likely to protect) such as rawhide bones, pig’s ears, etc., should not be given to the dog at all during this initial training period. The treatment of possessive aggression involves a number of options. What is Food Aggression? Possessive aggression occurs only when the dog is defending an object. Possessive aggression is aggression that is directed toward humans or other pets that approach the dog when it is in possession of something that is  highly desirable, such as a favorite chew toy, food, or treat. Dr. Smith is a small animal veterinarian with 11 years practicing veterinary medicine. One must think about this when handling these kinds of dogs. What to do if your dog is being possessive of you If your dog is possessive over you — instead of his toys or his food — that can be a little overwhelming. Instead of taking away your dog's treasured object, try introducing something your dog may find even more valuable, like a special treat or a new toy. Blocking off areas so that the dog does not have access to certain items might also be necessary. Aggression is one of the top reasons dog owners seek the help of a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. Amy is a dog trainer with more than a decade of experience. It might also be possible to train your dog to “leave” items and not pick them up again if you can effectively supervise (see Teaching Give and Drop and Stealing and Stay Away). Most dominant dogs are also possessive dogs. 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