Possessive aggression in dogs is not normal behavior, it is an action from their wild untrained nature and should be dealt with swiftly.
One of the most challenging issues that you may be dealing with during raising a dog is possessive aggression. ignoring such a problem not only does it put you in danger of a bite, but strangers, young kids, and even other dogs could be at risk.
You should prevent your dog from exhibiting threatening behavior toward others, possessive aggression in the canine world is one of many types of aggression that need special management.
Some types of aggression can be easily treated with some behavioral modification training, others need more than that but can also be solved with professional training.
Many dog owners frequently ask when to seek help for their dog, and the answer depends on how much you know about your dog.
Try to take away your puppy favorite toy and watch his reaction, if your notice growls or bark at you, this is considered as an alarming sign and you shouldn’t ignore it.
You need to understand why this behavior is occurring in the first place to know exactly the next step to solving your dog aggression.
What is Possessive Aggression?
We cannot explain to you how to modify your dog aggression if you don’t know clearly what is possessive aggression.
You cannot deal with something you are ignorant of, so we will identify the behavior firstly.
Possessive aggression is when your dog guards over things that they deem precious.
It could be a wide range of items; not just the obvious. For example, you might see this behavior with their favorite toys. Or, you could see it over a piece of trash they managed to sneak out of the garbage can.
Your dog may show possessive aggression over people or preferred resting spots.
Aggression puppy will tell you to back off his favorite item, he just wants to protect that thing, veterinarians call this Fenomena “ resources guarding “. This type of aggression should be evaluated as it can start off very mild.
Possessive aggression is a very interesting behavior, like we said it can start very mild. In some dogs it could be nothing more than a simple lip curl, most dog owners ignore such action and consider it as a cute thing and do not deserve their concern.
But the more you neglect to address it, the worse the problem can get.
Signs of possessive aggression
- Like we mention above it may start with lip curls when you try to take his favorite toy away.
- The most common behavior in aggression dogs is growling or baring their teeth.
- For more developed cases, the growling can turn into full-on barking.
- Eventually, in severe cases, the dog becomes snapping and biting!
The danger of your dog’s aggression may not be limited to just you, your dog will show these signs on anyone approaching their beloved items.
Your family and friends may become in danger, and if you have another dog, you might even see a fight. Some dog breeds even develop more aggressive signs and can be very dangerous.
What Causes Possessive Aggression in Dogs?
There are many reasons for this aggression behavior, our first step to help your dog is to discover the right reason that makes him aggressive.
Addressing the problem is half of the solution, and here are some of the most common reasons why dogs become possessive.
1. Past Trauma
Many dogs who are adopted from shelters may suffer from different behavioral quirks, Possessive aggression is just one of these behaviors that you have to deal with.
Most of these puppies are rescued from homes or areas where they were treated badly and their aggression is just a reaction toward what they get.
Some of these dogs barely had enough food to survive, and you have to understand why these dogs would want to guard what they had after surviving trauma like that. Your understanding of what your dog has gone through is enough to start helping him.
Even if your pooch wasn’t abused, they could have learned the behavior from their time at a shelter. Shelters are notoriously crowded, with limited resources of food and there are other dogs who will compete for everything available.
That behavior can carry over even after adoption due to this trauma from their past.
This Posttraumatic aggression is referred to as “ Shelter Dog Syndrome”, not all adopted dogs have the same trauma but the aggressive behavior of adopted dogs may be due to this syndrome.
Dogs are mainly wild animals and they must hunt and get food whenever they can, it is their nature to survive. Humans have trained canines to guard them, while others consider their dogs as a family.
In the wild when dogs finally find prey, they aren’t very willing to share their food with other dogs.
The food is limited and each dog tries to eat as much of it as they can, it will be a big fight if any dog tries to encroach on the food that another canine claims.
There are the rules of the wild world and the nature of these creatures. In our homes, this instinct is useless as there is plenty of food, but dogs can still have those instincts ingrained in them.
Your dog may try to protect his food and resources and just need a simple modification to deal with these instincts.
3. A New Threat
Most dog owners treat their dogs as a companion and start to spoil them with luxury food and toys, others prefer to spend most of their time playing with them.
If your dog is one of these spoiled dogs, then when you suddenly introduce a new dog to the family may be considered as a new thread for your dog . they are competing for food, toys, and your attention.
Dogs are bound to fight when they feel any threat to their territory, they just try to protect their spots.
These disputes are another instinct in their nature but can be exaggerated in some breeds and for spoiled dogs. With proper training, your dog can overcome this problem easily.
4. Limited Access
There is some special food topper that is only provided on special occasions or items like a rare toy or blanket that your dog absolutely adores.
These things that your dog rarely gets access to, must be protected at all costs in his doggy opinion.
When you decide to give your puppy his precious item, he is not going to want you to take it away.
So, they’ll protect it and show signs of Possessive Aggression in Dogs to protect it and stop you.
5. Learned Behavior
If you used to grow puppies and you have a mommy dog, watch how she feeds her puppies, you will find puppies are constantly climbing over each other and fighting over a nipple, and the dog who is not strong enough to fight off their siblings end up beingthe runt.
It is another instinct in dogs, puppies can learn to be possessive shortly after birth they must fight to get their food. Even when the mother starts to wean off those puppies that constant urge to protect their food often remains.
It’s pretty common to see young puppies only a few months old exhibiting possessive aggression.
Important To You: Why Do Dogs Sigh?
How Do You Fix a Dog With Possessive Aggression?
The right techniques with your patience are what you need to deal with possessive aggression in dogs. We cannot tell you it will be super easy, it is a tough issue that will take time and effort but in the end, you will help your dog to live a normal life.
You need to convince your dog that there’s no reason to guard those items, and remember you should never forcefully take something away. Taking away the precious item from your dog triggers him to attack and protect it and this puts you at risk for a bite.
Instead of cement your dog fear, try one or more of the following techniques :
Limit Exposure to Desired Items
If your dog aggression due to their limited access to a specific item, you just need to avoid using that one for your training. Y
ou can start by working on items that evoke a milder response and work your way up. you just need to distract him from this specific item that shows preferential treatment to it.
During the reconditioning phase, you need to be able to control your dog’s environment to control his reactions. You can only give your pooch the item he loves in a controlled space where he can’t runoff.
The “Trade-Ya” or “Drop it!” Method
The rewarding technique is more common and for mild cases is just perfect, this technique depends on using a special command like “Trade-ya!” or “Drop it!”.
When you find your dog starts showing that possessive behavior toward a specific item, approach them with a treat. Offer that treat in exchange for the item and use the special command.
When he obeys your command and drops the item, you will reward him with the treat and plenty of praise. Then, give the item back! This shows that there is no real reason to be so possessive!
This method basically depends on food to show your dog that the new food is better than what he has.
There are different methods to recondition your dog, but food basic technique is the easiest.
To apply this technique you just need to follow these simple steps:
- Place several empty food bowls in a row in front of your dog.
- In the first bowl, put a bland and boring food, this food could be cheap food with little flavor.
- Once your dog starts eating, move onto the next bowl and fill it with something a bit more high-quality.
- Let your dog notice that the new food is better without giving any commands.
- When he moves to the second bowl, continue the process with something even better!
- Stop the process if your dogs start showing aggression and try again later.
- Repeat the process regularly.
- Eventually, your dog will be less inclined to guard their food.
The goal of this method is to teach your dog to listen to you no matter what, you can use this method to stop your dog aggression episode. This technique depends on using treats and rewards an incentive, and this is similar to the “Trade-Ya” method we just mentioned above.
The behavioral training is so useful if your dog always shows possessive aggression when you’re out and about.
After you finish your dog training, you will be able to control your dog’s possessive aggression easily.
Try to teach your dog simple behavioral commands like “Drop It!”, or even teaching him to “ sit “ will work too.
Whenever your dog starts to show possessive aggression action, say the command that you trained him to stop this behavior.
When he drops it, reward him with his favorite food or treats.
This behavioral training technique is showing your dog that it’s better to listen to what you’re saying rather than focusing on the object at hand and you will get a reward.
Get Help From a Professional
In serious cases, You may need to seek to consult from a professional trainer or behavioral expert.
They’ll work with you and your dog to overcome the problem and help you move forward.
There are many advanced techniques that need to be applied by experts, but finally, your dog will move on and exhibit some healthier habits.
Important To You: Why is My Dog Biting His Nails or Paws?
You shouldn’t ignore any aggression action exhibited from your dog, possessive aggression is not normal behavior and must be treated with suitable techniques.
Identify the problem and show your dog that they have no reason to be possessive and you love and support him.