How to Stop Possessive Aggression in Dogs


Possessive aggression is a term used to describe aggressive behaviors that dogs display around items or objects that they view as their own. These are often things that have no value to the owner but are of considerable worth to the dog, such as food bowls, chew toys, rawhides and bedding. This behavior can also extend towards people, most commonly family members who regularly share their homes with the dog.

Why Do Dogs Display Possessive Aggression?

A canine’s natural instinct is to survive by asserting themselves as being at the top of the social ladder within their group. Their social standing is dependent on pack order (the position an individual occupies in its “pack” i.e., family) and personality. A dog with a dominant personality will generally be more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors than one with a submissive temperament. Additionally, well-meaning owners can unintentionally encourage this behavior by trying to impose their own dominance over the pet by tolerating the inappropriate display of aggression and rewarding it by giving them what they want i.e., possession of an item or person.

What Can I Do About It?

The first thing you should do if your dog displays possessive aggression is try to determine why he has become fixated on whatever it is that he wants so badly. Is there something else going on in his environment which could explain his negative reaction? For example, does he see other dogs “begging” for food at the dinner table and feel threatened by this? A trip to the vet for a checkup is a good idea – there may be a physical cause for his behavior.

The next step is to seek professional help from your veterinarian, an experienced behavioral consultant, or a qualified dog trainer with experience in this area. They will be able to provide you with guidance about what steps to take next, which can include desensitization training using food treats as rewards and play training where appropriate. If the problem seems relatively mild and only occurs occasionally, you should start by modifying your behavior around your pet i.e., make sure that he doesn’t get something he wants every time he displays the unwanted behavior. This change of tone is very effective for putting dogs who are in a dominant position in their pack back in their place.

Also Read: The Practice of Cropping Dog Ears

Possessive aggression is not always easy to modify and can take many months of patience and hard work by owners who are determined to succeed with the process. It helps greatly if you understand why your pet acts this way, which makes it easier for you to change his behavior over time. Crate training your dog is one method that can help with this type of issue as it enables you to keep him safe when left at home alone without having access to anything he finds valuable. A properly exercised and well-trained “possessive” pet is a much more contented animal than one who feels threatened all the time or is bored because they have nothing or nobody to interact with.

How to stop dogs from fighting over toys

Are you tired of your dogs fighting over toys? Here’s how to stop dogfights while playing with toys. The information below will teach you how to effectively stop a dog fight including why dogs play rough, why they get so worked up and excited, and what you can do about it. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to enjoy playtime again and ensure everyone has a good time. It might take some time but we’ll get there!

First off here is the story of typical toy play between two dogs:

Using the example above let’s look at each element in more detail:

1) Why Dogs Play Rough When We Aren’t Around

When we aren’t around our dogs get bored because we’re not entertaining them and they start looking for things to do. This is especially true in confined spaces like crates and small rooms (like your living room when you’re out). Because we aren’t around to keep the peace, dogs look to entertain themselves and often times this means starting a rumpus.

2) Why Dogs Get So Worked Up

When playing with toys dogs get excited because it’s something novel and exciting. It also allows them to practice their natural hunting instinct which gets them even more worked up…but in a good way! They’ll wrestle, bite and run after toys…they’ll be having a great time until suddenly they’re not. Sometimes one dog will become so excited he bites down too hard on the toy, starts to shake it and the other dog gets overwhelmed. Other times a third dog will join in on the fun, see that this is a really great time, get too excited herself and accidentally start a real fight with another dog who just wanted to play. So as you can see there are many reasons why dogs get so worked up when playing with toys.

3) What You Can Do About It

So what do we do about all of this? Well first let’s consider some things not to do:

Don’t use your hands or feet as toys because your dog might mistake them for toys and try to play with them…nipping you by accident. Don’t throw objects because they might hit your dog by accident (or on purpose), scare him or make him take cover (hide). Don’t play tug-of-war because it teaches your dog to grab things and once he starts grabbing you, other people or other dogs there’s no telling where that will end. Likewise, don’t let one of your dogs “win” the game by releasing the toy as this is teaching him to dominate you (or another dog).

Instead, try engaging in these types of activities:

Play with interactive toys like Tug-a-Jugs where all dogs need to pull on the toy together to get treats out. This way each dog takes a turn and nobody dominates anybody else. Another great game is fetching because all dogs can play at the same time without bumping into one another. Every time you throw the fetch toy each dog runs after it and brings it back to you. You can even make fetch more fun by playing with one or two balls at a time, making them squeak, and throwing them around in different directions.

FAQ’s About Aggression in Dogs


Should I intervene when my dogs fight?

When two dogs are fighting it is natural for the dog owner to become very concerned, and this concern is often driven by a fear of serious injury to their dog. Unfortunately, our responses when we fear serious injury may cause more harm than good. Dogs that are fighting will not perceive your attempts at intervention as an act of concern for them; rather they will interpret your actions as part of the aggression. While you might be hoping that an intervention will break up the fight without any physical contact or injury occurring, in reality, there is no way to ensure this outcome from such a risky action. In many cases when a person tries to pull apart two fighting dogs, one or both of the dogs may redirect aggression onto the intervening person – with serious consequences. Some people try to break up a fight by spraying the dogs with water, using a loud noise such as banging on a pan or even throwing things at them. In some cases, these actions may startle the dogs enough to stop the fight, but there is no way of knowing which course of action will work without trying it – and in most cases, if one dog gets injured then this is not going to be a good outcome. It’s also worth noting that even if you are successful in breaking up a dogfight with one of these methods, aggression may be triggered again at any point – particularly during the next few days – so it isn’t something that can be ‘used’ once and then stopped. Once two fighting dogs have been broken up there is no guarantee that the dogs will not start fighting again – and this applies to all types of interventions, including those by professionals. For this reason, we strongly advise against trying to intervene as injuries such as one or both dogs being knocked over, bitten on the leg, pulled away from the other dog, etc give rise to concerns for future aggression towards people or other dogs. The safest option when two of your dogs are fighting is to call a veterinarian immediately.

Will dogs stop fighting on their own?

A dogfight can last for several minutes or up to an hour or more, depending on how well-matched the dogs are in both size and strength. Like fights between people, they rarely stop until one of the opponents cannot physically continue. The fact that dogs fight to the point of exhaustion is what makes them so dangerous for humans to intervene with. Once two dogs have escalated to this level of aggression, they are unlikely to stop fighting until one of them is unable to continue. This often leads to serious injury or death. It’s important to remember that the longer a fight lasts, the more likely it is that at least one dog will sustain lethal injuries – even when you are not present.

Can an aggressive dog be cured?

The most important thing is to be able to identify an aggressive dog. The earlier in life you can do this, the better chance you have of being able to stop the aggression in its tracks. The fact is, many dogs are mislabeled as aggressive when they’re simply frightened of people or things. A dog that is only frightened, but not aggressive, will not pose any kind of threat to people or other animals.

What is the most common cause of aggression in dogs?

There are many reasons why dogs become aggressive, but the number one reason is usually related to fear. The dog is fearful of the thing or person that’s provoking the aggression. Other reasons for dog aggression include pain or illness, territorial protection, and genetics.

Why is my dog being aggressive all of a sudden?

Puppies and dogs that are incorrectly socialized can develop behavior problems, such as fear and aggression. To help prevent this from happening make sure you are socializing your pup with people and other animals in a positive way, so they learn to trust them. Help them build good associations with people by exposing them to different types of people, including children and the elderly, as well as make sure all family members are giving your pup lots of praise and affection. You can also help your pup with their social skills by enrolling them in a puppy socialization class, especially if you aren’t sure how to handle them in certain situations.

How do you stop a dog from being aggressive?

One of the best ways to address a dog’s aggression problems is by working with a qualified trainer. If you need help finding a good trainer in your area ask your veterinarian, family members or friends who have dogs for a referral. A trainer should be certified from the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, or a similar organization. The trainer should have experience addressing aggressive dogs and know how to treat aggression successfully.

Why does my dog act aggressively towards me?

Keep in mind that dogs are individuals, just like people. Just because one dog has a problem with its owner does not mean that other dogs are the same. It’s not you; it’s your dog. All dogs should be treated as individuals and their behavior should be assessed on its own merits.

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