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How To Stop Possessive Aggression In Dogs?

Possessive aggression occurs when a dog displays aggressive behaviors in an attempt to protect something. This could be a chew toy, food, or even a human being. Typically, they are afraid that someone will steal the item, so they guard it aggressively.

Typically, this is an instinctive behavior. In the wild, it was crucial for dogs to protect their resources. However, it is no longer required for domesticated dogs and can result in unnecessary injury.

Yet, traumatic events can also trigger possessive aggression in dogs.

While food is typically the object of a dog's desire, seemingly random objects such as a leaf can also induce possessive aggression. It must be something that the dog enjoys and does not want removed.

Continue reading "How To Stop Possessive Aggression in Dogs?" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) for more detail information.



Prevention is the easiest method for combating possessive aggression. Some breeds exhibit territorial behavior more frequently than others. Nevertheless, any dog can display possessive aggression.

Prevention is most effective when initiated in puppyhood. You should teach your puppy, for instance, that they do not need to protect their belongings from people.

You may pet them while they eat or calmly add more food to their bowl as you pass by (though do not overfeed them). You want them to view the presence of humans near their food as positive.

Use Positivity

If your puppy is already displaying possessive aggression, it is even more crucial that they associate your presence with positive feelings.

In this case, you may want to add a high-value treat, such as a piece of dried meat, to their bowl. This will make them anticipate your approach and eliminate their possessiveness.

Never forcibly remove an item from a puppy, as this can result in possessive aggression. A puppy will actively try to prevent you from doing so. Instead, you should offer to trade your puppy.

Typically, the item you are trading does not need to be particularly exceptional. If you enthusiastically offer your puppy a toy, they will abandon their food bowl. This reduces the impact of picking up the bowl, thereby preventing such aggression.

Additionally, you should form the habit of rewarding and praising the dog whenever it allows you to take something. This is even possible during a game of fetch. When they allow you to throw the ball again, give them praise and a treat.

Try the “Drop It” Command

Teaching “drop it” can also prevent the power struggle that frequently accompanies this type of aggression. Instead of forcibly removing an object from a dog’s mouth, you can have them drop it.

This command is best taught using two equally beloved toys. Play with the first toy, then give it to your dog. Retrieve the second toy and present it to your dog. Tell them to “drop it” and act enthusiastic so they’ll abandon the old toy and come get the new one.

Keep switching your dog’s toys and telling him to “drop it.” They will eventually understand what you want them to do.

What If My Dog Is Already Possessive?

If your dog is already exhibiting possessive behavior, it is too late to prevent it. Fortunately, it is possible to train your dog to behave differently.

Your top priority is to protect the dog and others from harm. The simplest way to accomplish this is to restrict your dog’s access to high-value items that he or she may attempt to guard.

This includes removing any toys that your dog has a propensity to become possessive of and denying them any chews. Generally, treats are acceptable because dogs devour them before becoming possessive.

You may place chew toys in your dog’s crate or a room where no one else is present. However, keep in mind that you should not attempt to remove these items until your dog has been properly trained. Do not give them anything that you may need to remove, such as a splintering bone.

Obviously, your dog may attempt to steal the items he or she will guard. Some dogs, for instance, will pick up sticks while walking and decide that they are their favorite toy in the world.

To avoid these issues, you should keep your dog on a leash whenever possible. Observe your dog closely and interrupt any attempts he makes to pick up objects from the ground.

This often necessitates vigilance in the kitchen, where the availability of human food presents numerous opportunities for guarding.

You should also teach your dog to avoid certain objects, such as the trash can, where they may discover valuable items.

Do NOT Restrict Access to Food

The only thing you cannot withhold from your dog is food. However, you should feed them in a secluded area where no one else is present. This will prevent them from biting someone in an attempt to defend their food.

You may have to adhere to several of these preventative measures for an extended period of time. In addition, you should teach your dog to accept approaching people and to drop objects on command. This will likely be challenging for a possessive dog, so you will need to take baby steps and utilize goodies with a high value.

Find something that your dog enjoys and use it to teach them the “drop it” command. You must find a treat that your dog values more than whatever it is currently holding. Start with low-value items, such as a tennis ball your dog is not particularly interested in, and work your way up.

You may also wish to teach your dog the “leave it” command, though it will not directly solve the issue. This will restrict your dog from stealing stuff and picking up objects from the ground, hence preventing your dog from acquiring valuable items.

What Happens When Commands Don't Work?

Despite our greatest training efforts, dogs may occasionally defend incredibly valuable objects that they refuse to give up. This can be something as seemingly insignificant as a leaf or as obviously valuable as a bone.


In this circumstance, it is important to divert your dog. Trying to remove the object by force might result in damage and make your dog distrustful.

Instead, go and ring your doorbell, offer to walk your dog, or suggest a car ride. If your dog barks every time the doorbell rings, now is your chance to capitalize on that behavior. Once the dog has moved on to other activities, you may remove the item.

Occasionally, you can even knock on something nearby that your dog will mistake for the doorbell.


You can also exchange a very valuable item for the item. You may offer your dog a piece of meat or something you know he like, such as cheese.

This is especially useful when your dog is guarding something that appears to be of little value. If your dog is extremely food-motivated and guarding a non-food item, this strategy often proves effective.

Once you have an item you believe your dog would trade, you should attempt to distract them from it. Typically, you can command them to “come” from a few feet away if the high-value treat is clearly visible. When the dog has left the item, they are typically easier to entice into the room.

Your objective is to position your dog such that he cannot fetch the object. This may be as easy as leading them into another room and closing the door behind them.

Once your pet has relocated, you may remove the object. Even if the dog appears to be focused on something else, you should not do this action in front of it, since it may create aggressiveness. They must be concealed behind a closed door.

Final Thoughts

As can be seen in “How To Stop Possessive Aggression in Dogs?” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org), it is difficult to treat a dog with possessive aggression. Your success depends on teaching your dog the “drop it” command and having him obey it the majority of the time. When your dog does not listen, you must be resourceful.

Typically, ringing the doorbell is a foolproof way to make your dog forget about valuable items. You can also use treats of high value to distract them from the object they are guarding.

These canines frequently require a great deal of patience and should be trained very slowly.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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