Husky aggression

Fixing Jealous, Over-Protective, and Possessive Behaviour

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.

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.

Why Is My Dog Doing This Behaviour?

For the most part, Jealousy, Over-protectiveness, Possessiveness, and Resource Guarding (especially of people) is a learned and reinforced behaviour that owners have fostered, rewarded, or allowed their dogs to do because:

They misinterpreted their dog’s behaviours

Many owners never recognized the dog’s initial behaviours to be problematic so they never stopped or corrected the dog from doing the behaviour. By not stopping the behaviours, the behaviours continued, grew worse, and then it spread into other aspects of the dog’s functioning.

Accepted behaviour

Some owners think that their dog being overly protective of them is an acceptable thing for them to do. They even secretly like the “special attention” they get from their dog. These owners do not understand that they are grooming a dog to be a biting hazard and an out of control ticking time bomb. Once you allow a dog to control humans, unlike in Schutzhund training, you will have no control over when, how, and whom he controls.

Lack of supervision

Sometimes owners have not been very good about providing consistent supervision, leadership, and guidance where their dog’s behaviour is concerned. If dogs are not clearly shown which behaviours are acceptable, if the problem behaviours are not corrected, then the dogs will assume that what they are doing is acceptable behaviour.

Parameters and limits for acceptable behaviours must be made by the owners or the dogs will choose and set their own limits. Also, if dogs are missing critical socialization skills they may lack the understanding of how they should politely interact with humans. The human/dog relationship is not entirely a natural partnership. It is a learned/taught behaviour so make sure that you teach the rules that go along with this relationship.

Rewarding bad behaviour

Sometimes owners don’t understand that they unwittingly reward the dog’s bad behaviour. All behaviour is purposeful and for a dog to keep doing the behaviour it means that the behaviour is being reinforced at some level. That means that the dog is getting a payoff for exhibiting the behaviours.

Dogs, by nature, are reward driven. The dog has learned that he can make humans do what he wants, that he can affect his environment, or he has learned to get attention, even if it is negative attention from the owners by doing the behaviour. As long as there is a reinforcement for the behaviour (sometimes the payoff is that he is allowed to do the behaviour), the dog will continue the behaviours. Removing the reward is the first step toward changing the behaviour.

Overindulged dog

The Dog has been overindulged, allowed to do as he pleases, with no real rules, limits, or consequences for his actions and now he views the house, the contents, and the people in the house as HIS possession. People have good intentions when they shower their dogs with excessive love and attention but it seldom ends well for either of them. The dog has been led to believe by the actions of the owners that everything belongs to him. This is sometimes called the Princess (or Prince) Syndrome.

Applying human social rules to a dog, placing no limits on the dog’s behaviour, not correcting a dog’s behaviour or correcting him inconsistently, and not providing solid leadership for the dog does not convey love to a dog. It sends the message that you are not able or unwilling to provide leadership and most often the dog steps up to the plate not because he WANTS the job, but because in his understanding, there is no one currently filling this position.

For dogs, strong leadership is equated with safety and survival of the pack so if the human is not displaying recognizable leadership skills then the dog feels it has no choice but to step in and do it. As a rule, most dogs are not laying in wait just itching to step in to take over the leadership role.

Most dogs would prefer that someone else filled this position. Dogs that are thrust into the leadership role left vacant by unaware or unmotivated humans are very often nervous, anxious, and generally unhappy about being forced into this role.

Dominant temperaments

Sometimes dogs are born with a naturally dominant temperament. The temperament of the dog is determined 50% by nature and 50% by nurture. One only need look at a litter of puppies to see natural pack order at work. Some puppies will be naturally laid back and submissive and some puppies will be naturally dominant.

The naturally dominant dog in the hands of an unaware or novice dog handler can quickly turn into a behaviour nightmare. Couple the naturally dominant personality of the puppy, the challenging time of hormone fuelled adolescence when rules and boundaries are being tested, and add to that the unskilled or unaware owner who gives the dog insufficient guidance, rules, or structure and you have all the ingredients for the perfect behavioural storm to be brewing.

Owning and living with a dominant dog is only a problem when the human owners of this kind of dog do not have the proper skill set to know how to work dominance or if they are unmotivated to sufficiently train the dog. Early obedience training and firm rules are a must for the naturally dominant dog otherwise he will be running the household in no time.

Now That I Helped Create This Behaviour, How Do I Stop It?

The key to stopping the behaviours is to address the power balance within this relationship. Currently the dog feels like it has superior social ranking to the human because the behaviours of the humans have demonstrated to him that he is indeed “top dog”. Since in nature it is perfectly acceptable for a dominantly ranked dog to own, possess, or take a resource, the social ranking of the dog must be addressed and changed by the humans. In order to do this the humans must reorder and restructure their own behaviours and choices.

Umbilical training

Use the Umbilical technique as described in the article, Establish Leadership With Your Husky Using The Umbilical. This technique helps to shift the dog from “me” thinking to “we” thinking. Naturally dominant dogs and dogs that have been created to be dominant by their owners think and make choices for themselves. They think for themselves and they make the rules for themselves. In this state of mind, there really is no partnership between human and dog.

The Umbilical process forces the dog to follow the owner’s moves. It makes them aware that they are not in charge and it gets them in the habit of looking at the owner and watching them for their next cue. Be prepared, that dominant dogs are initially not very happy about losing their “throne”. The task of re-balancing power and re-establishing yourself as one who is in charge is a process and it takes time. But really when you think about it, your dog did not suddenly become a dominant tyrant overnight. His behavioural issues were created over time and it was a process too.

Obedience classes

Sign up for obedience classes. Obedience training for these dogs is a MUST. Training work helps to drive home the message that there is a clear leader and a follower. A good trainer or behaviour specialist can help you help you develop better dog handling skills. Obedience training helps establish much needed and previously lacking rules, boundaries, and behaviour limits for the dog.

Teach your dog the LEAVE IT cue. Whether your dog is resource guarding an item, you, bullying a guest, or demanding attention from a human, the LEAVE IT cue helps to reinforce the message that he cannot have or get what he wants from this situation. LEAVE IT, DROP IT and PLACE (GO TO) are all great tools to redirect a dog’s controlling behaviour and to put the control back into your own hands.

Corrective training

Make a commitment to correct the behaviours consistently and immediately. If you are inconstant with your corrections, you are teaching the dog to be more persistent with his bad behaviour. A dog’s world is very black and white. Rules are ALWAYS or NEVER. Unless you ALWAYS correct the behaviour, the dog will assume that rules need NEVER be followed.

Constructive love and affection

Learn a more constructive way to show your dog love and affection other than indulging him to the point of neurosis.Over indulged dogs are not happy. They end up being out of control, neurotic, anxious, and a hazard to bite. Please, it is okay to show love to your dog. Just make sure that your actions benefit your dog.

Far too often the things that people do to their dogs and for their dogs in the name of “love” serve to make themselves feel better in the moment. They don’t correct their dog because they don’t want to be the “bad guy”. They think that by letting their dog do whatever he wants that this will somehow make the dog happy. It does not make them happy at all. Dogs value structure, order, and knowing what to expect.

Without the security of these things dogs feel anxious and afraid. Please, if you love your dog (and I know that you do), love him enough to do what supports his needs. Don’t assign him human values. Do not try and meet his needs by trying to apply human social values on him. These social values really do not translate well to dogs. They have their own set of hierarchical social values.

Institute a “work for it” program

Most dogs with behaviour issues are under the impression that they are entitled to own everything because everything has been always given to them. Food, toys, treats, choice of sleeping spots; they have it all given to them. Especially in the case of naturally dominant dog, they should be given nothing for free.They should have to “work” for every meal, every treat, and every toy they get to play with. Working for it teaches them self control as well as it reinforces that there are no free rides. At the same time it also teaches them that having patience is rewarding.

Also, these dogs should never be allowed to think they own anything. You, the owner, should be the only one who owns anything in the house, yard, car etc. You own all food, toys, beds and furniture. The dog gets it because you ALLOW him to use or have it. By human social values this sounds horrible and mean but dogs have a totally different view of ownership.

Humans give and share to show care, affection, and social acceptance.Dogs either own it, want it, are trying find a way to keep it, or they accept that someone else owns it. Many jealousy and resource guarding issues are about dogs owning, wanting what someone else has, or being afraid of losing what they have.

If there is nothing for a dog own, there is nothing for him to worry about losing, and then there is nothing for him to fight to keep. In multi-dog households dogs should not being allowed to own anything. This becomes crucial to keeping the peace in the household.

So gather up all the toys and dispense them sparingly. No more free flowing dog treats or free feeding. Give treats only during training and for compliance. No more letting dogs up on the furniture or on the bed while you are re-establishing your social rank. In multi dog households, all dogs must be relegated to a lower social ranking than you. That means the dogs must ALL have the same rules. Every dog must have the same consistent expectations for behaviour.

Up the physical exercise for the dog

A physically tired dog is much less likely to have the energy to be a bully or a dictator. You can address two issues at once by umbilical training your dog using a waist leash while you walk or run. Exercise for the dog and umbilical training to re-establish leadership all in one activity.

Consider spaying and neutering the dog. While intact dogs are not always automatically going to be behaviour problem, the combination of a naturally dominant dog combined with rampant hormone fueled cocky behaviour and you have the recipe for disaster. Add to this mix a dog that an owner that does not train or sets limits on his behaviour and you the makings of a dog that will surely end up being given up to a shelter and eventually put down because he was not adoptable. This outcome is absolutely avoidable.

What If The Problem Is The Addition Of A New Person Or Dog Into The Household?

Quite often the addition of a new family member in the household can really get a dog’s nose out of joint. The green eyed jealousy monster will often rear its ugly head when a new member of the household is suddenly in the picture. Your dog, who may have been behaving fine, suddenly resorts to being destructive, peeing in the house, resource guarding, growling at the new member, or just generally behaving really badly. Many people are at a loss of what to do with these behaviours.There are few things that you can do to make this time better and regain control of the dog.

Often when a new person enters the relationship, a relations dyad now becomes a triad. Your dog may see the other person as an interloper or a rival for your affection and attention. People usually try to address this issue by giving the dog lots of affection and attention when the person is not there, or in the case of infants, when they are sleeping. But this only reinforces that it is the presence of the person that CAUSES the dog to feel neglected or ignored.

So to fix this issue, give the dog treats and attention when the new person is there so they begin to associate the presence of the person with pleasant things. In the case of an infant, have the dog nearby and toss treats to it while you are feeding the baby or changing a diaper. You can also have the new person give the treats to help the dog to associate new positive feelings with the new person.

Do not respond any aggressive behaviour with physically aggressive or aversive methods of correction or you will only escalate the behaviours of the dog. Aggression against aggression does not serve to eliminate the problem. Manage the behaviour for the short term and the long term. For the sake of safety you may need to muzzle the dog for the short term until long term plans for desensitization and counterconditioning are implemented.

Also, if you give the dog dramatic attention when he acts aggressively to the new person, this attention will only serve to reinforce the dog’s behaviour. Do not reward his behaviour with your attention. Instead of getting angry, shouting, or having a lot of drama, quietly remove the dog from the area for the time being. This is not a long term solution to the problem. This is simply managing the problem in this moment and not rewarding his bad behaviour with your attention.

Increase the exercise for the dog. A tired dog is far less likely to have the energy to be so rebellious. If you know that you have guests coming over, make sure that you exercise the dog before hand. If you have a new live in person or baby, go out for a walk as a group. It helps to reinforce the “we” mentality and demonstrates the cohesiveness of the group.

During this time of readjustment for the dog, make sure that games like tug of war or overly exciting games are not being played. The last thing you want is for the dog to become more excited and more volatile than he already is. Opt for quiet calm games.

How Can I Prevent This From Happening With My Dog Again?

If it has already happened, then use the tools I gave you to eliminate these behaviours. Then to make sure that these behaviours never return, apply what you have learned.

  • Don’t over indulge the dog.
  • Set limits and rules for behaviours.
  • Know what strong leadership looks like from your dog’s perspective. Be a strong leader for your dog so that you do not get relegated to lower social ranking position again.
  • Take your dog to obedience classes to forge a relationship with your dog. Make sure that everyone in the household participates in the training of the dog. It helps the dog to understand that all the humans have equal ranking over the dog.
  • Make sure that your dog receives adequate breed specific exercise and mental stimulation daily to keep your dog from become bored and unhappy.
  • Before a new person moves it, desensitize the dog to the new person.
  • Before bringing in a new dog, make sure that dog are compatible to each other.
  • Be willing to be honest about your dog’s behaviours. If you see the dog beginning slide back into bad habits, that means that you have done the same. Don’t make excuses. Make a commitment to address the problem right away.

If you are fortunate in that you do not see these behaviours in your dog, then congratulations. You must be doing it right. If you have not done things quite right, then take comfort in the thought that when you know better, it allows you to do better.

As always we welcome your questions, comment, and stories regarding this topic. When we share our stories, we may well be helping someone who is currently struggling with their Snow Dog.

Helping all Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.

41 thoughts on “Fixing Jealous, Over-Protective, and Possessive Behaviour”

  1. Donna Winder

    My Golden Boxer grew up with my now 18 year old min pin, since she was 5 weeks old. Now she is 65 pounds and bites him. He is only 13 pounds. Her last bite was on his head and it was hard for me to get her to release the min pin that was dangling up in the air. Sadie thinks that he is going to get her toys. Towser cannot even see her toys. How can we get Sadie to stop biting Towser? Towser is very fragile in his old age. I keep wondering what is Towser saying to Sadie that makes her so mad.

  2. George Dall

    Have a two year old husky who still has a tendency to become over protective. Can be food, toys, not wanting his lead off etc. Haven’t really found an effective way of calming him down or removing this behaviour so he gets back to normal other than a time out in his cage. Unfortunately getting him there or removing his collar or shutting the cage can be a little bit ropey to say the least. Some of the issues have been fixed by not allowing ourselves to be put in that position again but others we are still working on.

  3. chandra f stevenson

    My husband just brought in a new puppy a 9 month old pitbull and she is beautiful and sweet and kind and I have a Yorkie that’s 11 years old I’ve had her since she was six weeks old and she is my baby but now that the new dog is here it’s getting kind of weird she’s very jealous and I know it’s because I have over showered her with love but she has been an emotional distress pet for me since I’ve had her because I lost my parents I don’t know what to do at this point I would love for them to try and coexist of course Fendi is my pitbulls name and Coco is my grown girl my 11 year old Yorkie and I don’t know what to do Cindy wants to just play with Coco but Coco doesn’t want to have anything to do with her she doesn’t really do well with other dogs well there are certain dogs in the neighborhood that are small that she’ll play with that’s her size I have no idea what to do I am absolutely open for all types of suggestions I did read the article that I do need some help thank you

  4. Brenda Hurley

    I own a dachund that is a rescue dog. She has been with us for four years. I don’t believe she was ever given any training or bounderies. For example, we are still working on house training. With consistency she is showing improvement. My problem is her aggression towards us when she has cornered a mouse or other small animal under pallets or rocks and we try to remove her from the area. On occasion we get a rabbit in our enclosed backyard and when she catches it, she will not release it and will snarl and bite when we try to take it away. I know this breed was bred to hunt and her “catch” is hers; she feels she is doing her job and earned it. I have tried to divert her attention to get the rabbit away. When I’ve picked her up to take her away from the prey she’s cornered, she bites. I have tried holding her snout shut so she cannot bite me, I’ve also closed my hand over her lower jaw when she has bitten me, giving her firm no’s and letting her know this is not acceptable. Obviously this hasn’t worked. Help – I’m at my wits end!


    I have a 4 year old rescue Husky (not fixed) , we recently moved into a house that has another dog living there as well. My husky has been here before with the other dog, playing etc. However, he continuously urinates in that dogs room on his stuff (bedding etc.). How can I stop him from doing this?

  6. My dog is very obedient – with me only. She sits, stays, follows me and listens to me well but she is overprotective of me for other people, specifically when I am laying down on the couch or bed and someone approaches. In open areas she is fine, it’s mostly the house or familiar places that she “guards me”. I would really like to get that under control – along with re-establishing myself as alpha over her, are there any other tips you have to get her to stop nipping at people in her territory? I only fear it will get worse and just recently noticed the behavior in the last 6 months or so.

    My gambler is as follows (a few added from your article)
    – not allowed on any furniture
    – must sit when anyone enters and be calm before being pet (the reward)
    – I am going to make her follow me around the house on a very short leash for a while
    – at intervals, make her go to her bed and stay until released
    – put all the toys away, reward her with one when asked and once a day for at least 15 minutes make her release the toy and walk away/lay on her bed
    – reward all good behavior with training treats
    – she can only be pet when we want to pet her. Meaning if she comes and invades our space without sitting and asking first, she will be sent away.
    – make her walk beside or behind us on walks

    1. Have you had any luck with this. My Dane is the same way. Very protective over me. Would protect me at all cost. Even when it is not needed

  7. Christine Davies

    Hi my bf and I just rescued a 9 yr old female min pin. We have no background information. She’s displaying some possesive/protective behaviour over me in a couple different circumstances. One….my bf comes at me making noises to play and show affection, our dog snaps, tries to bite him….two….i was at a friends place who has a dog that we introduced and they seemed fine until we were sitting on the floor, my dog was napping in front of me, friends dog came over to sniff and say hello and my dog lunged at him barking and like she wanted to bite him. I do show a lot of affection towards her, and am probably not showing enough boundaries or dominant behavior. How can I fix this?

  8. My three year old husky has just started to be protective and guarding every toy, shoe or household item she can get. When she takes the toy, for example, she goes into a corner and will growl when I try to take the toy away. How do I correct this behavior?

  9. robert ilyes

    I’m fortunate enough to own a husky girl. She is amazing. Because i’m working from home, we spend a lot of time outside, i can make my own program regarding work. We hike daily for about 3-4 hours then she will play with her friends for another 3 hours. Everything is perfect, except it is not! There is a problem which i have noticed two weeks ago. She is afraid of new dogs, and that wasn’t case before. She is no aggressive at all, never was, but she was able to play with new dogs. That is not the case anymore. Every time she meets a new dog, she will lye on her back not moving at all. I really don’t know what caused this, because i’m sure this is no accident, something has caused that. She never had a bad experience with an aggressive dog to be scared away. I’m sure i have done something wrong, but i can’t figure it out. She plays with her friends in very hard way, some of her friends are bigger, and often she is been put to the ground. I have never interfered with their play, no matter how hard it was, and i think this might be causing the mentioned problem, but i’m not sure. I know this post is outside the topic, but i really liked your article which showed a deep understanding of dogs behavior, and you might be able to help me with an advice. Thank you!

  10. Vin Berman

    We recently rescued a puppy 6 months ago. Over the last 2 months our other dog has started to growl when you try to move him off couch or bed. He has never done this before. He is 2 yrs old and is nueterer. Otherwise he has been just the most loving dog. This new behavior has unnerved us. It is completely uncharacteristic of him. What to do?

  11. I do not own a husky, I have a mountain Ker! She just turned 1 in August and is exactly 6 months older than my baby.. she has always done so well with him she interacts with him and even allows him to do just about anything to her (we don’t allow the baby to hurt her by pulling on her) . Baby and dog have never shown any signs of jealously until the past week or 2! Out of no where my dog has become very vocal and clingy when we are interacting with our son.. she has even started destroying his toys while we are sleeping. She isn’t a destructive dog generally! When I’m holding the baby she tries very hard to climb into my lap as well. When my husband has the baby and I’m talking to the baby the dog goes out of her way to get my attention a few examples would be: whining, barking, pushing me with her head or body, and running and jumping all over the room!
    I’m lost on what to do. My dog is part of my family! I love her like she is my child! I don’t understand why after 7 months she has changed her attitude so much!
    She has also became very protective of me.. I use to be able to take her out for walks with no issues she was always very friendly with other animals and strangers passing by.. but now any animal she sees she growls and,barks will even charge after them.. and if we are out and someone gets within her line of vision she will stand right in front of me literally on my feet and her hairs stand up as she is growing and barking at them!
    She is not the same dog she was a month ago..

    I’m not sure it this has a factor in it or not but she had puppies July 19.. we got rid of all 5 after she was done nursing them.. just figured I,would put that information in just in case it holds any relevance!

    So that’s my situation! If anyone could shed some light and help me I,would be very grateful

  12. Audrey J Cribb

    I have just adopted a husky that is 2 or 3 yrs of age and with me she has been great; however my daughter came to visit and has 2 dogs of her own and it is constant fighting
    I have only had my girl for 5 days and want her well mannered, can you assist with this? Thanks you

  13. I have a one year old aussiecollie (we think, he’s a rescue). My wife and I have been using positive training with him and he is so much better with other dogs now. People remain the issue. We live in an apartment which makes that difficult. He hates maintinence people and most people coming in our apartment or near the apartment building. He will not be aggressive to people walking by us but if someone stop to look at him or try and pet him, even if we stop to talk to someone he will start barking and lunging. We don’t want to use things like choke collars or ecollars but we want him to be under control. When we take him to my parents house or the dog park he loves people there. The problems mostly in the house.

    1. I’m having the exact same issues with my Aussiecollie mix and not having much help trying to fix it. We have used all sorts of trainers but he is so protective. I was wondering if you have any tips or have found anything that has worked.

  14. Hi, I have a 4 year old male Boxer. He was neutered as a puppy and has had no behavioural problems until a few months ago. He has started becoming very overly protective of me, he will literally follow me everywhere, I can’t even pee without him sniffing (almost huffing) under the door.. even if I just stand up he instantly becomes alert and moves to follow, it’s like he can’t relax unless I’m close by. He snarls, growls and lunges at people who come near me in public but he is totally fine when he’s alone with my husband on a walk etc. He’s very jealous of my husband, he makes bizarre whiny breathing noises when we are sitting on the sofa together and he isn’t allowed up and when I’m alone with him at home he is constantly growling at the door or making little woofing noises. He is generally well behaved, will go and sit in his bed when told etc but this behaviour is new to me and I’m not sure what triggered it but I’m guessing it’s me since that seems to be the focus of the negative stuff :/
    Any help or thoughts would be much appreciated!

  15. Sherry Garcia

    I have a 7 month old German Shepard.She is overly protective over my 13 year old daughter.She trys to fight any dog that comes near her or any unfamiliar person sometimes even family.She only listens to my daughter.What should I do?!?!

  16. Hi there! I have a 9 month old Siberian husky that all of a sudden started showing signs of aggression. He doesn’t let us touch him when he has food around him although He does eat from our hands when we give him food. He has begun to growl while eating and continually to do so afterwards. It’s like he’s in a pissed off mood that lasts for a while. I have read and researches abt this topic however what I need to know is what to do while this is taking place. As in while he is growling. What should I do?! Thanks :)

  17. Hello, I have a 4 1/2 yr old German Shepherd Mix whom we rescued 3 years ago. Izzy is very smart, loving and up until 8 months ago, very well trained. Back in Feb we adopted Braxton, a tripod so that she would have a little brother to play with during the day. After a few weeks, they were getting along just fine..we installed a doggie door so we can come and go as they please. They have a big fenced in back yard to run around and play in as well. Just recently she has started to be really aggressive towards the cat, has even snapped at her brother a few times as well. With our guests she is excessively licking their hands and legs and even nipping at their hands..jumping in the air to nip at their hands. Last night she was hugging up on a friend of ours, he was petting her…she slid down and rolled onto her back…then bit at him. When we walk them at Home Depot…people will always pet Braxton first. When they get to Izzy she will stand up on her back legs and nip at their hands. Is this jealousy and her being protective or her little brother?? I am so embarrassed at her behavior that I am scared to have people over or even take her out anymore. I will admit that my husband and I have gotten lazy with their walks and play time and even enforcing training. So i’m sure she’s frustrated and jealous. She does NOT like kids and never has…so I don’t even bother with that one. On a leash, I don’t DARE let another dog get in her face or she will lunge at them barking ferociously….then when they’re gone, her bottom jaw shakes and she looks terrified. After I yelled at her for trying to eat the cat, she backs away, jaw shaking. I just don’t know what to do. I love her so much and she’s such an awesome dog…her behavior is just so worrisome and I feel defeated.

  18. Sally St.Clair

    Six weeks ago, we adopted an almost three-year-old Malamute. He originally resource guarded any toys we gave him; I don’t think he’d ever gotten toys before. We’ve worked on him with that, and he no longer does that. However, in the last couple of weeks, he’s begun “protecting” me, but only if I fall asleep or appear to be resting (such as laying on the couch watching television). It has never happened outside; only in our living room and bedroom. He will growl and snarl at anyone who comes near me, including my husband. He respects me and listens when I give commands, so I do not think he thinks he is the alpha. His behavior towards others is getting worse. Do you have any advice? Thanks!

  19. I have a 10 month old Bernese/Golden mix. He’s a rescue and we’ve had him for 2 months. He was in a puppy mill and then on a farm. He has learned a lot in this time and we are very proud of him. He has one issue that started about a week after we got him. He does not like when people enter our home. At first it was men and now pretty much anybody. He is better when he is in our backyard when people enter. He is very inconsistent with his reactions to these situations. sometimes he growls, barks, lunges, mouthes, does nothing. Most of the people that come over are family or close friends, so not strangers. He is excellent with people and dogs at the leash free parks. He is very good with people and dogs walking in our neighbourhood on leash. The issue is when people come into our house. We’ve had some behavior therapy which has helped and are starting obedience training this week. I’m not sure which category he falls into but probably over-protectiveness or possessiveness. Any tips?

  20. Please help, I have a 1 year old border collie I’ve had her since a puppy, I take her with me everywhere but I’m an animal lover and when we are out on walks she is allowed off lead etc she is very well behaved except for when it comes to me looking at, touching or talking to other dogs she goes crazy and has even tried to snap once or twice, it has gotten to the point of I want to go near another dog I need to get someone else to take her away on the lead because I’m afraid she might do some damage to another dog, please help it can’t carry on like this but I have no idea what to do!

  21. Hi

    I have two dogs, a nearly 2 year old cockerpoo and a 1 year old cocker spaniel. Until recently they have been no problem at all, except the younger spaniel is fearful of other dogs on walks, more so when I am walking them than my partner. We have been going to a trainer to work on her confidence, however she has now become confident enough to growl at the older boy when he comes near me when I try to put him on lead for walks and sometimes around meal times.

    We have been advised by the dog trainer/behaviourist (natural dog training) to crate her if she does this to separate her from the situation for a short while, but at the instance of her growling, say she is right next to my legs and the cockerpoo is as well, how should I move myself?
    When i put her on her lead and she moves to a forward position and low level growling when I try and get him on the lead what should I do?

    I don’t know why she has suddenly become like this other than the increase in confidence, she has never been preferentially fed, or treated compared to the other, and they are currently both asleep cuddled up next to each other as I’m watching them on skype, I don’t think she is possessive of the dog walker when she comes either.

    They are fed at the same time, they don’t try and take each others food, but we have now started feeding them in their crates again.

    She is around 2nd fear stage in age as well, I am very stressed/upset by her recent behaviour towards him in the house, any thoughts/advice/similar stories which have a positive outcome would be most welcome as I am running myself into the ground worrying about this and I don’t want either of them to be unhappy.

    Of course one of the other problems is that whilst there is a multitude of information on the internet and in books, some of it is conflicting and for some specific situations that arise between the two dogs there is no exact guidance on what to do…..

  22. Maureen Stewart

    Hello, we have introduced an eight week sib into the home and our 15 month sib, after an initial period of jealousy has settled with new puppy. The issue is submissive dogs and puppies coming to close to HER baby. She became aggressive toward our puppy’s litter brother today and had to be removed. We’re completely at a loss as to what to do, so we’ve gone ‘back to basics’ back to the crate, off the couch, removal of toys and restablishing the pecking order. We’ve also changed to a different lead for walking as we were using a harness and realise this has been giving her too much power. Is there anything else we can do. she doesn’t resource guard, I don’t think she’s jelous but she is very dominant and we do have to be proactive about that

  23. I have a 2 year old pit bull and a 3 year old lab/pit bull mix. My fiancé and I have had the lab/pit mix for 3 years and the pit bull for about a year and a half. Over the last 6 months my pit bulls behavior has changed. She is extremely possessive over human attention to the point where is attacking my other dog when she tries to get any attention. She is especially possessive over me. I am worried about the safety of my other dog and I do not know what to do. Any advice would be wonderful. My fiancé wants to find her a home with no other dogs but I love my dog and do not want to give her to anyone else. I do not want to punish her for behavior I caused by not recognizing the possessive behavior before it turned into aggression.

  24. Hi,

    This is going to be long as I want to present the whole case. I have three dogs, a rot, a Fila and a Neo. Lost my Neo two years back and the very next day my husband got another Neo puppy. He was completely fine but the rot and fila wouldn’t play with because of a big age difference. The fila would try to nip him but we always protected him and the Rot would just growl and shoo him away whenever he would go near them. He only growled at them when his food was around. He was fine with people, a bit shy though.

    we got him at 2 months age. At exactly 7 months, when my husband and the Rot we’re going towards his room at night, he just growled and held on to the Rot who didn’t even react but was hurt. We separated them and it was fine. After a few days, a maid (who has has raised him since he arrived) rang the bell and came in, went to the kitchen and was heading out and he attacked her inflicting third degree bites. It was like he was possessed and no his eyes were not glazed.

    After that hat he tried attacking the fila when the fila was just chasing position in his sleep, but the fila overpowered him and pinned him down. This happend a couple of times and we then we see died to isolate him. For about 4 months all was ok. One day my husband and the Neo were in the room and the door was closed, the rot went up and came back but upon hearing th sound of the rot the Neo went stiff and wouldn’t respond to my husband. When my husband tried to open the door, he tried to run out but my husband blocked him with his leg and the Neo went ahead and inflicted a series of bites (not fatal) and after calling out his name many time he stopped. He was fine after like an hour and was in fact licking my husband’s wounds. We did not punish him ever for any attacks except calling him a “bad boy” which he is aware is said when he does something bad.

    two days ago, my fila had gone near Neo’s room, barkd and come down. After twenty minutes my husband went up and knocked on the door and my daughter opened the door and the moment my husband stepped in, he was badly attacked and now has a sever bite on the back of his hand and smaller ones his shoulder and legs.

    After that, he was growling and barking at my husband for whole day. Now he is again normal with him.

    We love the Neo, and do not want to euthanise him unless it be the only option. We are trying to understand if this is a medical condition (idiopathic aggression) or training / behavioural problem which can be corrected? Please help!!!

    1. It is absolutely terrifying that people like you own large, powerful dogs. You own a mastiff that has attacked a person THREE seperate times, by your own account, as well as other dogs, and you haven’t had him euthanized, or taken any kind of drastic action? You are beyond irresponsible. You are playing with the lives of all the people around you.

      People like you give owners of these breeds a bad name, and are directly responsible for breed-specific legislation and the needless deaths of thousands of innocent dogs.

    2. I’m not sure the thinking that goes behind not punishing a dog that gave THIER owner third degree biting wounds. It should be absolute priority to have him evaluated by the proper persons. The next time can absolutely be fatal! Your gambling with time here! You made mention of a maid so I’m assuming money isn’t a problem here, I think denial is!

  25. Hello! I had a problem with my husky Chaka the other week and I am looking for a piece of advice. Last week, a friend came to visit us and spent a few days over and he brought his 2 dogs with him. His dogs are lurchers and they are mother and daughter. The puppy is only 9 months old, but she is taller than Chaka and very energetic. My husky Chaka started to be very guarding over her food and toys and acting very jealous if we approached the lurcher puppy. When I enter the house and they came to greet me, I have seen Chaka acting suspiciously and she attacked the puppy. I had to go between them, I grabbed her by her collar and neck and dragged her outside in the back garden ( I really struggled to take her out as she was opposing and growling even at me). I left her there for a while and when we left her back in she wanted to attack the puppy again, but we all said no and she just lied on the floor with her head down. Now my question is where did we do wrong because we take our dog to obedience classes, we give her a lot of exercise every day, discipline walks, we even let her off the lead and she always follows and comes back. I think we have a very strong bond with her, she is very chilled around the house, she works for her food, she never steals food of the table, she never goes on the sofa and yes maybe now and then we give her a bit more affection and fuss, but that’s about it. So I’m trying to understand why she was so jealous over this dog. Do you think it might have something to do with the fact that the other dogs were mother and daughter and they had a special bond where Chaka was not part of it? Or maybe is cause we do give her that extra fuss sometimes? I could really use your opinion. Thank you! Roxana

  26. Unfortunately, Teresa, how a dog is trained is as important as the need for a dog to be trained. Unless the dog ( especially a dog who has been rehomed) is trained using consistent techniques that are uniformly applied by all members of the family, much of the effort of training will be lost.

    Dog do not generalize. For them the rule is always or never. When rules are not uniformly enforced, it only serves to confuse the dog about the expectations of behaviour. Rules that are only sometimes enforced turn into rules that NEVER apply to them.

    I suspect that there are many layers of issues going on here with this dog.

    One layer is that this dog is missing socialization skills to feel comfortable about knowing how to handle his interactions with other dogs. So he needs to learn proper social skills.

    Another layer is that since this dog did not have guidance in the first part of his life, he now believes that he makes the rules about his environment. The “protective” behaviour is not about protection, it is about domination. He is showing you that he dictates to YOU ( humans) about the social rules of the household. This is the lesson that he learned through a lack of training in his first home. And since retraining has not been done in a uniform consistent way, the dog really has not been taught any kind of new rules for behaviour.

    You and your husband need to have a meeting of the minds about what the rules of the household are and what the expectations for behaviour are for this dog otherwise no amount of hit and miss training will give this dog better behaviour. All the humans who live with this dog will have to make corrections in the same way and for the same reasons, each and every time or the dog will not understand what is expected of him and has no idea of how else to behave.

    The method for training need not be anything specific. As long as the training method revolves around positive and gentle training, showing the dog what you want him to do, and when you want him to do it, the rest of the “training” revolves around building and fostering a relationship bond with the dog. A dog does not respond to your cues because you have demanded that he do so. A dog responds to cues because you have demonstrated yourself to be a worthy leader. You have to earn their trust and their loyalty or they won’t follow you. You cannot build this bond through part-time training or through inconsistent leadership.

    But before any training can happen, you both have to be on the same page about it.

  27. I have a Jack Russel/Beagle and we think she has some pit in her as well that we rescued 2 years ago (she was 11 months when we rescued her). Since we got her she has always been aggressive towards other dogs and most children except she usually gets along with my other dog. The exception is when my husband is around. He gets very nervous about her biting my other dog and will not allow them to interact. Recently, it seems as though she is getting protective of my husband. He was in bed laying on his stomach and I reached over him to take her gentle leader after taking her outside (she was on the bed as well but is usually not allowed) and she barked at me, showed me her teeth and nipped at my leg. She also displays territorial behavior barking at everyone who walks by (and because of the layout of my house/neighborhood this is probably at least a half dozen times per day). I have been working with a trainer before the trainer got seriously ill. Desensitizing training is slow, difficult and embarrassing and I get so frustrated with all of her bad behaviors that even though I feel like I do a lot of work with her I know I’m not as consistent as I need to be. My question is, how important is it for my husband to be involved in the training? When she is in “code red” (barking, crying, very difficult to distract, etc.) mode he shouts commands at her like sit and never enforces that he actually eventually gets a sit, but this is really the only ‘training’ or ‘work’ he does with her (he also tries to teach her hand signals for commands she already knows). Also, where is a good place for him to start if he does need to be involved in her training (i.e. what is important for him to work on with her versus what can I do?) She is very smart and food motivated unless she is in “code red” mode and knows many commands when she is calm.

  28. My Husky is amazing with all people and all dogs outside of our home. BUT the second another dog enters our home she attacks. Even if she was just getting along with the dog seconds ago outside. What can I do?

    1. margitmaxwell

      Hannah, the behaviour your are describing is your dog being territorial. She is fine with others as long as they are on neutral territory but as soon as they enter “her” domain then she becomes aggressive and wants to defend it.

      Most territorial behaviour is related to a type of dominance because dogs who believe that they are entitled to own possessions see themselves as having an elevated social standing within the community unit. You can do an self inventory and see if you are unwittingly reinforcing her elevated social status by giving her signs that she is the “top dog” in the house.

      Things to try:

      Perhaps the problem is that she is just missing important aspects of socialization where she does not know how to deal with uncomfortable new situation so resorts attack. If it is, you the best thing to do is to help her by desensitizing her to the trigger and counter conditioning response to the trigger. Squeak and treat works well to redirect and hold her attention in the presence of a new dog or person.

      Things to try:

      1. My 3 year old american bulldog attacks anybody that comes into one of our bedrooms that we’re in. These are people who raused him. I just your article and I need to show him who the pa k leader is.

  29. margitmaxwell

    Jacki, the behaviours that you are describing to me are very common in Second Chance dogs. Many times dominant behaviours occur simply because the dog ( in its previous home ) was never given any guidelines for acceptable behaviour. This dog most likely is missing socialization so it really won’t know how to behave politely with other dogs. Quite often dogs that have not been socialized are tense or nervous when they meet other dogs at the park so they default to acting aggressively as a way of keeping themselves “safe” ( I will get you before you have a chance to attack me).

    Compliant dog behaviours only happen once you have been able to form a solid Relationship Bond with your dog. This takes time and patience. Dogs don’t live peacefully, cooperatively, and compliantly with humans because we MAKE them comply through force. Compliance through force yields temporary results at best. Dog’s willingly comply to our requests when we have forged a mutual trusting and respectful Relationship Bond with them. It won’t matter to a dog if you eat before they do. This really has nothing to do with strong leadership.

    You have your work cut out for you before your dog will see you and respect you as it’s leader.

    There are things you can do to help create this Relationship Bond. A great place to start is to practice Umbilical training daily. This helps to shift the mindset from ME to WE.

    Also, your dog probably has no idea about how to politely interact with other dogs so you will have to guide her behaviour. Here is where to start with socialization:

  30. jacki ramirez

    Hi I have a female recently spayed female that I rescued two months ago. She does not seem to like men bUt only some. She’s becomes overly protective of me growling at my bf or other male friends. How can I fix this? Is there something I am doing wrong? I try to be the ring leader eating first etc etc but I’m afraid I won’t be able to take her any where! She also likes to be alpha female and ms bossy pants at dog parks.

  31. margitmaxwell

    Melissa, you are very astute. You are doing exactly the right thing. It is far better to interrupt the behaviour rather than trying to deal with the fallout after the explosion happens. Not only is this the acceptable way to fix this behaviour, this is the BEST way to work on fixing this behaviour.

    As for why your dog does this only with some dogs, there is an answer to for this. Dogs are very skilled at reading body language and energy. When a dog approaches, your dog reads the energy and makes a decision as to whether or not this dog will be a “threat” to him him or not. My guess is that dogs that are fearful, anxious, lacking in social skills, or just pushy set off your dog. The cues that are sent are very subtle so to you they may be invisible, the look in the eyes, the set of the tail, the way the head is carried … these are all subtle communications of intent. But our dog sees these signals and boom … he reacts.

    Right now you have a reactive dog. He is young and he is still learning his place. So keep interrupting the cycle as early as possible. Show your dog what to do instead of how he wants to handle the situation. Continue reinforcing the message that it is NOT up to your dog to handle the situation with another dog. That job is YOURS alone. Demonstrate to him that you will keep him safe so there is no need for him to challenge the perceived “threat”.

    I am including a link to my article on Squeak and Treat. This is another method for redirecting attention. It sounds like you are already handling this situation but just in case, I am sending you the link anyway.

  32. margitmaxwell

    Melissa, there may be a few things going on here. First, it sounds like training has been understood to mean ” I only have to do it in a certain place ( at home). So the fix for that is to practice obedience training a a wide variety of places so the dog understands that compliance is mandatory where ever you are. If your young dog is acting like this only with other dogs then there may be some elements of socialization missing for this dog or your 1 year old is showing his dominance to other dogs. You never mentioned if your husky is intact or not. If he is, then testosterone is most certainly adding fuel to the dominance fire. When dogs feel that they should be able to exert their will over people or other dogs, this comes back to us needing to needing to develop strong leadership skills and developing a deep relationship bond with a dog. Both of these things take time. This dog is still young. It just means that you still have work to do with him.

    1. He is neutered, has been since about 5 months old. I’m just mystified as to why it’s only some dogs. It’s not like he’s picking submissive, insecure or dominant dogs to do this too, just dogs that aren’t ‘in his pack’. And he doesn’t do this to all new dogs. He’s perfectly accepting of some dogs that he just met, a select few he just loses his cool. I can read his body language quite well, he starts staring at the other dog (even if it’s not looking at him) then if it gets to close to what he feels is a treat meant for him he snaps. Would it be acceptable to correct this behavior when I see the warning stare down? This is what I have just started to do instead of correcting him after. Before I could read the warning signs my correction (after he got all snappy) was a firm “No!” Then I’d call him over. Now I call him over when I see him doing the stare down and give him praise when he comes. I just wish there was a way he would stop being such a crab ass with new dogs.

  33. My 1 year old husky has an issue with resource guarding only around unfamiliar dogs. At the dog park he will find balls (I know better than to bring any) and snap at any dog who tries to take it from him that isn’t in ‘his pack’ of 5-7 dogs. If other unfamiliar dogs come in I try to take the ball and throw it away in the trash before it becomes an issue but this doesn’t always work. He has at times snapped at other unfamiliar dogs over food as well. Recently someone was handing out treats at the park, all 5 dogs were in a sit and stay, 4 of the dogs were in ‘the pack’, the 5th dog got too close to my husky’s face and he snapped. How do I go about correcting this issue if he’s not doing this to humans or familiar dogs. He is not my only dog, I have another who is 8 months older than him. They both have to do tricks to earn all their treats. If I tell the dogs to get off the couch they get up and move. In the home I’m not experiencing any resistance, unless a new dog comes over and wants to play with the tennis ball.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top