I frequently get asked for help by owners of Huskies, because their dogs have turned their households into a war zone. They lunge, snap, and snarl at their owners when they don’t want to comply with a given cue, they have become a menace in their community because they try to attack other dogs and people who approach them. They have become very untrustworthy because they try to control family members’ movements (other family dogs included).
These dogs have become little furry dictators “barking” out the orders to everyone. Dominant dictator dogs like to determine where they sleep, who comes and goes from the house, and even claimed ownership of all toys, food, and humans. Does this sound familiar? Has your dog turned into a jealous, over-protective tyrant who fiercely guards his possessions …. including YOU? Is this a problem? Yes, this is a severe problem.
Understanding How Dogs View Resources And Ownership
Before we attempt to “fix” this problem, it helps to understand the problem’s nature. In the dog world’s natural social order, it is perfectly reasonable and typical for a dog with social ranking to get “preferred access” to viewed and understood resources to be scarce or valuable. While this behaviour fits our human definition of resource guarding, within the context of a canine pack’s environment and societal rules, this behaviour is viewed neither as a problem nor an issue.
Only when this behaviour is removed from its original environment and placed into a foreign and incompatible environment does this behaviour become a problem. A dog that resource guards and manipulates humans to guard “his” property is a very volatile and dangerous dog in human society. But we humans have to understand that from a dog’s point of view, by resource guarding, he is not doing anything wrong or unnatural. Unfortunately, trying to convince a dog to stop natural behaviour can be a long and challenging process.
Stopping The Behaviour
We cannot fix a problem unless we understand it and how it was created. Albert Einstein wisely pointed out that a problem could not be fixed on the same level where it was first made. So that means that to improve the dog’s behaviour issues, owners must first recognise and define the problem, understand how this situation came to be, what part they played in its creation, and how they continue to reinforce the behaviour.
Then, owners commit to their dog and themselves to think, believe, act, and choose differently. If they do not, they only serve to continue nurturing the very behaviours that created this problem in the first place. Sadly, many owners are in complete denial about how they could have possibly contributed to this problem. No one is thrilled to hear that they created a mess (consciously or unconsciously) with their dog. While understanding why this happens is essential, it is equally important to focus on what you can do to fix this problem.
Defining These Issues
When it comes to these behavioural issues, jealousy, resource guarding, and over-protectiveness are not interchangeable terms. The basis for their existence is related and rooted in commonality, but they are separate issues. There is a point where these different issues do overlap and intersect with each other. At times this can make it challenging to know which behaviour issue you are dealing with.
The Jealous Dog
Can a dog be jealous? Yes, it can. As it applies to dogs, jealousy can be defined as envy or coveting something or someone (“You have it, and I want it” OR “You have it and I don’t like that you have it.”). Dogs can be jealous of new people or other dogs entering into “their” territory, home, or family unit. They can be jealous and demand your undivided attention if they feel that they do not have it or no longer have it.
Jealous dogs do feel like they should be the main focus of your attention because most likely at some point, they were initially the centre of all of your attention. If you lavished and indulged your dog with disproportionate amounts of constant attention and then you stopped for some reason, your dog now resents this. If you brought a new person or dog into the home that now also get your attention, your dog might show jealousy. The basis for this behaviour is rooted in Dominance and Resource Guarding, and the dog’s belief system that goes along with this situation is he believes that OWNS you, and no one else should have access to you.
The Over Protective Dog
Unless there is a real physical threat of danger, like a charging dog or an actual physical threat from a human, there is nothing in your environment that would require your dog to protect you. Generally, dogs that are believed to be Over Protective are actually displaying Dominant, Possessive, and Jealous behaviours. What these dogs are actually doing is Resource Guarding you.
When these dogs keep other dogs or people away from you, this is not done from feelings of great love or affection for you as much as it is done from guarding something they consider to be a valuable or scarce resource. In a nutshell, these dogs send a message to all interlopers to stay away from you because you are their PROPERTY and they “own” you. The thought shapes Their behaviour, “ I have this resource, and I am afraid that you will take it away from me” or “ This is mine, and I will not allow you take this resource away from me.”.
The Resource Guarding Dog
As already mentioned, in nature, it is perfectly natural and normal for a dominant dog to take and keep possession of items regarded as having high value without there needing to be a fight over it—the attention and affection of a human being considered by dogs to be a valuable resource. The UNDIVIDED attention and affection of a human become even more valuable to dogs (this overlaps into the area of Jealousy). While natural Resource Guarding may be considered a naturally occurring situation within wild dog packs, it should not be encouraged or allowed in the dynamics of human society or within the human family unit.
This Is Not Love
Sadly, many people really have a hard time coming to terms with the idea that their behaviours and choices have helped create this problem in their dogs. Countless people have made up epic stories of love, loyalty, and heroism displayed by their dogs to explain their behaviours. Worse yet, many people, while they admit that their dog’s “protective” behaviours cause them no end of problems, are still quick to reinforce the behaviours because they secretly are enamoured by or enjoy the idea of their dog protecting them out of a sense of great love or loyalty.
Some people thrive on the feeling of the special attention they get from their dogs. Unfortunately, this kind of attention is not healthy or balanced and unless it is corrected and re-balanced, will end badly for you both you and your dog. These guarding and aggressive behaviours will not remain contained in isolated situations and spread to other areas of your dog’s functioning. The reality is that dogs can respect you, be loyal toward you, and even “love you” without needing to keep everyone and everything away from you.
Resource Guarding, Jealousy, and Possessiveness have nothing to do with affection. This is an issue of being in an unbalanced relationship with your dog, where he does not see you or respect you as his leader. Instead of being respected as a leader, you have been relegated to a lower social rank, and you have been allocated to be one of your dog’s possessions.
Behavioural Signs That Your Dog May Be Possessive, Jealous, or Dominant
It is important to be able to interpret the signs of these behavioural issues. Many people misinterpret them and miss the signs. As a result, they do not realise the seriousness of their dog’s behaviours.
Situational Aggression against:
- Humans ( children, partners or guests).
- Other family dogs or pets.
- Approaching dogs.
Generalised aggression or guarding of:
- Food (resource guarding including empty bowls).
- Fear (fear causes him to resort to aggression automatically).
- Toys. (resource guarding)
- Furniture and sleeping places. ( resource guarding)
- Territorial aggression ( guards yard, house, crate against anyone entering his territory).
The dog also:
- Is overprotective, possessive, jealous or guards a particular human against other people or dogs.
- Has no respect or regard for other family members.
- Defies or rebels against cues issued by owners.
- Does not observe humans’ personal space by repeatedly jumping on them, climbing on them, stepping on them, pushing against them, or leaning hard on them to control them or their movements.
- Uses their body, muzzle, or teeth on humans to move them, herd them, or control their movements.
- Steals food off human’s plate, hands, or off counters surfaces.
- Tries to control people and his immediate environment by excessive whining, growling, snarling, snapping or biting.
- Uses demanding, pushy, or obnoxious behaviours to get his way.
- Marks his territory outside and inside the house using urine or faeces.
- Domination of humans and dogs by mounting them.
While it is true that all dogs can display one or two of these behaviours at one time or another, especially while they are young and still learning. Also, recently adopted dogs may be totally lacking in training and may also initially display these behaviours. But if you often see your dog displaying a number of these behaviours, you may well be dealing with a Jealous, Over-Protective, Possessive, and Guarding Husky.
Tomorrow, in part 2 of this article, I will be discussing how humans created these behaviours, how to fix the behaviours, and how to prevent these behaviours from ever happening. As always, we welcome your comments, questions, and stories regarding this topic. When we share our stories, we may well be helping someone struggling with their Snow Dog. Helping all Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.
18 thoughts on “The Jealous, Over-Protective and Possessive Husky”
Got my hus for 7 years now and she has shown me once her teeth and growth at me.. my reaction to it was showing her what happens next.. yes I did slapped her 1 time, grabbed her upper neck side and threw her on the ground and kept her on the ground..till she stayed still.. my next move was walking away and I ignored her for 2 whole days (ofcourse I did let her do her needs outside but when she was done we got straight home again)
Ofcourse it broke my heart
But I can tell you she has never done it again and so knows perfectly who’s boss and respect & loves & feels more bonded with me than she/we were before :)
My 6 month old husky has been showing signs of dominance towards other dogs. She is food aggressive only with the dogs, not with people. She also is possessive over her toys with the other dogs and not with people. I’ve been working with her while she is around the other family members dogs and she is slowly getting better. Recently though while around my 7 month old nephew she was acting strange. At first she would come to him and lick him, but when he would pull on her ear or hair she would put his hand in her mouth as if she was going to bite him. She didn’t bite him but she acted as if she wanted to. Each time she did this I reprimanded her and told her to be gentle. After I reprimanded her she then would just lick him, so she knew this was wrong. The issue then came that whenever the baby was moved to another person or to another room she would jump up and yip as close as possible to him, almost as if she was lunging/biting at the baby. It was very hard to tell if she was just trying to protect him or if she was being dominate over him. She never bit him because whenever she lunged I grabbed and pulled her back, but I’m worried in the future she might actually bite.
My little husky puppy (3 1/2 years of age) has gone through all 3 adult CGC (canine good behavior) courses is wonderful with children, human and oddly docile and calm (has been that way since we got her at 3 months of age). I am 28 years old and she has been with me since I started my 2nd undergraduate degree at 25. She was very well introduced as a puppy to the dog park, with us going every day for the first year or so.
So now that I’ve bragged on my puppy Kaia, she has one issue, she is sometimes possessive of toys (balls, bones, squeaky toys, you name the toy). I don’t understand why she is like this because she is such a loving animal. I understand the resource guarding but believe me she has plenty of toys. If we go to the dog park and people are playing fetch she is usually okay, but if the other dog is dominant (Kaia is most definitely a dominant dog) then a little fight breaks out and once it is broken up she feels bad about it (sulks and you can tell she feels bad). Not sure if her feeling bad is because I got mad at her for doing it or because she didn’t mean to? She has never harmed another dog, just little fights.
My girlfriend and I just got a 9 week old dachshund (super cute), and we did the proper introductions and everything by the book. Her and Kaia are already best friends after day 2. Kaia is crate trained and we are doing the same with Mia. Today, I wanted to see if introducing a bunch of toys to both of them would spark anything in Kaia. So, she ended up showing her teeth to the puppy when the puppy had a toy. I scolded Kaia, took the toys away and then she sulked for a bit. After a few minutes they went back to being best friends. I want Kaia to be able to share well with other dogs and I don’t want the toys to become an issue but want them to be able to both play with them. I don’t understand why she only does this with toys?
Well I have a 1 and 2month old Siberian husky and she is the best dog I’ve ever had.She is protective when she needs to be,loving and very respectful and careful around my family(I have 5 brothers and 1 sister),she is good around other animals such as other dogs and cats also small animals,she listens really good and is very alarming.We have a Chocolate lab,Pitbull,Great Dane,4 cats,2 rabbits and 1 Guinea pig and they all get along.she is very calm and we did very little training on her.She is very affectionate and her name is Sheerah.we have a very big back yard and she goes in and outside.We all love her and is a very big part of our family.Hope this helped!
You husky is just barley over a year and she is doing all of the above, how do we stop this behavior, I don’t want to give her away we have a grand baby boy that is soon to be visiting us very often, I don’t want it to be an issue, our husky “Maggie” just started this behavior bout 3 months ago, when I started her training classes she was doing great, but when we gotten closer to the end of her class she would start wanting to attack other dogs for no reason as soon as she saw a dog in her sight,
The second part to the above mentioned article contains all the information about what you can do to fix these behaviours. The most important thing is to identify WHY your dog is doing these behaviours. This behaviour is related to issues of dominance. Without being able to see the dog or how you handle the dog I can only guess at the underlying causes for this behaviour but the most common reasons are:
The owner has not stepped up and demonstrated strong leadership skills that is needed with this breed of dog.
The owner does not recognize many of the accompanying dominant behaviours and does not correct the dog’s behaviour in a way that is meaningful for the dog.
The dog is a young dog, not spayed or neutered, so some of their behaviour in part is caused by high sex hormone fueled behaviour.
The dog is on a poor diet full of cheap carbohydrates, artificial preservatives, and added food dyes.
If any of these reason apply in your case then by addressing these issues, it will go a long way towards addressing the behaviours of your dog.
And if you did not read part 2 of this series, here is the link for it :
Thank you! My two male Siberians are driving me crazy. The 6 yr old is food, toy, and people aggressive. My 3 yr old is territorial aggressive. He goes nuts when people and other dogs walk by the house.
Kris, I will be posting part 2 to this article today. It contains specific work arounds to help bring this situation back into balance.
My lab is very protective of me and my boyfriend. She won’t let any other dogs near us on walks. Plus she barks and growls when strangers come to the house.
Lea, without knowing any other specifics about the dog, like the age of the dog, how long you have owned him, what kind of training you have done with him, or whether she is fixed or not, it sounds like you have yet to establish yourselves as a strong leaders with this dog. I am including a link to an article talks about ways that you can help establish a strong relationship bond with your dog. https://www.snowdog.guru/using-the-umbilical-to-establish-leadership-with-your-husky/
Lots of behaviour issues tend to happen when you have two dogs together as puppies. Not usually recommended because they focus on each other and that becomes their primary bonded relationship. While guarding issues are somewhat normal in young dogs, they definitely need to be stopped. They cannot “own” anything. Dogs that own nothing have nothing to guard and nothing to fear losing.
Looking forward to part 2. My 8 month old sib/mal is aggressive and guarding when it comes to his sister. We got them a week apart when he was 8 weeks old and she was 9 weeks old so everything is still his since he was there first.
very well done.
My foster malamute Beau whom I’ve only had for 7weeks, (was badly abused and kept muzzled 24/7 by previous owners), came to me with most of the above traits and I’ve been working on him for a while now, and I’m pleased to say that I have basically turned him around, he still has a few issues left as he gets very anxious in crowded spaces, but with the help of a clicker and some treats and positive reinforcement training, he is much better. when I got him I couldn’t get near him, or get him to do anything, but now he is a wonderful soppy boy and is now even saying hello to strangers, doing what is asked of him and is getting on really well with my teenagers and all of my dogs. :-)
My husky girl do just this one, from time to time: “Tries to control ME by excessive whining, growling, snarling, snapping or biting”, but she is totally fine with my husband and other people. She 1,5 years old, and we treat her like a princess. I’m not sure how to correct that behaviour, and what category she’s at…
These behaviours you describe are controlling behaviours. In part 2 of this article I talk about what happens when you treat a dog like a prince or princess.
I am currently experiencing this with my male 2 year old malamute after introducing a female malamute puppy. He is resource guarding/being possessive over every aspect of his being, his space, toys, food, myself, our yard, attention from visitors, doorways, his choices (e.g not following commands)… Everything. I imagine he would guard the breath he breaths out if he could. Im so relived to find this article.
part 2 to the article on the way
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