Dogs are considered as man’s best friend, however, at times, when it comes to dog aggression, they can quickly turn into our worst enemy if not corrected. The form of aggression we’ll be talking about in this article is possessive aggression in dogs which sounds more ominous than it actually is! In fact, possessive aggression in dogs can actually be some of the most misunderstood canine behaviour that generates a host of other behaviours that are often incorrectly attributed to dominance or lack of leadership on the part of the owner.
What is possessive aggression in dogs?
Possessive aggression in dogs is a term used to describe a type of aggression that involves an aggressive dog protecting something that the owner has deemed as worth defending from an attacker.
However, what does possessive aggression actually imply? Well, in order to understand that it is best we take a look at some of the other terms that are often used in the context of aggressive dog behaviour.
Some of these terms include:
Dominance – Dominance in dogs is a term used to describe showing confidence and acting with confidence towards both other dogs and people
Aggression – Aggression can be defined as the deliberate use of physical force by a dog to achieve its purpose or goals. In other words, an aggressive dog will be more inclined to use physical force than one that is not.
Leadership – Leadership describes how a dog acts within its pack and how it behaves when it has command over another dog (e.g. who is alpha
Dominance – This is a term often used to describe how a dog reacts to other dogs. As you may or may not know, dominance is the term used to describe a dog’s level of confidence in its own abilities and it is more commonly used amongst dogs that are interacting with other dogs
Possessive aggression in dogs – possessive aggression in dogs can be defined as the act of protecting something of value from an attacker. An example of this may include a dog being protective of his bone or food on his own terms (this would fall under possessive aggression in dogs) from another dog that tries to take it from him.
In fact, the term possessive aggression is often used to describe an aggressive dog’s behaviour towards both people and other dogs. However, to simplify things we will be talking about this as it relates to dogs and how they may behave around their food, toys, or anything else that may qualify as something a dog deems as ‘valuable’.
When do aggressive dogs use possessive aggression?
The truth is that any dog can show possessive aggression in dogs. The only thing a dog needs is something valuable to it (something it deems worthy of defending) and an attacker that tries to take this from then. At the same time, some breeds are more inclined to show aggressive behaviour towards others especially over food or their own belongings.
The truth is that possessing aggressive dogs is only to be expected when a dog feels that something of theirs (even if it does not belong to them) is being threatened by another. If they feel that their bone or toy has been taken away from them, for example, they will see it as an attack against their property and they will naturally be more inclined to protect it. In this case, a dog showing possessive aggression in dogs will make an attempt to take possession of what has been stolen from him or her and in most cases, this will lead to the attacker being punished.
When should someone intervene?
Fortunately, except for some rare instances, the act of possessive aggression in dogs is usually limited to their attempts to keep their stuff from being stolen by another dog. So, when a dog is showing possessive aggression in dogs (‘possessive’ meaning aggressive behaviour over property) then a human may not necessarily have to intervene.
However, as soon as a dog starts showing signs of aggression towards any human being then it may be necessary to step in and try and calm the situation. In this case, a human will have to intervene in order to ensure that the dog does not get violent and injure the human.
How can people prevent possessive aggression in dogs?
Without a doubt, the best thing that a dog owner can do when it comes to preventative measures on their own part is to provide them with plenty of things for them to play with that are their own. By doing this they will be able to expend their pent-up energy on something more productive than trying to take something from another dog and this will reduce the chances of them acting possessively aggressive over something valuable.
Another way that a dog owner can help prevent possessive behaviour in dogs is to give them toys and bones that they can call their own. This occurs very often when a family brings home a new baby or toddler. By doing this, you will be able to stop your dog from feeling threatened when it comes to the toddler or your new-born baby and it will improve the chances of them acting aggressively.
Should I use punishment methods?
No, and fortunately, punishment does not work all that well. Not only that, Fayie will never recommend any methods or guides that will harm or put your pets at harm’s way. It’s simply unethical and unnecessary.
Dogs that show possessive aggressive behaviour in dogs will usually respond to positive reinforcement better and this means that you will have to reward them with love, treats and affection when they play well together.
This is the best way for you to show them that you approve of their behaviour and that it is more of an acceptable way of dealing with things.
So, if your dog does start showing some signs of possessive aggression in dogs then it may be necessary for you to give him some extra attention or by playing with him more often. This way you will be able to distract them from their possessive nature and channel it into some play time by giving them something else to be obsessed about.
In doing so, you will help your dog accept this new toy or any other type of good that he may desire in the future. This way, they can understand that they should not feel so threatened when it comes to things that are valued more by others than themselves.
When is it time to take them for professional help?
If you are struggling to deal with possessive aggressive behaviour in dogs, then it is always a good idea to seek professional help from someone who knows what they are doing. The best thing you can do is to consult a vet or behaviourist as soon as possible. This way, you will be able to find out how severe the issue is and what type of professional help would be most effective for your dog.
There are some cases whereby a dog will react aggressively to anything new that comes into its life and in these cases a vet or behaviourist can help you by giving you some advice on how to deal with the problem.
It is also important to remember that any kind of dog aggression is not something that you should try and handle alone as it can cause serious harm to your pet and other people in your household. In addition, it can be very dangerous for children or animals so you will have to act quickly before things get out of hand.
Do not live in fear that your dog will attack someone when you are not around to stop them because by spending some time with them and using the right training methods, it should be very easy for you to solve any problems they may have in this area.
If you are dedicated to changing your dog’s actions, then I’m confident that you’ll be able work through the issues with your dog and bring together a closer relationship.