Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

Puppy becomes possessive over toys in crate just today

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Jessica Holscher, Sep 21, 2018.


  1. Jessica Holscher

    Jessica Holscher PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    3
    Just today my 11 month old blue heeler mix Winston became aggressive over any toy or object in his crate. He hasn't been possessive before and I've always been able to easily take toys from him in his crate. Now when I try to, he snarls, growls, snaps, and lunges aggressively. He ran into his crate with his sister's toy and had a fit when I tried to remove it from him in his crate. He's done this twice today. However, outside he crate he releases toys and food without thought. What can I do? I've tried trading him for the item but he hunches in his crate and will eat the food while protecting whatever it is that he's pulled into his crate. As I said, literally yesterday I took a fresh marrow bone away from him in his crate and today I can't even take a sock out of his crate without him nearly biting me. He is un-neutered as well but we are fixing him next month.
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    7,414
    Likes Received:
    14,953
    I would suggest you don't try. Unless the item is inherently dangerous (so that involves management, making sure he cant get anything risky in the first place) just let him keep it.

    Imagine you were in a lovely restaurant eating your favourite meal; or you had found that one perfect pair of shoes in your size in a sale at a knock down price, and you believed someone was trying to take them away - you would react too! The harder you try to take his prized possession, the harder he will guard it so you trying to remove it can only go one way and it's not a good one.

    You said it's his sister's toy, if they live together you might need to be aware that toys can create flashpoints so you may need to keep toys away while you are not actually engaged in play, and play with the two dogs separately.

    And it may or may not be relevant but could his sister be coming into season?
     
  3. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    Messages:
    15,268
    Likes Received:
    6,963
    If you're regularly taking things from him out of his crate that's probably what's triggered this. He's maturing and become a teenager which won't help either but it's not something he'll grow out of. Nor is it something neutering will fix.

    If my dog has something in the crate that I want and is showing signs of being possessive (rare these days but early on it was common) I call him out of there, drop a handful of treats on the floor in another room and then go and remove the item. Trading has to be taught with swapping low value items they have for really high ones and working up to high value ones. There's no way mine would have happily given up a sock he had in his crate in the early days, now he'd bring it to me simply because I asked and there's a long history of giving things up being highly rewarding.
     
    Burrowzig, tabelmabel, O2.0 and 4 others like this.
  4. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2016
    Messages:
    4,825
    Likes Received:
    14,550
    Yup, I agree with the above. The big clue is where you say that yesterday you took a fresh marrow bone away from him and now he is guarding stuff. If you were enjoying an ice cream on a bench and someone came over and snatched it off you then the next time you were enjoying an ice cream on a bench and someone came near you I imagine you would be pretty defensive. Same concept.
     
  5. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    20,479
    Likes Received:
    27,293
    Repeatedly taking things from them, especially high value things such as bones, actually drives them to guard, unfortunately.

    Avoid situations where he gets something he shouldn’t and don’t leave toys out. Separate him when having treats/bone/meals and leave him in total peace to finish.

    Do as described by others - either swap for something better or divert him somewhere else and remove the item and put it away.

    If he learns that nobody is interested in what he has and won’t take it away, he should be less likely to be anxious about it.

    Never tell him off for growling but listen to him telling you he is feeling anxious and remove the pressure.
     
  6. Jessica Holscher

    Jessica Holscher PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    3

    It started with his sister's toy yesterday, her favorite toy, which is an item I don't usually let him have since it's a stuffed animal and he'll tear it up, so he especially knew he shouldn't have it. Ever since he was a pup he hasn't cared at all about removing items from his crate and somehow this triggered it yesterday, like I said even though I removed a fresh marrow bone from his crate once he was done with it. Then last night it happened for a second time with a sock. He releases without issue and happily outside his crate and has no possession over even his food so it was really weird. I've made an appointment with my vet to get him fixed. The vet thinks it's that hes becoming sexually mature. His sister is spayed. They've always shared toys without issue except for this one toy which is Aida's favorite so I don't let Winston play with it. My female Aida is very submissive and will share anything but this particular toy she loves to snuggle with and I didn't want my pup winston to ruin it. I'm keeping his crate shut during the day so he can't run into it with items cause he's totally fine as long as he's not in the crate.
     
  7. Jessica Holscher

    Jessica Holscher PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    3
    I think you're right that he's maturing! He'll be a year old in November. My vet recommends waiting till medium size dogs are a year old to neuter, so now it's neutering time. That's a great idea about the trade! Would you recommend doing that as like a training session or only when the situation arises? My female Aida (4 years old) has never been possessive ever so this is all new to me! Thank everyone so much for their help!!!
     
  8. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    7,414
    Likes Received:
    14,953
    I would do two things then. I would lift Aida's toy and have it away so he cannot get it, and I would absolutely stop trying to take anything from him as he is learning to guard things and you really don't want this to become an issue.
     
    Jessica Holscher likes this.
  9. Jessica Holscher

    Jessica Holscher PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    3

    I thought that taking things from them was the way you encourage them not to be possessive? I separate him and my female by a gate when they eat or have a marrow bone. They've always shared so well so when I bring a new toy home I let them both play with it but maybe shouldn't do that anymore? I definitely responded incorrectly the first time by being frustrated with him and telling him no when he was growling with her toy, so maybe that created the situation to happen again later that night with the sock because he felt like I was challenging him for the item.
     
  10. Jessica Holscher

    Jessica Holscher PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    3
    Will do! Her toy is pretty much always away so he can't get it but he snagged it off the dining table. I'll make sure to stop taking things from him. Good advice!
     
  11. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    7,414
    Likes Received:
    14,953
    No, the opposite. The more you try to take things, the harder he will guard them. Look at the examples we gave above like the shoes, the ice cream and the meal. Try to think the way he does and remember that to a dog possession is 10/10ths of the law.
     
  12. Jessica Holscher

    Jessica Holscher PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    3
    Ughhhhhh I've been removing items from him since he was a pup!!! He does the "drop" command really well! Outside his crate that is. I give both of them marrow bones separately to chew on to clean their teeth. He lies on his bed while chewing it, like he is right now. I'm sitting next to him and he's totally unconcerned, let's me pet him. The possession seems confined to the crate, but should I trade him for the bone when it's time for him to be done with it instead of just removing it like I usually do? I refreeze them and they'll keep chewing them as long as I let them so I have to cut it off at some point.
     
  13. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    7,414
    Likes Received:
    14,953
    Drop and leave are very useful because there will always be times when they get something that poses a risk and you need to ask for it, with a swap if necessary. I am guessing when you take his bone it's when he has left it to do something else, as opposed to while he is having a good chew at it? If so that's fine, you aren't prising it from his jaws. If you are taking it away while he is actually gnawing it then I would stop - he may only be guarding toys now but you don't want it to escalate. Instead you could do some of the things suggested like scatter some high value treats elsewhere and lift the bone while he is scoffing them.
     
    Lurcherlad and Jessica Holscher like this.
  14. Jessica Holscher

    Jessica Holscher PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    3
    I've taken it from him while he's eating it before but usually he becomes less interested and I pick it up then, but definitely have taken it before when's he's still chewing it but he has released it no problem in the past. I don't think he's concerned about having things taken from him too much outside his crate YET. He's a few inches from me right now facing me chewing his bone happily, hasn't turned his back or anything to avoid me or protect his bone but I don't want this crate thing to escalate into all the time so I will stop doing that so it doesn't escalate: either wait till he's left it or swap him for treats. Thank you so much for your help! He's such a sweetheart and it really freaked me out. He's the most happy go lucky boy. He specifically ran into his crate to hide those two items: Aida's toy and the sock so I should have realized how possessive he was being over them and not made the situation worse by trying to remove them. Always learning! And hopefully catching this thing to nip it in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue.

    Should I be doing the same with his sister with trading her for things? She's super submissive and sweet and never shown possession a day in her life. She'll even spit food out for her brother if he comes around lol. She's a mastiff mix and such a gentle giant
     
  15. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    7,414
    Likes Received:
    14,953
    If your girl shows no signs i wouldnt worry too much but a swap is always going to be a better outcome for any dog or person than a take :)
     
    Lurcherlad and Jessica Holscher like this.
  16. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Messages:
    3,881
    Likes Received:
    11,136
    @Jessica Holscher at 11 months your dog is not a puppy, he's a juvenile (teenage) dog who is going to start being less tolerant.

    You may have accidentally sensitized him to your presence around resources instead of desensitizing him. Sensitization is when the annoying thing becomes progressively more and more annoying through repeated exposure (think a faucet dripping that gets more and more annoying).
    Desensitization is the opposite. But it requires pairing the annoying thing with something pleasant, so you don't just take the resource away, you pair taking the resource away with something very pleasant - more pleasant than the dog considers the resource. This is often hard to do so it makes sense to just allow the dog to keep the resource and don't take it unless it's dangerous for the dog to have. So, like with bones, let the dog keep it until he tires of it, walks away, then take it and re-freeze it (preferably without him noticing that you took it).
    By keeping him from becoming sensitized, if there is an emergency and he has something he shouldn't you should be able to take it without incident. You're past that point now, so you will have to take steps to rehabilitate him to trusting you around things he cares about keeping.

    Drop is for sure an important cue. Check out this video for how to teach it with a dog who has already learned to guard:
    Notice how it starts with the dog not having any resource at all - this is because the trainer is trying to DEsensitize the dog and not having a resource makes it easier to pair a positive emotional response with the cue "drop"


    There is a sticky thread on resource guarding too, I'd suggest reading it :)
     
  17. Jessica Holscher

    Jessica Holscher PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    3
    SO helpful thank you!!! You're also right that he's become an adolescent now and will be less tolerant from now on. He can be a very "greedy" dog in that he wants whatever he has AND also whatever his sister has. She willingly gives it up to him but its definitely something I've noticed increasing with him. He's very sweet but has a selfish streak I've noticed, which I'll just have to learn to work with and it's new territory for me since his sister is very laid back.

    I was being intentional about removing items from him on a regular basis (but then returning them to him) thinking I was helping him to know that things being taken away isn't a big deal but ughhhh sounds like I've been doing the exact opposite! Thank you for the suggestions and the video. I'm gonna take a look at it and implement the advice in this forum as well. For today, he's still chewing on his marrow bone (he can go for hours, which is fine as long as I don't have anywhere to go and I don't today fortunately. It's good for his teeth.) so I'll let him have it till he tires of it and then remove it without him seeing. I joke that he has ADD so he's actually not very difficult to distract or swap with since he's always interested in new items so I think this will be a very effective technique with him. He loves food so I think I'll get a special bag of treats that's only used as a trade for his item as well as a special toy that's used as a swap as well. I was planning to switch them both to a raw food diet for health purposes but am uncertain about doing that now, as raw food is so much more primal and I don't know if that will trigger even more possessiveness. So far he shows no possession over his food whatsoever but he's growing up and things can change
     
    Burrowzig, O2.0 and JoanneF like this.
  18. Jessica Holscher

    Jessica Holscher PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    3
    That video is GOLD! I'm going to start doing that with him!!!!!
     
  19. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    16,837
    Likes Received:
    9,498
    More likely he DID care but didn't have the confidence to make that clear to you. Now the testosterone has kicked in, it's a different story.
     
    Lurcherlad, Sairy and JoanneF like this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice