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Aggression with toys

February 8th, 2005, 10:16 AM
Belle has always been aggressive with her toys. It seems to be getting worse lately. If she is playing with a toy and anyone touches it, she will start to growl. She went so far one day as to put her teeth on my hand. No pressure but she seemed to be warning me. I did a quick "dont you ever bite me" in a mean type voice. She nipped at the bf last night when he tried to play with her. We dont back down from her, but when she catches us off guard we flinch, its natural. Im afraid we are encouraging this behavior by flinching. What should we be doing to teach her not to do that. I dont want this to get any worse. She has never been aggressive with food, if anyone goes near her when shes eating, she will leave and come back later when no one is around.

Lucky Rescue
February 8th, 2005, 10:26 AM
Ian Dunbar has this advice for possessiveness over toys:

"Practice taking away bones, toys and other objects from a dog before the inevitable incident with that essential floppy disk or aromatic TV dinner. Offer the dog a boring toy, something not a favorite. Once the dog has grudgingly accepted the toy, say, "Thank you," offer a tasty treat with one hand and take the toy with the other. Once the dog has eaten the treat, give back the toy, saying "Take it."

Repeat this with more valued objects, such as balls, squeakies, and Kongs, moving up to very valued objects, bones. When working with more highly valued objects, the attractiveness of the treats must increase accordingly, so that no matter how valuable the object the dog has in its jaws, you always have more valuable and tastier treats in you paws. A dog must develop the confidence that giving up a valued toy of bone does not necessarily mean i's the last of it he ever sees. On the contrary, the dog learns, "Thank you," means the owner wants to look after the dog's toy (how considerate!) while the dog eats the tasty treat (how generous!) and then, the owner wants to return the dog's toy (how honorable!)

Now, of course, Ms. Malamute might muse, "How incredibly and utterly stupid! The owner swaps a moth-eaten old tennis ball for a liver treat, and then the dummy gives it back to me! Boy he's stupid, but I love sharing!"

February 8th, 2005, 10:35 AM
I would like the dog to understand that all things belong to the humans and we share with them because they have good manners and we love them.
We teach this by doing the 'drop' and 'take it' game.
Teaching 'drop it' and 'take it' is one of the very first things we teach. It is a matter of respect when it comes to dropping things to you on command. He needs to learn that all things belong to you - even if he found them first.
First, put your dog on the leash (for control) then get a stick or stiff toy at least 6 inches long - not a soft toy he can get a grip on or food he can break off and swallow. Start with an object that doesn't have high value to him and work towards an object that does have high value. Food will probably be the toughest challenge as it is easy for him to just swallow it and win.
Offer it to your dog and say 'take it' in a happy tone. let him chew on it for 15 seconds - do not let go of the item. Say 'drop it' short, sharp and firm in tone. Almost startle him with the command as you point quickly at the item and his nose. The startle alone should impress him. If he lets go then praise him and gently stroke his face and head. If he does not let go - ask again and vibrate the item in his mouth moving towards the back of his mouth. This should be strong enough to make him want to let go, but not so strong to hurt him. When he releases be very pleased and praise & pet.
Repeat this - holding the item and sharing it with your dog for longer times each round. As he gives willingly then allow the item to be his for just a few seconds, keeping your hand close by and then move your hand in and ask him to 'drop it'. Again increasing times until it can be his for five minutes and he still drops it nicely to you. Working him in his normal obedience commands just before you do this can help. It places him a submissive role and makes him more agreeable over all and ready to be more cooperative.
Practice a lot when you are just hanging around the house - get him to drop dozens of things throughout the day, don't wait to teach it when you need it.
I would take his most beloved toys/bones up and only bring them out to play the game.

February 8th, 2005, 10:44 AM
Thanks LuckyRescue and Tenderfoot. We will start tonight!!

February 8th, 2005, 07:00 PM
Great advice from LuckyRescue and tenderfoot. My girl dog, 5 1/2 can be quite protective of her stuff, so we do practice often. Especially if it is a nice bone that she really, really wants. She used to be very begrudging, but with some insistence she learned it is ok to give it up. She might get it back right away.....maybe later.

Make sure you are calm and sure when you do it, it not your dog will know.