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Common territorial/defensive aggression with resource guarding

Teddy’s owner graciously allowed me to share this email on Facebook, and my response because we agree that this is a common issue facing many dog owners:
Teddy is just over a year old and a very energetic and affectionate puppy. Recently, he has become aggressive towards my husband and me and the cats we have. He started showing his teeth towards anyone who got near him when he had his bone, but recently his aggression makes no sense. He snarled when I tried to take his collar off, when he was lifted off a bed, or when trying to see what he was chewing on in a corner. We learned early if you even look like you’re going to be physical with him, he only gets more aggressive. Verbal corrections are also met with snarls and growling. He’s a very sweet dog, I just don’t know what to do with these aggression issues.

My response:
Firstly, when behavioral issues start suddenly, or suddenly escalate, you always want to first rule out any underlying medical condition. Dogs, much like people, can be “grumpy” if they don’t feel well or are experiencing pain.
Secondly, has Teddy been neutered? If not, do so ASAP. 🙂 The older he gets, the less effective it is for behavior problems.

Here are some basic rules to deal with the type of aggression that it sounds like Teddy is exhibiting:
1. Off the bed and off the furniture (this won’t be forever);
2. No free feeding. He gets fed once a day (or twice if you want to split the amount in half and do a morning and evening feeding);
3. When you do feed him he must sit and wait before he gets his food;
4. This sounds gross I know, but spit in his food. Not a ton, just enough to get your (or your husband’s) scent on the food so he knows it’s yours;
5. No bones or treats unless he does something for it; i.e., a sit, or down is fine.

> Teddy must learn that all things come from the two of you and must be earned. Nothing in life is free, when it comes to training a dog, behavior modification, and behavior management. More to come on Teddy’s story after he begins classes!