If you live in a multi-dog household and you have a dominant dog (or more than one), a resource guarder, a territorial ninja or any in-fighting going on at all, I’d like you to think about something. Dogs have a natural instinct to guard coveted belongings (food, toys, bones, etc.) So, if you leave toys and bones out all over the place, you are setting your dogs up to get into arguments/fights over these coveted items. Just pick them up. Toys are for playing and training and you should be involved. We go out and buy all the cutest and most well advertised toys for our dogs and then we toss them in a basket full of other toys and allow our dogs to just get them as they please. This gives your dog the message that they are his possessions and he has the right to guard them.
There are dogs out there that are just fine with this, but if you are having trouble with your dog bossing you around or bossing another dog in your home around, why set the stage for a fight, either with you or another dog in the house?
The toys, bones, food, furniture and everything else the dog gets belong to YOU. No room for negotiation.
I was working with a dog today and there was one of those crunchy bones in the floor. The dog (a puppy) happily went to pick it up and the senior dog – who is much smaller – immediately went into attack mode to make the bigger dog put it down. He did, of course, but the older dog didn’t even want it. She was just reminding him that she was the boss. Of course, I had a nice chat with the owner and we decided that SHE would become the boss and neither one of the dogs could have her job.
All the toys and bones were picked up and put out of the dogs’ reach and “mom” was shown how to correct the bossy dog when she asserts that kind of control.
Positive training and behavior modification does not mean that you allow your dogs to run all over you or to run all over the rest of the pack.
You discipline your children, and you should discipline your dog(s). This doesn’t mean hurting them in any way. It means teaching them to respect you as the leader and to behave properly or there will be a consequence.