Oh yes they do … and I usually know my bad little puppies are settling in to their homes a little too well when I don’t hear from adopters for a few days in a row!

Some puppies discover that they don’t have to do what they are asked (for example they may pull on a lead, they may not come when called). They may decide that in their sweet new life they should be the ones controlling resources.

Theorique didn’t get rawhides here (Sally is dreadfully allergic to beef so no beef of any sort even gets in the door for the dogs). At one of her puppy sitters recently she had a rawhide and got growly with it! I was SHOCKED when told she was “still” possessive  as she had never been possessive here but on reflection realized it’s happened before and will again I’m sure. Smart good puppies test boundaries! So if you find yourself in this situation this may help…

This is a behaviour that can escalate to other toys, or even meals so it’s something to address with your dog early on in a positive way. (Lots of traditional trainers have methods for dealing with this too -but they are force based and can both destroy your relationship with your dog and be dangerous!)

It’s easiest to understand the basic method (in my opinion) as it applies to meal times. The best resource I have ever seen on this is Jean Donaldson’s book Mine. If you are struggling with the issue or working with a tough case it would be a good investment! My short -prevent little problems becoming bigger version of her protocol is below -but I have actually worked with her book open step by step with at least two head cases! If you aren’t experienced please do not work through true aggression around resources by yourself. Get a pro to help you!


If all your pooch does is stiffen  or eat faster when you are near this will help them too!

Give your pooch his or her kibble meal. (If you feed home prepared-give them the most boring part of the meal) Drop super tasty food (roast beef, chicken, yummy stinky treats from the store whatever your dog will love) into the bowl in small amounts. Use a big bowl so you don’t have to aim too closely.  Repeat over at least 3 meals – more if you need to. Repeat several times through the meal.

Meal 4 (or more) start the same way but get closer to the bowl before dropping treat – pooch may decide to not eat kibble and wait for the good stuff. That just means things are going well and you can move on. Once your hand is actually in the bowl to drop in the treat (and I’ll be honest here -with crazy Fitz I used kibble only and took 2 weeks to get to this point) pick up the bowl and put the goody in the bowl then return the bowl to the floor. If there are other people who can play this game so much the better -and don’t forget to keep working on new things if you are doing this as a preventative thing – new bowls, new locations! This is not a bad game to play throughout a pooch’s life. Brody thinks it’s a great game to this day. I also play a variation of this game that starts with just one or two pieces of kibble then add kibble to the bowl. 

Toys are similar -some dogs value some toys very highly. We trade for better toys and delicious food regularly around here.  That is say Sampson has a Kong (his number ONE thing in the world). I offer him something tasty; swap it for the Kong then give the Kong back. Or say he has a rope toy – I might swap him the rope toy for a Kong as a special treat. He will now swap my back for the rope but that took quite a bit of work! A little backsliding happens with toys sometimes – perhaps there is a new toy or the dog discovers a new way to play -don’t stress just repeat the game. Swap, return, swap, return, swap replace with something else. 

No Kong handy? Sampson can find great joy in any toy!

Yelling, using “NO”, taking the toy by force or not following through on the trade (or treat) are all counter to this process. They increase stress and can convince pooch there is something SERIOUS worth guarding! It’s a game… as you may know if you’ve read my posts before I enjoy my dogs no matter if we are training, walking or lounging -life with them is about playing and keeping it fun for us all -no matter what skill we are working on!