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Thread: dog becoming possessive/protective of one owner

  1. #1

    dog becoming possessive/protective of one owner


    My girlfriend and I adopted a 6 yo lab mix about 6 months ago. He is generally a very sweet and affectionate dog, however last week he was laying on the bed next to me, and when she leaned over him, he growled and curled up his lip slightly. She leaned over again, and he snapped at her (did not bite, but it scared her). He is around both of us all the time, but I've noticed he follows me around much more often, and even if he is sitting with her he often stares at me. He is typically fine with her other than this one incident, he will lick her face and generally be affectionate. It seems like it's only when I am around that he becomes possessive. I want her to feel safe around him, he is technically her dog afterall. But I do most of the walking, and am the one to take him outside morning and evening. I suggested to her that she start taking him on long walks to bond, since he doesn't seem to view her as the "alpha". Any other suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    You've almost amswered your own question - you say that you do most of the feeding, walking etc. for the dog. That would make him think you are his owner. I would step back and let your friend do all the feeding, walking, brushing and most of all she should join an obedience class with him to help her regain control and bonding with the dog. Don't stop being the dog's friend but make sure he associates the important things in his life with your friend.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Northern California
    Okay, here's an honest question, and I'm not trying to sound pedantic or anything, but why on earth did your girlfriend continue to lean over after the dog had already growled??? I can understand why you're concerned, but try to see it from the dog's point of view. He's obviously uncomfortable with somebody leaning over him. He growls to warn that person. The warning is not heeded. Of course, he's going to bite.

    First things first: Many dogs (even the most submissive ones) do not enjoy being leaned over, *especially* new dogs. New dogs HATE being leaned over. They're already trying to adjust to a new situation. Being leaned over just adds a whole 'nother element of stress. So, for now, avoid leaning over or doing other threatening movements towards him (i.e. grab of the head/neck).

    As well, right now would be an excellent time to initiate NILIF, or Nothing in Life is Free:

    So now you know what you have to do. But if you do ever find yourself in this situation again, teach the dog "Off". If he growls, tell him to get off the furniture. Do NOT grab his neck/collar. If you must physically remove him, clip a leash onto him. In my house, new dogs do not get furniture privileges until they've learned the command "Off". This stops any unnecessary guarding.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Giselle View Post
    Okay, here's an honest question, and I'm not trying to sound pedantic or anything, but why on earth did your girlfriend continue to lean over after the dog had already growled???
    this was my fault. He will make growling noises sometimes when I play wrestle with him, so I assumed he wasn't seriously growling and told her to try again...very stupid, I know. I've stopped the wresting/rough play with him, so as not to encourage aggressive behavior.

    As I've said, he's a really, really friendly dog even with strangers so it was very surprising. But I agree, I should have told her to back off. I've been trying the NILIF approach for a few days now, thanks for the info. We adopted this dog from a shelter (he's 6 yo) and he was somewhat trained, so it's easy to get him to sit, stay, etc. and he's already picking up on the new rules. He was actually trained not to jump on furniture, this was a bad habit we encouraged, but he now knows that he can't jump up until we pat the couch to invite him, and he always gets down immediately.

    I think my main concern is that he's somewhat obsessive with me still - always staring at me and not paying attention to my gf. I don't think he's challenging me - if I make eye contact he'll look away, I guess he's just looking for me to give him attention. But I want him to see my gf as my equal, and thus have an alpha role to him too. We are going to try to get the two of them to bond via walking, feeding etc. I'll update on any progress.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Waltham, MA, USA
    Oh, good - glad to hear some progress is being made, I hope it continues. Thanks for keeping us updated, and good luck!

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