I Do Not Love Thee, I Possess Thee…

Thanks to Low Country Dog for the photo

There seem to be a lot of people out there who don’t understand dog behavior.

They think when someone, some other dog, or something approaches them and their dog gets defensive and wants to bite, that it is an indication of love, or protection.  

However, often it is just the dog being possessive over the person. 

Being possessive of something doesn’t necessarily denote love; sometimes dogs just don’t want to share.

Check out this article and video by clicking here.  The video is only like 2 seconds long but it is of a puppy resource guarding (my former puppy, who went/is going on to become a police dog).

Some dogs will even take a toy, or a bone, or a chewie and take possession over it even though they have no desire to play with or even chew on it.

Resource guarding and possession often have nothing to do with “love”.

Although people think that when they put their little dogs on their lap, and someone approaches or another dog comes up that the dog loves them so much he is “protecting” them, when this simply is often not the case.

Most of the time the dog has deemed you as his possession and he simply does not want to share.

possessHe most likely is not afraid for your safety, he is afraid he is going to have to share your affections or do something that he finds less pleasurable.

Does he think the little old lady who ambles up to you for directions is going to murder you??  Probably not, but he doesn’t want you to pay more attention to her than to him!!  For this he will growl, lunge and snap her away!

And, this aggressive behavior usually works!

AND, many owners of these dogs (especially little dogs) will then PICK THE DOG UP which totally rewards the behavior!

I get this question often, and I just so happened to get two people who asked me this question today.

And so I wanted to shed some light on it for you, or anyone else who is suffering from this kind of Napoléon syndrome.

Whereas some big dogs also suffer from this, it is often little dogs that suffer from the brunt of this problem.


Because the more spoiled your dog is; the more entitled he feels.

You like giving him everything he wants, doting on him, and spoiling him; but this makes him feel entitled. 

Dogs don’t always or even often equate getting things, or getting their way as “love”.  Dogs equate “love” or emotion differently than they equate being spoiled.  I their minds you are worshiping them and they are entitled to all you offer and then all that they want, whenever they want it.

And, let’s face it; more little dog owners spoil their dog without ever obedience training them because little dogs don’t physically demand obedience from their owner like a 100# Rottweiler demands dog obedience training.

At least their owners don’t think so anyway.  I can assure you if I had a Papillion he would be as well behaved  and obedience trained as my 85 pound  Belgain Malinios, but that is because I know how important obedience is for the brain and emotional development of dogs!

Obedience is Crucial

Obedience and rules help keep dogs from being possessive

Obedience and rules help keep dogs from being possessive

And, obedience keeps a spoiled dog in check because there are rules to be followed!

Could you imagine giving a child EVERYTHING he or she wants, never having rules of any kind and catering to their every need?

Can you imagine the monster you would be creating for yourself and the rest of the world?

And, whereas there are a lot of spoiled children around every corner that feel entitled and miss behave and I am sure most rules aren’t followed… I am sure there are SOME rules of some sort that they usually have to obey.

However, with a lot of dogs, I see little to no rules AT ALL.  It is as if they are worshiped and their every whim is rewarded.

These dogs often demand when they want to eat, they demand when they want to be petted, they demand to be played with and they take over furniture and other household items.

Why Then is it Any Surprise When These Dogs Take Ownership of Their Owners??

These dogs that feel like Kings and Queens in their own homes want to take possession of their most valuable asset… YOU.

YOU are the one that spoils them and cater to all their needs.

You feed him, you play with him, you pet him and he doesn’t want anything to come in the way or jeopardize that!

And remember that possession or what people think is guarding behavior or misconstrue as trying to keep them safe, is just a dog taking possession of the person.

It’s not really an overwhelming feeling of love, or thinking that the person approaching is going to stick you with a knife… it is just that he doesn’t want to share his food, attention and other resources that he equates with you.

And Remember….little dog growl

Guarding and possessive behaviors don’t always or even often equal that feeling of “LOVE” in some ways he is treating you the same way he would treat someone who approached his bone, or food, or favorite chair.

How to Make a Change

If you have a dog like this it is important to make a change right away!

First understand that it is not love, and put your feelings of love and emotion away.

Imagine how this kind of worship would affect a child so that you can understand the flawed psychology and change your relationship.

I see so many parents that are great parents with wonderful boundaries with their children but who can’t step back and parent their dogs or set up the same kinds of rules and structure that dogs need. 

Dogs Like Structure!

possess2Make sure there are rules to your relationship.  Don’t let him bully you or anyone else in your life and make a pact with yourself and with him that he will lose a privilege if he tries!

Be a good dog parent.

And, last but certainly not least is work on your Doggy Obedience Training!

If your dog is not use to listening to you on a regular basis and you don’t train and work with him, he begins to feel entitled and he begins to ignore your commands.

Just by adding 15 minutes or more of basic obedience, trick training, agility or whatever you desire to your daily routine will help firm up his boundaries.

So even when someone approaches and he has that over whelming feeling that he may not want to share your affection, attention or time; he is use to listening to you and you laying the ground rules.

Simple obedience will snap him out of his negative and entitled mindset and it will give you the tools you need to feel in control!

Need help with your basic obedience?  Check out our many products that will help you mold the dog you have into the dog you have always wanted!  Click here

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  1. Wilfred says:

    Well, I guess you have to treat right your dogs so that they will obey you.


  2. ann fuller says:


    I just returned a 3 year old labradoodle to the no kill shelter where I got him. He was agressive and I was afraid he would hurt my older poodle. I couldn’t get him treated at the vet or the groomer. He would bark viciously, spin around, snarl and scream. the vet said he was dominant agressive. It was obvious after a few weeks that he had been spoiled, abused and then abandoned. I did do clicker training with him and he stopped jumping on me and ripping my clothes. He was very intelligent.

    the problem is that the people at the no kill shelter did not believe me when I said he was agressive. They told me I was a nasty person and was causing the agressiveness! I wouldn’t have returned him, but they demanded I bring him back and I had signed a contract.

    The worst thing is that they intend to adopt him out to another family!! Is there any kind of overseeing agency I could report them to? I am not sure if they are lying to me or if they just never saw the agression. But it is inhumane to adopt him out again and it would be very dangerous for another family.


    Minette Reply:

    Contact animal control, fill out a report but because you relinquished him and did not euthanize him you are likely liable for his behaviors.

    I would contact animal control and see if you have recourse.


    ann fuller Reply:

    The contract I signed with no kill required that I bring him back and also to let them know before I euthanized him. He is very sweet at the shelter although he did growl at a caretaker there.
    Thanks for your help.


  3. Kate Miller says:

    It’s “used to”, not “use to”, and “overwhelmed”, not “over whelmed”. I find your posts very helpful, but your grammar annoys me.


    Minette Reply:

    I do my best! I suppose we all have areas to work harder and I will work to do better as I try to have decent grammar skills.


  4. kate miller says:

    You’re completely right. Forgive my reaction. Grammar is not really that important, and becoming less so. Keep up your good posts.
    Kate Miller


  5. Carol Braden says:

    My 5-year-old Border Collie is obedience trained but is still possessive of me. She doesn’t mind if I pay attention to other people but when I pet our cat, she will growl and gently bite her. She doesn’t like other dogs getting close to me either. I can’t even talk sweetly to another animal without Sadie coming over to see what’s up. What would you suggest?

    Thank you!


  6. Jenny says:

    I have a collie, he is 3 yrs old. He gets very excited when we start driving up my 89 yr old Aunties place. When let out he will run inside jump up on her then will ignore her for the rest of the time.
    On getting ready to go home, he doesn’t leave her side he watches her all the time. On getting into the car he. Is right up at the front window barking, as if we were leaving her behind.
    The last time he jumped out of the car jumped up on her nipped her then jumped back into the car. I now leave him in the car but for the first 10 min. He barks. Any suggestions ?


    Minette Reply:

    He needs to be on a leash. At 89 not even I want to be jumped on by a dog


  7. Lise says:

    I can suggest that when you do visit your aunt that you have your pup on
    a leash. Don’t allow it to cross the threshold first and when it does, have him
    stay in a sit or lying down position. If he greets your aunt by jumping, remove the dog to outside and have him sit, stay. Try it again, bringing the dog inside and make sure that the aunt doesn’t acknowledge the dog or even look at him until
    he can come in a more quiet and gentler manner. The dog needs to learn his boundaries. Also, if he has a favorite toy, have him carry it to your aunts from the car. I hope this helps and good luck!


  8. Jenny says:

    Thankyou. For your help. I do have him on the leach. But yes he needs retraining. Lise thanks for you great suggestion I need to do the same with him in the car.


  9. KayMac says:

    Hi there,

    I just posted on another thread as well, but I saw this post and thought it was helpful as well.

    How can I implement the “make sure your dog is not bullying you or anyone around you” rule? She listens to me–we are on the clicker training program–but we have behavioral issues.

    My Chow-mix Shadow bullies my boyfriend, but I don’t know how to stop it. Two trainers told me that she’s fearful and because she’s “afraid” of my boyfriend, that he should completely ignore her growls and grumbles. Problem is, we’ve been living together for two months and EVERY MORNING she still growls at him!

    We hired a different trainer who said correct her for every growl, and to enforce the correction with an apple cider vinegar and water solution if she doesn’t listen. We did that and it got worse, so now we’re back to completely ignoring.

    Do you have any other ideas? Another trainer recommended crate training her, and then if she still growls to remove her from the bedroom.


    Minette Reply:

    crate her for sure, no one deserves to be abused and your dog is the abuser. If she growls remover her from your presence and have him enroll the dog in an obedience class so that they can work together and bond.


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