I Do Not Love Thee, I Possess Thee…
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.
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
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.
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!
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
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.