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Nanda & Nelson

Possessive

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So I have a 8 month old pup right now, and trying to give him as much good manners as I can. Whenever I feed him, he has to sit and wait and I stick my hand in his food and he is totally fine with that. If he has a bone to chew on, I can grab it (visitors can too) - no problem.

 

The moment he gets possessive is usually at the (dog)beach/park, I've had dogs come over in our place and then he has no problem sharing his bones or his toys. Whenever he digs his hole, and another dogs wants to dig with him, he gives them a quick bark or a growl. It's not super aggressive, but it is also definitely not playful. He does the same with sticks or his ball. So far, whenever he has done it, I would grab his bal or stick and take it away or let the other dog hold it for a bit and keep an eye on it, but it hasn't changed anything.

 

I was wondering of anyone else has experience this, and what you do to 'control' it.

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Someone please correct me if I'm wrong here, but I really do not think that punishing him for that is going to do any good. In his mind, this is HIS toy, and the other dog is trying to take it. He warns the other animal away, and you punish him for giving that warning, and then give his toy, which he was trying to protect, to the other dog.

 

I had this issue with a dog before, but he wasn't with me long enough for me to be able to fix it. However I was told that fixing dog/dog posession is much more difficult than fixing dog/human posession, but that it should be treated the same way. He needs to learn that another dog by his toy is not a bad thing, that they aren't going to try and take it away.

 

That's just my 2 cents. I've never actually dealt with the problem, since that one dog was only with me for a short time, so I'm not sure how to actually fix it. Hopefully someone else here can give you help you more than I can!

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I agree that the approach you are using is not appropriate, and perhaps just adding a higher level of stress/possessiveness to your dog's attitude the next time the same situation happens.

 

I do not know how to fix it either since I have never had a dog with this problem. But my dog did have a problem giving up his tennis ball or frisbee when he was younger, so I started working with him using what I call "the trade game". Let him play with a lower-value toy and when he doesn't want to give it up, whip out a higher value toy (or food) and get him interested in that toy and play with him and the toy (to add even more value). Eventually, begin to add the command "Drop" or "Drop It" when he drops the first toy to get the second toy. Be patient as this process may take months.

 

Having said that, this may not work with his possessiveness with toys around other dogs. A variation may be to have a second toy in reserve for the times when another dog sets off his possessiveness. Use that to play with him to distract him from growling at other dogs.

 

I am sure there will be other, and more targeted, advice coming - so I hope to learn from that too.

 

Jovi

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If this behavior only shows at the dog park, I would consider that having toys at the dog park is inappropriate. Is he there to run and play with other dogs? He doesn't need toys for that. The toys are important when you are interacting with him one-on-one.

 

It is also possible that this particular dog is not a good candidate for dog parks. I know of my four, I would never take any of them to a dog park for different reasons. I am not a fan of dog parks in general. Many Border Collies have what I call "breed bias." They aren't interested in dogs of other breeds or types. I do have one that is very fond of Shelties, and one that likes toy dogs, especially Doxies (go figure!). Otherwise, none of them cares one bit for interacting with all they types you find at a dog park. How is your dog there when he doesn't have a toy? Is he interested in the other dogs? If not, you don't need to take him there!

 

Your dog is actually behaving appropriately for the world of dogs. He doesn't want to share his toy, and the growl is communicating this to the other dog. The problem that could arise is when the other dog is not very good at understanding dog communications, and would continue to push. That is when a fight could break out. Again, that would not be his fault, but the other dog's. So I agree that punishment is not the way to go here. It will just make things worse.

 

If you determine that trips to the dog park, and playing with toys there, is essential to your dog's happiness, then it will be a big job for you to teach him that other dogs nearby are no threat. You have no control over those other dogs. You would have to be at your dog's side, and always aware of what the other dogs are doing. Then you would have to reward your dog (I would click and treat) any time another dog approaches, so he would look forward to the approach of a new dog. He still may not want to share his toys, though. This is a situation where you don't have the control of the environment, so you can't manage the training. Like a said, a big job. Can it be done? I have no experience with this, so don't know. Personally, I would stop bringing toys to the dog park!

 

Kathy Robbins

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He LOVES the park, there are quite a few BC's and Australian Shepherd in my area and he just loves to play with them (chasing each other around etc). It is not all we do, but its definitely his happy place. He is super friendly and not dominant when playing, and he does like to play. Whenever we walk by another dog on the street, he always, ALWAYS wants to play and sniff. He is super social. I usually bring a toy with me, because there is not always a guarantee that there will be another dog for him to play with. I think just not pulling the toy out might be a solution, just let him do his own thing with the other dogs and don't distract him. Cause he does not have that problem when we are at home and there are other dogs that play with his toys. I will at least stop bringing a toy for a bit and see how he is doing.

 

The trade game sounds good too, as he is not the greatest with dropping the bal, he does it 50% of the time - then again, he is 8 months. I can't expect him to be perfectly well-behaved yet.

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I'm glad to hear he's liking the park. And it sounds like you're doing a wonderful job of keeping an eye on him.

 

A word of warning - a lot of dogs, (not just border collies, but many other breeds) lose their liking for rough and tumble play when they hit around 2 yrs or so. It's like they get to be grown ups and don't care for all the play. Nelson may be that kind of dog, or he may not. You'll just want to continue to watch him as he grows to adulthood.

 

And he's terribly, terribly, cute!

 

Ruth and Agent Gibbs, who is fine with other dogs at the park as long as they don't interfere with the ball game

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