In my experience, as owners, we often create these types of behaviours without realising.
As puppies, we take things off them that can harm them, without consideration of how dogs see this.
Think about it, the puppy has this item because it has a degree of value. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it!
By removing this valuable item we teach them to run away from us, this becomes a game, so we chase them, grab the item and remove it. What the dog can learn is to show behaviours to stop this.
It can start with passive communication, a look away, lip licking, and yawning to show discomfort. You will probably not notice these behaviours.
When it happens again, you take the item, so the dog, in an attempt to communicate their feelings, displays another behaviour, but this time, it is something a little more forceful, maybe a growl, a snap or something worse. So we may stop and don’t take the item. So next time the dog’s brain directs them to that behaviour because that is what works.
If we don’t listen, then you are literally leaving the dog little option but to escalate and this is where bites can occur.
The picture below shows how these behaviours can develop.
Dogs repeat behaviours that work for them.
Traditionally, the idea behind these behaviours is that the dog fears the valuable item being taken. Whilst the behaviour can grow from taking the item, it can become exasperated by the inability to disengage from the item.
A recent case was a perfect example. The dog would take the item to the owner, and stare at it and when the dog perceived the owner going near the item created growling. So if your dog stares at it and won’t look away this is certainly a factor!
This type of behaviour can be described as aggressive, however, I don’t think that this is fair because is born from fear and anxiety, often the dogs that I have worked with in this area have shown anxious behaviours, not related to guarding.
This is where a full behavioural analysis comes in handy to see the dog’s behaviour as a whole.
And let’s not forget a lack of calmness this is usually something that I tackle as part of the program.
The package may include
Management to keep you safe from harm and prevent an escalation of the behaviour
Anxiety – building optimism
Monitor predictions of your movement
And of course, coach you through the program and help you understand your dog.
Book your discovery call to discuss your individual issues