Dog Aggression: What to Do When Your Pup Gets Protective Over Bones

Issue Dog is aggressive if I try to take his bone
Quick Info Resource guarding is a common behavior in dogs, and it can manifest as aggression when a dog feels threatened or challenged over a valued item, such as a bone. It’s important to address this behavior to prevent potential injuries to humans or other animals
What to do Avoid confrontations, teach the “drop it” command, provide plenty of toys and chews, work with a professional trainer or behaviorist

Why Dogs Get Aggressive

why dogs get agressive over their possessions

If you are a dog owner, you may have experienced your canine pal becoming aggressive when you try to take away their bone. Understanding why dogs become aggressive can help you prevent it from occurring in the future.

Reasons Behind Aggression

There are several reasons why a dog may exhibit aggressive behavior when you try to take away their bone. These reasons include:

  • Possessive aggression: A dog may become aggressive when they feel that their possessions, such as their bone, are being taken away from them.
  • Resource guarding: Dogs may become aggressive when they feel that their resources, such as food or toys, are being taken away from them.
  • Fear aggression: If a dog is afraid, they may become aggressive as a means of protecting themselves.
  • Protective aggression: Dogs may become aggressive if they feel that their owners or family members are being threatened.
  • Territorial aggression: Dogs may become aggressive if they feel that their territory is being invaded.

Identifying Aggressive Behaviors

It is important to be able to identify the warning signs of aggressive behavior in dogs. Some common signs of aggression include:

  • Growling
  • Snarling
  • Baring teeth
  • Lunging
  • Biting

In addition to these behaviors, dogs may also exhibit more subtle signs of aggression, such as rigid body language or snapping.

Health and Aggression

It is important to note that health issues can also contribute to aggressive behavior in dogs.

If a dog is in pain or discomfort, they may become more irritable and aggressive. Additionally, anxiety and stress can also contribute to aggressive behavior in dogs.

If you are concerned about your dog’s aggressive behavior, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Managing Aggressive Behavior

Dealing with an aggressive dog can be a challenging and stressful experience, especially when the aggression is directed towards you when you try to take away something like a bone.

There are measures that you can take to manage and modify your dog’s behavior.

Safety Measures

First and foremost, it is important to prioritize safety when dealing with an aggressive dog. Here are some safety measures you should take:

  • Wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and gloves, to prevent injury.
  • Keep children and other pets away from the aggressive dog.
  • Use a leash and a muzzle when necessary.
  • Create a safe space for your dog to retreat to when feeling threatened.

Behavior Modification Techniques

To modify your dog’s behavior, you can use positive reinforcement, desensitization, and counterconditioning techniques. Here are some tips:

  • Use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior and encourage trust.
  • Desensitization involves gradually exposing your dog to the trigger that causes aggression, such as taking away a bone, in a controlled and safe environment.
  • Counterconditioning involves changing your dog’s emotional response to the trigger by associating it with positive experiences, such as giving your dog a treat when you take away the bone.

Professional Assistance

If your dog’s aggressive behavior is a serious problem, it is recommended to seek professional assistance. Here are some professionals who can help:

  • Certified trainers or professional dog trainers can provide guidance on behavior modification techniques.
  • Veterinarians or veterinary behaviorists can rule out any underlying medical issues and provide medication if necessary.
  • Animal behaviorists can provide a deeper understanding of your dog’s behavior and develop a customized behavior modification plan.

Remember that communication and trust are important in managing aggressive behavior.

Exercise and providing enough space for your dog can also help prevent behavioral issues.

By taking the appropriate measures and seeking professional assistance when necessary, you can modify your dog’s behavior and prevent injury.

Resource Guarding and Possession Aggression

Dealing with agressive dogs guarding resources

Possession aggression is a type of resource guarding where a dog becomes aggressive when someone tries to take something away from them.

Recognizing Resource Guarding

It’s essential to recognize the warning signs of resource guarding before it escalates into possession aggression. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Growling or snarling when someone approaches them while they are eating, chewing a toy, or playing with a chew toy.
  • Stiffening their body or freezing when someone approaches them while they are eating, chewing a toy, or playing with a chew toy.
  • Biting or nipping when someone tries to take something away from them.

Dealing with Possession Aggression

Here are some tips for dealing with possession aggression:

  • Do not punish your dog. Punishing your dog will only escalate the aggression and make the problem worse.
  • Teach your dog to “drop it.” Train your dog to drop whatever they have in their mouth on command. This will help prevent possession aggression and make it easier to take things away from them.
  • Do not use force. Using force will only make your dog more aggressive and may lead to redirected aggression towards you, other people, or pets.
  • Understand the instinct behind resource guarding. Resource guarding is a survival instinct, and your dog is not trying to be dominant or alpha over you or other animals.
  • Be the boss. As the human, you need to be the one in charge and control the resources. This means you should feed your dog, give them toys, and take them away when necessary.
  • Keep young children and guests away from your dog’s resources. Young children and guests may not understand the warning signs of resource guarding and may accidentally trigger aggression.
  • Prevent fights between pets. If you have multiple pets, make sure they have their resources and space to prevent fights over food, toys, or bones.

Remember, possession aggression is a serious issue that requires patience, consistency, and professional help if necessary.

By understanding the warning signs and taking preventive measures, you can help your dog overcome this behavior and live a happy and healthy life.

Specific Breed and Age Considerations

When it comes to dogs and their possessiveness over bones or toys, breed and age can play a role in their behavior. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:


Some breeds are known to be more possessive or aggressive than others. For example, breeds such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and Pit Bulls may be more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior.

However, it is important to note that each dog is an individual and may not exhibit the same behavior as others of their breed.

Mixed Breed

Mixed breed dogs can also exhibit possessive or aggressive behavior, and it can be difficult to predict their behavior based on breed alone.

It is important to evaluate each dog individually and not make assumptions based on their breed or mix.

Puppies and Littermates

Puppies are still learning appropriate behavior and may not understand that it is not okay to guard their possessions.

Littermates may also exhibit possessive behavior towards each other. It is important to teach puppies from a young age that it is not okay to guard their possessions and to socialize them with other dogs to prevent possessive behavior.

Young Children

Young children may not understand that it is not okay to take a dog’s bone or toy, and may inadvertently provoke possessive behavior in the dog.

It is important to supervise interactions between young children and dogs, and to teach children how to properly interact with dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my dog act weird with a bone?

Dogs are natural scavengers and they have a strong instinct to protect their resources. When your dog is chewing on a bone, he may feel that it is his possession and may become defensive if you try to take it away. This behavior is called resource guarding and is a common issue among dogs.

Do raw bones make dogs aggressive?

Raw bones are a great source of nutrition for dogs and can help keep their teeth clean. However, some dogs may become possessive over their raw bones and exhibit aggressive behavior when someone tries to take it away. It is important to supervise your dog when he is chewing on a bone and to teach him to drop it on command.

Sudden possessive aggression in dogs?

Sudden possessive aggression in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors such as fear, anxiety, or pain. It is important to identify the underlying cause of the aggression and to seek professional help if necessary. In the meantime, avoid situations that may trigger your dog’s aggression and provide him with a safe and comfortable environment.

My dog attacked me over a bone, what should I do?

If your dog has attacked you over a bone, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. In addition, it is important to address the root cause of the aggression and to seek professional help if necessary. Avoid punishing your dog for his behavior as this may escalate the aggression.

What to do if your dog growls and snaps at you?

If your dog growls and snaps at you, it is important to back away slowly and avoid escalating the situation. Do not punish your dog for his behavior as this may increase the aggression. Instead, seek professional help to address the underlying cause of the aggression and to develop a training plan to modify the behavior.

How do you fix possessive aggression in dogs?

Fixing possessive aggression in dogs requires a combination of management and training. It is important to manage the environment to prevent situations that may trigger the aggression and to teach your dog to drop objects on command. In addition, seek professional help to develop a training plan to modify the behavior and to address any underlying issues.