How to stop my dog from biting & being possessive

Written by tiffany bennett
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How to stop my dog from biting & being possessive
Keep your dog from being possessive by following a few simple steps. (Puppy image by Ludmila Galchenkova from

Dogs are protective by nature. As a result, owners often run into problems with their dogs being possessive over toys, food or other items. Untrained dogs may even growl and bite at anyone who tries to take the object away. While breaking this habit may take some work, it is well worth the effort for both you and your dog.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Dog treats
  • A favourite dog toy

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  1. 1

    Start early. Do everything you can to keep your puppy from developing a habit of biting from the start, as this will make your work far easier as he gets older. This can be especially challenging when the puppy is teething, because he will feel the urge to bite everything.

  2. 2

    Do not allow your puppy (or grown dog) to play games that involve putting its mouth on your hands. This may include various forms of tug-of-war and other games. If your dog begins to bite, even if it is gentle, firmly say "No bite" and take your hand away.

  3. 3

    Try "yelping" whenever your dog bites you. This is similar to the way dogs learn not to bite while socialising. By expressing your pain (whether real or faked) when your dog bites, it will help the dog understand why biting is wrong.

  4. 4

    Socialise your puppy. In the wild, dogs learn the consequences of biting by playing with their littermates. However, since we often take puppies away from their litters at an early age, it is important that you allow your dog to play with other dogs so that he can practice containing the urge to bite.

  5. 5

    Earn your dog’s trust. Again, this is easier to do with a puppy, but it is important with any new dog. Begin this process by asking your dog to obey you with simple tasks like sitting and lying down. When he obeys, offer a generous reward. Continue this process with more involved tasks until your dog sees you as a leader, not another littermate.

  6. 6

    Make it clear that your dog’s toys belong to you. Many dogs show possession over items that their owners act as though they have no authority over. You should maintain the right to give and take away even your dog’s most beloved toys.

  7. 7

    Teach your dog not to be upset when you take toys away. Begin this training process by giving your dog a toy to chew on. A few minutes later, get one of your dog’s favourite treats (something your dog likes more than the toy) and approach him until it starts to growl or snap at you. Step back and toss the treat to your dog. Repeat this exercise, getting closer each time, until your dog will take the treat from your hand. Next time, gently take the toy from the dog’s mouth, give it the treat, and return the toy.

  8. 8

    Keep the toy for longer and longer, until your dog lets you take the toy even when you don't have a treat with you. Repeat this process several times a day using different people so that your dog learns to obey each member of your family.

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