However much we try to tame our furry friends, their animal instincts can kick in when we least expect it. Dogs can be protective of their food and toy stuffing from a young age. You will see them growling and yipping whenever you want to take something from them.
While it might seem cute in puppies, it can escalate to full-blown aggression as your dog grows up. This may be caused by a lack of training, abuse, loneliness, and anxiety.
What Is Toy Aggression In Dogs?
Also called possessive aggression, it is evident in most dogs when they target toys. They tend to show different levels of possessiveness when interacting with their toys. It can begin with mild behavior where your puppy might only bark when showing aggression or bite in extreme situations.
The majority of rescue dogs will show toy aggression because of a lack of toys of their own in the past. If you take the toy away from them, it can evoke emotions of fear, and they will become defensive of their possession.
Other factors that can influence the severity of your dog’s toy aggression include:
Signs Of Toy Aggression In Dogs
Investigating and analyzing all the signs your dog exhibits when aggressive will help you understand their behavior. It will also aid you in preventing or stopping any possible escalation of aggression from your furry friend. Consequently, you and your pooch will co-exist peacefully.
The following are common signs of toy aggression in dogs:
- Biting or snapping
- Whale eyeing
- Raising hackles
How Do I Stop Toy Aggression?
To completely eradicate toy aggression requires a lot of patience and a plan that can work on your dog. If your dog shows extreme signs of toy aggression, contact a specialist behaviorist to guide you on how to deal with the issue.
Aggression in canines can lead to injuries; thus, it is best to curb the habit as soon as possible. Some of the standard techniques you can use when dealing with your dog’s toy aggression include:
1. Positive Reinforcement
It is a popular solution when dealing with dogs with mild aggression. It is commonly used on dogs familiar with basic commands. When you notice your dog is showing possessiveness on its toy, you can directly command it to stop and drop it.
Afterward, you can opt to show appreciation by giving it a treat. This enables your dog to learn that there is a reward in listening to commands, which will make training easier.
2. Limit Access
In the beginning stages of training, you can try to limit your dog’s time with their favorite toy. For example, if your dog has a designated play area, you can let them play with their favorite toy only while in that area. Whenever they leave the area, they should not carry the toy along. This will become a teachable moment for your dog whereby they will know their toy is safe, thus preventing aggression.
3. Distract And Exchange
You can implement this technique by exchanging your dog’s toy with treats. You can use this if your dog shows mild-to-moderate symptoms of possessiveness. While using the procedure to train your dog, it is essential to teach them the drop command to have a positive outcome the next time you use the technique.
Other Tips And Tricks
Numerous ways can aid you in stopping your dog’s toy aggression. The following are simple tricks you can consider next time your pooch shows aggressive tendencies:
Dealing with aggression in dogs requires gentleness and calmness. While training your dog, remember not to expect it to change immediately.
If the means you are using is not working but increasing toy aggression in your dog, you need not force it but stop. Allow time to pass, try a different technique, and see if it will work. Every good plan for helping your dog stop their toy aggression has levels; you mustn’t advance when their aggression increases.
If it reaches a point where all steps you are taking are not working, contact an animal behaviorist for help.
Repetitions And Patience
Teaching a puppy new tricks is easy, and it won’t take long for your fur baby to catch up. Teaching a fully grown dog, on the other hand, can be an uphill task, especially if they are a new addition to your family. It is essential to teach them to trust you, so they will be optimistic that the toy will return when you take it from them.
Ensure you repeat the training and command process to instill trust in them. Depending on your furry friend’s level of aggression, you can repeat the training a couple of times a week, but not too much such that you overwhelm them. Be patient, and your pooch will eventually trust you.
Devalue The Treat Over Time
While training, it is essential to use a treat. You can begin by using a high-value treat, something that your dog will show appreciation for more than the toy it is playing with. Later, as the dog becomes less aggressive, you can gradually devalue the treat. Doing this is vital as most treats contribute to weight gain.
Moreover, it will teach your dog to obey commands and shun toy aggression even without receiving a treat. This will, especially, come in handy when you are not at home supervising them.
You and your furry friend deserve to live in a peaceful environment. However, toy aggression in dogs can disrupt that peace and cause harm. To avoid this, address the issue while they are still young, as learning is much easier.
When training older dogs, more patience and following a proper training schedule can assist you in overcoming toy aggression, if you do not see any progress, reach out to a professional for help.