Maggie vs. Mocca: Dealing with a Possessive Dog

by Melissa R. on December 22, 2011

Maggie seems innocent enough!

Maggie seems innocent enough!

My parents own a 2-year-old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever named Maggie. She is a fantastic dog – compact (about 35 lbs.), smart, and low maintenance. She was properly socialized as a puppy, and in fact, my parents weren’t even allowed to get her from the breeder until she was a full 12 weeks old. She has been to obedience training, agility training, is spayed, and has had other dog visitors her entire life. In fact, her brother comes to visit about once a week for playtime. My dog, Mocca, visits about once a month, and sometimes stays on for a week or so while I’m traveling. She spends countless hours running in the woods with my dad, so doesn’t lack in activity, and isn’t bored. Maggie is the epitome of a well-trained, well-balanced dog.

HOWEVER, recently, Maggie has begun to show some signs of aggression towards other dogs in the house when they visit. It started with her “attacking” my brother’s Beagle last winter a couple times. We thought it was over a chewy or toy or perhaps she got too close to my dad, who is Maggie’s favorite person, so they curbed access to those, and were more careful. This past fall, my parents visited my other brother in Colorado, who owns a Pug. Maggie went after the Pug several times while visiting! She was a very bad guest!

Maggie & Mocca getting along

Maggie & Mocca getting along

The last straw was when Mocca came for a stay while I went on vacation. Maggie began attacking Mocca at any chance, and would surely not let Mocca anywhere near any food, water, or her people. She acted like a possessive dog. My parents realized the severity of the issue, and immediately started in on some hardcore training.

They made sure Maggie was fed AFTER Mocca. She got treats AFTER Mocca. She had to sit and be good while Mocca was petted by my dad. If she was good, she got treats for a reward. Mocca went outside FIRST. They had to put all treats & dog toys away, of course. But after about 2 days of being very consistent in their behaviors with Maggie, she settled down, and soon after her & Mocca were even seen playing together and there were no further possessive behavior issues.

They will have to be on alert when other dogs visit though, and make sure Maggie knows her place. We wondered what sparked this or why she started being so possessive. Perhaps it is just the breed, and she needed a little reigning in? Has anybody else experienced this with their pets? I’d love to hear stories from other dog owners!

Related Posts:

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  • Operation Stop Dog Jumping – Although positive reinforcement is preferred, learn how a water spray bottle kept this puppy from jumping.
  • Dog Separation Anxiety Conquered! – Tips from a dog owner on solutions that that helped her dog conquer separation anxiety.

About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the DrsFosterSmith.com and LiveAquaria.com websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jared December 22, 2011 at 10:53 am

We’ve been lucky enough to never have this time of food/toy/people guarding aggression in any of our dogs. One of the things we do from the time they come into our home is to make sure that they know that nothing is “theirs”. What I mean by this is we interrupt feedings by taking the bowl for a minute and then giving it back, same thing with toys, etc… We do it, and we have our kids do it (especially the very small kids) until they are totally comfortable with other people handling and taking anything that they use.

Jared December 22, 2011 at 10:55 am

Same thing with other dogs. We let other dogs play with their toys, drink out of their water dish, etc…

Cindy Maitland December 22, 2011 at 11:41 am

I have a beagle named Maggie she’s a very tiny beagle an only weighs 19lbs,she is 4 years old, an she is very aggressive,she fights all the time with other beagles, I have 3 other beagles.I have a younger beagle named Luc, she’s not even aloud to come around me.An Maggie been beating her up from 6 weeks old ,an still beats her up till this day ,an she’s 3 now.I took Maggie to the vet.an they checked her out,an they said she was very jealous of the other dogs being around me.They called it aggressive disorder towards me.I didn’t know what to do.??.The vet said either get rid of her,or we can try medication??.I said I wasn’t going to get rid of her,let’s try the medication,so they put her on 5mg of prozac.An now she’s been on the prozac for a year,an she’s turned out to be very mellow,I now can enjoy my other beagles,but she still has her bouts, but there not that bad,she only stays mad for a minute.I don’t know if medication is the answer,but it’s working,an I get to keep my Maggie….

Bonnie December 22, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I work at a Veterinarian hospital and we get this question often. Pretty much what your parents do with Maggie is what we advise them to do. The big thing is NEVER think that keeping them away from other dogs is the answer. This will actually make it worse.

I rescue and foster dogs often; we are on our 4th dog since July. We have a Newf (110lbs) he is still a “puppy” and a geriatric Golden with cancer that are our dogs. We recently took on an adorable 5 year old Yorkie. She was not raised with other dogs. The first day I brought her home I was holding her and our Newf came up for a sniff. Well she snapped at him and got me instead. She has never showed that behavoir again until last night. We gave all our dogs a new toy each. Once again our Newf (did I say he was a puppy) wanted to sniff her toy. This time she went at his face like she was gonna kill him. Thank goodness our Newf knows better then to go after other dogs.
So we are working on the same issue with her…..I think it is a case by case basis. I think our Newf scares her because he is so big. No matter what the reason she is not allowed to act like that and she lost her toy.

good luck

sylvia March 15, 2012 at 11:19 am

Why does my dog get aggressive with certain dogs that go near her toys or near my daughter’s puppy? I would like to know why my dog doesn’t like certain people? #CELEBRATE Thank you!

Becky Goodwin April 23, 2012 at 11:28 am

My poodle, Coni was always particular about my bed, no other animal was alowed on my bed. She shared her spot with my (now) husband but no one else. Since my husband and I combined our houses Coni has gotten worse, the couch is off limits as is anyone sitting on the couch. We have a chihuahua mix 2 yr old, a great dane that belongs to my daughter in law and a german sheperd puppy, also the 6 cats. The chihuahua (Graci) and Coni have worked out lap positions and Graci is very careful about the bed, however at the oddest moments Coni will snap. She jumped at the german sheperd (Bella) and got put in her place, very scary, no blood, thank heavens. I have always fed Coni first as she is the smallest and oldest dog in the house, she is allowed in the door first, her and Graci eat and enter at the same times. I have set Coni off the couch and/or my lap when she snaps at the others, but its a short term fix. She is not food aggressive or toy aggressive, she just snaps every so often.

MISSY BAUMGRATZ September 29, 2014 at 4:02 pm

I HAVE A 20 MONTH OLD MALE BLACK LAB NAMED COAL. HE IS A WONDERFUL DOG, BUT HAS ONE BAD FLAW. I’M NOT EXACTLY SURE WHAT TO CALL IT BUT HE DOESN’T LIKE MY HUSBAND TO TOUCH ME. HE IS OK WITH HIM SITTING OR LAYING NEXT TO ME BUT EVERY TIME MY HUSBAND TRIES TO CUDDLE WITH ME COAL WEDGES HIMSELF BETWEEN US AND STARTS TO BARK NON STOP. PLEASE ANY ADVICE ABOUT HOW TO CHANGE THIS CRAZY AND LOUD BEHAVIOR WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED

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