Q. My 4 yr old male Catahoula Leopard Dog mix is a rescue. He's become very possessive of me around larger dogs. How can I correct this behavior?
JESSICA L DESROSIERS
A. Sudden behavior changes can sometimes indicate an underlying health issue, so scheduling a checkup with your regular vet is always the first step. Once any health issues have been addressed, then you can address the behavioral ones. It is very common for dogs to become "possessive" of people or objects when around other dogs or people, and is called location guarding. Possession of objects or places can be a little easier to manage, however possession around other dogs can be treated as well. Working from a distance in a technique called BAT or Behavioral Adjustment Training may help. This technique involves your dog and another calm dog. Start off at a far distance and then move in until your dog becomes reactive or wary of the other dog. Move back a small amount and wait for your dog to become calm. If he shows calm behavior, reward with lots of praise, treats and love! If he becomes agitated or possessive, move back until he is calm, or stop the session completely and try again later. While this may take some time, it can help dogs learn that other dogs are not a threat to them or their people. Reading more information about BAT training or contacting a local trainer in your area can help with further advice and techniques!