Q. My dog keeps collecting all her toys and she gets mad when we try to touch them, why is that?

Answered By

A. This sounds likes a behavioral issue called resource guarding. Some behaviorists believe that dogs, being predators, come programmed to guard resources that are crucial to their survival. In order to change this behavior there a few actions you can take:

1. Only present toys to your dog when she behaves appropriate (does not growl or follows verbal cues (sit, stay, paw, etc).
2. Institute specific verbal cues for your dog to surrender the object. Use words such as “drop” or “give”. Find objects that she does not value as much and work up to the really valued toys.
3. Positive reinforcement for not guarding toys or not growling when you touch those toys. Offer treats or other rewards for the correct behavior.
4. Consistency is important – constantly practice the same verbal cues or reinforcement methods. Give your dog time to adjustment to the new training techniques. Do not in put yourself in a position to be harmed if she is growling.
5. If the actions continue or you are concerned about safety– seek the advice of a veterinarian or trainer.

DISCLAIMER: The answers in Ask petMD are meant to provide entertainment and education. They should not take the place of a vet visit. Please see our Terms and Conditions.


Ask an expert about your unique situation now FOR FREE!

IMPORTANT: The opinions expressed in Ask petMD content area are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Our Ask petMD experts include veterinarians, vet techs, veterinary students, pet trainers, pet behaviorists and pet nutritionists. These opinions do not represent the opinions of petMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a petMD veterinarian or any member of the petMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, timeliness, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. petMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment. Do not consider petMD user-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on petMD.