You come downstairs to make breakfast for yourself and you see your dog sitting outside in your backyard. He is peacefully laying there and chewing on a bone. You are getting ready to leave for the day and you need your dog to come inside within the next few moments. Distracted by his bone, he doesn't hear you or he doesn't respond to you when you call his name. When you walk over to tell him to go inside, you notice he is deep into chewing his bone. As you approach him further, he growls. This behavior can be overwhelming, especially if your dog is overprotective over his bone.
The Root of the Behavior
Some of the habits that dogs create can be detrimental to their wellbeing and how they interact with the world. Aggressive tendencies can lead your dog down the wrong path when they are creating behavioral habits. If your dog gets angry, upset, or acts up when you try to take their bone away from them, there is a reason for it. Based on how canines have changed throughout time, growling can be a tendency for protection. If a dog is in the wild scavenging for food, they are going to protect their food when they get it because it is all about survival. Just as their food is a prize, so is a bone. When your dog is chewing on their bone, they absolutely love it. If you take it away, they will feel negative emotions and assume it is a punishment of some kind. This action is called resource guarding. Some dogs have this tendency from the time they are born, and others learn it from negative experiences. It is important to understand why your dog created this habit and from there, you can help dissolve it. You have to teach your dog to trust you. Most times, your dog will be growling at you because he believes you are going to take it away, or that you may do something that is punishing. If your relationship has blossomed positively, your dog will know you are not out to get them and the growling won’t be for a negative reason. Yet, growling can also be communication. If you go to take your dog’s bone from them, they may growl to tell you they aren’t done. This is a language for dogs. You want to make sure if your dog has a growling tendency, they are doing it as communication, they do not hurt you, and it is extremely minimal. Once you create the utmost trust, growling won’t be an issue at all. Yet, don’t take your dog’s bone away unless you need to.
Encouraging the Behavior
Growling is known to be an aggressive attribute. Whether it is for communication or because of anger, growling isn't a behavior to encourage. If your dog growls when you take their bone away, they may not trust you because you are teaching them that you don’t listen. You want to teach your dog that you can be trusted and you only have their best interests at heart. If you let your dog continuously growl when you take their bone away, they will begin to believe that they are in charge. Most times, owners will be fearful when they see their dog growling and they will back off. Due to this, you want to teach your dog proper communication skills. When your dog knows that growling is not allowed and it won’t get them what they desire, it will stop. You also don’t want to award growling in any capacity. If you award your dog with their desire from growling, they will continue to do it and it could potentially strengthen that behavior. In addition, when dogs start growling, their aggressive tendencies may increase over time and biting can be a potential behavior. This is something that you do not want. It is suggested to teach your dog the correct behavioral habits as well as properly train them if you have not already.
Other Solutions and Considerations
It is suggested that you teach your dog to trust you. In this, help them understand that you will not take their food or bone away unless there is a good reason for it. This bonding of your relationship will help them feel comfortable when you are around or when you come near their bone. One suggestion is to teach your dog that their bone is a privilege and it is a reward. When they behave well, they will receive a bone to chew on. Growling and other behavioral tendencies that don’t support positive attributes will not receive bones. Most times, negative behavior usually stems from past experiences, and we must train and teach our dogs they are safe and well.
When your dog receives a bone to chew on, their excitement raises. It is a treat that fulfills a rewarding aspect of their life. As owners, it is important to show your dog that you want to give nothing but love to them. In this, trust will be formed and everyone in the end will be happy.