You are here:

Canine Behavior/Dog Aggression


Hi, Jill-

I ran into a problem last night with my 8 1/2 year old Boxer.  She is a very sweet, lovable, friendly dog but I had given her a bully stick to chew on and she ran to her bed with it and started to enjoy it.  I went over to try and take it away from her and she growled and looked like she wanted to bit me.  It was pretty scary because I have never seen her act like this and I was very concerned about this behavior.  My boyfriend went over to her bed and spoke with her softly, pulled her gently by the collar and then I took it out of her bed.  She was looking around for this chew for awhile but I did not give it back to her.  I thought I would try a new way to introduce this treat to her at another time.

Do you have any suggestions or tactics that I could use to control this obsession and mean behavior to make her understand that I am the one in control? Introduce this bully stick in a friendly fashion?  Any input would be greatly appreciated.


Never offer any "treat" or "toy" or other such thing that provokes resource guarding (which is what you are describing).

At 8-1/2 your Boxer may very well be in the first phase of cognitive dysfunction, worse case scenario.  You do not need to make this dog understand that "you are the one in control"...too late, and won't work any way.  Throw out the bully stick.  Ask your veterinarian for a referral to a veterinary internist or veterinary neurologist so your dog can be tested for possible cognitive loss.  Meanwhile:  put her on a very lightweight NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free).  Ask for a simple "sit" in a very calm voice (providing she is trained with positive reinforcement to "sit" on cue) before petting her, giving her treats, feeding her twice daily (cut her portion of food in half so she can eat twice a day).  Do not introduce any "new" or exceptionally "attractive" articles to her that she might feel the need to guard.

Use followup feature to report back after veterinary examination.  Thank you.  PS: If the dog ever growls at you, do not back away; break eye contact; sing a little song; observe her out of the corner of your eye until she is clearly relaxed and may even come to you and sit, or try to solicit attention: ask for "sit" praise verbally (calmly), walk away.

Canine Behavior

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

©2016 All rights reserved.