Possessive behavior around baby

Posted by Kari
Jan 9, 2010
We have a 6 year old male beagle named Bobo. Bobo has had issues in the past with being very possessive around certain things (especially food, bones, and tissues/napkins) and has bitten/snapped/growled when someone has tried to take these objects away. When he bit (left indent marks but no broken skin) my oldest son, a baby at the time, who had just become mobile and grabbed a tissue from Bobo, I was very upset and got the "Secrets to Dog Training" materials. We did notice improvement in Bobo's behavior after we better established our role as Alpha, and it got to the point where our son could grab things away from Bobo without a problem. Bobo definitely wasn't problem-free and did have another biting incident with someone outside the family (who grabbed Bobo from behind by the collar to take a napkin away), but for the most part, he seemed much more mellow, especially with advances from children.

Well, now for the problem at hand. We've since had a second son who is now learning to crawl and get into everything. Today Bobo was chewing on a bone, and this son crawled over and was reaching to grab Bobo's bone. I was concerned and told my son "No." My husband, though, said not to worry since Bobo had mellowed and wouldn't be aggressive. Unfortunately though, when our son went to grab the bone for the second time, Bobo bit him (not breaking the skin, but enough to send my son into tears and me "through the roof" with anger). I'm a very laid-back person, but if anything/anyone threatens the safety of my child, I become as protective as a mama bear. If it were up to me Bobo would have been sent packing when this happened to our first son, and if it weren't for my husband and his loyalty to this dog, Bobo would definitely be shipped out at this point! In spite of my anger in this case and my lack of undying loyalty to Bobo, I am never violent with Bobo (usuallly squirting Bobo with the water bottle and raising my voice is as aggressive as I get to scold him for an offense). If it's possible, I do want to make it work (for my husband's and Bobo's sake) so that we can keep Bobo, while getting rid of this possessive aggression. I fear my children, myself, or others being bitten by Bobo and want to ensure this behavior is "nipped in the bud" before serious damage is done to someone. I'd appreciate any helpful advice you can offer this "Mama Bear" seeking to protect her cubs. Thanks so much!
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 10, 2010
Hi Kari,

Please do not give your dog a bone or rawhide, etc. that Bobo finds value of, and especially something that he uses his teeth to enjoy with.

I wrote a reply to another biting issue last night so I would like you to visit the following link:


Dogs can hurt your babies so badly if something happens. The best thing you can do as the parents is NOT TO CREATE A SITUATION. You can feed him a bone in a separate room, or when the babies are taking a nap.

My 3 dogs are very obedient and they have been raised not to show any possessive aggression among themselves, but I don't give them bones or Kongs or rawhides when my grandsons, my foster dogs or especially my foster kittens are around as long as I can not supervise them closely enough.

If something happens, it will be your dog that will be blamed at and get euthanized. That is no fair to your dog at all. I think the owner should be blamed more than the dog for creating that situation. It could have been well prevented. You can also teach your children not to get close to your dog when he is eating a bone, and respect his personal space.
Posted by kjd
Jan 10, 2010

I will go one bit further than MaxHollyNoah. When I got to the point in your post where your husband told you not to worry, Bobo has mellowed, I was shocked. Actually, your reaction -- tell the child "No," was a good one. Note what Max said: "I don't give them bones or Kongs or rawhides when my grandsons, my foster dogs or especially my foster kittens are around [B]as long as I can not supervise them [/B]closely enough." I think Max would have reacted just as you did in that situation (except she wouldn't have listened to your husband). Then she might have removed the dog or the dog's bone or she might have felt, as long as she was watching, that it was well for the boy to learn not to disturb a dog chewing a bone. But she would have him learn by her correcting him everytime he went towards the bone; she wouldn't let the dog do the correcting.

Children do need to learn how to act around dogs. They need adult humans to teach them how to act around dogs.

By following Max's suggestions, you will keep Bobo from having to protect his bone, but what about when he starts poking pencils at Bobo's eyes? Or pulling especially tender parts of Bobo's anatomy? Follow Mama Bear's instincts and teach baby bear that dogs must be treated with respect. And never leave your young son alone with Bobo.