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Jack, my eight-week-old puppy, is really good. However, when he has a chew, he growls and is aggressive towards me. I have told him off and made him give it to me, but it seems to make him worse. I really don’t know what to do, as he is loving and cuddly the rest of the time.

Sue Williams advises…

What you are describing is a puppy who is ‘resource guarding’ – in other words, Jack is showing aggression towards you, as he has something he considers valuable and he wants to keep it, but is worried that you may want to steal it.

Telling him off and scolding him will only make matters worse. If you think about it, by showing aggression and taking it, you are giving him even more reason to guard. This will result in inadvertently causing him to increase the intensity of the aggression next time as, in his mind, last time he wasn’t aggressive enough because you managed to steal the chew!

To solve this problem behaviour, you need to find a way to make him understand that you don’t want to steal his chew. I find that trading works really well with young puppies like Jack. I trade something the pup considers to be a higher value in return for the chew and then return the chew. You need to use a food reward that is quick to eat – something like a piece of chicken or liver treat – and simply swap the treat for the chew. Be low-key and pleasant when doing this, as you want him to feel happy, not worried.

This should work really quickly; however, if he continues, gets worse or you feel worried, seek help from an experienced trainer without delay.

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