Help! My Dog Is Super Possessive Of Me!

How obsessed is too obsessed? 🤔🐶

dog possessive of owner

It’s hard not to be obsessed with the fact that your dog is obsessed with you. That’s every dog parent’s dream, after all!

But if you notice your dog’s demeanor or body language seems to shift when other people come around, or get a bit too close to you, this obsession could actually be possessiveness.

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Andrea Y. Tu and Dr. Vanessa Spano, veterinarians with Behavior Vets in New York City, to figure out how you can spot the difference, and how you can help if your pup is being possessive.

Why your dog is possessive of you

Possessiveness — aka “resource guarding” — may seem on the surface like just another bad behavior, but it’s actually pretty instinctual.

“[Dogs] should be possessive of the people who are providing them with all the high-value things ... because they really don’t want that to be lost to another dog,” Dr. Tu told The Dodo.

Various factors can increase the behavior, like:

  • Genetics
  • Early socialization period (aka experiences from when they were just little puppies)
  • Their current situation
  • Anxiety disorders

Signs of possessiveness

People often associate possessiveness with obvious actions, like growling, lunging or biting. But those aren’t the only indicators that your dog is being possessive.

“Most of the time, dogs will give us very subtle ‘warning’ signs that are going unrecognized,” Dr. Spano told The Dodo.

These less obvious signs include:

  • Licking their lips
  • Yawning
  • Showing the whites of their eyes
  • Tucking their tail
  • Pinning their ears back
  • Barking

What to do if your dog is being possessive of you

If your dog is possessive over you — instead of his toys or his food — that can be a little overwhelming.

After all, you can always manage toy possessiveness by removing it, or manage food possessiveness by providing more of it.

But you can’t do those same things to an owner.

“There’s certain management stuff that can be done with items, versus with a person,” Dr. Tu explained.

This is a situation where you should definitely reach out to professionals, like trainers, vets and behaviorists.

“Begin working with a reputable trainer who uses positive reinforcement methodology,” Dr. Spano said.

A trainer could help your dog unlearn those territorial tendencies.

But if your pup’s behavior escalates into actual aggression, you should definitely consult a vet, since treatment can require supplements, medicine or professional training techniques.

And until your dog starts making serious progress with your vet or your trainer, there are things you can do on your own to help in the short term, like keeping him away from triggers.

“For example, if your dog tends to show possessive aggression towards other people upon going on walks with you, walk with him at earlier and later times of the day when there are fewer people present,” Dr. Spano said.

It’s also important to make sure he feels comfortable being independent when he’s at home, instead of being overly attached to you, so make sure he has lots of toys, private spaces and other activities to wear him out.