How to Deal With Jealous, Possessive and Over-Protective Behavior in Huskies
If you are finding it tricky to handle your jealous, possessive and over-protective husky, worry no more because help is at hand. We can help you understand what makes your dog act this way and what you can do to correct it and make sure that this behavior does not create any problems for you or your beloved husky going forward.
What causes a dog to exhibit such behavior?
As much as it pains us to say it, over-protectiveness, jealousy and possessiveness are learned behaviors that the owner unwittingly encourages in his dog by rewarding and indulging in certain types of actions like the ones below.
Not recognizing the problem
Many owners do not recognize that their husky’s behavior has become a problem until it is too late. Instead of nipping the problem in the bud or correcting the dog when he behaves in an undesirable manner, they ignore the warning signs, which only serves to worsen the situation.
Accepting the behavior as “natural”
Some owners secretly enjoy the special attention and love they get from their huskies. They think that their dog’s over-protectiveness is only but natural. But here’s what they do not understand. Such behavior is setting up your husky to evolve into an uncontrollable and dangerous threat. You cannot hand over the control reins to a dog and then expect to have a say in how you want him to behave.
Not providing adequate care
As an owner, you have to make sure that you provide adequate supervision and guidance to your dog. You have to set proper limits and parameters for your dog’s behavior if you do not want your dog to make his own. Also, a dog that does not have socialization skills may not know how to interact with people. If you don’t demonstrate suitable behaviors or correct your dog when he does something wrong, then he will think that his behavior is acceptable.
Do not assume that the human/dog relationship comes naturally to your dog. For your dog, it is a learned behavior for which you need to set the rules. You have to work on it.
Reinforcing bad behavior
Do you know that you are actually reinforcing your dog’s bad behavior by allowing him to do whatever he wants? A dog’s actions are never without purpose. If a dog keeps acting in the same manner over and over again, it is because he is getting rewarded for it at some level.
Dogs are always driven by rewards. They learn that they can get you to do what they want, affect his surroundings, and draw attention, even if it is negative attention, by indulging in a certain type of behavior. They will continue to do it as long as they receive a reward for it. Sometimes, the reward may be your silent consent. If you want to change your dog’s behavior, you first have to take away his reward.
Spoiling the dog
You love your dog to bits. But if you are constantly showering him with undue attention and treats, be warned that you are setting the stage for a dangerous precedent. It will not be long before that a dog that has been allowed to do as he pleases, without any rules, boundaries or consequences, will start seeing your house, your belongings and the people living in your house as his possessions. Experts refer to this as the Princess or Price syndrome.
You may think that treating your dog as you would a friend or not imposing any rules on him or not correcting his bad behavior shows your love for him. However, what he sees is your inability or unwillingness to step up to the plate.
Dogs equate strong leadership with safety and survival. If he sees that the owner does not have leadership skills, he will feel that he has no choice but to take on the role of the leader of the pack.
But hey, that does not mean that all dogs are simply waiting for their owners to concede defeat before stepping into their shoes. Most dogs would prefer to avoid taking this role. Also, dogs that are forced into this position because their owner is unaware or unmotivated are often edgy, stressed, and unhappy.
Temperament of the dog
If you look at a litter of puppies, you will see that some dogs are naturally dominant while others are more laidback or meek. But here’s the thing. The temperament of a dog depends on both nature and nurture equally. Can you imagine the behavioral nightmare that will ensue when a naturally dominant dog is paired with an ignorant owner? When the natural dominant tendencies of the dog combine with his hormone-led adolescence years and the ignorance of the dog owner who has no idea about the trouble he is unleashing by failing to lay down necessary rules and structure, it’s a sure-shot recipe for disaster.
You can own and live with a naturally dominant dog – as long as you have the skill necessary to deal with the resultant behavioral traits and are sufficiently motivated to provide guidance and training. Timely obedience training and consistent rules are essential if you want a naturally dominant dog to understand his ranking in the household.
What can you do now?
If you want to fix your husky’s overly possessive and jealous behavior, the first thing you’ve got to do is restore the power balance in your relationship. Right now, your behavior and actions have led your dog to believe that he is the master. Since it is normal for a dominant animal in the pack to take ownership or assume the role of the leader, you have an opportunity to change your dog’s ranking in your relationship. But in order to that, you have to closely evaluate and organize your own choices and actions.
Use the umbilical method
Dogs that are naturally dominant and those that have assumed the dominant role in the owner-dog relationship are accustomed to thinking for themselves and making their own choices. If you want to change your dog’s thinking from “me” to “we” and establish some sort of a partnership, listen to the experts and give the umbilical method a try.
The umbilical method demonstrates who is in charge. It forces the dog to take their cue from the owner and follow his moves. Of course, a dominant dog is not going to be willing to let go of his claim to the throne overnight. If you want to reclaim power and re-establish yourself as the leader, be prepared for a long, arduous journey. But come to think of it, your husky did not become a possessive, jealous and over-protective bully overnight, did he?
Sign up for obedience classes
Obedience classes are important for dogs with behavioral issues and can help establish rules, boundaries and limits where none previously existed. A good dog trainer or a behavior specialist can also help you improve your dog handling skills.
Help your dog learn the LEAVE IT, DROP IT, and PLACE cues. If you see your dog behaving possessively or demanding undue attention, use these cues to show him that his behavior will not get him the results he want.
Be consistent with corrective training
Be committed and consistent while laying down rules or correcting your dog’s bad behaviors. If you are strict one day and lenient the next day, you are showing your dog that he just has to be more persistent with his bad behavior. When it comes to dogs and rules, there is no room for grey. It has to be black or white. It has to be always or never. Unless you correct your dog every time he does something bad, he will never get the message.
Show constructive love
Instead of over-indulging your dog, find a constructive way to show him that you love him. A lot of dog owners do things for their dogs or ignore their bad behavior because they want to be the “good” guy in their dog’s lives. The mistakenly think that letting the dogs do whatever they want is the best way to win over their hearts.
But they are wrong. Dogs want order and structure in their lives. They want to know what to expect next. Dogs that are spoiled and pampered by their owners end up being stressed, unhappy, anxious, and dangerous.
So stop treating your dog like another human being. Dogs do not live by the same social rules and values that you and I live by. If you truly love your dog, do what is in his best interests.
Make him work for it
Most dogs with behavioral issues suffer from a sense of entitlement. This is because everything, including food, toys, and treats, are always given to them. If you have a naturally dominant dog, this can be very detrimental to his behavior. A dog that is dominant by nature should never be given anything for free. He should be made to work for it. It teaches him self-control and patience, while also driving home the message that nothing comes without hard work.
Do not forget that such dogs should never be allowed to feel that they “own” something. His bed, his toys, his treats – they are all yours. He can use it only when you allow him to have it. Though this may seem awful to you, remember that your dog is not a human being. You cannot apply the same social rules to him. Most resource guarding problems arise when dogs own something, want something that is with someone else or is afraid of losing what they think they own. If a dog does not own anything, then there is nothing to fight about. If you want to avoid constant fights in a multi-dog household, you may want to pay special attention to this rule to keep the peace.
So put away all the free toys and treats and hand them out cautiously. Give your dog treats only when he is obedient. Stop letting him climb up on your bed or on the furniture. Also, if you have multiple dogs living with you, make sure that all the dogs have the same rules and behavioral expectations.
Make sure your dog gets plenty of physical exercise
Make sure your dog is getting plenty of physical exercise. A tired dog is less likely to rebel or behave like a tyrant. For example, using a waist leash while you go out for a walk or a run serves two purposes – you re-establish leadership while also making sure your dog gets some much-needed exercise.
You may also wish to consider spaying and neutering your dog. While this may not be a fail-safe method to prevent behavioral issues in your dog, it can minimize aggressive, hormone-led behavior during the adolescent years.
What you need to do if your dog’s behavior is triggered by the addition of a new person or dog to the household
Sometimes, the addition of a new member in the family or a new dog can trigger bad behavior in a dog. A dog that was the poster child for good behavior earlier may suddenly start growling at the new addition, peeing indoors, being destructive, or exhibiting other bad behaviors. While the sudden change may be upsetting to you, don’t lose hope. You can control such behavior and bring things back under control with these tips.
Your dog may see the new person entering your relationship as an interloper or at the worst, as a competitor for your love and attention. Many people make the mistake of compensating for the apparent lack of attention by lavishing a lot of one-on-one love and affection on the dog when the new person (or dog) is not around. However, what this does is reinforce the feeling that the new member is responsible for your lack of attention towards your dog.
If you want to fix this problem, pay attention to your dog and give him treats when the other person is around so that the dog starts associating the person with nice things. Or let the other person give the treats to the dog. Do some activity as a group to demonstrate the “we” concept. While calming activities such as taking a walk together are good choices, avoid overly stimulating games such as tug of war. You don’t want your dog to be more excited than he is right now.
Whatever happens, do not be physically aggressive with your dog – it will only escalate the bad behavior. Your attention, even if it is negative, will reinforce his bad behavior. So instead of shouting or getting angry, remove him from that situation. Of course, this cannot be a long-term solution. In order to solve this problem permanently, you need to have some desensitization and counterconditioning plans in place. Until then, you may want to consider muzzling your dog for safety reasons.
How can I make sure it doesn’t happen again?
All our above tips will help you correct your dog’s overly protective, jealous and possessive behavior. But if you don’t want to have a repeat situation on your hands, this is what you’ve got to do.
- Stop pampering your dog to the point where it becomes difficult to control him.
- Set rules, limits and consequences for your dog’s behavior.
- Understand what makes a strong leader and set a strong example for your dog so that he never finds you lacking.
- Take your dog to obedience classes. Include all members of your household in the classes so that the dog understands that all the other human beings in your house are ranked above him in the social chain.
- Make sure that your dog gets enough physical exercise and stimulation.
- If you are welcoming a new person to the family, make sure you have a desensitization plan for your dog in place. If it is a new dog, make sure it is a compatible breed.
- Stop making excuses for your dog’s behavior. If you see your dog sliding into bad behavior again, it may be that you have made some mistakes. Take responsibility for your actions and work towards correcting them.
If your husky does not exhibit any bad behaviors, it means that you are an excellent dog owner. And do not lose hope if you are not there yet. Find out where you are going wrong and make the necessary changes. You will get there for one day.