Possessive dogs by Robin MacFarlane


Big issues can arise when a dog becomes confident at defending bones, toys or other items. Some dogs even become possessive of people and won’t let others approach or sit next to “their human”. This is scary in a number of ways.

If a dog with resource guarding issues gets a hold of anything potentially dangerous it can be very challenging to try and take it away. It is now dangerous for the dog, plus dangerous that someone may get bit trying to remove the item. There is also a good deal of potential liability when owning a dog that has possessive behaviors. All too often it is the unknowing visitor or house guest that is the one who gets nipped or sometimes seriously hurt.

As with any behavior problem, trying to fix existing issues is much more difficult and time consuming than preventing them from ever getting started.

To help you get an idea of how to head off these problems of possessive behavior, I filmed one of the routine interactions we go through when dogs are here at the training facility.

We often have dogs practicing the Place command while we are attending to other tasks. For those who don’t know what a Place command is, we define it as the dog remaining on their mat or bed, (4 paws on) until given permission to go.

Today I noticed that the staff had given each of the dogs a food stuffed bone or rubber toy to chew on to keep them entertained. This was the perfect opportunity to see if any of the dogs in training had issues with possessive behavior and make sure we were heading off any potential problems.

Here is a quick look at what I did to help create the right associations for dogs being approached by humans when they had coveted items in their control.

Notice that I always approached bearing gifts. I moved toward the dogs with something to offer. It gave them reason to look up, sniff my hand and discover something yummy was there waiting for them. I offered them several treats before I ever touched the item they were chewing on. When I did take a hold of the bone or toy, I shared possession of it with them, rather than taking it away.

Then I gave it back and let them enjoy in peace.

What I didn’t do was approach with an attitude of “I’m dominate and I’ll take things away if I darn well please.”

While I do firmly believe we need to teach our dogs to relinquish anything to us, I don’t think that an aggressive attitude will gain us cooperation in the long run. Making a stand to prove you can remove something from your dog’s mouth is not the best way to head off future problems of possessive behavior.

Even if I prove to a dog that I am bigger, stronger and more dominate, that isn’t going to have any carry over with the next person or make the dog any safer with other guests, family members or children.

Let me explain the rational for my approach this way:

Imagine yourself, sitting in a restaurant, enjoying a wonderful meal. You’re fully engaged in eating, not anywhere near done and the waiter comes up, reaches in and takes away your plate. You try to take the plate back and he pulls it farther away and tells you No.

How exactly do you feel about that? I mean after all, it’s not yours right? You haven’t paid the bill yet. That food belongs to the restaurant and if they want to take it back, well, then they are entitled. Now let’s suppose that happens a few times. Apparently restaurateurs and waiters are out to teach you a lesson about not trying to possess food and that you should give up your plate willingly at any time.

How’s this lesson working out so far? I am guessing that you are starting to feel a bit apprehensive and perhaps even defensive when a waiter approaches your table?

Now lets imagine a different scenario. You’re eating your meal, the waiter approaches and offers you a sample of a very awesome new appetizer that just came out of the oven, then he offers to move your plate so he can make room for a new dish they want you to sample as well. Later he comes back to top off your drink and gives you a piece of dessert

Do you see how the waiters approach now has created anticipation of “what great thing is coming next!” rather than apprehension that you might lose something of value?

And if the waiter did have to come to take your plate away from you quickly because they just discovered their was something wrong with the food…you would not have developed the desire to hide or horde your meal. The waiter could remove the plate with little resistance or defensiveness from you.


The thing is, we want to teach our dogs that it isn’t necessary.

The goal should be to develop a dog that trusts us enough to take away a coveted item. That trust is built by having a higher ratio of giving rather than taking when we approach our dogs.

The training takes a little practice and the ideal time to start is with a young pup that hasn’t learned (or at least hasn’t had lots of practice) with the habit of defensiveness yet.

If you have a dog that growls, snaps or bite in situations like this, please get professional help. By the time the dog is bearing teeth you are already having serious issues with possessive behavior.


New… 1900S

Sometimes, even the best things need a change. Introducing the new and improved, Dogtra 1900S. Our latest ecollar still boasts the same consistent performance and durability, but with an added facelift. The new low profile design matches that of the Dogtra ARC, but in a high output unit. This ecollar is tailor made to fit your dogs neck and all of your training needs.





Just how much stimulation an e-collar truly gives to the dog is a very common question. Here’s an easy to understand graph from The Partnership for Electronic Training Technology (PETT) a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the average consumer on the safe use of electronic collars.

Check out their website and learn more at http://www.pettpartnership.com/



Like Dogtra Facebook page

For those of you that have not noticed… Dogtra is now on Facebook.

Go to- https://www.facebook.com/Dogtraco?fref=ts

Make sure to “Like” the pagedogtra_facebook_EDGE-RT

Service dog training with Navy Seal Mike Ritland

Nice article in Mens Journal on service dog training. I chatted with the trainer Mike Ritland today as he uses Dogtra. Talented trainer, soft spoken and a great American soldier.  http://www.mensjournal.com/…/a-navy-seals-5-tips-to-train-y…

 Update….  Mike is using the new Dogtra ARC for his training and is impressed with the unit. “The new Dogtra ARC is a phenomenal piece of gear. I love the low profile receiver, and the fine tune adjustability of the transmitter is everything you would expect from Dogtra. I only use Dogtra collars and anticipate that the ARC will be my “go to” collar.” ~ Mike Ritland




SHOT Show 2015 just around the corner

We are looking forward to the 2015 SHOT Show in Las Vegas (January 20-23).  If you are attending, please stop by and see what is new from the Worlds Finest e-collar company.  We are booth #1253 on the main level.


Professional dog trainers Pete Fischer and Robin MacFarlane will be on hand as well as the staff from Dogtra.  Look forward to seeing you!



Dogtra’s newest unit – Edge RT

Dogtra’s Edge RT

edgert_front cover

Dogtra’s newest member of the Edge family is called the Edge RT.  It offers low to high stimulation, three dog expandable, combination buttons, one mile range and a whole lot more.  Watch the video to learn more.

Video Link here:  Dogtra’s Edge RT



ARC Ice Bucket Challenge

September 15, 2014

We here at Dogtra like to test everything EXCEPT your patience.  So when we decided to test our new ARC unit we put it through some extreme temperature tests.

Test Number One:

Into the cold....

Into the cold….


ARC ice bucket challenge…

The unit was submersed in water that was approximately 32 degree water for 30 minutes.  The battery life icon on the handheld transmitter was 3 bars at the beginning of the test and dropped to 2 bars after the test.  Both collars/receivers activated and work after the test.  The orange unit had a green LED and black collar/receiver started green and turned to red LED but is still working.

 Test Number Two:

Cooking the ARC

Cooking the ARC

Out of the Ice and into the Fire!

Approximately 10 minutes after the cold water test, we started the hot water test.

The unit was submersed in 100 degree water for 20 minutes.  The handheld transmitter was at 2 bars and working fine.  It had not been charged for a couple of days.

The orange collar/receiver showed green LED, and is working fine.

We allowed the units to dry out over the next 2 days.  Then we plugged in the units charged them up and tested on the dogs and all parts are working flawlessly!


Tested by Pete Fischer

Game Fair 2014 in Minnesota

Stop by our booth at Game Fair http://www.gamefair.com to see what is new with Dogtra.


JULY 4th Fireworks and your dog.

Many dogs dislike loud noises from Fireworks that happen on the 4th of July.  Even trained gun dogs that have experienced loud blasts from a shotgun, can become anxious over the thundering sound of July 4th Fireworks.  Here are a few tips to make life easier for your dog during this time.

Confine your dog in an area where they will be buffered from the noise such as your basement.  A radio or TV playing medium to loud to disguise the fireworks booming will also help.  If you are going out to attend a Fireworks show, leave the dog back home.   Also… be prepared, and have a plan.  Most fireworks begin at dark, so the dog should be in a buffered area prior to the Fireworks starting.  At my home in Minnesota, most start right at 10PM.    Good luck and happy 4th of July.