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I've got an issue with my dog being toy possessive that I'm trying to resolve, but I'm not sure how to go about it.

The dog is a terrier mix around 2 years old. We often take him to the dog park and he loves playing with other dogs. There are always tons of tennis balls and chew toys laying around the park that people have brought and left at the park for all the dogs to play with. Most of the time my dog will play, chase balls, and have a generally good time. Occasionally he will fine a ball he likes and go lay down and chew on it.

If I walk up to him and tell him to drop it, he will usually drop it and give it to me and then I’ll throw it to reward him. Lately when another dog starts walking toward him and he’s chewing the ball he will growl at them and kind of lunge toward them. If they back off, then he will go back to chewing his ball. I’ve been trying to take the ball away from him when I see this happening, and then make him sit, lay down, and other commands for me to reiterate to him that it’s not his ball. So now when I see him do this and start walking toward him, he tries to play keep away. I don’t want to ignore him and let him go back to chewing the ball and being a brat to other dogs, but I don’t want to follow him and make him think he’s in charge.

Well a few days ago, he did this little routine with a dog that called his bluff and the other dog attacked him (rightfully so). I got them pulled apart and no one was injured, but I want to prevent this in the future.

I’m not sure what to do. If I take him to the park with my other dog, he listens wonderfully and is not possessive of the ball at all. If I take him with other dogs present, he will guard the ball from other dogs and refuse to drop the ball for me and run away from me when I approach him if he is chewing on a ball.

Any ideas on what I can do to quickly curb this behavior?
 

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You are not going to cure it quickly. It has become more rewarding for your pup to run off with the ball than it is to bring it back to you. You are going to need to retrain the retrieve and make it heaps more rewarding than running away. You will need to use top notch treats as rewards - roast beef, lamb,chicken etc.
 

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I would lay off of the dog park until he has a really awesome grasp of "drop/leave it." Plus, at home, I wouldn't let him have free access to toys or balls (if this is something you do).
 
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