Have you ever given your dog a bully stick or bone, walked by them and noticed he or she is giving you the side-eye? In these cases, this is also known as "whale eye" and it's your pup's way of saying "back off." It's pretty common among dogs and usually occurs when a dog is guarding something (be it a bone or toy or even their human) and feels threatened. Here's what to do when your dog gives you the whale eye.
Pro Tip: Not all side-eyes are whale eyes - when your dog is giving you the whale eye, he or she will appear rigid or tense. And although your dog is giving you a warning, he or she will look away to tell you that they mean no harm.
What To Do
When you see your dog giving you the whale eye, it's best to give them some space. Avoid approaching your dog when he or she exhibits resource guarding of a high-value object (such as bones, toys, food, etc.). In fact, you may even want to leave the room. If so, only let your dog rejoin you when he is ready to abandon the object. You may have to open and close the door several times before your dog is ready to abandon it, but once he does, make sure to praise him.
At this point, you can take away the object he was guarding, just make sure to keep him out of that room while you do it. Another way to remove the object is by offering your dog something he may want, like special treats or a walk. If you opt for the treats, do a mini training session. The goal is to either get your dog in another room or on leash to secure him or her away from the object. Then you can remove it from your home without directly taking it away from your dog and risking aggression. You may want to remove high-value objects (like long-lasting bones or toys) from your home altogether, if your dog guards them.
In some cases, the high-value object your dog is guarding is you and the whale eye is a warning to another person or dog. To resolve this, remove your dog from that situation. If you're having people over, make sure your pup is not by your side and able to resource guard you.
In emergencies (e.g. when your dog gets an item that is dangerous or toxic), toss enough treats away from your dog to entice him or her to leave the item. Once your dog is busy scooping up the treats, retrieve the item and secure it out of your dog's reach or remove it from your home.