What it looks like: Ears back, head lowered, teeth bared, growling
What it means: This is mine, and you better not try to take it.
It’s normal for dogs to protect their toys from other dogs. In most cases, your older dog growling at your puppy over a bone is nothing to stress about. If your dog is guarding his food bowl from people, however, it’s a real problem. In households with only adults, you can prevent your dog from guarding by simply placing the food bowl in a low-traffic area or a crate and leaving them alone while they eat.
However, this can still become a dangerous situation with kids around. Be extra cautious, and if the guarding escalates to outright aggression, it’s time to call in a professional trainer for advice. In the worst cases, rehoming may be necessary. To stop the problem before it starts, hand-feed new puppies and adopted dogs their first few meals in your home to teach them you’re there to give them food, not take it away.