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Recent Rescue - Location Guarding


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Guest selori

We have had our new greyhound for just 3 weeks now. After the first couple of days, we discovered that he is a bit of a location guarder. The only locations that are problematic are the sofa and the human beds in the house. He does not guard his own beds, crate, or car. He also has no object guarding problems. The worst we've seen with him is a semi-lunge and air snap, but without him fully lifting up out of his lying down position. In general, he's a very happy-go-lucky guy, great with kids, cats, and other dogs. Also, he has no sleep aggression, and these incidents have occurred when he is awake.

 

I am working on a program of desensitization and counter-conditioning (D&C). Our family (first my husband and I, to be followed by the kids) are strictly following the training steps outlined in Jean Donaldson's book "Mine", a terrific book on all types of resource guarding. At my job, I have worked with other dogs with mild guarding/handling issues and dog-dog issues, and have seen great results using the same D&C strategy. I have lots of training experience, but working with my own dog is a different story, as we are so emotionally involved. We are hopeful that somewhere down the line, he will be able to share the sofa or a bed with the family on occasion.

 

I am interested in hearing specifically from people who have successfully (or even unsuccessfully!) "rehabilitated" a location guarder using D&C. I know that there are other philosophies and methods out there, but I feel strongly that systematic desensitization is the only way to go for any dog aggression issues. I would really appreciate it if you could share your own experiences, and how the dog's behavior evolved over time (did the guarding continue to creep up throughout the years, did it disappear, etc).

 

Thanks in advance!

 

selori

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Seems like a very easy fix would be to prohibit the dog from using the human beds or the sofa.

 

I'm not familiar with that book. Sorry. Three weeks is probably too new to allow the dog up there anyway. He doesn't know you very well, you don't know him very well. I know if my dog behaved that way, he'd be back on the floor before you could say "get down."

 

Good luck.


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Can you describe your D&C program?

 

Here if somebody gets pissy when on the human furniture, they no longer have access to the human furniture. We tend to teach a realiable "Off" early on.

 

If somebody gets pissy regarding other locations, it depends on the level of pissiness and the location. Usually a laugh and some rewards for behaving well in that spot are enough to reroute the behavior.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Selori,

First, congratulations in finding this site and asking questions. You will receive a lot of help here.

 

I would say that 3 weeks is way to soon to allow a greyhound on any furniture. As you have seen they can get possessive of these things as they have never in their life had possession of anything. That said don't give your hound bones, chewees or other food items that take a while to eat as your hound will probably exhibit the same behavior. What is going on is a simple matter of trust. Your hound doesn't have the concept that these amazing things you are giving him are his and they wont be taken away. What I would suggest is NILIF (nothing in life is free), this is where your hound has to do something for anything he receives, such as his meals, toys, affection, ect. I am not sure if you adopted from a group, but there are some very greyhound specific books that are very helpful- "Adopting the Retired Greyhound" & "Retired Greyhounds for Dummies". Both of these books go over all aspects of transitioning a greyhound from track life to home life. I have never heard of the book you recommend, but realize that a greyhound is different from any other dog you have ever known, they are not raised in a home or around humans, they are raised as pack animals with other greyhounds. Their experience is unlike anything most people think of when they think of a pet dog. I am not bashing the book you named, but I wonder if the author has any experience with greyhounds. Greyhounds are so unique, they require a special understanding to their background and the training should be tailored to said background. Greyhounds do not respond well to "dominance" training styles, instead positive style training works much better. Greyhounds have been raised to be independent hunters, not human companions, you need to understand the history. I am not trying to be preachy, sorry if I come across that way. If you did adopt from a group, contact them and ask for assistance, if you adopted directly from a track, then try to look locally for a greyhound adoption group to get some experienced advise. Your issue is a very common issue that usually goes away with time, as well as your relationship with him grows and he begins to trust you, but of course you need to do certain things to help your relationship, such as obedience training and other relationship building activities (walking).

 

Chad

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Guest selori

Selori,

First, congratulations in finding this site and asking questions. You will receive a lot of help here.

 

I would say that 3 weeks is way to soon to allow a greyhound on any furniture. As you have seen they can get possessive of these things as they have never in their life had possession of anything. That said don't give your hound bones, chewees or other food items that take a while to eat as your hound will probably exhibit the same behavior. What is going on is a simple matter of trust. Your hound doesn't have the concept that these amazing things you are giving him are his and they wont be taken away. What I would suggest is NILIF (nothing in life is free), this is where your hound has to do something for anything he receives, such as his meals, toys, affection, ect. I am not sure if you adopted from a group, but there are some very greyhound specific books that are very helpful- "Adopting the Retired Greyhound" & "Retired Greyhounds for Dummies". Both of these books go over all aspects of transitioning a greyhound from track life to home life. I have never heard of the book you recommend, but realize that a greyhound is different from any other dog you have ever known, they are not raised in a home or around humans, they are raised as pack animals with other greyhounds. Their experience is unlike anything most people think of when they think of a pet dog. I am not bashing the book you named, but I wonder if the author has any experience with greyhounds. Greyhounds are so unique, they require a special understanding to their background and the training should be tailored to said background. Greyhounds do not respond well to "dominance" training styles, instead positive style training works much better. Greyhounds have been raised to be independent hunters, not human companions, you need to understand the history. I am not trying to be preachy, sorry if I come across that way. If you did adopt from a group, contact them and ask for assistance, if you adopted directly from a track, then try to look locally for a greyhound adoption group to get some experienced advise. Your issue is a very common issue that usually goes away with time, as well as your relationship with him grows and he begins to trust you, but of course you need to do certain things to help your relationship, such as obedience training and other relationship building activities (walking).

 

Chad

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"Mine!" is a good book, but I have to go with the others here and say you might want to back off on the allowing the new dog on the furniture for now. Sometimes they just need to learn how to be a homebody and that they still get good things and don't have to worry about losing them (therefore don't need to protect them violently).

 

He's still settling in, so you can do what we've done with our dog and just decide that for the first few months he has his spaces and you have yours. It isn't that he isn't a good dog, and won't ever be allowed on the furniture, but right now I'd let him settle in and learn that the couches and beds are yours, and he's allowed on them when you let him (and not when he wants to and he has no ability to tell you "MINE!" because it isn't his). Greyhounds can take months to settle into a family, and since it's all new to them you'll see them pushing the boundaries so they know exactly where they are (not that that doesn't happen in other pets too!).

 

Jean Donaldson is known as one of the premier positive/reward trainers out there. You chose a good book, but I think you might want to just put a little more constraints for a little while.

 

Welcome to Greytalk, and to your new boy! It sounds like you have made a good match, with just this one problem to work through.

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Guest LindsaySF

I would give it more time before he is allowed on the furniture or to have any high value items. When you do allow furniture privileges, he should know the commands for on/off the couch before you try to sit or cuddle with him.

 

It sounds like what you are dealing with is space aggression. I have two space aggressive hounds (Teagan and Rogan). Teagan also has sleep aggression. Rogan has gotten better about sharing the couch or the bed, Teagan has not. Some dogs never get over it, while some get better with time as they settle in and learn to trust you.

 

I could tell by the look on Rogan's face that being near someone or being petted while laying down made him very uncomfortable. He would stare at me and even whine, then growl and snap. He loves attention at other times, he's usually all over me, but couches/beds are different. I started with him muzzled, for my own safety, and I would allow him up on the couch and I would pet him a little and then make him get down. (Never pull on their collar, use a leash instead). We always ended on a good note and we got onto/off the couch in a happy, non-confrontational way, he thought it was a game. He's not very food motivated, so praise/attention was his reward. He would get rewarded whenever he got off the couch on command and whenever he was up there without growling. If he growled, he was ordered to get down and he wasn't allowed back up for another day or so. I also ignored him. (This was quite the punishment for him because he loves attention from people).

 

To this day Rogan is always invited onto the couch, he must wait for an invitation, and he will get down if you tell him to. (I let him lay on the couch by himself, but he must be invited if people are on the couch). His growling is less frequent than it was, and as soon as he growls he knows better and gets off the couch on his own. He almost never growls at me anymore, but he's still growly with some other people on the couch. I can sit down next to him on the couch if he's already laying there, but not everyone can, not yet. He takes a while to trust you. I usually recommend that the other people in this house make him get down off the couch, they sit down on it, and then invite him back up. That seems to work much better than trying to sit down next to him.

 

Teagan prefers his own bed. He won't get up on the couch with you even if you ask, and that's fine, because he really is not trustworthy. He does get some couch time by himself, and he also knows the command to get down when asked. For him it's just safer not to share the couch with him. He really does not enjoy it at all anyway. His space aggression might actually be worse as he has gotten older and the pack has grown. He can be really grumpy at times.

 

I hope this helps. Don't hesitate to use his muzzle in the beginning. And like Chad said, NILF is a really good idea too, especially if you have kids. Have the kids give him commands, feed him, etc.

 

 

 

~Lindsay~

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Guest selori

Thanks, everyone. Your comments are very helpful

 

Chad, I have read and own the greyhound books you mentioned. I am a previous greyhound owner (not sure if I mentioned that) :) . The method I am using to train is definitely 100% positive reinforcement. The aim is to simultaneously teach on/off commands (using clicker training)until the dog is slick with these, while also desensitizing them to the stimulus which is eliciting the behavior (being approached or nudged by a person while on the bed or the sofa).

 

I know that we can simply keep him off the sofa and beds forever, thus eliminating the problem. I am more interested, however, in treating the behavior, so our grey will be a safer dog. Our previous greyhound was a great sofa and bed sharer from day one, so although I know it's not advised, we were predisposed to let our new grey on all the furniture, too. We now only allow this during training.

 

Thanks for your input, everyone. I'd really like to hear from anyone else who has used systematic desensitization at home for a guarding problem.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Ok, well since you are a previous greyhound owner then my suggestion is a different one:

 

Hand feed your hound for a few weeks to establish a very strong bond quickly, coupled with obedience training. This will build the trust issue. At the same time as others have said, train a reliable "down". Allow your hound on the sofa, pet him gently on his rump while he is up on the sofa, at any point should he growl, issue the "down" command and he is not allowed on the sofa for the rest of that day. Repeat day after day. Soon enough he should understand that if he growls, he will be asked to leave the comfort of the sofa. Normally I would suggest people start this type of training on a bed on the floor (specific space agression desensitization), but since you have previous greyhound experience, you should be able to pick up on the subtle signs that a greyhound can express to people. Many owners new to the greyhound breed wont see these small nuances.

 

Chad

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I feel the need to just say, not all dogs want or should be on a bed/couch ever. I have been diligent in positive reinforcement and conditioning going on five years. He is still uncomfortable when his idea of personal space is invaded. I am genuinely jealous of those who have natural snugglers but fact is my boy is not that. I love him more than I could ever explain over the internet but the fact is there is no training him out of his space issues and I accept that. It doesn't make him a bad dog it just makes us have a bond above simple hugging.

Colleen with Covey (Admirals Cove) and Rally (greyhound puppy)
Missing my beloved boy INU (CJ Whistlindixie) my sweetest princess SALEM (CJ Little Dixie) and my baby girl ZOE (LR's Tara)

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Guest selori

inugrey, I am curious if your dog is uncomfortable with people handling him when he is on his own bed. Our new grey is fine with people petting him or sitting with him on his own bed. I accept that he may never be totally comfortable sharing a sofa or bed with us. I am just trying to make him a little bit safer by improving his attitude toward these situations.

 

Thanks again to all who posted.

 

selori

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Guest KennelMom

Inappropriate guarding is met with equal or greater energy in the form of a correction. Works great here. I've found greyhounds are super smart dogs and learn very quickly when things are very clear...whether it's a correction or reward. We certainly employ both, depending on the situation and behavior and the dog...in this case, since the behavior is very specific, a very specific correction works quickly and efficiently to teach them that that behavior will not be tolerated in the pack. We also teach them off. We have no set time period for allowing new dogs on sofas and beds. We don't specifically invite them up in the beginning, but if they figure it out on their own they are welcome to it.

 

eta: a case where we absolutely do use a process like systematic desensitization would be acclimating a new dog to the dremel for having their nails done.

 

I also echo some of Lindsay's post - in our house, if we want on the sofa or bed, (most) dogs must get off first and then are invited back up at our discretion. Exceptions would be our extremely docile hounds and seniors with old fart privileges (12+ years old)

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inugrey, I am curious if your dog is uncomfortable with people handling him when he is on his own bed. Our new grey is fine with people petting him or sitting with him on his own bed. I accept that he may never be totally comfortable sharing a sofa or bed with us. I am just trying to make him a little bit safer by improving his attitude toward these situations.

 

Thanks again to all who posted.

 

selori

 

His problem is only when he falls asleep at this point. But it's pretty severe. My friends and I laugh about the night we had to move him because he kept waking up growling and snapping at the curtains. Or the fact that we've removed the bed skirt because he likes to put his head under the bed but gets mad at the skirt. Then there was the night recently where we just kicked him out of the bedroom all together because we couldn't identify what object he kept waking up barking at. When the mood strikes him he will lay down right next to me but I have to be prepared for him to wake up with a pretty violent start.

 

I can touch him on his bed and rub his belly or something of the sort. We have gotten that far with the training. I can or my husband can, other dogs are not allowed near him still. I guess hope is not lost but I just try to explain not all greyhounds are EVER capable of constant touching.

 

All the people who claim they are the best trainers and can fix any problem dog I would love to ship him off and humble them... :D

Colleen with Covey (Admirals Cove) and Rally (greyhound puppy)
Missing my beloved boy INU (CJ Whistlindixie) my sweetest princess SALEM (CJ Little Dixie) and my baby girl ZOE (LR's Tara)

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Guest selori

inugrey, I am curious if your dog is uncomfortable with people handling him when he is on his own bed. Our new grey is fine with people petting him or sitting with him on his own bed. I accept that he may never be totally comfortable sharing a sofa or bed with us. I am just trying to make him a little bit safer by improving his attitude toward these situations.

 

Thanks again to all who posted.

 

selori

 

His problem is only when he falls asleep at this point. But it's pretty severe. My friends and I laugh about the night we had to move him because he kept waking up growling and snapping at the curtains. Or the fact that we've removed the bed skirt because he likes to put his head under the bed but gets mad at the skirt. Then there was the night recently where we just kicked him out of the bedroom all together because we couldn't identify what object he kept waking up barking at. When the mood strikes him he will lay down right next to me but I have to be prepared for him to wake up with a pretty violent start.

 

I can touch him on his bed and rub his belly or something of the sort. We have gotten that far with the training. I can or my husband can, other dogs are not allowed near him still. I guess hope is not lost but I just try to explain not all greyhounds are EVER capable of constant touching.

 

All the people who claim they are the best trainers and can fix any problem dog I would love to ship him off and humble them... :D

Thanks, inugrey. It sounds like your dog has a "sleep aggression" problem, which I know is common among greyhounds. That is not a problem here (thankfully, we have enough to work through right now! :). My dog is totally fine with being awakened from a dead sleep on his bed or elsewhere. We tested him out for sleep aggression for several days by, as others on this board suggested, tossing rolled socks or other soft items at him when he's asleep. Then we moved on to waking him with our hands, etc. He always wakes up gently.

 

Our problem is strictly location guarding (also known as space aggression). In the last few days, we have had 3-4 training sessions per day. I have worked up to this stage: I call him up on the sofa or our bed using our "up" command. Once he's up there, I can approach and put my knee on the bed or sofa while petting/praising him. I then call him down and give him a click& treat. We do this over and over. I also do the exercise by calling him up and letting him settle in for 30 sec to 1 minute, then call him down and give the click/treat. We repeat these about 10 times (3-4 times per day). I have spoken to some trainer friends, who are very encouraging.

 

Thanks again and good luck with your own ongoing training.

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Guest LindsaySF
But it's pretty severe. My friends and I laugh about the night we had to move him because he kept waking up growling and snapping at the curtains. Or the fact that we've removed the bed skirt because he likes to put his head under the bed but gets mad at the skirt. Then there was the night recently where we just kicked him out of the bedroom all together because we couldn't identify what object he kept waking up barking at.

Sounds just like Teagan! rolleyes.gif

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