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Aggressiveness With Rawhide


Guest neverminding
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Guest neverminding

Hello everyone! First time posting here.

 

We've had our lovely Fiona for a little over three months now and she's been absolutely wonderful. Her general behavior falls on the timid side and we've never seen any kind of aggression out of her. I can even reach my hand in and take her food away in the middle of eating with just a resulting look of confusion from her.

 

Since she's not taking to having her teeth brushed as quickly as we like, I tried giving her some compressed rawhide as a treat (while fully monitoring of course. I think most of the rawhide horror stories come from people that leave their dog alone with it). It doubly tires her out and gets rid of plaque buildup on her teeth - a win!

 

Once in awhile if I come near her or startle her while she's into it, she'll give a little yelp/growl, a sound we've never heard before, but appears to be aggressive. I tried petting her and even sticking my finger in her mouth while he's chewing on it with no reaction—it's only when I try and touch the rawhide itself or come at her from an angle she cannot see me from. The last thing I want to do is discontinue the rawhide, but I'm very uncomfortable giving it to her if she's going to be so possessive about it. Is there anything I can do to gradually get her used to me taking it away?

 

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Thanks!

Ron

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The rawhide is a high value treat, that's why she's reacting the way she is. Try trading up with her. Find a really yummy treat, hold it out for her to take and when she does, remove the rawhide. It basically teaches her that what you have is of higher value that what she has. It may take a few times but she'll learn quickly.

Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

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Guest Swifthounds

A few suggestions:

 

Try working with her on giving what she has. Being able to surrender a high value item because you ask for it is an essential, and potentially life saving skill. I'm not a fan of trying the "trading up" method with the item of high value. Instead, give her something she likes, but that doesn't elicit the same growlies. Give her that item. Begin by finding a high value edible treat - something she goes crazy for and doesn't get all the time. Approach her when she has the item and simply toss treats out as you approach, then move away. Repeat, moving closer to her each time, following her body language for any sign of tension. Keep going until you can approach her hind end. Simply touch the hind end, treat, and move away. Slowly work your way up the back, treating each time you touch. Work up you being able to place the treat right near her face. When she put her mouth on it, place you hand on the rawhide. Work up to being able to take the item, and then immediately treat and give it back.

 

Rawhides are definitely more dangerous is a dog is alone, but I wouldn't say they're safe with supervision. Rawhides, in addition to often being processed with things you'd probably rather not feed to your dog, swell greatly in fluid. Dogs often tear off pieces and swallow them. Once the pieces hit the stomach or the intestines and come in contact with moisture, they swell and can cause an obstruction.

 

I use bully stick instead. They're edible and much more digestible, and they don't swell.

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Yes, she is beautiful!!! As far as the aggression, I had taken my bridge boy Jack up to Dr. Dodman at Tufts for a sleep disorder. As part of it they do a full behavioral analysis with a sheet to fill out. I checked off that he showed aggression with a chewy. ...Not at his foodbowl, not with a biscuit, but just with a long term chewy. He said that he would not worry about it a bit and simply not to try to take it. It would have been more a concern if it was with everything, but he (and the books that I have read by him) basically say that if you give the dog the treat, then leave him alone. That does present another problem that someone else brought up. I could not give Jack a chewy if I wanted to leave the house, because I didn't like him having something that he might choke on while I wasn't home - so if it was something he couldn't finish quickly, I just didn't give it when I had to leave.

 

 

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Robin, EZ (Tribal Track), JJ (What a Story), Dustin (E's Full House) and our beautiful Jack (Mana Black Jack) and Lily (Chip's Little Miss Lily) both at the Bridge
The WFUBCC honors our beautiful friends at the bridge. Godspeed sweet angels.

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She's just giving you the canine version of a polite warning as she would any dog. It is possible she had already given you some other much more subtle signals easily missed by a non-canine then felt she needed to escalate to get the point across. If she is still tolerating you getting that close to her, even putting your hand in her mouth while she has the rawhide then things are far from critical but definitely best to start work on short circuiting this issue.

 

As already stated, teach her to trade up so you will both feel comfortable and safe with you not only approaching her when she has the high value item but will happily allow you to take it. Trading up works if you do as Swifthounds stated & start teaching it in a session away from the high value item. Over time you can work up to trading for a very high value item because she expects that not only will she get something just as good but will also get the fave item back. The fact that she won't always get it back will not matter at that point as long as you continue to periodically practice the trade & almost always reward her when you must take something but not give it back. The anticipation of a good reward will then be her motivator & combined with the practice will keep the behavior set.

 

While working on teaching her to trade up you can also start conditioning her to feel better about having you around when she has her rawhide. This does not involve you trying to touch or trade for the rawhide or even to approach her while she has it. Get something truly scrumptious to her like little bits of steak, chicken, Red Barn, etc. When she has her rawhide, simply walk by at a distance that would not normally elicit a reaction from her & toss her a bit of whatever yummy you have. Then keep going. Do this often & slowly work closer & closer to her. The goal is to eventually be able to approach her, touch her, etc. without ever eliciting even the faintest hint of a doggie warning.

 

Once she not only is good with the trading up game with items of high-ish value seperate from items she may guard, in this case rawhide, but also feels that your approach while she has her rawhide means great things, like treats raining down upon her, you will then be ready to try trading up with the rawhide. In her case it may go quite quickly but do not give in & rush it. Take your time. The longer the prior history of good things happening while she has high value items, the more easily, comfortably, happily she will relinquish them. That adds up to the most important thing, your safety should you need to approach & possibly have to take those items from her.

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Guest EmergencyOps

At first with our brindle girl, I would trade up. But then I began using the 'leave it' command. Apparently her foster had taught her that. She would still hover over it, but at least I could take it without getting snapped at in the process. It was a rawhide, too. The kind that is called 'Duck Wraps'...a rawhide with some kind of duck coating. I swear it was doggy crack.

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Guest cwholsin

Hermes had the same issue with rawhides and especially treasured toys. When we'd take it from him, he'd growl when we touched it but then drop it anyway. Since it was such a low level aggression, we worked on getting him comfortable with our hands being near him when he had a rawhide by petting him and praising him (when he wasn't growling). Once he was comfortable with us petting his head and face, we would work on touching the rawhide while he had it without taking it away. (I was mostly concerned with him developing a snapping habit when we would reach for his head/mouth area).

 

Simultaneously, we've worked with him on the give it command with items of lesser value. When he was comfortable with us touching the rawhide while he had it in his mouth, we tell him to give it, give him a second to understand what we were going to do and take it from him. When he gives it without growling, we give it right back to him after praising. I like this method more than trading up because I feel it teaches him that giving us what we want gets rewarded. Since we're alpha, we don't have to apologize for taking something from him. Everything he has is ours to choose when he gets it and why.

 

It didn't take him long to pick up on this and we haven't had anymore growling behavior out of him :)

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The rawhide is a high value treat, that's why she's reacting the way she is. Try trading up with her. Find a really yummy treat, hold it out for her to take and when she does, remove the rawhide. It basically teaches her that what you have is of higher value that what she has. It may take a few times but she'll learn quickly.

:nod exactly tempt her with a liver treat or such and have her trade the rawhide.

Edited by Hubcitypam
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Since we're alpha, we don't have to apologize for taking something from him. Everything he has is ours to choose when he gets it and why.

Glad the Alpha thing is working great for you. That statement just makes me cringe. Ten times over.

 

Alpha went away years ago from this house and was replaced by trying to listen to what the dogs said and be a strong leader instead of trying to be a dominate MASTER. Too many people want to control their dog as opposed to listening to their dog.

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Guest Swifthounds

The rawhide is a high value treat, that's why she's reacting the way she is. Try trading up with her. Find a really yummy treat, hold it out for her to take and when she does, remove the rawhide. It basically teaches her that what you have is of higher value that what she has. It may take a few times but she'll learn quickly.

:nod exactly tempt her with a liver treat or such and have her trade the rawhide.

 

If you opt for this shortcut method, be sure to give the rawhide back immediately. If you take it away permanently, all the dog learns is to evaluate whether whatever tidbit is worth losing something, and that you can't really be trusted.

 

Since we're alpha, we don't have to apologize for taking something from him. Everything he has is ours to choose when he gets it and why.

Glad the Alpha thing is working great for you. That statement just makes me cringe. Ten times over.

 

Alpha went away years ago from this house and was replaced by trying to listen to what the dogs said and be a strong leader instead of trying to be a dominate MASTER. Too many people want to control their dog as opposed to listening to their dog.

 

It went away with good reason. The human should be the leader, but a leader that the dog can trust. The alpha approach mistakes compliance with obedience and builds on a relationship of mistrust and fear. Might get the behavior you want from your dog that way, but you don't get the relationship - which is much more important.

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Guest cwholsin

I think you guys are misunderstanding. I equate the term alpha with pack leader. My hubby and I are alpha and the 'pack leader' with all our animals (cats included!). Being the boss does not automatically mean you're heavy-handed and demanding.

 

Under no circumstance do we force our dog to submit. He obeys because he trusts us, respects our authority, and understands what we are asking of him. We don't hit him, yell at him, or withhold affection, exercise, food, or anything else he needs. Ultimately he is a dog, and everything he gets DOES come from us. That does not mean we're depriving him of anything, but he knows that what we want trumps what he wants when it's asked of him. If he ever gets into something dangerous--having a dog who will give something up regardless how scrumptious it is may save his life someday. In this case, I didn't want my dog learning that he shouldn't give something up unless he's getting something better.

 

When we first got him, he was very shy and the time that we've put in with him with positive training and teaching him the rules is what has really helped him out of his shell. We have a great relationship with Hermes. He 'chatters', loves playing with his toys, and getting petted. Our training methods obviously haven't deprived us of developing a good relationship with our dog.

 

Please don't judge a situation based on assumptions.

 

To the OP: I hope you find something here that you feel will help with your lovely girl, and ignore the criticism on this method or the other. What matters is finding something that works with your dog. For every training method under the sun, there's a dog it's not going to work well for.

Edited by cwholsin
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When he was comfortable with us touching the rawhide while he had it in his mouth, we tell him to give it, give him a second to understand what we were going to do and take it from him.

This may have worked well with Hermes but it is important to remember that some dogs may not accept this approach. And someone else may unintentionally rush things, pushing a dog too far too soon. Doing so with a resource guarder or timid, fearful dogs has an element risk. That is why you find so many recommending the trading up method of training.

 

When he gives it without growling, we give it right back to him after praising. I like this method more than trading up because I feel it teaches him that giving us what we want gets rewarded.

You may consider it a reward but I don’t really consider it one. I feel it is more like habituating him to having his stuff handled & helping him realize you do not often steal it. Then again, it is what Hermes feels that matters, right? :)

 

I equate the term alpha with pack leader.

Oh, eek! That one is likely to be misunderstood these days as well through over-use by a dominance based TV personality on Nat Geo. Thanks to him 'pack leader' is hard for me to stomach now. So I just stick with leader. Besides, I don't necessarily want my dogs to consider me part of the pack & treat me like I am another dog.

 

We don't hit him, yell at him, or withhold affection, exercise, food, or anything else he needs.

Oh, I do not think anyone was implying that. Just for the record though, & not assuming you don't know this, body language can be quite forceful & intimidating as well. That can actually be a very, very strong way to force a dog to do something. Trouble is that *something* could be something you want or it could be something defensive like a bite. So to OP & anyone working through issues like this, try not to use body language your dog could interpret as intimidating when dealing with a resource guarding problem.

 

If he ever gets into something dangerous--having a dog who will give something up regardless how scrumptious it is may save his life someday. In this case, I didn't want my dog learning that he shouldn't give something up unless he's getting something better.

You are absolutely correct on the importance of being able to take even the bestest thing away from your dog. I do wonder if maybe you are considering the training method of trading up to be the finished product. Trading up is just a technique used to safely train the dog to not only willingly but even eagerly give something up. The finished behavior does not involve trading up. Ultimately, once the dog is trained you will not have to give him something else to get the scrumptious but dangerous item. However, trading up should still be practiced periodically so it remains a good thing. Practice keeps that good emotional response alive & well.

 

For every training method under the sun, there's a dog it's not going to work well for.

I believe you are right.

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In this case, I didn't want my dog learning that he shouldn't give something up unless he's getting something better.

 

I just want to add something & provide an article on resource guarding. When deciding what training method to use we all try to reason these things out to find the best way to communicate our intended message to our dogs. Our message is often the sort of intellectual side of the lesson. An important part of the success of using trading up to train a dog to give something up is the strong, positive emotional response it builds. The dog ends up acting like you asking him to give you something is at least a good thing & sometimes fantastic. Even a mediocre job of training this leaves him OK with you taking things. That could save his life. That emotional component is a CER & if you Google "conditioned emotional response" you can find a lot on it. A CER is what used to get cats running to the kitchen when they heard the can opener before the days of pop-top lids. Here is a good article on resource guarding. Click Here If you scroll down to The Process it explains the idea. This really does work.

 

It is important to remember that CERs can also have negative effects. For examples to back in this thread because you just read the reaction of people’s negative CER to the word “alpha” & mine to “pack leader”. (OK, I think from a behavior science perspective I am using positive & negative incorrectly.) It’s something to bear in mind when choosing whether to use a correction & what correction if you choose to use one. If you take something from the dog as a test & rather than return it you continue to withhold it because he growled you could be building an unpleasant emotional response that has the potential to come back & bite you in the butt later when you really, really need to get something from your dog. Your reason may be to correct him for growling. He may or may not understand that. Either way, he may be building a bad emotional response that could one day cause a problem. It may only mild enough to cause a hesitation to give something up, perhaps a turn of this head. If it is someone he does not know well, has not built trust in, then it could be a stronger reaction like a growl, snap or bite. Regardless, my preference would be to try to avoid that. Not trying to say who is right or wrong. Just explaining the reason many of us chose this method.

 

Just know that when it comes down to it, I want my dog to *want* to give me something she considers valuable. That has produced much better results than having them do it just because they think they have to give to my authority. Trust me, giving the dog rewards still keeps you as the leader. A good leader provides & those leaders who provide well are the most respected. That is not an implication that you are not good leaders. Just an explanation of why using rewards like those used in the trading up approach can actually enhance your position of leadership. It is usually also a much safer approach.

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Guest cwholsin

In this case, I didn't want my dog learning that he shouldn't give something up unless he's getting something better.

 

I just want to add something & provide an article on resource guarding. When deciding what training method to use we all try to reason these things out to find the best way to communicate our intended message to our dogs. Our message is often the sort of intellectual side of the lesson. An important part of the success of using trading up to train a dog to give something up is the strong, positive emotional response it builds. The dog ends up acting like you asking him to give you something is at least a good thing & sometimes fantastic. Even a mediocre job of training this leaves him OK with you taking things. That could save his life. That emotional component is a CER & if you Google "conditioned emotional response" you can find a lot on it. A CER is what used to get cats running to the kitchen when they heard the can opener before the days of pop-top lids. Here is a good article on resource guarding. Click Here If you scroll down to The Process it explains the idea. This really does work.

 

It is important to remember that CERs can also have negative effects. For examples to back in this thread because you just read the reaction of people's negative CER to the word "alpha" & mine to "pack leader". (OK, I think from a behavior science perspective I am using positive & negative incorrectly.) It's something to bear in mind when choosing whether to use a correction & what correction if you choose to use one. If you take something from the dog as a test & rather than return it you continue to withhold it because he growled you could be building an unpleasant emotional response that has the potential to come back & bite you in the butt later when you really, really need to get something from your dog. Your reason may be to correct him for growling. He may or may not understand that. Either way, he may be building a bad emotional response that could one day cause a problem. It may only mild enough to cause a hesitation to give something up, perhaps a turn of this head. If it is someone he does not know well, has not built trust in, then it could be a stronger reaction like a growl, snap or bite. Regardless, my preference would be to try to avoid that. Not trying to say who is right or wrong. Just explaining the reason many of us chose this method.

 

Just know that when it comes down to it, I want my dog to *want* to give me something she considers valuable. That has produced much better results than having them do it just because they think they have to give to my authority. Trust me, giving the dog rewards still keeps you as the leader. A good leader provides & those leaders who provide well are the most respected. That is not an implication that you are not good leaders. Just an explanation of why using rewards like those used in the trading up approach can actually enhance your position of leadership. It is usually also a much safer approach.

 

We're not really disagreeing on method, we just didn't want to use trading up with Hermes. The behaviorist who 'advised' us to use trading up indicated that any other way would encourage the growling (with some inward eye-rolling on our part)--so I guess you could say we developed a negative response to that particular approach. Some like it, some don't. Who knows, with another dog with a stronger response we may have felt more comfortable training out that response by giving him a treat when taking the rawhide instead of just verbal praise.

 

Building a positive response is absolutely what makes training work. So both methods are effective in that regard as long as you reward the behavior you want. Removing the rawhide without 'trading up' can accomplish the same thing. Even if the dog growls, you hold the rawhide until he or she stops growling, and then you can praise and return the rawhide. With us, if he growled, it only lasted a few seconds and then he was quiet. In training him the way that we did, the growling behavior very quickly dropped off. We haven't seen it since with us or our friends.

 

You make a good point that this method can be more dangerous than trading up. A dog who is growling and snapping at you anytime you get near him when he has a rawhide, that's a different story. The important thing to us was making sure that he was comfortable with how we were touching him before moving forward to the next step in the training so he wouldn't feel threatened by us or what we were doing with him. I felt pretty comfortable sharing what we did since the OP's dog had a low aggression response also.

 

 

Thanks for sharing your research, obviously you've put a lot of time into gaining a thorough understanding! smile.gif

 

Long live positive training!

Edited by cwholsin
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For OP:

 

The whole point of trading up is not to dangle the trade in front of the dog in perpetuity, but to teach the dog a reliable "Drop it!" command. The first time, if dog has something like a bone or a rawhide, then yes you'll probably have to dangle the trade in front of the dog. Ideally, tho, you don't want to give extremely high value objects until the dog has learned a good "Drop it!" During most training, I keep my treats in my pocket or treat pouch until it's time to deliver one :) . For this exercise I use really special treats that I don't use for anything else -- little slivers of cheddar cheese, for example.

 

I start teaching "Drop it!" with something the dog has little or no interest in. An old non-favorite toy, a washcloth, a toilet paper tube .... Offer it to the dog, set it down between dog's paws if dog won't take it, cheerful "Drop it!", "Good dog!" (because the dog is not holding the object) and treat; take the object away and then give it right back. Repeat repeat repeat. Next day, start with undesirable object for a round or two and then move on to object that maybe dog does want a little bit -- say, a toy he plays with occasionally. Same deal -- if dog won't take it, set it down between his paws. Repeat your routine. Gradually move on up to objects that the dog *does* want, making sure that you always end the session by leaving the object with the dog and making sure that you never move on to a "better" object if there's any resistance with the "worse" one.

 

Most dogs, with one or two daily sessions, take only a week or two to learn to drop most anything -- cheerfully, without resistance, and without running away while gobbling whatever the object is.

Edited by Batmom

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 Swifthounds

The method I posted above is what I've used for years and found to work better than a solely "trading up" approach. Lee Livingood presented pretty much the same method at the AGC seminars at Dewey this year. She also demonstrated most of the techniques on actual dogs, which really helps in actually conceptualizing it. Unfortunately, though attendance was good, it wasn't what it should have been. I have her book somewhere, but I don't recall how much behavioral elements were covered in it.

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