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Too Soon To Hire A Trainer & Resource Guarding?


Guest Prof_Bananas
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Guest Prof_Bananas

Hello all!

 

We adopted our dog 1 month ago today and he has made great strides. I first posted about our difficulties with steps (which were not optional because we live in a second floor apartment). He finally decided to do them on his own, though he tends to hop his back legs up and down, passing over two steps at a time with them. Is this worth trying to fix? He also won't come up with us, but if we take his leash off at the bottom and go up ourselves, he will follow in less than a minute, so we're accepting that.

 

He was freezing on walks quite regularly (sometimes taking 45 minutes-1 hour to go around the block! It looks like we have pretty much conquered that one ---- we aren't sure if it was our "clicking and treating" every time he started walking again on his own, or if he just got used to the crazy stuff going on outside. Either way, it is a relief!

 

This brings me our next issue. He is quite toy possessive and growls if we ever try to take a toy or chew item away from him (which is the same if he manages to get something dangerous in his mouth). I've done some reading about trading up and teaching "drop it", but we are novices and sometimes there is a lot of confusing information out there. He will drop whatever is in his mouth for a treat and we can usually then pick up the desired object without an issue, but we definitely want to make sure that this behavior does not develop into a bigger issue. We have not tried to take away his food....should we?

 

I guess my big question here is, when is it too soon to hire a trainer to help us make sure we are on the right track? We were told not to do this by the adoption group for the first 'couple of months'---but then I've read things about how this sort of aggression can develop into a much larger problem. Would love to hear opinions. I've only read briefly about NILIF training, and wonder what others' thoughts are on this concept.

 

Thanks for all of your help! I've spent hours and hours on this site trying to learn more about greyhounds!

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I would work on getting him to come up with you on leash, just for safety's sake. Could try longer leash, going up to the end of it, and waiting there with your back turned.

 

For the treats/toys, if he will drop what's in his mouth for a treat, you can easily teach "drop it." I start -- or prime the system -- by getting something the dog doesn't want (old washcloth, for example), put it down in front of him, nice cheerful, "Drop it!", take the washcloth, "Good dog!" (or click) and give treat. Then give the washcloth right back. Repeat 6-8 times in a row, 2-3 times a day for 2-3 days. Then move on to something that he might be mildly interested in, such as an old toy; same procedure. Then something that he's definitely interested in but not crazy for, such as a newer toy. Et cetera. For each phase, these principles:

 

- Any time he shows indecision about whether to drop it, or reluctance to let you take it, go back to the previous level for a couple days.

- Always (except maybe for that first washcloth) end by leaving the desired object with him. You won't do that in real life but this is training :) .

- Use treats that he doesn't get for anything else (except maybe stairs :lol ) -- hot dog slivers, teeny cheddar cheese cubes, freeze-dried chicken .....

 

I don't try to take away the dog's food. Until I know the dog has a good "drop it!", I only give chewies that can be gobbled right up; I don't give those that take more time and that I might have to take away again.

 

This kind of reaction usually doesn't lead to other undesirable things. It's a normal dog thing. And a human thing, too. What would you do if somebody tried to snatch your steak away when you were just cutting yourself a yummy bite? You probably wouldn't haul off and bite anybody but I bet you'd growl. :)

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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P.S. Some folks find that hand feeding helps the dog get used to hands around their food etc. Hand feeding as in sit down at mealtime with the bowl in your lap and give one or two kibbles from your hand at a time. Some folks also find that it can be useful to give larger treats (like a long bully stick) by holding on to one end while the dog chews the other end. I might leave the bully stick procedure for a bit later on in your relationship but hand feeding can happen at any time.

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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It sounds like you guys are doing a great job so far and have a knack for (or experience with) training based on the progress you've made so far. All I'll say is that it's never "too" anything to hire a trainer if you don't mind spending the money and can find someone who uses positive reinforcement techniques (otherwise, the behavior could turn into a bigger problem as a result of the training), but in your instance, enrolling in a basic obedience class might be the way to go. Then you'd have a trainer as a resource for these types of issues. I'm noticing lately that a lot of schools are even offering supplementary opportunities to get behavior advice at no additional cost as part of your class fee. For instance, in an effort to keep the actual time in class efficient and on point, the place where I last took Violet offered a behavior Q&A basically a few nights a month. That might be a more cost effective option for you, plus you'd get the benefits that come from a group class - working with distractions, tiring him out, bonding with him, building his confidence, etc.

 

In the meantime, keep working on the give and leave it cues. If he will already give things on cue, then I would add in giving the item back immediately while saying "take it" to teach that cue and further reinforce him giving up items. And no, I would not try to take his food or do anything else that might cause him to feel like he needs to warn you. Use the give cue if you need to take something away, practice it a lot outside of that so it doesn't lose its effectiveness, and otherwise let him have his food, bone, toy, etc. in peace.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Resource guarding is not aggression, it's a very common canine behavior. It will only escalate if you force the issue. Trading up is a perfectly valid way to go for high value things you want to take away from him, or in the event of an emergency (like he's got something poisonous in his mouth, or a chicken bone). Batmom has given you some good advice about how to go about teaching the "drop it" command, which is always a good thing to teach.

 

I too would be more worried about leaving him alone, unleashed, at the bottom of the stairs. Do more work on him coming up the stairs with you. Maybe a longer leash, as suggested, and *really super yummy* treats to help get him moving while you are with him.

 

The reason your adoption group said to hold off on hiring a trainer is because it will mostly not accomplish wwhat you want until the dog has settled into his home and is able to learn commands from you - ie, he has built up at least a small level of trust and easiness. If you feel like a trainer or beginning obedience class would be beneficial, then you can certainly try it. All you'll be out is time and money. Make sure you find a class with a trainer who uses positive reinforcement, and will let you go at your own pace about some things. I've even taken a dog to obedience classes specifically NOT for obedience, but more for the socialization aspects. I spoke with the trainer before hand about our goals (or lack of them) and she was really great at helping me and the other dogs/people put my dog at ease. We did learn things, but not what she was teaching!

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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I agree with the others. For us, spending the money to hire a trainer/behaviorist would be a "last resort" option. You will probably be able to make just as much progress on your own or in a basic obedience class. Growling can definitely be scary, but resource guarding is a fairly common behavior. Chances of an actual bite are very slim if you're doing the training correctly.

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Lots of great advice above :). Re training, I wanted to mention that there is a 4-week Greyhound-only training class, starting July 27 at the Especially for Pets in Westborough, MA. See "Greyhound Specialty" near the bottom of this page. Quite a few greater Boston-area folks (including me) have taken this class with their hounds and found it helpful.

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Merlin (Heathers Wizard), Mina (Where's Rebecca), and Mae the Galga - three crazy dogs in the house of M

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Guest FullMetalFrank

The first time I gave my boy Nonnie a raw chicken quarter we had a go-around! I feed a raw meal at dinner 2-3 times a week when we can; and non had been home a few days when he got his first one. We feed them on towels; they learn to keep their item on the towel but that takes awhile. I put Jewel's towel and food down in another room and then Non's in the dining room. He immediately puts his chicken on the carpet and this is where I would pick it up, place it back on the towel, and we do that until they get the hint. Um, no... He growled and lunged at my hand with a full complement of teeth; he wasn't about to give up this delicious new and exciting food item! I was expecting some resistance as he was a new hound so I was prepared for that; tried again, same deal, and there was no way I was going to get his chicken off the carpet without him, trying to bite my hand off! I don't let them win; but short of finding a huge glove and maybe a bite suit this was going to be challenging! I had a baby gate nearby that wasn't in use and I maneuvered it between my snarky big boy and the chicken like a sheild! Got the chicken, put it back on the towel and let him have it again immediately. We did this a couple more times; once he figured out I was going to give it back, he let me take it without issue. I think we had a couple of minor relapses the next two or three raw feeding times but by week two he got the message that Mom gets to take things away if she wants, oh, and I guess I am supposed to kkep my yummy raw stuff within this rectangular space! (The towel) I am not a dog training expert by any means; but we've lived thru 5 hound homecomings and their initial trials and tribulations, just standing our ground and providing calm and consistent guidance. Protecting yourself from being bitten is very important; preventing squabbles between muliple hounds while everyone learns the ropes is important as well. A good trainer can give you confidence and show you how to safely work with your dog until you feel confident. I had varios issues with both of my big males when they were new. Frank tried to bite my face off when I pulled his hair removing a bandage (muzzle for first aid procedures with him for awhile!) and Non did the same except he wanted my hand when I needed to tape a torn dew claw. He doesn't even flinch anymore and he'll let me stick my fingers in his mouth, clean his ears, change a bandage with elastikon pulling his hair, dremel his nails, anything after a going on 2 years together. They will get the hang of being respectful with consistent, fair, and calm leadership.

Edited by FullMetalFrank
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