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Resource Guarding With Chews And Bones


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So Sam is MOSTLY very good about letting us take food and toys from him if we have to. He'll let me stick my fingers into his mouth to fish things out if he tries to eat things on walks, he'll tolerate us touching his bowl/reaching into it while he's eating, and he will let us take toys.

 

However, if he is chewing on a larger food-like item and we approach him, he gets growly. This includes hide chews, turkey necks, raw bones, and the like. This isn't a new behaviour. Ideally, I would like to be able to give him these chew-able items but retain the ability to take them away if the need arises (for safety, portion control, etc.)

 

Is there a way to train Sam to be comfortable giving up these chews and allowing me to take them? The only safe alternative I can see is not giving him the large items that cause the possessiveness. He's so good about letting us take stuff from him when he's playing or eating normally that I don't see it as a big loss if this is where we draw the line.

 

What do you think?

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Sam, formerly known as Macabres Mandate

Featuring his humans Alexandra & Paul

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He's resource guarding the higher value items to him. The best way in the moment is to use the "trade up" method. If you need to take a high value treat from him, get something extra yummy, give him a small piece so he knows what you have, then toss the rest away from the one you want to take. Once he has moved away from it you can pick it up. If he doesn't move far enough away to bend over and use your hand, you can hook it away with your foot (hopefully covered with a sturdy shoe).

 

Next thing to do is to train both a "drop it" and a "leave it" command. Both will be valuable in case he picks something up or finds something out on walks or in the yard.

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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Trade him.

 

Dogs are so funny--they don't seem to realize the big chewy bone they've got is WAY better than the Milk Bone you're holding out to them, but it works like a charm. When he drops the bone to eat the biscuit, just pick the bone up and walk away.


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

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Trade him.

 

Dogs are so funny--they don't seem to realize the big chewy bone they've got is WAY better than the Milk Bone you're holding out to them, but it works like a charm. When he drops the bone to eat the biscuit, just pick the bone up and walk away.

 

I have to say, that isn't the case with my hounds. They definitely won't leave a marrow bone for a biscuit.

 

I'd be especially cautious about trading low value for high value because I made the mistake of doing this when one of my hounds was new. The first time he was "fooled" but the next time I tried it he was very suspicious of what I was offering because he had been "tricked" in the past. Big booboo on my part. I had to kind of go backwards and get him comfortable with me approaching at all to offer him something by giving him freebie high value treats while he had a bone so he would lose the newly learned bad association with me offering him something "lesser" in order to get what he has.

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Yeah, mine would not give up a bone for a dog cookie. Maybe bacon but thats his top treat choice.

 

We've used squeaker toys to get his attention. He loves his squeaker kong balls, and runs over if we squeak them. So we play fetch while the other human gets the bone picked up.

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Sam will give up ANYTHING for coconut oil, he goes NUTS for it. I sometimes use it as a moisturizer on any skin that's extra dry, and then he follows me around trying to lick it off me!

 

I have been thinking of freezing the oil in an ice cube tray to give him as treats. I will take your advice and try to trade him next time!

 

Do you have any advice on training a "drop it" command?

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Sam, formerly known as Macabres Mandate

Featuring his humans Alexandra & Paul

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The item you trade needs to be higher value than the one he has. Lunchmeat, cheese, rotisserie chicken. Something with a really strong smell. Also, it's good practice to always give the original item back at the end of the training exercise (unless it's one of those occasions where you're walking down the street and he gets ahold of something dangerous or inappropriate). This is what I'd do. Start with daily trading up sessions, and practice 5 or so times per session. Rotate with different rewards everyday. He's sitting down chomping on the bone, you offer the "better" reward, and right as he takes it, you pull away the bone. Give him a second to eat the treat and process what happened. Then in a happy, upbeat voice, "Good boy!" Here's your bone!" and give the bone back. Eventually his brain starts to learn that you taking away the bone is NBD because one, he gets an awesome treat, and two, he always gets it back.

 

Once you've got a solid handle on this, you can transition to "leave it" and "drop it," as they're essentially a more advanced version of "trading up" with some self-control peppered in.

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I guess I've been lucky then!

 

First time I tried to take a bone away from George I nearly lost my arm. After catching my breath I handed him a dog biscuit and he happily gave up the bone for it!

 

So I should have qualified my comment with "some dogs."


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

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