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Is This Resource Guarding?


Guest Ames
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Hi everyone,

 

I'm wondering if the following behaviour is resource guarding and what I can do about it. We are a 3 dog household- our grey made it 3 two months ago. We made some early errors re bones and worked out he and our other larger dog were guarding. No more bones. He doesn't guard his bowl from us or sleeping area from the other dogs. He has occasionally guarded (growled) when he's stolen something and run away with it but that has subsided too in that we can now get stolen things off him without any aggression.

 

However, problems are arising with our smaller dog. When we finish training in the yard and all the dogs return, they will sniff around the area I guess in the hopes of finding a missed tidbit. When this happens our grey will join in, give our small dog a short stare then go for him! Full mouth open down onto him, yelping but no bites/punctures. He doesn't growl first and it all happens really quickly. They other day they all had a carrot each which I supervised. When they were done the sniffing started up again and bam, our grey went our little dog again.

 

Is this resource guarding? It's tricky because there will often be times when food has been around on the ground in the yard (we have children after all!) and I'm worried this will escalate.

 

Any advice to this grey novice would be appreciated!

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It could be.

 

One of ours - a big time resource guarder - will guard even the suspicion of food that *maybe* might have been on the ground at some point! :lol I'm only exaggerating a little! :lol It does sound like he is guarding the "area" and not just a specific treat. That area has a high value because he believes it might hold an item that is also high value for him. IMO, the best way to deal with it to to not let the behavior get started in the first place.

 

Once you are done with training, call them immediately inside for a nice (small) treat, and have them relax inside for a bit. When you let them outside again, let them do it by themselves so they can sniff the space thoroughly alone. Same for if he starts sniffing around - don't let them do it as a group, and definitely don't let the two of them sniff around together. Once he starts sniffing, call him to you and reward his coming. If he won't come, then go get him, hold a nice fresh treat under his nose and lure him away, or clip his leash on and lead him away from where they are sniffing.

 

The other dogs in our household learned really quickly to never try and take anything away from Toni, because she would do the same thing. Hopefully your little dog will catch on quickly. If she doesn't, then you will need to manage the dynamics in your pack accordingly.

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

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

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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Sounds like it.

 

You may find this article helpful:

http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/14_10/features/Resource-Guarding-Behavior-Modification_20368-1.html

 

Also, a word of caution - not sure how you've "stopped" the guarding when you take things, but be careful of punishing guarding behavior. You may end up suppressing only the warning signs, leading to further aggression later. Much safer to teach a trade cue and always either leave the dog be with a high value item or trade for something as good or better.

Edited by NeylasMom

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

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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Guest Jordan33

When my dog tried to guard against me taking a bone from her, she growled at me. I gave a sharp "HEY!" And she understood then that her behavior wasn't appropriate. I've had no troubles since. (I took it so that it would last more than one night)

 

IMO, I have a feeling that trading up is just reinforcing the guarding by telling the dog they are in charge, not the human, and if they growl they'll get something better than what they had. Imagine a kid who grows up thinking they can pitch a fit and get a cool toy for it. I had a friend who grew up that way, and even at age 28 would pitch a fit with her mom in target. Talk about embarrassing! Not in my house!

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When my dog tried to guard against me taking a bone from her, she growled at me. I gave a sharp "HEY!" And she understood then that her behavior wasn't appropriate. I've had no troubles since. (I took it so that it would last more than one night)

 

IMO, I have a feeling that trading up is just reinforcing the guarding by telling the dog they are in charge, not the human, and if they growl they'll get something better than what they had. Imagine a kid who grows up thinking they can pitch a fit and get a cool toy for it. I had a friend who grew up that way, and even at age 28 would pitch a fit with her mom in target. Talk about embarrassing! Not in my house!

 

:nod:nod:nod:nod:nod:nod

 

all my pups (and cat) know I'm the leader, and not thru fear... to me, it's not about negative or positive reinforcement... it's about respecting the leader of the pack... and not thru violence, just telling them that behavior is not allowed... that's all... when i say "HEY!" they drop whatever they're doing and look to me...

Image removed, not within Signature Guidelines.

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When my dog tried to guard against me taking a bone from her, she growled at me. I gave a sharp "HEY!" And she understood then that her behavior wasn't appropriate. I've had no troubles since. (I took it so that it would last more than one night)

 

IMO, I have a feeling that trading up is just reinforcing the guarding by telling the dog they are in charge, not the human, and if they growl they'll get something better than what they had. Imagine a kid who grows up thinking they can pitch a fit and get a cool toy for it. I had a friend who grew up that way, and even at age 28 would pitch a fit with her mom in target. Talk about embarrassing! Not in my house!

Teaching and using a trade cue in no way reinforces guarding. You teach the cue in a way that doesn't elicit guarding from the dog at a time when the dog is not already guarding. You're simply teaching a behavior that means when I say this cue, whatever word you chose (trade, drop it, give, etc.), you should drop whatever is in your mouth and it will earn you reinforcement. You can also do counter-conditioning exercises that teach the dog to associate your approach when the dog has items of value with good things rather than having to fear you'll take away his or her prized position. Once you've done this training, you no longer have a dog that feels the need to guard. Until you've done the training, you use simple management principles to prevent the dog from guarding.

 

Dogs by the way don't have a concept of being "in charge". Behavior is governed by consequences. Dogs do things in order to get things they like or to avoid negative consequences (including pain or fear). Punishment is an effective way to stop behavior you don't like, but again, it can have negative consequences, ones that aren't always seen immediately. Maybe your punishing the growling won't cause problems down the road. If that's the case, I suspect her guarding was very mild to begin with and could have been very easily addressed with some behavior modification training. But you do run the very real risk of provoking a bite down the road because you've punished her warning signal and given her more cause to worry about what happens when you approach when she has resources. Unfortunately I see it with my behavior consult clients regularly, often in dogs as young as 5 or 6 months old who have been with their owners since puppyhood.

 

I've never understood the mentality of wanting to be "in charge" of my dog. I want a happy, loving, mutually fun and affectionate relationship with my dogs where they do the things I need them to do because I've motivated them to make those choices. When you can get better results using reward based methods and have a dog who doesn't have negative associations with you, why would you choose another method?

Edited by NeylasMom

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

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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When my dog tried to guard against me taking a bone from her, she growled at me. I gave a sharp "HEY!" And she understood then that her behavior wasn't appropriate. I've had no troubles since. (I took it so that it would last more than one night)

 

IMO, I have a feeling that trading up is just reinforcing the guarding by telling the dog they are in charge, not the human, and if they growl they'll get something better than what they had. Imagine a kid who grows up thinking they can pitch a fit and get a cool toy for it. I had a friend who grew up that way, and even at age 28 would pitch a fit with her mom in target. Talk about embarrassing! Not in my house!

 

She growled because she didn't want you to take her prize. She's NOT "pitching a fit" like a human. You're only being a bully if you punish her. Dogs are not people, and shouldn't be treated or analyzed like they are.

 

"Teaching and using a trade cue in no way reinforces guarding. You teach the cue in a way that doesn't elicit guarding from the dog at a time when the dog is not already guarding. You're simply teaching a behavior that means when I say this cue, whatever word you chose (trade, drop it, give, etc.), you should drop whatever is in your mouth and it will earn you reinforcement. You can also do counter-conditioning exercises that teach the dog to associate your approach when the dog has items of value with good things..."

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

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

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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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Old school thinking - I am the boss how dare a dog growl at me. So sad we cannot evolve as humans and stop being so arrogant and self-obsessed.

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Back to the OP - lots of good advice here - I only wanted to pitch in that our Finn was/is a resource guarder. The behavior was much more pronounced when we first brought him home - he would growl (no nipping, biting, etc.) if you came near him with a toy (especially new toys) or when we first got the slumberball bed or if he had treats and we walked too close.

 

However - after having him for a little over a year - he rarely does this anymore. He does growl at our new dog when she gets too close to him while he is lying down - but he is just setting boundaries (and she has none!).

 

Honestly, I think our boy was just testing his boundaries with all of us and now he is more settled. He knows we aren't going to kick him out of bed, or take his toys, or take his food - so he's mellowing out.

 

Good luck!

Edited by Sundrop
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Back to the OP - lots of good advice here - I only wanted to pitch in that our Finn was/is a resource guarder. The behavior was much more pronounced when we first brought him home - he would growl (no nipping, biting, etc.) if you came near him with a toy (especially new toys) or when we first got the slumberball bed or if he had treats and we walked too close.

 

However - after having him for a little over a year - he rarely does this anymore. He does growl at our new dog when she gets too close to him while he is lying down - but he is just setting boundaries (and she has none!).

 

Honestly, I think our boy was just testing his boundaries with all of us and now he is more settled. He knows we aren't going to kick him out of bed, or take his toys, or take his food - so he's mellowing out.

 

Good luck!

Not testing his boundaries so much as a dog who's had limited or no access to these types of resources (bones, bully sticks, even brand new squeaky toys) in the past so when they first come into our homes, they have no concept of "I will always have access to these AWESOME things". Over time, they learn that they do, and the novelty of them also wears off.

 

For example, Violet is a resource guarder, mostly over food. Most toys are a non-issue. Until we bring a particularly exciting new toy into the home. A basic stuffie, meh, but one that does something special or is really big, game on. A day later, she's over it. I will never forget when she was newer and we were out on a walk when she found someone's fleece scarf, which was partially knotted up, making it perfect for carrying in a greyhound mouth. She would not give it up. We finished the last 10 minutes of her walk with her head at a complete 90 degree angle to the left to avoid the dogs who were on her right (who had zero interest in it by the way) and when we got home I had to let her carry it inside. Eventually she got bored and dropped it and that was the end of that. :lol

 

Anyway, minor clarification, but your point is an important one. In most cases, resource guarding is likely to get worse as people continue to avoid warnings and take things away, forcing the dog to take additional steps to protect their resources, but often for dogs like ours if just left alone the guarding can improve. The key though is just leaving them be, or heeding their warnings when they do growl so they don't feel forced to escalate. This is often fine in many households. With Violet, I've never really made it a priority to do behavior mod for her resource guarding because it's easily managed with the dogs in our home and I have no problem leaving her to eat in peace, etc. so as not to threaten her.

Edited by NeylasMom

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

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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