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Help for first time owner - Resource guarding


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Hi,

just looking for some guidance from experienced owners.  We recently (4 months) adopted a lovely 5.5 year old grey bitch who only retired from racing in December.  We love her to pieces and she is lovely with us but there is a problem brewing that we need to get on top of ASAP.

We laid down some good ground rules I think, she has her own bed in the kitchen, she comes into the lounge with us and has another bed in there when we settle down on an evening but she is not allowed on the couch and is never allowed upstairs so our beds are out of the question.  She gets plenty of exercise with a morning 20 min walk and 1 hour plus in the evening which she loves.

so the problem... and this has only recently started in the last month or so.  She has access to the hallway and the kitchen on an evening and during the day when we’re out at work and often will choose to sleep on a blanket in the hallway, she has started resource guarding this space but never with us, this problem really only occurs with visitors to the house.  From what I have read it's typical resource guarding behaviour of growling and then snapping at anyone who doesn’t back off!  It’s also a bit hit and miss, 3 days a week we have a dog walker who comes in at midday and has done since the first week we adopted, this lady is lovely and gets on really well with our dog but now some days she is fine and others she will retreat into the hallway and growl if approached.  Any visitors to the house such as family or friends or even workmen are becoming a real issue.  We really don’t want to be trapped into not ever being able to go away for any period of time because our dog won’t allow others to look after her.

As I said away from the house she is fine although always muzzled to be safe.  She never growls at us and will allow us into her space without issue when on her beds but we are always cautious and don’t disturb her sleeping.

any tips on how we stop this behaviour which is getting worse by the week?

Thanks

 

 

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My first instinct would be to remove that blanket and, depending on the layout of your house, gate off that hallway so that she can't be there when you aren't home. If she's treating an area like it's her space but it can't safely be her space, then she shouldn't be there (whether it be the couch, a human bed, or just a specific place like this).

But, I also wonder if this isn't so much a "this is my space" thing, as it is a "you are a stranger and I'm guarding the entrance to my house" thing. Again, depends on the layout of your house. A behaviorist doing a home visit could probably see a lot more accurately what exactly is going on, your adoption group probably has someone in your area they could recommend. But you'll do different training if it's resource guarding versus fear of strangers entering the house.

Is she never in a crate? If it's a safe space she is craving, then maybe think about transitioning away from this enclosed hallway space to a crate.

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Thanks for the reply.  No improvement yet but we are trying.  She doesn't have a blanket in the hallway now and we have put a crate in the kitchen for her.  She will lay outside it but hasn’t ventured into it yet.  The strange thing here is the fact that people she has known come into our house since day 1 when we adopted her are also a problem, we’re having to tell people just to ignore her when they enter the house and leave it up to her if she wants to come over for a stroke.  At present this never really happens.  She is a perfect and lovely dog for me and my partner.  Seeking a good behaviourist to help.

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You've received good info above. Throwing this out there but I would consult the vet to check that your pup's eyesight is not compromised, as well as doing bloodwork to ensure that all levels are within the normal ranges.

I reread your post and see that your girl is not allowed upstairs at night with you. She doesn't need to sleep in your bed , is it possible for you to put one of her dog beds upstairs so that she can be with her family, which she sees as her pack mates. At five yo she retired late and she's only known the company of other greyhounds for all that time.

Edited by FiveRoooooers

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:paw Upon reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts defined by the all-too-short lives of our dogs.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi, there!

I've also been experiencing resource guarding issues with our 2-year-old female greyhound, who we adopted 5 months ago. First of all, she is extremely curious and bold. She meanders through the areas of our house that are accessible to her and looks for things to steal. We've already limited her access to the main floor where we keep things out of reach and keep an eye on her when we're home. But even so, she manages to find things to take - mail, books, socks, towels, aluminum foil off the counter tops- and when we try to take them away, she growls and snaps and threatens to bite.

The other problem is that she will actually eat these things. For example, I took her to a playdate with some other greyhounds and she found a tissue to steal and ate the entire thing before I could react. Because of her guarding, I didn't want the other owner to try to take the tissue out of her mouth because she gets aggressive quickly. Instead, I chased her around the whole night, trading her treats so she would give up toys and other items she wanted to tear apart and devour. We've had to ban plush toys in our home because she can saw off pieces in seconds and will gulp them down. 

She will give things up for treats, but sometimes it takes a lot of treats to get her to give something up on her own. We've been told by other greyhound owners that her behavior is not typical for the breed and that she is one of the most naughty/bold greys they've ever seen. 

There are lots of things she's great at - doesn't have any issues being pet or touched, doesn't statue anymore on walks, doesn't bark or have any aggression toward other dogs, isn't aggressive toward other people. 

She's been to the vet twice, once for her spray and blood work and another time for a thorough checkup from our regular vet. We told them about her behavior and they seemed more less concerned about the aggression/eating and more impressed that she doesn't seem to suffer any digestive distress as a result of her behavior. 

We signed her up for dog obedience courses starting next week to try to learn how to correct this reaction, but would love any suggestions if other adopters have experienced similar behavior and corrected it in their pups. 

Thanks, 
Lauren

Also, she is very cute. This is her with her corgi friend.

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1 hour ago, Lauren said:

She will give things up for treats, but sometimes it takes a lot of treats to get her to give something up on her own.

I am a little confused on there needing to be more than one treat given to get something away, she drops it, she takes the treat, you take the thing. Is she taking a treat while the thing is still in her mouth?

It sounds like you guys need to focus lots of time/energy on this trading up training. You might need higher value treats or do something instead of treating - like grabbing a high value toy and squeaking it, or going out for a walk to distract her.

I've also heard of people who put cans of coins on their counter edges so when their dog goes for it the can falls and makes a racket that spooks them into not doing that again. This wouldn't be great for a dog who's already really spooked, but they aren't all that sensitive; and this obviously isn't great if she's going to eat the coins :blink:, so YMMV

Other things to consider (and honestly, start right away) is tall-dog-proofing your house. It's tedious, because many greys don't require it, but you need to keep all of this stuff out of her reach until she learns that not everything is interesting/hers - especially if she's eating stuff, as your vet said. There's also things you can spray or put on your belongings to make them taste gross, so she will hopefully leave them alone as well.

When it's not possible police her (obviously this isn't possible all the time) there's nothing wrong with her wearing her muzzle around the house so that she can't get into trouble eating stuff. She won't love wearing it, but she has been muzzle trained and it's safer for everyone involved (including her). Obviously, some things can still be grabbed through a muzzle, but it will be much harder.

2 hours ago, Lauren said:

We've been told by other greyhound owners that her behavior is not typical for the breed and that she is one of the most naughty/bold greys they've ever seen. 

I'd bet anything those people never adopted a puppy (that's what a two year old is) who never raced (just assuming she failed out pretty early if she raced at all). From what I've read/heard, what you're dealing with is pretty standard (greyhound) puppy behavior. Our adoption group actually just had to start a campaign of sorts to educate recent and future adopters about the differences in the personalities of the much younger dogs that are now coming to the group. Lots of people have been accidentally misled about what they were getting, having been sold on the 4yr old couch potato lifestyle and received a rambunctious 2yr old, and they've seen a higher number of bounces because of it. You're not alone!

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Thanks, Bizeebee! Great to hear we're not alone and that this is pretty standard greyhound puppy behavior. There are huge upsides to getting her so young. But we also realized there were challenge as well and have tried to be patient as she acclimates to her new environment and rules. She was just in one race and was recovering from an injury when we picked her up (not sure if the two were related). 

And to answer your other question about the treats. Indeed she has grabbed a treat without letting the stolen item go. But most of the time, we offer her a treat for the trade and it isn't interesting enough to her to give up the item. So we sometimes up the ante by offering something even better on top of that (a higher value treat or piece of hot dog or something). So she ends up needing multiple treats to compel her to give up whatever she has. 

It sounds like we do need to focus on trading up and finding better ways to motivate her. Toys aren't a good trade for her. She just doesn't seem to care. And we haven't tried to take her out for a walk as a distraction before, but that's something we can try! My suspicion would be that she'd eat whatever she had before we could get her outside though.

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3 hours ago, Lauren said:

And to answer your other question about the treats. Indeed she has grabbed a treat without letting the stolen item go. But most of the time, we offer her a treat for the trade and it isn't interesting enough to her to give up the item. So we sometimes up the ante by offering something even better on top of that (a higher value treat or piece of hot dog or something). So she ends up needing multiple treats to compel her to give up whatever she has. 

It sounds like your treats probably need to be higher value - like so stinky and delicious that she can't possibly pass it up - and a larger chunk, so that she can't hold on to whatever she's got while also taking the treat. And you need to make sure there's no way she can have it until she drops whatever it is, and that might mean a nipped finger now and then, but again, that's puppy life.

Obedience class should be really helpful, we've found that to be the case with our guy for sure, and it's really fun. But definitely going to need to get the good treats!

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On 7/8/2019 at 2:37 AM, DWBFC said:

The strange thing here is the fact that people she has known come into our house since day 1 when we adopted her are also a problem, we’re having to tell people just to ignore her when they enter the house and leave it up to her if she wants to come over for a stroke.  At present this never really happens.  She is a perfect and lovely dog for me and my partner.

SAME!!! @DWBFC Did you see a behaviorist? What did they advise?

Adopted my Tucker hound 4 years ago when he was just a 1 1/2 year old racing washout. We started out with a dog walker who the company assigned to the “difficult cases” and he was fine until one day he wasn’t. Started growling when the walker tried to clip on his leash. She tried everything in her bag of tricks to no avail. He also chased off 2 pet sitters. 

For a while I didn’t have a dog walker, but over time he made friends with 2 different female dogs in the park. Both of these dogs had mommies with a pet care side gig, and if the mommies came over with one of Tucker’s “girlfriends” he would be excited to go out for a romp with his pal and would go with them and/or let them inside. One of the mommies started leaving her Labrador outside the door, then at the bottom of the stairs, and eventually Tuck would go out for a walk when she came by herself. One of these two dog mommies boarded him whenever I went out of town.

The strange thing was that he would still have days when he growled at these people he knew and loved, and I would tell them if he’s having one of those days just walk away. He’ll make it until I get home from work.

Flash forward to today, and I am living in a new town and Tucker won’t let the attempted dog walker within arms reach. And he nipped someone who came over to help me move furniture. And he lays down across the room from any company that comes over and stares at them warily. Whenever we visit someone else’s home (dog owner or not) he exhibits signs of stress and sticks to me like glue.

Now it’s time to go on vacation, so I found a local petsitting couple who have a chill female dog, but of course he isn’t friend with them the way he was with the people in my old town when he first started staying with them. He went for one visit and while he did not let them touch him, he wasn’t trembling or growling either. So I am saying a prayer and will drop him off in about 72 hours. 😱 I am really worried this is going to be a short vacation!

Edited by Annabanana312
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