Is this resource guarding or playing? - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 10:43 PM Thread Starter
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Is this resource guarding or playing?

Hi everyone,

Today my 1.5 year old pup Rascal displayed some concerning behavior. He was playing with a dog he's played with really well in the past and all of a sudden started growling, snapping, and barking when the other dog tried to take his stick. I quickly took the stick away. He then found a ball and then started doing the same thing with the ball, so I took the ball away and gave it to the other dog. The other dog's owner said her dog likes to do the same thing with balls, and sure enough she started guarding it and barking when Rascal got near. During this time they both would wag their tails at times, and it seems like when they both were "guarding" they were waiting for the other dog to try to come near and try to get the ball so they can protect it. It was as if they were playing a game, so I wasn't sure if he was actually being aggressive or if this was just another form of play for them. When they play they typically wrestle and fake bite each other but are not usually vocal. We will have Rascal evaluated for day care soon so I'm worried this type of behavior will keep him from passing his eval. He has never done this before and has had his balls/sticks taken plenty of time from other dogs. Other than a few growling episodes when he was 4 months old, we have not had any issues with him guarding with us and we can take any items including bully sticks, etc out of his mouth - although he will usually drop it himself when we approach.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-18-2019, 08:05 AM
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-18-2019, 10:09 AM
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Maybe you could take a video next time they are playing and post it here. Sounds like it could be guarding but also could be playing from your description. I am sure seeing it would help you to get some insight from members on the forum
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-18-2019, 11:18 AM
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My 8 year old and 1 year old play like your describing. They have times they’re very vocal. If tails are wagging and they are running and chasing each other I let them go. My older one will correct the younger one with a bark/growl of a much deeper tone if needed and then they take a self initiated break. My sons lab joins in when he’s here to visit in the same manner, all are intact males. To a visitor they could look like wolves, but they are playing.

Without seeing it it’s hard to tell. I also read each dogs body language.

My son has a new 10 week old female lab and they are all gentle with her and almost run from her, she’s a nippy little thing. Thankfully he has his own house so we just endure play dates.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-18-2019, 05:35 PM
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One thing I learned with resource guarding is NOT to take the item being guarded away; especially to the other dog. The dog then thinks they have to assert more the next time to get their message across. Itís the opposite of what we think to do.

Teaching and using fair trade is good regardless. If you google it you will see lots of tips on how to do that. Even if this was play I would introduce this to every person who interacts with your dog.

Most daycares donít allow toys for this very reason.

A video would be helpful, but I wouldnít set up the scenario just to get the video.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-25-2019, 01:07 PM
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Where did this occur? At a dog park or at home?

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 03:04 PM
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Play behavior. If you take a look at the total body language you could probably spot the signals for play. I am sure you did not see lips pulled back and teeth.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 03:31 PM
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This is how dogs play. Our two do it all the time. You shouldn't take things from your dog when he does this - you might actually trigger aggression and make him not trust you. Leave them alone and let them play.


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