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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
My 4 month old golden boy has been demonstrating resource guarding over the past 2 weeks...we began working with him, at the suggestions of those in the forum, by trading high value goodies and he did so willingly. However, just yesterday, he snapped at my 3 year old when she tried to take a towel that he had dragged from the bathroom. I consulted a behaviorist, at the suggestion of my vet, who wants almost $500 for two in home consultations. She did suggest that I have him neutered now and indicated that I must earn the respect of my dog ASAP. While I do spend much time with Chance walking him, playing with him, training him, and taking him to puppy classes, there are times I spoil him by allowing him to sit with me on the couch (because I like to snuggle with him while watching TV) and have most recently allowed him to sleep in bed with us. By doing so, am I giving him equal status thereby diminishing his perception of me as the leader?

Also, how long before we should start to see extinction of the resource guarding behaviors and when do I need to bring in the behaviorist?
Thanks--really need to get this problem under control.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
P.S. I've also stopped crating him as he is completely house trained and never destructive...by not crating, am I once again giving him equal status in the home? This is such a shame because other than the resource guarding, he has been the perfect puppy.
 

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bumping this up, it's a very important question.
FWIW, I would google "nothing in life is free" training methods and start it immediately.
I would NOT allow him on beds or furniture of any kind, and yes, back in the crate at times.
and now where I'll get flamed...
I would STOP trading for high value goodies. It just teaches him that if he guards something, he will get something better in return. I really don't think that's the message that you're trying to send to him, and (JMO) it's the inherent problem with the method.
Are there certain things he tends to guard, or does he guard EVERYTHING?
I would be working REALLY hard on the "drop it" command when he's NOT guarding a high value item. Get him to know it and be 100% reliable with it.
 

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However, just yesterday, he snapped at my 3 year old when she tried to take a towel that he had dragged from the bathroom.

IMO, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should a 3-yr-old be allowed or expected to take a stolen item from a dog. EVER.

Use the crate for management when you can't keep him from stealing things. He'll learn to not steal things that aren't his when he can't practice it. That requires things being put away and management, along wth teaching a leave it to redirect when he tries to get access to something.

Once he HAS IT, a trade is the most non confrontational way to get the item back. IMO and experience, you're NOT teaching him that guarding = getting something better. Once he's already stolen the item, he's already won the point. The trade is just damage control. He needs to A. learn not to take what's his and B. learn to give it up nicely if we fail on part A and he gets something.

Now, if you're lax about keeping things picked up and he's always stealing stuff and you're always trading, then he may learn that stealing something = a chance to trade for a treat... which can become a pattern. That's why keeping things picked up, management and being able to redirect his attempt at getting stuff that isn't his is an important part of the program.
 

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However, just yesterday, he snapped at my 3 year old when she tried to take a towel that he had dragged from the bathroom.

IMO, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should a 3-yr-old be allowed or expected to take a stolen item from a dog. EVER.

Use the crate for management when you can't keep him from stealing things. He'll learn to not steal things that aren't his when he can't practice it. That requires things being put away and management, along wth teaching a leave it to redirect when he tries to get access to something.

Once he HAS IT, a trade is the most non confrontational way to get the item back. IMO and experience, you're NOT teaching him that guarding = getting something better. Once he's already stolen the item, he's already won the point. The trade is just damage control. He needs to A. learn not to take what's his and B. learn to give it up nicely if we fail on part A and he gets something.

Now, if you're lax about keeping things picked up and he's always stealing stuff and you're always trading, then he may learn that stealing something = a chance to trade for a treat... which can become a pattern. That's why keeping things picked up, management and being able to redirect his attempt at getting stuff that isn't his is an important part of the program.
I have to say that I agree with this 100%.
 

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and now where I'll get flamed...
I would STOP trading for high value goodies. It just teaches him that if he guards something, he will get something better in return. I really don't think that's the message that you're trying to send to him, and (JMO) it's the inherent problem with the method.
No flames from me. I have never understood the "trade" method. The dog has a forbidden item, I, the alpha, want it. Why do I need to trade with something better?
 

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No flames from me. I have never understood the "trade" method. The dog has a forbidden item, I, the alpha, want it. Why do I need to trade with something better?
Because, instead of being a bully and causing your dog to want to not only guard an item even closer, but possibly snap at you or run away to keep the item, you are teaching them that you provide good things when they let you have the item. Personally, that is the relationship I would rather have with my dog.

By the way, alpha dogs don't take things just because they want them. Alpha dogs aren't bullies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The problem began when he was given a marrow bone (first time he was given one) and guarded it when he was approached. That was taken from him after he was distracted but then the next day did the same thing with his bully stick (which he has had many times before but never guarded). We thought the issues were related to high value treats until yesterday when he had the towel.
This is not my first dog or first golden...far from it. However, this is the first time dealing with this behavior. My previous pets, especially my goldens, have been well behaved, gentle souls. For the most part, Chance is as well. Please...I need tried and true methods to get this under control. Please let me know what has worked for others. I love this dog so much and want desperately for him to be a loving member of our family.
 

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... Alpha dogs aren't bullies.
Of course not, but refusing to negotiate with a adolescent dog feeling his oats and bent on improving his status in the pack is not, IMO, being a bully.

As hotel4dogs said, he's learning that if he guards an item, he will get something even better in return. He needs to learn that he owns nothing, and all good things come from the humans in the pack.
 

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Of course not, but refusing to negotiate with a adolescent dog feeling his oats and bent on improving his status in the pack is not, IMO, being a bully.

As hotel4dogs said, he's learning that if he guards an item, he will get something even better in return. He needs to learn that he owns nothing, and all good things come from the humans in the pack.
He is 4 months old, not an adolescent. Resource guarding is not an adolescent feeling his oats. It can grow into a dangerous thing if not managed properly. Taking something away to prove that you are the alpha will not help resource guarding to go away. You need to let the dog know that what you have is even better than what you have, and you trade it. If it were only a high value item, it would be much easier to handle, but the OP is now dealing with a puppy who thinks that a towel is of high value. This is not a behavior that will be corrected by force.

http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_ResourceGuarding.html

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&C=153&A=2438&S=0
 

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<sharpening my claws>
The OP said that this is something they've been working with him on for 2 weeks, trading higher value items for what he's resource guarding.
So IMO, this is not an isolated incident, and I'm sorry, the dog is learning to guard whatever he has so that he will get something better. While I sure agree with Steph that if it's an isolated happening, the safest, fastest way to diffuse the situation is to trade for something better, this isn't just one incident. Why am I reminded of the parent in the grocery store telling their child "I'll buy you a candy bar if you stop screaming"? Hmmm, what will the child do the next time they're in a grocery store?
So not to turn this into a training dispute thread, but to answer the OP, as I said before I would strongly suggest you google the "nothing in life is free" method of training. It is NOT about bullying your dog, not in the least. It is a tried and true method of teaching your dog to respect you, which is what the OP asked for originally.
Get the dog off the furniture. Make him do some basic obedience work before you give him anything. Those are the basics of the system. And teach him the DROP IT command ASAP so that he's totally reliable with it. That way you can tell him to DROP IT, and give him a nice reward for doing it. The reward is FOR OBEYING YOUR COMMAND, not a trade-up in value. BIG difference.
And also for the OP, most of us have been lucky enough to never have a dog that is a resource guarding dog, and I understand he is your first. When we brought Tito home from the breeder at 8 weeks old she told us that in the puppy personality test he showed signs of resource guarding, and told us not to allow him to own anything from the first day we got home. Probably because of her warning, we've never had a problem with him. Which brings me to my final point, please contact your breeder. Good breeders are a tremendous source of help and information, and will be willing to work with you to get the puppy past this.
 

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OP, I would suggest that you meet with a trainer (a behaviorist would be better, but I totally understand that they can be cost prohibitive). You are getting entirely too much conflicting information here, and that can't be good for you or your puppy. I tried to provide links for you, but I really think if you can find a good, positive reinforcement trainer, you would be better off. Good luck!
 

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No flames from me. I have never understood the "trade" method. The dog has a forbidden item, I, the alpha, want it. Why do I need to trade with something better?
B/C you, the "alpha" should have done a better job teaching your dog not to take what's not his in the first place! (Or manage his environment so he can't.)

Taking something BACK from the dog doesn't teach him to not want it in the first place. The timing is all wrong. If anything, the dog learns to think your approach when he, the dog, has something = a threat b/c you're going to come take it. Hence, in the some dogs, over some things, the guarding. It's like a silly pissing contest. You're both saying "I WANT IT!" and the human thinks he's all that just cuz he has thumbs. Problem is, some dogs realize THEY'RE all that b/c they have teeth. Then you have a dog with a bite history. Why take that chance?

Again, I point out -- once the dog has the item, the dog has won. He already had the little "high" of stealing something fun. If you want to exert your alpha status, work your timing so as to be all Alpha-ish and interrupt your dog from getting the object in the first place.
 

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Actually, I don't think the advice here is all that conflicting at all, if you really think about it. NILIF is a great suggestion for these types of situations. It's all about controlling the resources, making sure all good things come from you on your terms... in short, it's all about exactly the type of management that Steph is talking about. There's been a lot of threads about resource guarding on this board and they all garner pretty much standard responses: hand feeding, NILIF, and management. Really, that's the only thing to be done.

Where Steph is going a step further, is to answer the question of what to do when the situation is mismanaged... when the dog has managed to get something he shouldn't have. This is where the trade solution is invaluable. There is evidence to suggest that resource guarding has its roots in anxiety. Storming over to the dog, forcefully taking something back, exerting your dominance in physical ways... all sure fire ways to increase that anxiety for the dog, and prove to him that he is right to be nervous about whatever coveted item he happens to possess. I suppose part of the key to the trade game is that it is handled in a passive enough way to not trigger any guarding. That may mean you stay well back from the dog, toss the trade-up item a few feet away, and subtley remove the item. In this way, you're not rewarding guarding, you're rewarding "drop it" or "leave it" or whatever applicable command you choose. It's a win-win as far as defusing what could turn into a nasty incident.

One thing that bears repeating is that a young child should never, ever, ever, under any circumstances try to take something from a dog's mouth. This needs to become part of the house rules for your child, and you need to make sure he/she fully understands it for everyone's well being. The two should not be left unsupervised for even a moment... and if that means breaking back out the crate, then so be it.

I think working with a positive trainer will be invaluable for your family. We don't always instinctively know the best way to communicate with our furry little friends... enlisting the help of someone who can help us solve the puzzles and address the issues is always a wise move. Best of luck with your pup!!

Julie and Jersey
 

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Here's my take on it:

If you are simply wanting to take something from the dog, I would make a trade. The dog doesn't think what he did is "stealing" (unless he came up and took it from someone else), he just thinks he found something he wants. I wouldn't punish this, I would just light-heartedly offer a trade and put the other item away.

HOWEVER, once the dog exhibits guarding with the object, all games are over. You want to act like that, you loose all your prizes, get nothing in return. Each time you want to get something from him, go with the plan of it being fun and making a cool trade. But if he starts growling as you approach, then you're serious, dog looses object he wants (and my dogs would get a firm pop on the muzzle).

So in summary....if a dog takes an object you don't want him to have, that is probably the owners fault, don't punish the dog for it, give him something else. If the dog starts guarding, that is the dogs fault, and that doesn't need to be rewarded.
 

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Here's my take on it:

If you are simply wanting to take something from the dog, I would make a trade. The dog doesn't think what he did is "stealing" (unless he came up and took it from someone else), he just thinks he found something he wants. I wouldn't punish this, I would just light-heartedly offer a trade and put the other item away.

HOWEVER, once the dog exhibits guarding with the object, all games are over. You want to act like that, you loose all your prizes, get nothing in return. Each time you want to get something from him, go with the plan of it being fun and making a cool trade. But if he starts growling as you approach, then you're serious, dog looses object he wants (and my dogs would get a firm pop on the muzzle).

So in summary....if a dog takes an object you don't want him to have, that is probably the owners fault, don't punish the dog for it, give him something else. If the dog starts guarding, that is the dogs fault, and that doesn't need to be rewarded.
Physically striking the dog is a pretty sure fire way to make the situation worse. The point is to avoid triggering the behavior, in the off chance you do the goal is to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible. If the person finds they are unable to manage the situation and avoid the growling/guarding, they need to enlist the help of an expert. Resorting to this kind of behavior, smacking the dog, only undermines your relationship with the dog and his trust in you.

Julie and Jersey
 

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That's why I specifically said my dogs. It's what works for us. No, if you're not comfortable with that method then it wouldn't work with you and I wouldn't recommend it.
 

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Hmmm....apparently my puppy read my post and wanted to test me on that theory. After I hit send I looked down and he was chewing on my new leather shoe. I took it from him to look at it, saw he had already chewed through one of the straps, thought "oh well, too late now," and handed it back to him. And now I'm kicking myself for not putting my shoes in the closet...
 

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That's why I specifically said my dogs. It's what works for us. No, if you're not comfortable with that method then it wouldn't work with you and I wouldn't recommend it.
It may work for you, but your dog is not a resource guarder. It seems to me that people are missing the point that resource guarding is not a simple behavioral issue. It is something that if handled incorrectly can escalate into a dangerous area. A resource guarder can be the sweetest, nicest dog 99% of the time. It's that 1% that is unpredictable and dangerous. We have had several in our rescue and I have been involved in the evaluation and rehabilitation of a couple of them. One of which had to be euthanized because of his unpredictable and very dangerous reaction when he decided to guard something (with him, it was just about everything he came across he guarded).

That's what happens when you decide to "pop" them or physically try to dominate them rather than working with them from the very beginning and showing them that the item they have is not nearly as important as what you are offering them. You end up with a dog who will guard even more fiercely because anything he has had was taken from him by force. He won't trust you anymore, either. To me, my dogs' trust in me is extremely important.
 

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That's where I think it's about knowing your individual dog. I do have a dog that started out as a resource guarder when she was younger. She would still be if I allowed it from her and will occasionally try to slip back into that mode. Giving her a two finger pop on the muzzle reminds her that she is not allowed to growl and show teeth to me . I'm not slapping the crap out of her, it's just a firm pop with the tips of my fingers. The result is an immediate "oh yeah, I can't do that to her" reaction from her, and I won't have a problems again for several months. I would never do that to my mom's dog (or a dog I didn't know well enough), because I couldn't trust her to not come back and rip my fingers off. I know what works for me and my dog for this issue. I never told anyone else they should do this to their dogs, because I don't know their dogs and how they would react.
 
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