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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,
Two days ago, I gave Chance a marrow bone from the butcher...every time we even walked past him, he growled (something he's NEVER done before). Needless to say, we were bothered by this behavior since seemed very uncharacteristic of a golden. After about an hour, the bone was taken from him after distracting him with something else...we couldn't even reach down to take it from him because he was so intimidating. Yesterday, rather than give him the bone, he was given one of his bully sticks since our 3 year old daughter was playing in the same room...previously, he had never been obsessive about his bully sticks but htis time, he went after my daughter when she reached for him. He did not bite her because my husband was right there and between them. I was very upset about even the possibility that my golden would behave this way. I've owned 2 goldens before Chance and this was never an issue. We did not let him keep the bully stick after this but when I went to take it from him, he bit my arm--hard enough to rip my sweatshirt and bruise my arm. He was put in his crate (which we don't even use anymore because he has been the model puppy until yesterday) and I cried for about an hour. I realize that dogs can be overly protective of prized possessions but goldens? Is this an indication of a bigger problem that will be more difficult to control as he gets older? Please help--I love this boy so much and this is tearing me apart. Now I'm afraid to give him anything special if this is going to be a problem.
 

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I would look into the Nothing In Life Is Free plan. If you search this blog or Google it, you will come up with a number of hits that explain it. We first learned about it when we brought our previous dog (not a golden) to Tufts Animal Behavior school for aggression issues. If used consistently, NILIF can work wonders as far as teaching the dog it's place in the family hierarchy--that is, below all of the humans. Especially since your dog is so young and has never exhibited other problems, I am sure he would respond very well to NILIF. In the meantime, howeever, it may be best to avoid giving Chance high value resources to avoid a recurrence of the behavior.
 

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I was worried when my puppy did this too and it is something to work on but not anything to be upset about b/c it seems quite common and easy to fix. I would not give him high value treats around your daughter for now.

The first time he did it, I took it away but then I called our trainer and she said to trade him other high value treats and practice taking it away and then giving it right back. I also hand fed him his food for a while or while he was eating, I would add high value treats to his food so he got used to my hand being near his food and thought of it as a good thing.

The idea is that you don't want to take it away while he's tense about it b/c then you're telling him he's right to worry about you being near his food because you will probably take it away. You want him to have positive feelings about you being near him with his special treats.
 

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Flora growled at me too when she had her marrow bone for the first time, and I remember making a very concerned post about it back then. She also had tried to nip at me once when I took a bully stick from her, and since i had no idea how to handle the situation, I just let her get away with it.

The way I conquered the situation was by giving Flora her bone, and then sitting as close as I could to her without her getting upset. Each time I would move a little closer until I was able to pet her lower body. Then I was petting her shoulders, her head, and finally I was petting her ears and muzzle, and before I knew it, when Flora would get a fresh bone, she would try to lie down in my lap to eat it! Yuck. But nevertheless, she has never growled at me over a bone ever again. This might not be the right way to go about it, but it's what worked for me, so I figured I'd share.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks so much for your suggestions and feedback...makes me feel better to know that other wonderful goldens out there have shown the same behavior but able to overcome it. I try so hard to give him the best possible life with tons of love and affection and feel so let down that he actually bit me. I do realize what I did wrong--should have acknowleged that he was really stressed at that moment and traded him for the bully. I guess I trusted too much...I plan to work on this with him during the times when my daughter is at preschool but in the meantime, no treats until I can trust him again. Just concerned the behavior will begin to generalize to other things...kong, toys, etc...
 

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Glad you're feeling better about it. It is very upsetting to have your dog growl at you like that and even more so to have him growl at your child, even if you know it's normal. Harvey did it when he was little but after I worked with him, he stopped within a week. He's never guarded any of his toys or anything else. So I really would not be worried about it - be aware and work on it but it's not a big deal.

*P.S. Don't feel bad about doing the wrong thing- I did the exact same thing and I'm sure we are not the only ones. Some people might even still handle it this way- I think it's one of those things every one has different opinions on it but the positive training approach had been great for me and my dog.
 

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We had a Siberian Huskey, Nakita, who was very food possessive and high value treat possessive. When we got our first golden, Hunter, we just had learned never to have pigs ears and rawhide around so it was never an issue with Hunter. We now have our new golden Scout (both Nakita and Hunter are in doggie heave) I think we will just not even give him things that may cause those issues, especially since we have a 15 month old little boy.
 

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I think when they get a really new "special" sorta a treat...why would they give it up? Yes the behavior needs correcting and can be done, but I think your ok.

Scout did a growl at Noah after a 30minute give and take sessions over a chewy. Scout was basically tired of the bigger guy taking his loot. So he growled. When I went to take it he did the same thing, but I corrected him and took the items away. I gave it back later and when he was "really into it" took it away again, this time he did the I'm not looking at you hide my head thing. I did this several times over the day and each time the reaction was better.

I think he got something really great and his "natural" response was not to want it to go...and he was letting you know I'm not done with it.

I think now that you have this behavior you just correct. One of the senior members might have better ways to teach him.
 

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Hi everyone,
Two days ago, I gave Chance a marrow bone from the butcher...every time we even walked past him, he growled (something he's NEVER done before). Needless to say, we were bothered by this behavior since seemed very uncharacteristic of a golden. After about an hour, the bone was taken from him after distracting him with something else...we couldn't even reach down to take it from him because he was so intimidating. Yesterday, rather than give him the bone, he was given one of his bully sticks since our 3 year old daughter was playing in the same room...previously, he had never been obsessive about his bully sticks but htis time, he went after my daughter when she reached for him. He did not bite her because my husband was right there and between them. I was very upset about even the possibility that my golden would behave this way. I've owned 2 goldens before Chance and this was never an issue. We did not let him keep the bully stick after this but when I went to take it from him, he bit my arm--hard enough to rip my sweatshirt and bruise my arm. He was put in his crate (which we don't even use anymore because he has been the model puppy until yesterday) and I cried for about an hour. I realize that dogs can be overly protective of prized possessions but goldens? Is this an indication of a bigger problem that will be more difficult to control as he gets older? Please help--I love this boy so much and this is tearing me apart. Now I'm afraid to give him anything special if this is going to be a problem.
Don't let it tear you apart, he had something good and didn't want to give it up-no more, no less.

From now on, if you are going to give him something like a marrow bone I would simply put him in his crate, give him the bone, and shut him in. Let him enjoy it in there. No dangers to your, no threats to him.

If you need or want to get the bone back, go up to him with something to trade in hand. After awhile he'll learn that he WILL get his bone back eventually and that you being around means you gets MORE good stuff. You can then start to phase out "trading" and use it randomly.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I can't thank you guys enough for the kind support...I'm feeling so much better about this situation. I plan to begin using all of the helpful advice and will keep you updated! I certainly don't want to deprive my boy of good treats but need to make sure he safely enjoys them in our presence.
 

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Rule of thumb I've been using. If he's already got it, it's his. I don't try to take it away. (Unless I can offer a replacement he will accept).

I think he had guarding issues even before I got him. I remember him guarding a banana skin like it was roast beef when he was only a few months old. And I like an idiot I forced him out of his mouth. After that he's been seeing me as a food thief :).

For the last few months I've been working on this and it's getting much better.
 

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Bailey will have gaurding issuses with a new marrow bone. I will give her a treat in trade of the bone until she accepts me taking it away.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Giving Chance the marrow bone is how this all started! He was like, "no way are you getting this back!" I think he also sees me as the "food thief" because I was taking his bully sticks when they got too small...I was so concerned about him choking that I think I have set this scenario up. My husband and I worked with him last night after our daughter went to bed and trading worked like a charm...he actually allowed us to sit near him and pet him while he ate his bully. I'm feeling very encouraged about this situation and plan to work with him again after our walk today. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions and sharing your own stories.
 

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I just had my first experience with Payton growling and even biting me when I tried to take her bully stick. I can take her food or toys and she's fine. Needless to say I was shocked she actually bit me. It was the first time she had ever had a bully stick. I thought she lets me take her food so she should be OK with me taking the bully. Boy was I wrong. Unfortunately I didn't try the trading thing. My hubby is kinda upset about the whole thing so I won't do anymore tonight, but tomorrow I'll try the trading thing. I'll let you know how it goes.
 

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For sure the NILIF, it does work. Also, I would never allow my dogs to have a bone etc. around the kids. It's just not worth it, if they were to bite, that's the end of that. :( We have crates, other rooms, and outside, they have their bones there away from little faces.

Another thing you can 'train' is to have the dog on leash, with the high value item, and approach from the rear a bit at a time as the dog will allow. Now if the dog turns to growl/snap, you need to quickly turn and walk off WITH the dog, but not with the bone - in other words you are teaching that going after you means he will loose his bone (and you don't want it anyway, silly dog). Take the bone, put it away while the dog is outside or in another room, and give him another chance after an hour or two.

I think it's a pretty normal thing for them to go through and try, Ticket was my worst offender for it and it took me a month to get it into his puppy brain that yes, I could take his food if I wanted to, and giving in meant he'd get more rewards than not... he's a funny boy.

Lana
 

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Went through the same thing with Asia and al the techniqies already mentioned worked and very quickly too so not to worry. I can now take a marrow bone away from her with no issues at all. They need to learn that you control the food and pretty well everything!
 

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My two cents: If my dog showed any aggression with a treat,or toy I would not be giving that treat again. Any high value item that causes aggression is not worth it.

I also think the NILF is a good idea. JMO.
 

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Zep did the same thing with one of his first marrow bones!! I went to pick it up and he growled at me! I could not believe it!! Since i was in shock, i took the darn bone away quickly, without incident. He did not try to bite or anything, i thought maybe it was a "natural" reaction for him, since he is, in fact, a dog (a fact that i sometimes forget since he's like my child...).

The next time i gave him a bone, i did not let it go and made him start chewing on it while i was still hanging onto it. Since he wanted it really bad, he did not seem to care that i was holding it. I did not allow him to take it from me. We just sat there, he chewed while i held onto the bone. After a few minutes...i let him have it (i promptly went and washed my hands...eewww, slobber and bone **** on me...eewww). He did not try to move away from me, he just seemed happy that i had moved my hand so he could properly enjoy his bone. :)

That was the first and last time he growled at me. Since then, when i give him something of high value, i will let him chew it for a bit, then take it away (right out of his mouth, if need be...), praise, praise, praise, then give it back. I find that now if i put my hand near his bone, he will move away from it.

I did all this on instinct...it was all i could think to do at the time. I'm sure it's not the proper way, but it worked for us so i figured i'd share. Disclaimer: We do not have any children...so i did not have the level of worry.

Good luck!!!
 

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I worked with Payton this morning. The entire time I was sitting next to her and petting her. She was pretty good, only growling a few times. So after a while I offered her a treat and I took the bully stick. We did this quite a few times and she was good. She only went to bite me once so I grabbed her neck and held her down till she calmed down. May not have been the right thing to do but it worked. Now I can grab the bully stick and take it away with out her doing anything. And as long as she stays and doesn't get up to find the stick she gets a treat. It's working well so far. Again not sure I did everything "right" but it's working so I'm happy.
 
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