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Hello Everyone,

I've had my Golden for almost 8 years. He's generally been a great dog, very shy and friendly. However, I've always had a hard time dealing with his random aggressiveness. In the past, this has usually occurred when he would snatch a piece of paper towel (or any type of paper lying around) and hide under my table, where he would proceed tear it apart. Many times, this has not been a paper towel, rather some important document. When I would try to retrieve it, he would snarl, growl and bark at me. To get the paper back, I would usually have to distract him with some type of food, and when he went for the food, I'd snatch the paper back. First, I'd like to mention that I know it was wrong of me to bribe him with food, but I was fairly young at the time and couldn't think of any other way of getting the paper back while it was still intact. These episodes were not frequent and occurred sporadically.

Last night, I took Brinkley out for a walk, of the leash as usual since he is very good about obeying commands, but unfortunately he happened to come across a dead squirrel and brought it over to me. I could not get him to drop it and I was using an authoritative tone when I told him to drop it. He wouldn't. I tried over and over again, but he stood their with it in his mouth and snarled at me. I had to call my Mom over and tell her to bring some food to try and get him to drop it. It was finally accomplished by placing bits of ham, about a foot away from him to get him to walk away from the dead animal in order to get the ham. While my Mom, did this I walked over and kicked the squirrel away. When he realized it was gone, he looked around growling then proceeded to jump and attack the ham that my Mom was holding. I have never been scared of my dog before until this time.

This, however, is not an isolated incident. About a month again, he found a piece of left over sandwich on the ground as I was walking him (on the leash this time). After telling him to drop it a couple times and tugging on the leash, he jumped up on me growling. It seemed like he tried to bite me but in fact didn't. I dragged him, with the leash as tight as possible, all the way home. I could tell he was scared because his tail was curved underneath him.

Im absolutely beside myself right now because this is the first time I've really been scared of my dog. I feel like I'm running out of options and in fear that he may do this to someone else in the future. The only option I see, for an 8 year old dog, is to put him down but I can't even fathom doing so. I know I am in part responsible for his behaviour but I was honestly too young to properly discipline him. If anyone has any information that might help please let me know. I'm desperate.
 

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groobie peese n da lobe
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I dont think 8 years old is too old to learn discipline. Am I wrong? I could be but something is telling me it is never too late for that. Have you considered professional training? I am willing to bet, with some proper, professional guidence, he will be just fine. What do others think? I am sure there are others here with much more experience in this than I have..just hold on, you will get some really good advice soon!

Best of luck and give your boy a hug for me!
 

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There is absolutely no need to put the dog down. I would contact a trainer in your area and have them work with you on resource guarding. You might be able to find some free resources online too but since you feel threatened, I honestly would just get in touch with a trainer that uses positive training techniques, explain the problem and maybe do one private lesson so they can teach you some techniques to use in the future.

In the meantime, I would try my best to avoid these situations. Keep your documents and important stuff in a safe place where he can't get to them and be aware of your surroundings while out on a walk ( I would leash him for now). Anyway good luck. Don't give up on your golden! I think resource guarding is a common problem that can be fixed with time and practice. I definitely think it's important to use a positive training technique though. Hope you find something that helps- if you do a search on this site for research guarding, I'm sure you'll find suggestions.
 

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shadow friend
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My Willow (half chow half black lab) will get under the bed when I want her to go somewhere she doesn't want to go or when she's been naughty. If I try to reach her, she'll growl and snarl like a monster that lives under my bed. I really am afraid to try to reach for her to pull her out because I think by the sounds of her she'd lash out and bite me. I remedy this behavior by not reaching my hand in. It's worked for us for coming on 11 years. I would not consider putting my Will Will down from a behavior that does not take up much of her time and since I know it's an issue, I deal with it in a safe way - not the best I know but it works for us! I think it's supremely over the top to put your dog down for something like this and I'm super glad that you came here to ask for advice before doing that. Especially when your dog has not bit anyone, you just fear he might. In the heat of the moment when you are so upset, things get out of perspective. Never make a choice about anything life changing when you are upset.
You know your doggy has as someone called it resource guarding tendencies. Trading for food wasn't the best but honestly, I'd likely have done that if my dogs had that issue. There are people who have behaviorists come to work with their families and their dogs when they are this concerned with an issue. I suggest you look into hiring one of those - or if you want to save money and can avoid resource guarding incidents for a while, look up the threads, do some online searching, read a book about this and work on it at home. I think in time this should be something you could work on without the behaviorists help. Then if you are not getting anywhere, make the call, spend the money and they will help your dog get over this.
I'm sure everything will be fine - you are a caring owner who wants to help your dog so I'm sure everything will work out in the end.
 

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IKE- Canine Blood Donor
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I'm sorry...Have you ever talked about this behavior with your Vet? He or she might know of a good behaviorist to help you. I'd think a medical work up might be a good idea too. Maybe your boy has an underlying medical issue like a thyroid condition or might need anxiety meds. Aggression linked to thyroid problems is not uncommon.
http://www.doganswers.com/Thyroid.htm


There is another thread active today where the dog has seen improvement after 8 months of working with a behaviorist and is on anxiety medication.
http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/showthread.php?t=53028
 

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I would ask that my vet do a complete thyroid panel (including free T3 and free T4). Even a "low normal" reading is very low for a Golden and would warrent supplementation. Low thyroid is very often a contributing factor in this kind of behavior, and I'd want to eliminate that as a possibility. I would also consult a good trainer/behaviorist.
 

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If he picks things up on walks maybe you need to get him a lead that goes around the nose or something of that nature.

8 years old is not too old to correct. But I think it's a combo of his learned behavior and your behavior toward it...he's been doing t for 8 years so it's ok in his world.

I'd get a trainer because of his age to work with both of you.
 

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Once that little twinge of fear occurs, it is easy to have the situation snowball. Work on staying extremely calm and deliberate yourself in these situations. I don't think trading is the worst thing you could do! Obviously though, having your own dog growl at you takes so much of the fun out of that crucial bond. I would suggest doing lots of basics in an upbeat fun way (like with a clicker and treats) at other times when there is no conflict. Sit, Down, Stay, Stand, Heel, and even some fun tricks. Maybe sign up for a Fsmily Dog or Canine Good Citizen Obedience class. Try to do some obedience with him once or twice a day, so that he begins to feel like your partner. Get him used to obeying you by habit. Does he have a behavior he knows very deeply, like a down? I agree with the people who suggest a good dog trainer( a positive trainer who has the certification CPDT or who at least belongs to APDT!), but I think it would be worth trying to insist on a down or a sit when he growls IF he has a solid track-record of doing those behaviors willingly. It is serious that he growls at you, but it's great if you address it now before it escelates further. Good luck and keep us updated.
 
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