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Our GR is 5 and a half months old and has been been a dream puppy (our first dog) - house trained very early, enjoys time in his crate (including not making a noise until we come to see him in the morning), is affectionate and loves people.

We have had one major issue with him that seems to be getting worse and I do not know how to address it before it spirals out of control. Like any GR he loves to mouth and eat anything he finds in the park or anywhere for that matter! Whenever he is chewing on something he shouldn't be he will run away, or if I manage to get near him he will growl and snap as he knows I want to take it from him. I have been tried a few different approaches whereby I have taken the items from him and then given them back to him to show him that I am not only taking them away, have laid him on his side in a submissive hold and growled back at him, etc.

A few weeks ago he bit and punctured my hand, and last night whilst he was on lead at the park I was trying to retrieve something from his mouth and he went crazy and bit me on the arm which almost required stitches. He may have been going for the lead (as he does sometimes rather than my arm) but this behaviour is unacceptable.

I am lost as to what is the best way to address this issue. He is very good 98% of the time. He has undertaken 4 weeks of puppy preschool and will sit, drop, walk on lead, etc but we are yet to do any further formalised training.

He is being de-sexed later this week so perhaps this may improve these aggressive outbursts?

Should we enrol him into some group training or do you think he needs some personalised training with a dog behaviourist?

I think we may be too affectionate with him (he is not allowed on the bed or couches but we play with him on the floor, etc), and perhaps he doesn't know his place in the pack? I did read somewhere that one way to address this is to remove any affectiona nd attention for a couple of weeks and only giving him attention when he does the right thing. Eventually he will be desperate for attention even if it results in him being in a lower position in the "pack". Does this sound like a good technique?

I never expected he would be obedient all the time (especially at this age) but the aggression has to stop. It is like he is possessed by a demon in these outbursts and it is generally when he is tired.

Please help.......
 

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Humankind. Be both.
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Resource guarding isn't strictly a pack order thing.

Get yourself a qualified trainer - preferably one who uses reward based methods vs. correction. Violence begets violence and can make things worse.

In the meantime, we tell people that if what he has won't cost you more than $100 to replace or kill the dog to ingest (and few things fall into those categories) we'd prefer you not try and lift it off the dog, as you're giving him more chance to rehearse the unwanted behavior.

When you said you take and give items back, do you just take them, or trade for treats to teach the dog that giving things up is a good thing?

Please find a qualified trainer to help you.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your response.

I have thought about just letting him chew on the item rather than risk the aggressive outburst but have been concerned about him ingesting things. He swallowed a clothes dryer static freshener sheet (eg febreeze) a coupe of weeks ago and vomited it back up several days later, so he obviously has a strong stomach!

In the past I have generally been taking the item from him and giving it back. I have tried swapping it for a treat but he often finds the liver treat or biscuit not worth giving up the item. Would it be better to use a more attractive treat such as cheese or peanut butter (which he has only had once or twice) in these situationsto trade the item for? I don't want him to get to know if he chews something naughty he will get a better treat.

I am looking into getting a trainer now..should it be one on one to address this specific issue or group training? I expect one on one for this issue and then group training for other general obedience?

Thanks for your advice..I really appreciate it
 

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Missing Selka So Much
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Other people know more about this than me but I would for sure have him checked out by a vet to make sure it isn't anything physically wrong with him.
I'll let the trainers and behaviorists address the aggression issue if it isn't a health problem.
 

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Humankind. Be both.
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I'd suggest one on one training to address the aggression, then a group class to continue general manners training.

As for what treat to trade for, it has to be something good enough in the dog's mind to make him want to trade. Unfortunately, what constitutes a "good enough" treat is his opinion, not ours!

And, the first line of defense is to closely manage his environment to limit his abilities to steal things in the first place. This can be done by keeping things picked up as much as possible and also using baby gates, crates, leashes and tethers, etc. to limit his access to things he may want to steal, which then only presents yet another chance for him to practice the unwanted behavior.
 

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Though a five month old puppy will try to find his "place" within the pack, I can attest that recource guarding is not always a pack order thing.

My Lucky considers all family members his "leader" but he has a tendency to react guarding food...its an innate thing for him. Being harsh has not been his answer. What has worked for him has been helping him to feel secure when he's eating. However Lucky never guarded anything but chewys and food.

Since your pup is at that teenage stage, a trainer will really help figure it all out.

Keep us up on things!!! I'm always interested to know how things are resolved.
 
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