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My sweet pup growled at me when I approached her tonight. She had a new bone (not sure what it is, my mother in law gave it to her).
I said "no" and took it and then gave it back.
I have NO IDEA though if this was the right thing to do.
Usually she is pretty laid back with her food so this surprised me (although she did do it once when 9 weeks with another toy - but I figured she'd outgrown it, it had been so long).
I have a 4 year old and 2 year old so the guarding concerns me for sure. I don't think she'll be getting anymore of these toys either....

Any advice appreciated. She obviously loves the chew and I know a lot of dogs do this but I don't like it.
 

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Mulligan & Samantha's Mom
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Toy Aggression

Not sure of the correct response either. However, Samie behaved the same way once as well. She had a pig's ear raw hide bone that my mother-in-law gave her. I have never allowed her to have raw hides (chocking hazard), and when I tried to take it away she growled at me. I took it anyways and she's never had another since (and no toy aggression either). I'd be curious as to the appropriate way to deal with the situation as well. Good Luck!
 

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Not sure of the correct response either. However, Samie behaved the same way once as well. She had a pig's ear raw hide bone that my mother-in-law gave her. I have never allowed her to have raw hides (chocking hazard), and when I tried to take it away she growled at me. I took it anyways and she's never had another since (and no toy aggression either). I'd be curious as to the appropriate way to deal with the situation as well. Good Luck!

I am pretty sure this is exactly what Maggie had!!!

She is in her corral now with some of it and when I went in she rolled over so I could pet her belly.
I don't get it. The growl initially was slow like a "I mean it" growl.
 

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Yikes! Definitely correct this now. It's really easy to correct when they're pups since they're just testing the waters, but when they get older it can turn into an ingrained habit of snapping which is BAD BAD BAD. She's doing it because she's testing the pack hierarchy to see if she might outrank you. Don't let her develop the impression she's top dog.

Taking the toy was the right response. Don't be afraid of pushing her away a bit too. Make it a habit to take things away and give them back all the time, not just when she guards. She needs to simultaneously learn that you can take whatever you want, whenever you want and that when you take it, that doesn't mean it's necessarily gone for good. You can also make her wait or sit before you give it back. That can help confirm with her that obedience, not challenging, gets her what she wants.

In dog world, big dog can have whatever food he wants, whenever he wants, and little dog has to deal with the leftovers. Your dog needs to know that you're big dog. So many common dog behavior problems happen because the dog is confused about hierarchy. There are a bunch of great threads on establishing your dominance without being negative or coercive with the dogs, and all those suggestions will help curtail this kind of behavior.
 

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Lucky does not get chewies or pig ears...no high-value chews for him. He nipped my girl when he was 4 months old. This was RIGHT AFTER I had taken his bone and given it back. He did fine with me but bit her.

Lucky had food aggression for years and I took the advice of Quiz and stopped upsetting him with taking is food bowl away...and making him wait. Instead I dropped yummy treats in his bowl as he ate. So now he doesn't care if we come by his bowl. Actually...he likes it when we come by thinking he's going to get something good.

There are wonderful ideas on this topic on past threads and I will see if I can look them up. Its not uncommon for puppies to do this. But it is important to deal with it especially if you have children.
 

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How old is your girl now? Did you suprise her about taking the toy/bone away from her? Do you do any obedience with her? How about take and give on comand? You could start practicing giving a toy and trading for a good treat so she gets into the habbit to drop what every she has in her mouth when ever you tell her to. I did that with Bogart when he was a pup since he picked up EVERYTHING on walks or around the house. He would pick something up and try to run off. I started trading with him and he actualy brought it over for a treat. I told him to drop it and he spit out anything that was in his mouth. I don't know your dogs age but make her work for her food like sit or down before letting her eat. I also handfed Bogart for several months after coming to us at 8 weeks old. He learned that I'm always close while eating, he learned to take food gently out of my hands and I also patted him all over his body, ears, tail, feet, anywhere. It worked great.
All the best,
 

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I absolutely disagree with the theory of continually taking away from her to establish 'dominance'...that does nothing but feed into her notion that you are a threat to her possessions...just because you give it back to her sometime later means absolutely diddly-squat to her as she will not connect the two actions in the slightest. Whether you like it or not she is growling for a reason...rightly or wrongly in her mind she feels she needs to tell you to back off...the only way to stop this is to show her she does not need to feel this way. Think about it...your dog is saying 'go away, this is mine' so by not listening and grabbing it from her and even 'pushing her away a bit' is ONLY going to create a dog that feels they need to guard MORE, I mean how else is she supposed to feel? Really try and think about it from a dogs pospective...the whole notion that she is trying to 'outrank' you in some way is totally flawed and not a helpful way of viewing this situation...she is very aware that you are a different species to her and she is not exhbiting this behaviour to somehow climb some social ladder to outrank you...those types of theories are based on the very outdated captive wolf studies to which many concluded by trying to compare captive wolf hierarchy to a domestic dog and human relationship. Domestic dogs live in a very strange world. In a natural state - i.e. feral dogs, village/pariah dogs, that sort of thing - packs are very rarely formed. When they do form, any animals within them breed, there's no set hierarchy. So bringing them into a very restricted living space such as a household must do all sorts of odd things to their social requirements. Relating dog behaviour in such an environment to wolf behaviour is totally irrelevant in my opinion.

Stopping the growling will NOT remove the dog/pup's need to do it/feeling of threat or discomfort, just the warning. The way to stop the growling is not to force the pup into a situation where it feels the need to warn/growl in the first place. This doesn't mean letting the pup have his own way, rather, anticipating how the pup will feel/react and defusing the situation by for example swapping a high value treat for something he has. Luckys mom really does have the right idea...by teaching your dog that you are a GOOD thing when approaching her will do wonders...you will soon see that your dog is absolutely comfortable with your presence and her need to warn you is no longer there. When she has something you don't want her to have, simply swap it for something of higher value...people need to stop the silly idea that that is somehow allowing your dog to get away with it and be 'top dog', that is so far off the mark, you are simply not pushing a dog that has given you a very clear warning...a growl is her only method of communication and by proving to her that she has every reason to growl (by taking the object anyway) is not going to create a very happy or relaxed dog...and happy and relaxed is exactly how you want your dog to be around food!
 

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I absolutely disagree with the theory of continually taking away from her to establish 'dominance'...that does nothing but feed into her notion that you are a threat to her possessions...just because you give it back to her sometime later means absolutely diddly-squat to her as she will not connect the two actions in the slightest. Whether you like it or not she is growling for a reason...rightly or wrongly in her mind she feels she needs to tell you to back off...the only way to stop this is to show her she does not need to feel this way. Think about it...your dog is saying 'go away, this is mine' so by not listening and grabbing it from her and even 'pushing her away a bit' is ONLY going to create a dog that feels they need to guard MORE, I mean how else is she supposed to feel? Really try and think about it from a dogs pospective...the whole notion that she is trying to 'outrank' you in some way is totally flawed and not a helpful way of viewing this situation...she is very aware that you are a different species to her and she is not exhbiting this behaviour to somehow climb some social ladder to outrank you...those types of theories are based on the very outdated captive wolf studies to which many concluded by trying to compare captive wolf hierarchy to a domestic dog and human relationship. Domestic dogs live in a very strange world. In a natural state - i.e. feral dogs, village/pariah dogs, that sort of thing - packs are very rarely formed. When they do form, any animals within them breed, there's no set hierarchy. So bringing them into a very restricted living space such as a household must do all sorts of odd things to their social requirements. Relating dog behaviour in such an environment to wolf behaviour is totally irrelevant in my opinion.

Stopping the growling will NOT remove the dog/pup's need to do it/feeling of threat or discomfort, just the warning. The way to stop the growling is not to force the pup into a situation where it feels the need to warn/growl in the first place. This doesn't mean letting the pup have his own way, rather, anticipating how the pup will feel/react and defusing the situation by for example swapping a high value treat for something he has. Luckys mom really does have the right idea...by teaching your dog that you are a GOOD thing when approaching her will do wonders...you will soon see that your dog is absolutely comfortable with your presence and her need to warn you is no longer there. When she has something you don't want her to have, simply swap it for something of higher value...people need to stop the silly idea that that is somehow allowing your dog to get away with it and be 'top dog', that is so far off the mark, you are simply not pushing a dog that has given you a very clear warning...a growl is her only method of communication and by proving to her that she has every reason to growl (by taking the object anyway) is not going to create a very happy or relaxed dog...and happy and relaxed is exactly how you want your dog to be around food!
:appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl:

EXACTLY.
 

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give that woman a gold star!
 

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We had this problem with Asia to as a young pup and I agree with the tactic of swapping for a high value treat(eg.. a piece of weiner) I would then give her back the bone and trade again occassionally while sitting right next to her. It worked like a charm and we have never had any problems with food aggression since. I can take a raw bone or even a stolen piece of steak(yes she got from counter surfing!) without any growling and now don't need a treat to swap with. It is important to nip this behaviour in the bud so to speak.
 

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Is play growling as we are playing ok?
Brooks likes to steal a piece of laundry and prance by us with it. He always takes the thing to his bed and then waits till I come and talk playfully to him and then he growls, very softly, as I pull it away. This doesn't seem like dangerous growling, is it?
 

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Is play growling as we are playing ok?
Brooks likes to steal a piece of laundry and prance by us with it. He always takes the thing to his bed and then waits till I come and talk playfully to him and then he growls, very softly, as I pull it away. This doesn't seem like dangerous growling, is it?
If it doesn't seem scary to you, then it probably isn't. I'd still try to manage his world so he can't get the laundry to begin with, though!
 

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We try to remember to keep the door closed but he is always on the lookout for our forgetfulness! I think it is cute when he does it (kindof like when your kids were naughty, but were so cute you couldn't help laughing) so I actually have encouraged it by turning it into a game.
It was just when I read about the growling in Maggie that it made me wonder. I am thinking he is treating me like another dog when he play growls at me when he has the laundry, right?
 

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We had this problem with Asia to as a young pup and I agree with the tactic of swapping for a high value treat(eg.. a piece of weiner) I would then give her back the bone and trade again occassionally while sitting right next to her. It worked like a charm and we have never had any problems with food aggression since. I can take a raw bone or even a stolen piece of steak(yes she got from counter surfing!) without any growling and now don't need a treat to swap with. It is important to nip this behaviour in the bud so to speak.
That is exactly how it works...once you have built up a positive relationship with your dog around food you will be able to quickly grab a dangerous object should your dog get hold of anything...if your dog trusts you around food in general and you teach a good drop command then you won't necessarily ALWAYS need to trade for a higher value treat through the dogs whole life...it is good practice to keep reinforcing what great person you are to have around the food bowl by occasionally dropping things in there but it is not something that you will have to do over every little thing. I do 'swapsies' if harry grabs the tea towel to reinforce the whole trading thing....but just say if he is chewing a raw bone and he moves it off his mat I am able to calmly pick it up and put it back on the mat without him batting an eyelid. This is because we have built up this trusting relationship since puppyhood...he has never, ever been put in the position where he has to guard anything so it just doesn't enter his head that I am some kind of threat to his VERY valuable treat! Should I have always teased him by taking things away, giving them back, taking them again to prove that I am somehow 'the boss' I am guessing he would be very stressed if I went within a mile of his raw bone and I wouldn't blame him for telling me to bugger off!
 

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Should I have always teased him by taking things away, giving them back, taking them again to prove that I am somehow 'the boss' I am guessing he would be very stressed if I went within a mile of his raw bone and I wouldn't blame him for telling me to bugger off!
I'm sure there are lots of other ways that work, but please don't pooh-pooh this one so easily. The dog doesn't feel 'teased' by it. As you say, a dog should always be willing to give up whatever she's got in her mouth; any other relationship can be dangerous for the dog. It's not teasing because the dog can have quite a blast and realizes the toy or treat, more often than not, is coming right back. My dogs will often bring toys to me, hand them off, take them back, and then go chew them contentedly. They get a huge kick out of the game.

It's simply dangerous to let a dog develop a sense of ownership over toys, treats, or food. A dog who feels ownership might bolt the item if you lunge for it. My sister's dog swallowed glass this way, and he was a dog who, at the time, was quite confident he was in charge of things. Also, a dog who feels ownership might be fine around you but snap at a smaller, less intimidating human, like a toddler, who comes near the goodie.

I'm sure there are lots of good ways to encourage a healthy relationship between dogs and their goodies, and I can attest from both personal experience and extensive reading that removing and returning toys helps cement the right roles in a non-coercive way.
 

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I'm sure there are lots of other ways that work, but please don't pooh-pooh this one so easily. The dog doesn't feel 'teased' by it. As you say, a dog should always be willing to give up whatever she's got in her mouth; any other relationship can be dangerous for the dog. It's not teasing because the dog can have quite a blast and realizes the toy or treat, more often than not, is coming right back. My dogs will often bring toys to me, hand them off, take them back, and then go chew them contentedly. They get a huge kick out of the game.
Yes, my dogs do that too. Playing a game with the dog and their toys is a totally different concept to what I imagined from your original post...maybe I mis-interpreted it. I often play such games with my dog, especially with scraps of paper that often end up ripped up all over the living room floor. Playing a game like that is different in my eyes to taking a bone away from a dog just to prove you should be able to, then giving it back later on. Especially since the dog in question had already growled, taking away the bone beacuse the dog growled would be entirely the wrong approach and that advice I did not agree with. (I wouldn't pooh pooh it, just respectfully disagree!)

I really feel guarding issues have little to do with the dog feeling like they are 'in charge of things' and the dog is certainly not trying to outrank you, not that it could, even if a dog did think that way. They are merely, instinctively, telling you they are uncomfortable with you so close at that given moment...but I guess that is neither here nor there, just interesting to hear how others interpret what a dog is thinking...(although, actually I don't mind at all if my dog feels like he 'owns' the bone he is chewing...why on earth can't he feel like it is his? I gave it to him and he is thoroughly enjoying it!! I do know however that my dog doesn't mind if I need to pick it up or move it because he doesn't see me as a threat to 'his' food...isn't that just the most fantastic relationship to have with your dog?)

Anyway...I think we can all agree that building up a positive relationship around your dog and their food is the way to go...thinking about it differently, I suppose removing and returning toys is something that I do everytime I play with my dogs...such as throwing the ball for harry or tugging the rope toy with Tilly...I just would never see the need to do that with a bone my dog is chewing...that is very much different than playing with a toy in my and my dogs eyes! (Harry does like me to hold one end of his bone, but that is just him being a lazy chewer!) I guess I am trying to work out weather you are saying you would take a bone away from a dog when he is happily chewing it or you would only do it when the dog is in play mode? The dog is doing two completely different things in my eyes...and the playing mode and eating mode don't really relate to each other. If the dog is in the middle of chewing/eating a bone would you then start up a game with the dog so you can enforce the taking/giving back method? Or does it work by assuming that a dog that has always grown up with the owner playing with the bones/food will automatically translate this to a time when he is engrossed in eating and not thinking about playing in the slightest...Just interested really!
 

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Anyway...I think we can all agree that building up a positive relationship around your dog and their food is the way to go...thinking about it differently, I suppose removing and returning toys is something that I do everytime I play with my dogs...such as throwing the ball for harry or tugging the rope toy with Tilly...I just would never see the need to do that with a bone my dog is chewing...that is very much different than playing with a toy in my and my dogs eyes! (Harry does like me to hold one end of his bone, but that is just him being a lazy chewer!) I guess I am trying to work out weather you are saying you would take a bone away from a dog when he is happily chewing it or you would only do it when the dog is in play mode? The dog is doing two completely different things in my eyes...and the playing mode and eating mode don't really relate to each other. If the dog is in the middle of chewing/eating a bone would you then start up a game with the dog so you can enforce the taking/giving back method? Or does it work by assuming that a dog that has always grown up with the owner playing with the bones/food will automatically translate this to a time when he is engrossed in eating and not thinking about playing in the slightest...Just interested really!
I guess I'm saying that it's an unacceptable problem when a dog feels like he or she can challenge you off a desired treat or toy. The kind of growling I'm talking about is the kind that could turn into a snap; there are other kinds of growling I wouldn't give a fart about. I've seen people with unhappy, aggressive dogs who snarl at owners or children who get too close to the food bowl or a treasured chew. I think you have an excellent point to say that wolf pack theory applies imperfectly at best to dog/human interactions, but I think some aspects of dominance do apply in dogs' lives. The "dominance" I'm talking about doesn't mean making the dog afraid of you; it means that the dog learns to trust your leadership and to defer to your commands when you make them.

I take away food and give it back so the dog considers that normal and non-stressful. I don't necessarily do it as a game, in the sense that I don't make it exciting. I might just lift up the bowl and put it back down. The dog is used to it, so he doesn't get irritated; he just looks at me expectantly until I put it back down. He might also do some spontaneous obedience, like a sit, to see if that helps him get it back. If I did it in a way that was more like teasing (yanking it away and dangling it), I think it would be counter-productive. I think it's crucial, though, that the dog learns not to be threatened or aggressive when a human hand shows up while he's in eating mode, so that's the moment I want to enter his attention as a safe, calm, in-charge presence.

You make the excellent point that we often talk about dogs in psychological terms that apply poorly to their lives. Looking back at my initial post, I think I advised something more forceful and confrontational than necessary, especially in terms of pushing the dog. She's young enough that it would be overkill and carry too many potentially negative side effects. I still think it would work, but a slower buildup of trust would be more effective in the long run. The high value swap, though, has its own downsides. While it's a great way to teach "drop," it gets abused by so many people who end up begging their dog to obey, waving a treat and repeating the dogs' name.

Guarding isn't your dog trying to outrank you, but it is the behavior of a dog who feels it's appropriate to challenge a person over a bone or a bowl of food. In an adult dog, that can be downright dangerous, and it's not a behavior I would tolerate. Making a dog feel safe with you is most important, but the dog also needs to know that it has to cede even the most delightful toy or cigarette butt when you ask for it.

They way you guys describe your dogs, it sounds like we've built similar relationships with mostly similar methods. Desired behaviors should be trained and confirmed with positive interactions whenever it's possible. I also need to know, though, that my dogs regard me as their absolute leader when it comes down to a difficult situation. If I call them, my dogs will stop in their tracks and turn around to me, even if they've seen another dog or a deer to chase, and I wouldn't be able to take them so many places if that weren't the case. So while I agree it's inaccurate to think that wolf hierarchy translates purely to domestic dogs, I can attest to the value of finding ways to establish yourself as a leader to your dogs, not just a playmate. Obviously you guys have great ways to do that too, and I'm learning a ton from you.

Thanks!
 

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Thanks so much for the replies everyone,
I think this is all a bit stressful for me because of the small kids in the house. The 2 year old gives Maggie no space at all. TRUST ME, I am really working on this but my 2 year old just doesn't get that the dog needs her space while eating, drinking etc...
Its maddening because then I end up with Maggie in the corral when eating etc.....its more so the 2 year old doesn't bother the heck out of her. Maybe I should put the 2 year old in the corral - ha ha. Okay it is late.

Anyway, the night she had the pig's ear she was in her corner (on a bed she often lays on) chewing away. My 2 year old walked by and said "Maggie burped". I knew right away that she had likely growled so I approached and she growled at me. I took it away and gave it back. Then I took the rawhide away when she got distracted.

The next day I gave it back and kept exchanging it for a sausage like treat (you know the botanics you can chop up). Its the only food she regards highly. I kept exchanging and I plan to do this whenever Maggie is chewing on something she obviously likes.
Does this sound okay?
Once she is okay with that I think I'll randomly pick up food and move it. I don't know - rawhide is the ONLY thing I've seen her do this with so maybe its best not to have them in general or have her in her corral while eating. Fortunately I think the novelty of it has already worn off.

I do worry though about the kids and the dog. I am also having my two year old give the sit and down command. I just don't want Maggie viewing my 2 year old as "lower in the pack" or whatever the term is. I am also making sure she's off the couches etc...right now.

Thanks for listening and sorry my post is all over the board.
 

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I don't mean to be hard core on this, but I don't believe little ones and puppies should ever be unsupervised together, not for one moment. As you say, it's really hard for a two-year-old to understand the rules around the puppy, and the pup has a similar lack of understanding. Perhaps the pup should have food/treats in her crate where the toddler can't ever approach Maggie; the same applies to nap time for the pup. Rawhide is a controversial treat anyway, so perhaps eliminating them altogether will help. If the pup and the little ones are out and about around the house together, I'd suggest puppy should be tethered to you so you can monitor the interactions. Safer for everyone that way....kiddos and pupper.
 

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No, I agree with you. I was right there when Maggie growled as my two year old walked by.
For now, IF she gets any rawhide, they will be given her corral. She likes her corral now and runs in there when its time for breakfast or dinner.

I HATE having to confine her that much though. But its just the way it has to be since my 2 year old is home a lot of the time and just can't seemt to leave Maggie be.

On days my 2 year old is home, Maggie has also started going to dogdaycare. Thats helped too.
 
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