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Resource guarding monkey

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Hi,
I got my little monkey Jasper at 8 weeks old. When we picked and just about to walk out the gate him up the breeder stated sometimes he growls at his siblings over food. My previous dog (Husky) used to resource guard against other dogs , we did preventative training (mine, find it, let's go and wait) and managed the issue.
Our new little man shocked us on the second day of having him home by growling at us when we touched his long last chew intending to take and give back. I contacted the vet the next day and got referred to puppy classes which we started at 9.5 weeks. He loves classes and food and is super smart and a bit of a dinosaur. (We didn't touch his treat after the first instant). We also do not in most cases just take anything (including when he chews the rug) we offer him something different eg. Toy or ask him for a behaviour. Puppy classes recommended the swap which he will do but is very snatchy over and did growl the first time.( We give his high value treats in his crate at all times). He raced out of his crate after getting the treat to come sit in his bed right next to us, but obviously still didn't want us touching the treat. My partner went to touch him and he got growled and snapped at.
We have taken to dropping some more high value meaty treats when he has the high value treat and then leaving him (at random not every time). He then progressed to getting protective of his kibble about a week ago (12 wk old). We immediatly have commenced feeding half his kibble and adding extra before he finishes what's in the bowl with a 'more' cue so he knows we are coming. He has stopped hovering over the bowl and now gives a really loose tail wags, he will also turn to look at us if we are close by and moves away from the bowl when we reach down to the bowl. We also do a kibble feed by hand and training combo for one of his meals each day.
He still guard high value very much, but we are working on the foundations of trust.
I do alot of training and have worked with mainly adult dogs before ( 5 years ago now) with highly agressive behaviours but have never dealt with this behaviour in puppys.
He has learned sit, drop, decent recall. I personally like to teach mine, leave it, drop it and find it which he is pretty good at (the beginning stages).
I just wonder if anyone has further suggestions to curb or manage with puppy's this young displaying this behaviour and what your experiences have been because honestly this behaviour has me so panicked when it first happened that I would have a highly agressive dog. Did your puppys resource guarding progress to other things?
Also wonder if anyone's Goldy's give them a mean face before their mouthing, just not sure if that's normal for a Goldy puppy?
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This is what I did with my resource guarder (not a golden). She was a puppy, but around 6/7 months when I got her. I started with getting my hand near her dish to drop something better into it. Once she was okay with that, I would pick it up and put something better in it and put it back down. She began associating me picking up her dish with something good happening. This helped ease her tension while eating. I was never able to eliminate it. Other dogs will still get an earful. She still guards high value toys like benebones from the other dogs and will go after them and the cat for getting close. All of 15 pounds, she isn't super scary to 50+ pound goldens and they are just like whatever and walk away. It didn't go beyond food and toys until she was much older.

Prevention has been that benebones (or any other high value item) don't go in the toy basket. They only get them when someone is right there watching. They go back up after. No children are allowed in the kitchen while she eats. She is 13 years old now and over the past year or two it has gotten worse. We think it's old age thing in a small dog at this point. If we have company, she has to be in her crate. Not allowed near children except my granddaughter who lives with me.
 

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(...) (We didn't touch his treat after the first instant). We also do not in most cases just take anything (including when he chews the rug) we offer him something different eg. Toy or ask him for a behaviour. Puppy classes recommended the swap which he will do but is very snatchy over and did growl the first time.( We give his high value treats in his crate at all times). He raced out of his crate after getting the treat to come sit in his bed right next to us, but obviously still didn't want us touching the treat. My partner went to touch him and he got growled and snapped at.
We have taken to dropping some more high value meaty treats when he has the high value treat and then leaving him (at random not every time). He then progressed to getting protective of his kibble about a week ago (12 wk old). We immediatly have commenced feeding half his kibble and adding extra before he finishes what's in the bowl with a 'more' cue so he knows we are coming. He has stopped hovering over the bowl and now gives a really loose tail wags, he will also turn to look at us if we are close by and moves away from the bowl when we reach down to the bowl. We also do a kibble feed by hand and training combo for one of his meals each day.
He still guard high value very much, but we are working on the foundations of trust.
(...)
I have a question: if he is guarding high-value treats, why are you still giving them to him? If he guards something, that should be the last time he ever gets that item. Just don't give them to him. Every single time the dog is able to engage in guarding behaviour, that behaviour is being reinforced because it's self-rewarding. Not only that, but he's escalating by bringing the item into your "territory" (the bed) and then taking possession of that too, by settling in and controlling your behaviour (growling and snapping at you). So he's guarding not only the item, but his place on the human bed as well. You're letting this puppy call the shots. If he growls at you on your bed, that should be the last time he gets to be on the bed. Pick him up, put him in the crate and shut the door. And make sure he knows the bed is out of bounds in future.

Second, stop with the "meaty treats". If I understand what you're describing, you're saying that when your pup has a high-value item he might guard, you're giving him pieces of meat and then walking away? If this is what you're doing, you're actually rewarding him for guarding. Look at it from the dog's point of view: he has an item he values and has guarded in the past, the human brings meat, and then backs off. You're effectively reinforcing both the value of both the item and the guarding behaviour. I don't understand why you would do this.

This sounds to me like a pup that is getting far too many treats, in all the wrong circumstances, and has taken charge of the situation because nobody else has done so. If he keeps getting opportunities to guard, the behaviour is going to get worse.

I hope you find a solution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have a question: if he is guarding high-value treats, why are you still giving them to him? If he guards something, that should be the last time he ever gets that item. Just don't give them to him. Every single time the dog is able to engage in guarding behaviour, that behaviour is being reinforced because it's self-rewarding. Not only that, but he's escalating by bringing the item into your "territory" (the bed) and then taking possession of that too, by settling in and controlling your behaviour (growling and snapping at you). So he's guarding not only the item, but his place on the human bed as well. You're letting this puppy call the shots. If he growls at you on your bed, that should be the last time he gets to be on the bed. Pick him up, put him in the crate and shut the door. And make sure he knows the bed is out of bounds in future.

Second, stop with the "meaty treats". If I understand what you're describing, you're saying that when your pup has a high-value item he might guard, you're giving him pieces of meat and then walking away? If this is what you're doing, you're actually rewarding him for guarding. Look at it from the dog's point of view: he has an item he values and has guarded in the past, the human brings meat, and then backs off. You're effectively reinforcing both the value of both the item and the guarding behaviour. I don't understand why you would do this.

This sounds to me like a pup that is getting far too many treats, in all the wrong circumstances, and has taken charge of the situation because nobody else has done so. If he keeps getting opportunities to guard, the behaviour is going to get worse.

I hope you find a solution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have a question: if he is guarding high-value treats, why are you still giving them to him? If he guards something, that should be the last time he ever gets that item. Just don't give them to him. Every single time the dog is able to engage in guarding behaviour, that behaviour is being reinforced because it's self-rewarding. Not only that, but he's escalating by bringing the item into your "territory" (the bed) and then taking possession of that too, by settling in and controlling your behaviour (growling and snapping at you). So he's guarding not only the item, but his place on the human bed as well. You're letting this puppy call the shots. If he growls at you on your bed, that should be the last time he gets to be on the bed. Pick him up, put him in the crate and shut the door. And make sure he knows the bed is out of bounds in future.

Second, stop with the "meaty treats". If I understand what you're describing, you're saying that when your pup has a high-value item he might guard, you're giving him pieces of meat and then walking away? If this is what you're doing, you're actually rewarding him for guarding. Look at it from the dog's point of view: he has an item he values and has guarded in the past, the human brings meat, and then backs off. You're effectively reinforcing both the value of both the item and the guarding behaviour. I don't understand why you would do this.

This sounds to me like a pup that is getting far too many treats, in all the wrong circumstances, and has taken charge of the situation because nobody else has done so. If he keeps getting opportunities to guard, the behaviour is going to get worse.

I hope you find a solution.
The issue referring to Jasper having the high value treat was in HIS bed that backs onto the couch. We have a total of 3 safe spaced in the house. His bed in our room his crate in the living room and a bed next to the couch. He is not on our bed or couch unless he is invited up and that is only when he is not using his dinosaur teeth.

We utilize meaty treats as that is what we use in training eg: prime100 rolls cut us. We want to desensatise him to our presence around his food. This is what has been advised by the bahavioural trainers I have spoken too. In order to desensise him we need to use treats of higher value than what he has. We provide these outside his reaction zone so this isn't prevoking his guarding. (His guarding is only reaction if your hand starts goes near his food ) we already have a behavioural trainer in as we don't want to escalate the situation. We have also spoken with several others.


We don't usually give him the high value treats unless he is in his crate (now we make sure it is closed asap as he is a ninja). Have you had much success with withholding the guarding treats ? What do you do when in some circumstance they may get ahold of it?The ones he values the most we no longer give him ( beef chews) which we have no problem not giving him.

Thanks for your advise 😊
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This is what I did with my resource guarder (not a golden). She was a puppy, but around 6/7 months when I got her. I started with getting my hand near her dish to drop something better into it. Once she was okay with that, I would pick it up and put something better in it and put it back down. She began associating me picking up her dish with something good happening. This helped ease her tension while eating. I was never able to eliminate it. Other dogs will still get an earful. She still guards high value toys like benebones from the other dogs and will go after them and the cat for getting close. All of 15 pounds, she isn't super scary to 50+ pound goldens and they are just like whatever and walk away. It didn't go beyond food and toys until she was much older.

Prevention has been that benebones (or any other high value item) don't go in the toy basket. They only get them when someone is right there watching. They go back up after. No children are allowed in the kitchen while she eats. She is 13 years old now and over the past year or two it has gotten worse. We think it's old age thing in a small dog at this point. If we have company, she has to be in her crate. Not allowed near children except my granddaughter who lives with me.
That's wonderful progress! Makes me feel a bit better, while our pup has shown some positive steps it's reassuring to hear your experience. I know not all situations are the same. We just want him comfortable around us with his food. Not nessisarily "cure" even though that would be great I know it's next to impossible.
Is only recently she has had to be not around kids?
 

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I too have a resource guarder (not a golden). Here is how I handled it.
1. Food - Start by making it very clear that the food comes from you and doesn't just appear. This takes time and effort on your part, but it went a long way in managing/ resolving the issue with food. To do this,
1.a) You hand feed. This can go on for a week, but it must be every meal. It is ok to use a glove to protect your fingers from the shark teeth. If they try to snatch, close your hand. If they growl, close your hand. They don't get the food till they are nice. This needs to be every bite of the food. Put just enough in your hand that you can comfortably close around. This is very time consuming, but it was worth it, as it resolved most of the issue.
1.b) Nothing in Life is Free - To get anything, including food, including the food in your hand for above, the dog must do something. It is as simple as a "sit." This teaches 2 things: Manners and Self Control. Puppies have neither until taught. This progresses to the manner training to wait until you say it is ok to eat. This also progresses to many other well mannered things including getting out of a vehicle, going in or out of a door, and so much more. For now though, focus on meals / food. This doesn't take long. Just remember the short attention span and to give the food quickly.
2. Resource guarding other things - As soon as it happens, no matter what it is, that item gets put up. You don't need to say anything. Just pick up the item and put it up. This needs to be done in front of them. This teaches that the behavior they gave resulted in play time being over and all fun and games comes to a stop. This takes a little bit longer as the attention span for a puppy is extremely short. This must be consistent, by everyone and everywhere and every time. Every time they are allowed to continue playing or with the good times, it reinforces the incorrect behavior. You can also put them in their bed, but a word of caution here. The dog senses your emotions. It is very easy for a dog to translate going to bed/crate as a discipline and then you have a whole different set of issues to resolve. If you want to do this, I recommend 1st putting the item up, spend a minute or 2 ignoring the dog (collecting your thoughts/emotions), then put the dog in their bed/crate with no words spoken.

Above needs to be done by all adults in the house, not just the primary caretaker. Dogs are smart. They easily figure out who is a "push over" in the home. If you have kids, I recommend waiting for this issue to be resolved before interaction. As I said, dogs figure out who is a push over very quickly.

Good luck. If you want more information or more details, find me on FaceBook. We can message.
 

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That's wonderful progress! Makes me feel a bit better, while our pup has shown some positive steps it's reassuring to hear your experience. I know not all situations are the same. We just want him comfortable around us with his food. Not nessisarily "cure" even though that would be great I know it's next to impossible.
Is only recently she has had to be not around kids?
Only the past year or so. She’s 13 years old so we partially blame old age and arthritis. Never been allowed to have food around them.
 
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