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Resource Guarding please help

1890 Views 33 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Bhanishav
Hi, I have a 7 month old golden retriever who has shown resource guarding tendencies. He’s done it with high value chews but most recently we have had a few incidents when I was eating and talking to my sister and she went to pet him and he nipped her. Another time I was feeding him kibble from my pouch and my 5 year old stroked him and he tried to bite her. Today I was serving his food ( I still had the bowl) and he turned around and snarled at my brother. He also growled at him when I was sitting eating my dinner and my brother tried to stroke him. I’m really worried because I have a 5 year old and an 8 year old who are walking around with food etc all the time. How can I stop him from reacting to this I can’t possible spend the whole day separating them for the rest of my life?? I have contacted a behaviourist and will hopefully have an appointment soon but is there hope?
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I am certain they do not.
Given what we know, do you think you would ever trust this dog around small children.
If the dog is fearful and nervous, that can often be fixed. He may want the treat but hasn't been taught properly how to get it. He has growled and nipped in his life, and that has worked. So of course he's going to keep doing that. He's been trained to do that.

He needs clarity. He needs to know that this is right. That is wrong. If you growl, you get a correction -- maybe verbal, maybe a leash snap. I would try that first, if that was my dog.

A dog that does not have clarity is an anxious, unhappy dog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Hi everyone this is my first dog and I find it so confusing because I have some people saying one should be telling him off and others saying I should never tell him off for growling because he might then escalate directly to biting? I don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong and I’m terrified of making him worse which is why I posted on here hoping that some experienced people could advise.
 

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Hi everyone this is my first dog and I find it so confusing because I have some people saying one should be telling him off and others saying I should never tell him off for growling because he might then escalate directly to biting? I don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong and I’m terrified of making him worse which is why I posted on here hoping that some experienced people could advise.
I'd say do due diligence and find an excellent trainer. Find someone who has great reviews and maybe even ask for references. Best of luck!
 

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Have you considered the possibility that the resource he is guarding is actually you, and not the food? In your description at the top of the page, food is in the picture every time, but so are you. I ask the question because at one point my last golden would treat me as a resource to be guarded, and while she was never overtly aggressive towards humans, she would make it clear that I was "hers", and she was aggressive to other dogs that approached me. She would have been around your dog's age at the time - the early "teenage" years. It was dealt with fairly easily by making sure she knew that I called the shots, not her, and that I didn't need guarding.
Good point and definitely something else for the OP to consider.
 

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My dog was resource guarding treats and bones- especially bully sticks. What I ended up doing was something someone suggested to me (so take it or leave it- it’s just our experience) if I gave him a treat or high desire item, I would walk by him drop a small training treat by him and praise him. He stopped growling at us very quickly and learned that he could relax with really high stake items. Once his posturing improved we worked on drop it with less valued items and moved up to high value items. He learned he always got his high value treats back. For my boy- it was a big trust issue with his things- and food. But once we got him to trust us more- like this is for you- I’m just looking at it- and reenforcing that helped him so much. Sometimes we’d even exchange one bully stick for another. Now I can bend down a kiss him while he has anything in his mouth. Sometimes I move his food away from his bowl to pick up dropped pieces. No problem. I will say he is a little different towards my daughter who has always been more stern with him and my son who is autistic and takes his toys sometimes and doesn’t give them back. So he will turn his head away from the kids like nope I’m not giving it up. But if they say drop it - 99% of the time he will. He doesn’t growl or show any other posturing. So maybe try increasing trust between you and your dog- to see if it helps.
 

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Also why don’t you crate him during your meal times? I would also try hand feeding but make it a training session too. So 1 cup food 2x daily and it’s during training. So sit- gets kibble etc. that way the food stays positive while reinforcing good behavior. If you give him those high value treats that he guards find something higher value like something super stinky- think canned sardines, or canned tuna (rinse - too much sodium usually) and exchange the high value treat for the tuna. Repeat until you are finished with the amount of tuna you want to give and you have the high value treat in hand. Or, let him have only high value treats in his crate so he feels safe to eat it. I don’t think that resource guarding is an impossible cure as many suggest- because prior to our boys training, he growled, snapped and even broke my skin with a bite. Now I tell you I can with 100% confidence kiss my dog on his nose with a bone in his mouth and not feel scared or worried.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Hi, thank you for this you have given me much to think about. I had a behaviourist around today and he basically gave me some impulse control exercises to do around food to try and keep him calm but he said it was a genetic predisposition that he has and I will have to manage it for the rest of his life.
 

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Hi, thank you for this you have given me much to think about. I had a behaviourist around today and he basically gave me some impulse control exercises to do around food to try and keep him calm but he said it was a genetic predisposition that he has and I will have to manage it for the rest of his life.
How is it going with your pup? Did you try anything new. I was also told I’d have to deal with it forever, but we aren’t dealing with it at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
How is it going with your pup? Did you try anything new. I was also told I’d have to deal with it forever, but we aren’t dealing with it at all.
👋 hi thanks for checking in. So we have got to the stage where he is ok with me swapping a pig ear with him back and forth he knows he will get it back. I’m trying to work with my children so they walk at a distance and throw some treats at him while he has it too. But we had a regression in that he snarled and snapped at my son when they were playing tug. My son thought he was tangled and reached down to help and that’s when he did it. He’s never done it with a toy before and this wasn’t even a toy that he is usually bothered about. The other issue I have is he lip curls when my kids pet him. It’s not all the time but it’s quiet pronounced when he does.
 

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👋 hi thanks for checking in. So we have got to the stage where he is ok with me swapping a pig ear with him back and forth he knows he will get it back. I’m trying to work with my children so they walk at a distance and throw some treats at him while he has it too. But we had a regression in that he snarled and snapped at my son when they were playing tug. My son thought he was tangled and reached down to help and that’s when he did it. He’s never done it with a toy before and this wasn’t even a toy that he is usually bothered about. The other issue I have is he lip curls when my kids pet him. It’s not all the time but it’s quiet pronounced when he does.
Sorry to hear that. Have you contacted the breeder? It must be terrible to not feel like the kids are safe around your dog. Did you ever take him to a vet? We had Belgian Tervuren dogs growing up - one male showed aggression. Never to us (I had 2 siblings) but to other neighborhood children. A neighbors niece put her hand over the fence to say hi to our boy who wasn’t showing any aggression. He ended up biting her quite hard. My parents returned him back the breeder- and gave him to their son- we got a really great replacement dog. Anyways sometime later my parents asked about him - we were told a horror story. The dog turned on his owner for no reason- the man was on the ground trying to defend himself - they are strong dogs! The dog was not letting up. He had to strangle the dog until it passed out - he then took it to the vet after he sought medical care and put the dog down. They did an autopsy - the dog had an extra set of testicles- I guess internal because the breeders would have noticed otherwise. Anyways they said that contributed to his aggression. Some dogs are just not suitable homed with children. Hopefully things get better with your dog- but if I were you I’d want to let my vet know and get some advice if any tests need to run. Our progress with my dog was pretty quick- hopefully yours will be too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Sorry to hear that. Have you contacted the breeder? It must be terrible to not feel like the kids are safe around your dog. Did you ever take him to a vet? We had Belgian Tervuren dogs growing up - one male showed aggression. Never to us (I had 2 siblings) but to other neighborhood children. A neighbors niece put her hand over the fence to say hi to our boy who wasn’t showing any aggression. He ended up biting her quite hard. My parents returned him back the breeder- and gave him to their son- we got a really great replacement dog. Anyways sometime later my parents asked about him - we were told a horror story. The dog turned on his owner for no reason- the man was on the ground trying to defend himself - they are strong dogs! The dog was not letting up. He had to strangle the dog until it passed out - he then took it to the vet after he sought medical care and put the dog down. They did an autopsy - the dog had an extra set of testicles- I guess internal because the breeders would have noticed otherwise. Anyways they said that contributed to his aggression. Some dogs are just not suitable homed with children. Hopefully things get better with your dog- but if I were you I’d want to let my vet know and get some advice if any tests need to run. Our progress with my dog was pretty quick- hopefully yours will be too.
Thank you. I am trying to persevere for as long as I can and yes he is due his 8 month check in a couple of weeks so will speak to the vet then.
 
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