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First post here. I am looking for feedback about our puppy who is now 15 weeks old. He has exibited severe food gaurding and fear aggression since about 12 weeks. We've already been to a behavioralist, our vet, and a trainer. They all have said its abnormal for a puppy to behave in this way. The behavioralist even mentioned that she would support a decision to return him to the breeder. I am heart broken and can't even think about it, but he continues to growl, snap, and guard with hard body language in moments that are benign, or around high value food, and one time toward our cat. We had another episode tonight over some chicken and rice I put down for him to help with some stomach issues.

Is it possible the vet and behavioralist are over stating the case? The trainer seemed more laid back about it. They have praised us for positive training, obedience classes, and taught us how to handle these moments and that hes lucky to have us . We have him on fluoxetine at this point. But I also wonder if they mean that we're doing too much for a lost cause.

Hes so sweet and loving most of the time. I cant stand to think of sending him away. But I truly feel scared when he growls and barks at us over something that seems to change in value to him. Its hard to see triggers. In other times he didnt react with gaurding over chicken and rice.

please if you have feedback, we could use a few other opinions. the breeder says none of the parents or siblings are having this problem.
 

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I have raised several puppies who resource guard. This behavior is manageable but never truly goes away. If you have children, teach them not the mess with his food or his toys, feed him in a crate, give him edible chews only, not something you’ll have to take away and teach him the value of trading.
Resource guarding is a natural instinctual behavior, but can be dangerous. I personally would look at this, decide if I can manage this for the remainder of puppy’s life and then decide whether or not to return the puppy :)
 

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I have raised several puppies who resource guard. This behavior is manageable but never truly goes away. If you have children, teach them not the mess with his food or his toys, feed him in a crate, give him edible chews only, not something you’ll have to take away and teach him the value of trading.
Resource guarding is a natural instinctual behavior, but can be dangerous. I personally would look at this, decide if I can manage this for the remainder of puppy’s life and then decide whether or not to return the puppy :)
Yes, the behavioralist and trainer both said he shouldn't be around children. We don't have any at this point, but have been planning on it.
 

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Can I just clarify something? Your 15 week old puppy is on Prozac?
Yep. I haven't seen much online about having a puppy on prozac, but he has pretty intense fear aggression. He has snarled and lunged at vet techs since 10 weeks. I had no idea this was abnormal until our 3rd vet visit, when the vet talked to us about it.

What else did the behaviorist/trainer/vet have you do in regards to the resource guarding? Any kind of training plan?

Yeah we have private training sessions about food gaurding and any other issues that come up.....socialization plan for his level of anxiety, puppy kindergarten classes with special provisions for him to participate....etc. prozac might be unusual but I think its meant to give him a fighting chance in this early window of experience.
 

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Yes, the behavioralist and trainer both said he shouldn't be around children. We don't have any at this point, but have been planning on it.
Are you seeing a veterinary behaviorist? If not, I would consider that as opposed to a vet and a behaviorist. What has your trainer been telling you? Do you all have a management plan?
 

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Are you seeing a veterinary behaviorist? If not, I would consider that as opposed to a vet and a behaviorist. What has your trainer been telling you? Do you all have a management plan?
Our trainer is a CDBC and through the university at Ohio State, our behaviorist is a DVM and affiliated with the trainer at the Ohio State university. They all share notes and management plans. Our vet is through an animal hospital in town, and has talked with our behaviorist on a couple calls. Everyone is on the same page and knows how things have been going. Some of the unfortunate situations have occured with vet techs, so they have seen first hand his body language, and circumstances.

I think they are pretty educated and experienced. I just dont know dogs that well, which is why we went with a golden, which we thought would be an easier breed to grow with. All this just seems so wildly different than we expected, and is apparently rare. Im just really out of my depth and have to trust what they're saying.

The trainer seems to be familiar with rescue dogs and hard issues, and mostly seems to think its a manageable situation, but agrees he shouldnt be around children. We are all in agreement that positive reinforcement is the best plan. Leave him be with growling, try to keep known triggers away, no scolding or negative punishments, Using treats to lure him away from risky situations or hard biting. A lot of counter conditioning for fearful situations....things in line with positive training.
 

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Our trainer is a CDBC and through the university at Ohio State, our behaviorist is a DVM and affiliated with the trainer at the Ohio State university. They all share notes and management plans. Our vet is through an animal hospital in town, and has talked with our behaviorist on a couple calls. Everyone is on the same page and knows how things have been going. Some of the unfortunate situations have occured with vet techs, so they have seen first hand his body language, and circumstances.

I think they are pretty educated and experienced. I just dont know dogs that well, which is why we went with a golden, which we thought would be an easier breed to grow with. All this just seems so wildly different than we expected, and is apparently rare. Im just really out of my depth and have to trust what they're saying.

The trainer seems to be familiar with rescue dogs and hard issues, and mostly seems to think its a manageable situation, but agrees he shouldnt be around children. We are all in agreement that positive reinforcement is the best plan. Leave him be with growling, try to keep known triggers away, no scolding or negative punishments, Using treats to lure him away from risky situations or hard biting. A lot of counter conditioning for fearful situations....things in line with positive training.
That sounds about right! You have a GREAT system set up. I am familiar with Border Collies, where resource guarding tends to be fairly common among certain family lines, however in Goldens, since they are bred for "temperament above all else" I would not have expected this. Have you talked to your breed? Do any other puppies from the litter resource guard? The parents? What age did he start? Usually a breeder can tell when a puppy is going to resource guard from the 6 week point onward.

Starting early is brilliant. Consistency and management is key. Respecting his body language so he doesn't escalate above growling and always watching the ground where you take him for things like chicken bones and stuff because it is very unlikely you will safely be able to remove them from his mouth. I like to add that puppies also have poor emotional control, they like to overreact. So while he may constantly snarl and bite now, given the proper tools, he will likely be better able to control his body language in the future.
 

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I think it is really helpful if the breeder will do a few things before the pups go home. 1. Practice giving pup small treats so he associates hands with good things. 2. Pet and praise puppy while he is eating, so he is used to being touched. . Take the bowel a few inches away from pup, then give it right back and praise him. 3. Talk to pup all the time while you are doing this so he is not startled. These steps may require feeding the pups individually. I think this is part of the socialization that should start before pup goes home.
 

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Personally I would not give a dog fluoxetine (generic Prozac) ( I AM NOT A VET).

Have you considered an alternate "med"?
I suggest consulting with you vet BEFORE considering it, if you are interested in trying.

 

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I like to add that puppies also have poor emotional control, they like to overreact. So while he may constantly snarl and bite now, given the proper tools, he will likely be better able to control his body language in the future.
This is great to hear! I have been feeling so bad about episodes...its hard to remember that training will help, and he is still a puppy with low emotional control. Thanks for your feedback!
 

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[
QUOTE="Jessjack, post: 7786212, member: 204736"]
I think it is really helpful if the breeder will do a few things before the pups go home. 1. Practice giving pup small treats so he associates hands with good things. 2. Pet and praise puppy while he is eating, so he is used to being touched. . Take the bowel a few inches away from pup, then give it right back and praise him. 3. Talk to pup all the time while you are doing this so he is not startled. These steps may require feeding the pups individually. I think this is part of the socialization that should start before pup goes home.
[/QUOTE]

Yes, we followed our breeder, Buckeye Golden Retrievers, for a year before going with them. All the posts on their fb page seemed rosy and glowing with praise, but Im pretty upset with how everything happened with them as a new dog owner. They didnt share with us that he was the runt of the litter, it was a surprise when we arrived. We asked for piccs and info about him, and it appears thwy sent us pics of another puppy. No info on his temperament. They barely spoke to us on pick up. Just a hand off with money exchange. It felt pretty dubious, not at all like their online presence.
 

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I have had a similar experience with one of my Golden's. He never guarded his food, but in our first puppy obedience class he got into a fight with another Golden in the class. I did not think he initiated it, but the trainer said what she saw indicates he could have an aggressive behavior. She recommended we take him to a field trainer who specialized in difficult dogs. All of my dogs have come from field lines, so using this trainer seemed to make since. After three months with this trainer, we picked up our pup. The trainer showed us how he worked and then I went over all the skills he had learned. He seemed to be well trained, as promised. The trainer warned us that he still had some aggressive tendencies. He recommended we have him neutered, as it might help. So we did!

The day after we brought him home, my wife and I had him on his back, cleaning his incision. During this he took me! He grabbed my hand and would not let it go. I decided to try and pin him down and get him to relax as I dominated him. He soon relaxed and slowly let my hand go. As I withdrew my hand, he took it again. We finally got him calmed and off I went to the emergency room to get my hand sewed up.

We worked with our vet to find a qualified dog behaviorist. We found a good one! We took out pup over to him and we all set in a nice room while the behaviorist did his initial observations of our dog. The dog was sitting next to the behaviorist while he slowly petted him. He then took a pencil and slowly brushed the dog with the pencil, initially this all went well.

Then, when he slowly moved the pencil to brush his chest, the dog immediately dropped his ear, and started growling and showing his teeth. The guy slowly pulled his hands back and completely looked away from our dog. That worked to calm him down, but it was really scary! He then told us that he had rarely seen a dog that had such a strong aggressive behavior. He said if we decided to keep this dog, do not let him around kids and unknown people. So that is what we did. We have grandkids so we had to be very, very, careful. We kept the dog for over 5 years. He never hurt anyone, but me, he got my hand again when we were grooming him. Same deal, of to the hospital I went, this time was much worse. During the five years the dog, had two rounds of cancer. This first one we had the tumor taken out. On the second one, a reoccurrence from the original tumor, we decided to have him put down. Today, my right hand if really full of arthritis from the two bites.

I only share this to give you a different perspective. We have had many Golden's including the two we currently have. This one dog was probably one in a million. But, if you get a dog that has a problem with aggression, be very careful, follow the guidance of the behaviorist. From my perspective I kept our dog to long he was dangerous. It was not noticeable day to day. He was a happy dog and a really good duck hunter. I truly cared for him, even though he had tore up my hand. Looking back I should have put him down sooner, I exposed my wife and family to being bitten, we were lucky that this did not happen.....

Sorry this was so long, but I wanted to tell the story, to give you another viewpoint!
 

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Personally I would not give a dog fluoxetine (generic Prozac) ( I AM NOT A VET).

Have you considered an alternate "med"?
I suggest consulting with you vet BEFORE considering it, if you are interested in trying.

ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW? You're going to just start a 15 week old puppy on CBD!? Instead of correcting the behavior properly so the dog is well adjusted as an adult dog. Whose owners are planning to start a family. You just want them to ive CBD for the rest of it's life? WTH
 

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this to give you a different perspective. We have had many Golden's including the two we currently have. This one dog was probably one in a million. But, if you get a dog that has a problem with aggression, be very careful, follow the guidance of the behaviorist. From my perspective I kept our dog to long he was dangerous. It was not noticeable day to day. He was a happy dog and a really good duck hunter. I truly cared for him, even though he had tore up my hand. Looking back I should have put him down sooner, I exposed my wife and family to being bitten, we were lucky that this did not happen.....

Sorry this was so long, but I wanted to tell the story, to give you another viewpoint!
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. Im very sorry to hear how this went for you and your family. It sounds familiar to what we've been trying to sort out. He had a couple instances were his biting behavior was "hard", and it was very scary. Im really afraid the behaviorist and vet have just seen how this plays out with other dogs and are preparing us for a difficult road. We are really going to give it our best shot for him. And as our vet pointed it, were giving him the best chances and training, its just going to be up to him as he grows the next 6 months. We just had blood work done 2 days ago and are waiting to hear back, to make sure there isnt an underlying illness contributing.
 

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I am sorry that you are going through this with your puppy. Puppyhood is supposed to be such a joyful time. Yes, we all have many challenges through puppyhood but no one expects an aggressive puppy. Maggie seemed a bit of a resource guarder so we hand fed her kibble to her for many a meal. We don't let our other dogs come near her when she is eating, though I think she might be ok now with her food. She is great with regular treats and food. If we bring home something really special, like a bone, we put her in her gated area just to be sure we don't create issues between her and our other dogs. Does your pup enjoy being handled, belly rubs, etc. Is he ok with sharing toys?
Jules
 

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Also, can I ask how many puppies you have raised and what breeds? Trying to get a sense of your familiarity with situations you may experience with puppies.

Jules
 

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This is great to hear! I have been feeling so bad about episodes...its hard to remember that training will help, and he is still a puppy with low emotional control. Thanks for your feedback!
You’re on the right track :) your breeder should have been more straight forward and I would bet that either parent also resource guards.
In my experience, if a puppy is genetically predisposed to resource guarding, there is nothing you can do to “prevent it”. This can be a behavior they learn, but more often than not, you notice it even as early as 4 weeks.
For instance, if a breeder feeds puppies together when weaning, you’ll see one puppy in the litter eat a little faster, maybe make hard eyes at their littermates. This can quickly progress to growling and snapping at their littermates and may or may not progress into handler aggression.
My first Border Collie, I was 11 when I got her. It was my dream dog and she came as a hot mess full of fear reactivity towards dogs and she a strong resource guarder even as a puppy. After 1 year I could sit in the same room as her. She unfortunately had an accident, but I would never have let her around young children if there was food anywhere near the vicinity.
Sometimes, a dog can be forced to resource guard, if the owner or another dog keeps taking its food, etc. but I find more often than not, it is just a natural genetic behavior and the best you can do is counter condition the puppy and manage the behavior.
 

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One more thing I should mention about our Golden that had a severe aggression problem. He was bred by a vet down in Texas. The parents of the dog had good field titles, especially the male. Unfortunately, after we recognized/ discovered the problem with this pup I found out that this litter was hit with a deadly form of herpes, that usually will kill a litter. Since she was a vet she had access to a major vet school, she took the pups to try and save some of them. Our boy was one of 3-4 that made it. But he was separated from the bitch and litter mates for a period of time. My later research suggests that this could have been something that impacted his behavior. Additionally, I did lots of research on his parents. His father who was a highly titled competitive Golden, did in fact have some issues with aggression. This was difficult and was not easy to establish, but I did after some time. If I had known any of this I would have not purchased from this litter. I also, probably could have taken the pup back to the breeder, but I chose not to....my bad!
 

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First, I'm sorry that you're going through this. I haven't seen many posts about this particular behavioral issue (I assume because it really isn't common among goldens),however you can do a search for past threads on the subject. It sounds like you guys just happened to get really unlucky and that sucks especially when you're already attached.

Did the behaviorist recommend hand feeding all meals?
 
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