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Hello all. Sorry for the long post but I think all the backstory is needed for anyone who can offer some advice for us. My wife and I have been scratching our heads trying to resolve a resource guarding issue with our dog and just can’t seem to find a solid method for us to work at with him.
Blue is a male Schipperke, around 2.5 years old.
In general, he’s a well-behaved dog. We socialized him very early on with kids, other dogs, our two cats, etc. He was a bit stubborn with housebreaking but overall, I can’t complain.
However, early on, he began to exhibit resource guarding tendencies. Items accidentally dropped on the floor were a common target as well as high-value bones that were flavored. We noticed that certain bones were a major issue so we stopped purchasing those types early on in order to avoid issues. However, there’s no way to prevent anything of ours from ever touching the ground so the issue continued.
The first thing we tried (at this point he was still very young) was reach out to our local trainer who taught our puppy playtime class. She came over and worked with him a bit, tossing him little treats in an effort to get him to trust more. This seemed to make sense so we tried this. On some items, he would come around a bit. But usually he would just eat the treat and go back to guarding.
Eventually, the guarding got to the point where he would not only growl and snarl, but bite. My wife and I were bitten pretty bad a few times trying to get items away from him. He never held on or attempted to tear, but the momentary bites were enough for us to know we needed to take drastic measures.
So, we found a trainer who specialized in dogs exhibiting aggressive behavior. He came over for multiple sessions and worked with us. He stressed that we need to work on our dog’s overall behavior and that would make the resource guarding resolved. So, we didn’t direct any attention to resource guarding specifically. We focused on having the dog heel correctly, pay attention to us, not control us, demand things, etc. Honestly, this worked great for those behaviors, but it never corrected the resource guarding. At this point we became very disheartened and did not know where to go from here.
More recently, we’ve been doing research and found people laying out exercises for resource guarders that involves keeping high value treats nearby and using them to build the dogs trust. Eventually, getting the dog to trade for the higher value item. That all makes perfect sense. Here’s the issue: we haven’t found anything higher value for many situations. We’ve tried all types of dog treats, grilled chicken, beef, you name it. He will let all of those things pass him by and remain guarding the plastic bottle, cardboard box, or any other useless object that has high value to him. Additionally, he’s been starting to spread into more normal objects that he never has guarded before such as his water bowl, the garbage can, etc.
If there’s anyone who can offer advice, it would be much appreciated. In all other aspects he’s a great, loving dog. He just has this one really bad issue that we can’t figure out how to resolve.
one of those memorable breed experiences that I can't personally forget. Driving through a hotel parking lot looking to find a spot for a weekend dog show. A woman burst out of a hotel room with one in her arms and the other on the ground attack and tearing her clothes.. she was trying to open her vehicle .. I stopped grabbed my back pack and blocked the one on the ground as she opened the vehicle door and secured the one in her arms inside. The one of the ground was fine and calm she picked him up, that fight they tore some flesh off of her along with shredding her clothes.. She was ok, thanked me, Her dogs had just gotten into a tussle.. It looked horrific but this was just a light tussle for them lol lol.. One of those breeds I will never forget..
It's unfortunate that the more you training in this area.. The more your dog gets to practice the wrong behavior to be better at it and want to do it more because they win at it and it gets so much attention.
You have done the right thing in clearing all the triggers out of your home. For me I would restrict his movement. set up a smaller more controllable area for him to be that you have a better chance keeping sterile. This is only to try to change the current direction your dog is escalating too. That would be my first step for at least a month.. put him on simple schedule of food water potty, daily walk or trip to great places.. nap and sleep and leave it at that ... All opportunities to work on ob skills together. this is where I would start...
You have a strong scrappy breed.. have you talked to his breeder or looked for a breed facebook group.
That's interesting, I haven't thought of that. We used to have him confined to the kitchen area when he was a puppy but haven't since he was housebroken. That's a good thing to try to limit these incidents.
Haven't talked to the breeder about the issue but we do belong to a breed-specific Facebook group but haven't posed any questions. That's another thing I should try.