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Discussion Starter #1
So I recently got another puppy, she's an 11 week old Yorkie/Maltese. I've noticed she is much more feisty and headstrong than other dogs I've owned. While she is trainable (she has learned sit, down, shake,and is ringing the bell to go potty now) there is one issue that has me concerned, and that's resource guarding.

Now to be clear she isn't aggresive most times. She has never growled at me over a bone (I regularly take away and give back), or even at her "sister", a 1 year old Yorkie/Pom. They play rough and are vocal (play growling) but have never fought over a toy. In fact they enjoy keep-away a lot (they alternate). All of this would put me at ease except for the fact that she WILL growl and sometimes snap at other dogs over a bone. She even did it to my neice once (just growling, I immediatly scolded and took the item away). She hasn't done it to ANY people since, but continues with other dogs.

How should I handle this? Is ANY resource guarding acceptable? I have no idea how to train/correct this because A. She doesn't do it to me, her "sister", or other close people. B. The dogs she does it to would gladly snatch away what she had if she was submissive and I can't put her in that situation often. Should I not worry about training and just avoid giving her guarding items around other dogs? I like to feel confident that my dog is submissive and friendly (which the older 1 is), and worry that these may be signs of a larger problem I should take care of now.

One more thing before I end the novel, haha. The pup is very friendly otherwise, wagging her tail and running up to people, initiating play with other dogs, etc. Also, while she is headstrong, she is submissive to me at least (don't worry I'm a very kind dog owner and don't hit my dogs ;-)).
 

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If you scold and/or take the item away then you are doing nothing but confirming to your dog that she has to guard her item or she will lose it.

The correct thing to do is to TRADE what she has for something of higher or equal value. That way she learns that if she gives something up, then she will get something back and she won't see a need to guard what she has.

Resource guarding against other dogs shouldn't be allowed UNLESS other dogs take what she has because then she has a very real need to guard what she has from them or she will lose it. And any training that you do will devalue it's self because she will be constantly losing what she has to the other dogs and the training, which is supposed to instill trust and security, will be worthless.

Why do you want your dog to be submissive? Why do you feel that you have to "put her in her place"? Why not teach her what is acceptable and what is not and let her be who she is. If she's a submissive dog, then fine. If she's a dominant dog, then that's fine too because dominant doesn't mean that she's aggressive. It means that she's a natural born leader and is self confident and secure.

Please stop the dog whispering and start listening to real behavior experts, people who not only rely on experience but also education and training and science in this field. Real science.

Aggression almost always stems from insecurity and fear. Which is what resource guarding stems from, the fear that they will lose what they have.
 

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Purchase Mine by Jean Donaldson.

A degree of resource guarding amongst dogs is, IMO, normal.

Do not scold a growl. Growling is a form of communication. A dog that doesn't growl is the kind of dog that "bites without warning".

Start working on making sharing and the presence of people around her possessions a good thing. Object exchanges are a great tool. Show her a new bone while she is currently chewing on one, say 'give', and trade bones with her. Trade up in value so that she's getting something even better than what she already had.
While she is eating, you can approach and drop cheese cubes or some goodies in her bowl. While she's chewing on a bone, you can approach and drop a handful of treats. In the latter, you don't even have to take the bone away. You're just creating a positive association with your approach so that she doesn't go into guard mode every time she has a toy/bone and you're near.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the advice. I should clarify that I am constantly taking and giving back to show them it's ok and that there is no need to be protective. If she snaps at a human she loses the toy, I think that's pretty basic and a good technique coupled with the reinforcement (that's not to say I'm not open to disagreement).

But, I don't know where you got the "dog whispering" from as I didn't elaborate much on how I train or discipline my dogs. I use a LOT of positive reinforcement but that doesn't mean that if I need my dog to behave while I clean its feet or am preparing food I will give it any other option. That's what I mean by submission, the dog won't go free until it relaxes. It works well and I would never want my dog to fear me as you seem to be suggesting.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I will try trading up as I see how it could help. The only issue is finding a person she will growl at because she hasn't done it since the one incident. I suppose regardless it reinforces that it's ok to leave.

So with other dogs, Tofu, you think it's ok for her to warn them by growling? When has she "crossed the line" in your mind?
 

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Taking it away and giving it back is not the same as trading. Taking it away is still taking it away and can lead to her thinking that she's losing something. When you trade, she doesn't lose, she gains.

Resource guarding amongst other dogs is normal and okay but I tend to think that if the other dogs don't steal from her, then she should be taught that there's no reason to resource guard because A. It can prevent fights and B. Life is better when you feel secure and don't have to worry about protecting what you have.

When you started in on the submission and dominance thing, it sounded like whispering to me since this is all they talk about. I might have gotten the wrong impression and if I did then I apologize for making the wrong assumption.
 

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If, by "the dog won't go free until it relaxes", you mean that you hold the dog and don't let it go, or hold it down, or pin it, that would be an example of "dog whispering ". A stressed dog sometimes becomes MORE stressed when held in one position forcefully. It doesn't matter if you're not hitting or being mean. If she feels threatened she may feel the need t defend herself, or she may feel like she doesn't trusted you because she doesn't understand what you're doing.

I also agree that "trading up" is the way to go. Some people actually create guarding problems when they do things that they THINK will prevent them. For instance, if you take things away when the dog growls (because she's afraid you're going to take it), you are just proving her right. When you teach her about trading up, you're also reading a new command, "give". And, that can come in handy.
 

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If there are other dogs around other than her "sister", remove bones/toys that she guards completely. Don't give her the chance rehearse that behavior.

If you're playing fetch with other dogs have multiple balls available. She can be at ease letting other dogs have the ball because 'Loooook, I have THIS ball'. The grass is always greener on the other side. This prevents competition for ONE ball(that can get heated pretty quickly).

In my playgroups at work, there's always more than one toy available and I allow everything from growls to snaps. If there's a dog that feels the need to go further(lunging, snarling, fight), they are put into time out and I remove toys from the entire group before bringing that one dog out of time out.

Start exploring doggy body language more. You may very well be missing signals that are painfully obvious to the dogs. Calming Signals: On Talking Terms with Dogs by Turid Rugaas is a great book to start with. Watch for stiffening of the body or hard stares. My dog will get stiff and stare directly at her food/bone before she curls a lip, then growls, then snap, then fight.

As for holding your dogs until they relax, you could easily teach the behavior you DO want in these situations. If I want my dog to co-operate while I wipe her paws, I'll teach a stand-stay. This way you create a positive association without any struggling.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the quick replies everyone, I'll use trading up instead of taking/giving and have others do this with her as well. I assume I present the "trade" immediately (as I take the toy)? Also, I think I'll explore allowing growling as communication to other dogs like Tofu said, I agree it's probably normal behavior. I just didn't want it to evolve into something more as none of my previous dogs have ever been guarders.

I agree with the "holding" thing, ideally I want her to learn "stay" to avoid this. But until she picks "stay" up I need to control her and since I let her calm down before going free she pretty much no longer fights me when I'm wiping her feet. I'm continuing to work with her, just know I'm not "pinning" or holding her for fun. I just find it's easiest to direct a puppy through physical control until they learn (like as I taught sit with treats the first thing she learned was she only would be pushed back if she jumped on me and tried to take the treat).

Also thanks for the book recommendation. I've gone with what has worked in the past which is why I control my dogs like I would a toddler until they learn commands. But I'm completely open to new techniques and welcome the chance to try them out.

I do think dogs should be submissive to their owners but maybe I'm using the wrong word to describe the dog/owner hierarchy.
 

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When you first start object exchanges, present the new bone right in front of her face. She gets to go,"Oooohh, new toy!" Say 'give' and exchange the two objects. Once you progress, you can stop showing her the new bone. Start with 'give' and trade objects, pulling out the new bone from behind your back. I'm to the point with my resource guarder that I don't have to always trade up for something or anything at all. But I like to trade frequently so we don't lose the progress and positive association.

I've been working in doggy daycare for years and I've taught classes at the shelter. In all of this, I don't feel the need to think in terms of dominant/submissive. Never have I once felt that it would help my cause(well trained/behaved dogs). You can find a great deal of info on the subject here on the forum if you do a quick search.
 

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Thanks again for the elaboration regarding the trade up. I think I understand the type of dominate training or mindset you guys are referring to, I've seen Cezar and read posts with people discussing examples. I find the debate interesting to be sure, though I don't see how you can completely avoid using techniques that some would consider "dominating". I like to think of it in terms of kids, ever see that kid throwing a fit or being a brat while the mom rubs their back and tries to reason with them? Sometimes the "because I said so" approach is the best/only option. That doesn't come hand in hand with abuse or physical violence. Anyways, those who disagree please don't take this as "I'm right", just articulating my point of view at the moment. I will be reading more on the forums and again, am open to techniques and ideas different from my own as I'm no expert.
 

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Why do you want your dog to be submissive? Why do you feel that you have to "put her in her place"? Why not teach her what is acceptable and what is not and let her be who she is. If she's a submissive dog, then fine. If she's a dominant dog, then that's fine too because dominant doesn't mean that she's aggressive. It means that she's a natural born leader and is self confident and secure.
I agree,
What would you do if a mugger wanted your wallet, a tough comparison but there is no reason she should let other dogs take what is hers.
 

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If you're going to do more reading then you'll come across info and I don't think I need to post videos and such since you'll likely come across them. This is how I like to allay a dog's resource guarding.

I start by getting them to see my being near them as not a threat and as something positive. I walk near to them, toss a treat of equal or higher value to what they're guarding and I walk away. I keep doing this. It's important not to hover at first or it may seem to them that you're just waiting to swoop in and take what they have. Soon, they will associate your nearness as a source of good things and that they're not losing anything. After doing this for a few days to a couple of weeks, you should see vast improvement. That's when I like to sit nearby and facing away from them, talk softly and praise and toss treats. You get to sit closer and closer. Eventually, gaging what signals they're sending you and their body language (it is VERY important to be able to know how to CORRECTLY read this), you can make physical contact. A gentle and non-lingering pat on the butt and then build up to stroking. Use soothing praise for good reactions and acceptance. Don't rush it! Still offer treats.

At this point, playful dogs will usually offer me what they used to guard so I can throw it for them or play tug of war. If they don't do this or don't get up and leave what they're guarding to come to you for affection when you offer, then this is where I would incorporate the trade game. The dog should see it as always receiving, never taking away. Present a trade before asking for what the dog already has. Make it look good by pretending to eat some yourself or waving it around to get them interested in it. Do it often and praise so giving something up is the greatest thing for them to do and so they lose the fear that they're losing something to you. Eventually, you can phase out the trade and ask for what they have (I think every dog should learn "drop it" for safety reasons) and praise and give it right back. If I have to ask a dog to drop something that they think is wonderful that they really didn't want to let go of but still did because I asked, I always reward them lavishly for making the sacrifice. Making that sacrifice should be worth it to them.

If a dog is feral or otherwise very frightened of people, you need to first work on making their connection to people a positive and comfortable thing before ever attempting any touching when they have food or your presence will be considered a negative thing and you don't want it to be when they have food and you're near them.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks msminnamouse for the detailed explanation. I've been having my niece do trades, the pup loves food so it's working fine. The pup never had a problem with me but when I take things away that she isn't supposed to have I praise her with a treat as well.

I've been removing bones she guards around dogs that she's had an issue with. But, when she does growl I let her.

One off topic question, while she's about 80% potty trained (she always goes to the door and mosty rings the bell), she's been having accidents on the way. She'll remember or notice that she has to pee all of a sudden, run to the door but end up leaving a trail of pee in the entryway. Curious how I should handle this. Usually I would yell NO to startle her then scold the "potty" before taking her out, but in this case she's trying to get to the door but just can't hold it. I assume she will grow out of it, but until then should I scold like a normal accident or just take her out?
 

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Make more frequent trips to potty. She's still a youngster.
So if she is piddling on her way to after an hour of being inside, start making trips outside every 45 minutes or 30 minutes.
I agree with this. I'm surprised that a young puppy such as this is already going to the door and ringing the bell, even some of the time. That's great, but I'd definitely take her out more often than she needs to go, just to drill it into her head that the only place that's good to pee is outside.

I'm also with Tofupup on the resource guarding: to a degree, it can be normal. I love drivey dogs - dogs that go bananas for food and toys. So how can I encourage this on one hand, but then also expect them to enjoy sharing these very same items with other dogs? The answer is that I can't. Now, that doesn't mean that I'm going to let my dog injure another dog in a squabble over toys/food, but I'm not unhappy about a warning growl or air snap towards a dog looking to take one of these items from my dog, as long as it doesn't escalate beyond that.
 

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I work from home and have been very consistant taking her out and never missing an accident, also I'm sure my other dog ringing the bell helps. Still, I was surprised she picked it up so quickly and wanted her to learn the bell more, which is why I've been letting her show me instead of taking her. But, guess I can't fight her puppy bladder and will need to set a "time limit" for awhile longer. If she piddles on her way to the door I'll consider it my mistake.
 

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Exactly! She's picking it up so quickly, but, she's still very, very young, so she's bound to have mistakes. She may cognitively understand what to do, but, as you say, her puppy bladder can't always handle it! :)
Use the time limit, and don't scold for mistakes!
I've always wanted to try the bell thing, but my dogs are such trick hounds that I think they'd try ringing the bell day and night!
 
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