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Discussion Starter #1
Mini rant...

At the dog park today with the pups. Put out a bowl of water and as is normal all the dogs around started to drink. Carol, my swissy puppy, decided it was HER water (not in her bowl, used a communal one) and started growling at a dog who was drinking at the same time. I pulled her back and put her into a sit while the other dog finished and then when she was quiet I let her go and she went back to drinking, along with other dogs, very nicely.

The annoying part? The woman shouting that I need to lay Carol on her side and let the other dog stand over her a la Cesar Milan. Nope, not happening, and I said very nicely "I don't train my dogs that way." Her and her buddies gave me dirty looks the rest of the time we were there, ugh.



Here is the question. The resource guarding is becoming more and more frequent and I need to stop this now before it gets any worse. She never does it with humans, even my kids can take whatever they need from her, but she's doing it more and more frequently with other dogs.

I try to keep triggers away but anything can be a source of guarding. Today it was a water dish but a couple of days ago it was a stick she found. It can literally be anything she sees that she has decided the other dogs can't have. So how do I work through this with her? I'm admittedly at a bit of a loss on this one having never really dealt with it before except for really high value items.
 

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I don't try to teach my dogs to share. Resource guarding is really a dog to human issue and not a dog to dog issue. I let the dogs work out their own priorities and only step in if it turns into a fight....which it rarely does.

While I wouldn't appreciate my dog growling at another dog either I'd still allow that communication. They (hopefully} have the social skills to respond appropriately and resolve the matter themselves.
 

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I agree with Tooney Dogs. I don't do much with Donatello when it comes to teaching him to "share"... I don't think dogs have to share everything with other dogs, I think other dogs can learn to wait their turn. (I think maybe that's more important- Teaching your dog to wait their turn. : P ) You actually did that though, making your dog "sit" and wait until the others were done drinking.

That's what I would have done with Donatello...

Like Tooney said, as long as it doesn't escalate into a fight I wouldn't worry much about it. Now, when Donatello and I interact, I have taught him to not "resource guard" with me personally; For instance, he used to growl and snap when I'd try to take one of his chews away, I slowly counteracted that behavior and taught him that it's in his best interest to not behave that way with me over a treat... I need to be able to feel secure that should Donatello get a hold of something he's not supposed to have, that I can remove it from his mouth without a big fuss...

With other dogs, I just let them be "dogs", lol! He plays with my step-mother's dogs, and I've witnessed many times that he'll 'wait his turn' when it comes to a water-dish or foodbowl, and that's all I care about...
 

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I basically agree w/ what has been said, but that approach needs to be taken cautiously - especially at a dog park where you don't know the other dogs. If your dog growls at the wrong dog and over the wrong "resource", it could be trouble in a hurry.
 

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Well first off, good job for not doing things the Millan way! I would have given them a dirty look if they suggested that to me.lol.

Counterconditioning is a good step...IF the problem was a dog-human problem but it is not. I agree with the posts above, let them work things out provided that things don't escalate out of your control. If she is being aggressive around a stick with other dogs...let her, they will all avoid her and then what, she'll play with the stick alone? The only problem I have is when a dog goes and takes things that other dogs have and becomes aggressive and repeatedly does this...I guess you can consider it bullying.lol.

Don't teach her not to growl, if you do then she might start biting without any warning. Just give them their own separate bowls.
 

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actually I seen an episode on Cesar where there was a Swissy who had resource guarding issues (with humans anyway) and he never laid the dog on it's side, what a struggle that would be with their strength!! anyway, how you did it sounds fine to me:)
 

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I don't let my dogs act guardy with anything. They don't have to share and go halvsies on everything, but I don't allow the guarding that you describe. And I'm not going to wait until it escalates into a fight before I step in. I don't understand this approach. I mean, if it escalates out of your control, then it's out of your control and you're left being reactive instead of proactive, but clearly there are several different ways to handle it, depending on the end result you want.

I don't agree with the people at the park that your dog should be put on her side for this behavior, but if she's becoming more and more guardy about items, even sticks, it looks like her problem is escalating and I would step in now before it gets to the point that she cant even be left alone with other dogs.

But that's just me. I have to have an orderly and harmonious household.
 

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I don't understand this approach.
I think humans cause most of the problem by interferring.
So the dog wants to 'guard' a stick and growls at the others to back off.
IMO, let them communicate. I think the chances are very slim there will be an all out bloody fight over it.

I think we've all gone through the issues of one dog hoarding the tennis balls....the other one hoarding all the plush toys. They manage to work it out without going to war or becoming bullies and with minimal intervention from us.
 

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Ive taught my dogs the same way that you do.
They can share, and the one minute ANYONE growls. they are taken out of the situation, put in a sit for a minute. and then returned to play or eat or w/e
they soon realize that any snarkyness will put them in a sit and out of the fun

On the other hand, I also correct the "when im done, im going for your bowl!" thing.. when they are done, they find something else to do, usually after eating, I play with the dog that is done.. the learn to come to me for a treat or play, not to go wandering around to others food dishes.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I basically agree w/ what has been said, but that approach needs to be taken cautiously - especially at a dog park where you don't know the other dogs. If your dog growls at the wrong dog and over the wrong "resource", it could be trouble in a hurry.
That's exactly the issue. She will escalate it if the other dog doesn't back off. So far it hasn't been a huge issue when it happens because she's still only 40lbs and she hasn't done it to a dominate dog so it's been easy to pull her away.

She's gonna hit 100lbs by next year or so and then what do I do? Just let her attack the other dogs that go near whatever she has claimed as hers? What about when she meets another dominate dog and they really get into it? Or what happens if my Leo pup decides that she doesn't want to give up whatever it is that the swissy is guarding? Again, not a big deal at this age but a huge deal when they are both over 100+lbs. I am not set up to deal with two bitches who don't get along. I can gate off downstairs from upstairs but with two breeds who want to be with their family all the time that would be a horrible way to live. BTDT and don't want to ever do it again. They are already fed separately (always have) and now certain toys are off-limits. My big issue is this only showed up about a week ago and has been getting worse and more frequent since then.

I don't want to teach her not to growl, nor does she have to share everything, but I do want her to learn that starting a fight is not appropriate. Even if she can't be a dog park dog she still needs to be peaceful in the house.
 

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On the other hand, I also correct the "when im done, im going for your bowl!" thing.. when they are done, they find something else to do, usually after eating, I play with the dog that is done.. the learn to come to me for a treat or play, not to go wandering around to others food dishes.
This is exactly what mine do. Jaia turns and comes to find me because a love fest is in store, and he likes that. And I don't disappoint.

I don't want to teach her not to growl, nor does she have to share everything, but I do want her to learn that starting a fight is not appropriate. Even if she can't be a dog park dog she still needs to be peaceful in the house.
I totally agree with your expectations. And I share them. My dogs growl. If they think someone is outside or if Jaia's chewing on a cuz and B'asia looks like she's going to take it, he'll basically, say, "No way" with a short growl and she backs off. And that's fine. As I said, they don't have to share everything. But there's a difference between the "I'm playing with this" growl and the threatening extended growl and grimace of a dog who's guarding something.

How you differentiate that and what you decide to do is up to you. In your first post, you said you "don't train your dogs that way". I'm not sure what "that way" is, whether it means you don't like Cesar Millan, you don't use punishment or you don't put your hands on your dogs. So I'm not sure what you're open to.

But I trained my dogs when they were puppies what behavior was acceptable and what wasn't. And I used correction. If you're against corrections, maybe someone else has some ideas about it, but I don't. Sorry. :) I hope you get some help.
 

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Given that you have two bitches in the household who are the same age and going to be very large? I'd consider very seriously getting a pro involved. I think that the way you handled it (removing dog from situation and requiring her to refocus elsewhere with some self control) was good, and I don't think dogs need to be learning to 'share' but they do need to be at least somewhat tolerant of other dogs having things they want and not just demanding the valuable resource.
 

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I think that's a great idea. Find a behaviorist who is in line with your training preferences. Someone who can watch the dogs and get a first hand look at what's happening.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
DogStar - I do have an e-mail into my trainer (John McWilliams at trainadog.com) but he is on vacation until the 20th. He was there the first time it happened and told me to keep a close eye on it and let him know if it continued. He had me do the sit and refocus at that time, but since it's becoming more frequent I'm unsure if he'll just want us to continue that or change tactics.

FIC - I'm not against corrections. I'm against laying out a young puppy in a park full of dogs and encouraging the dog she growled at the stand over her. She's only been to the dog park a few times and is still nervous there and I firmly believe that would have just made the situation worse. Plus, when she is full grown there is no way I'll be able to lay her out if she acts up. I'm not going to start using a training tactic now that will be completely ineffective soon. Generally I use positive reinforcement but I do use leash corrections when appropriate (the pups have leashes on at all times except the dog park and when in their crates).

I also agree, a short "back off" growl is fine but this is definitely not that type of growl. This is the warning growl before an attack comes. I spend every day around many many dogs and while I'm still learning the correct responses to behaviors I'm darn good at reading body language and knowing what comes next. So I'd definitely be interested in any suggestions you might have as well.


I'm really hoping being around my mom's dogs will also help. She has 4 spayed bitches who all get along wonderfully. My girl will be losing her puppy license soon so hopefully they will start correcting her attitude as well. She goes to visit pretty much everyday and spends all day Thursday and Friday there while I work.
 

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I'm against laying out a young puppy in a park full of dogs and encouraging the dog she growled at the stand over her.
Not the approach I would take. I can't say I've ever heard of CM suggesting it be done that way, either. It sounds like your DPTs were taking an technique (that they only poorly understood), and adding their own spin to it. Yet another reason to avoid dog parks.
 

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Not the approach I would take. I can't say I've ever heard of CM suggesting it be done that way, either. It sounds like your DPTs were taking an technique (that they only poorly understood), and adding their own spin to it. Yet another reason to avoid dog parks.
Actually, I saw him to do exactly that in an episode where he was working with a dog to get it better at a dog park. Granted, it was not a young puppy nor were the situations the same (if I remember correctly the dog he was dealing with was going around challenging other dogs) but I have no doubt it was a case of watching that episode and thinking it applied to this situation.

Either way it wasn't actually a huge deal with the DPT, more of an annoyance. I just hope other people there don't start listening to her and thinking she knows what she is talking about. There are a fair amount of novice owners who frequent the park. She certainly won't keep me from going back, but I think we are going to stay away anyway until I have a better handle on dealing with the resource guarding. Stinks for the leo pup though, she loves the DP.
 

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The problem with resource guarding is that it may lead to dog-on-dog aggression and fighting. Contrary to what some people here have said, guarding behavior is not something to take lightly or simply ignore. You do have to watch it and intervene when necessary.

Dogs can "play" very rough indeed just by themselves - even without guarding. Lots of teeth and noise. Most of the time it is posturing - but it can lead to a fight. So you do have to watch that as well and intervene when necessary.

Females may tend to take these behaviors more seriously than males and may tend to escalate into into real fighting, so you have to keep that in mind.

Intervention can be as simple as just separating the protagonists. You don't need to put a dog into a sit or a down or certainly not a submissive roll. They communicate that on their own.

Often, if you intervene properly, the dogs go back to sniffing each other and even laying down with each other as if nothing happened. And as far as they are concerned, nothing did.
 

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Mini rant...<snip>


The annoying part? The woman shouting...
I am sorry, I don't have any advice other than what others have already said...
But I wanted to let you know that I feel your dog-park pain! I had a woman start shouting at me for trying to get my puppy out from under the bench when she was play fighting with a giant 9 month old not-fixed Boxer.

There was a small child, and an elderly couple sitting on the bench that the dogs were fighting under/on/around. The owner of the Boxer started screaming at me "This is how dogs play! Leave them alone! Let them do their thing! They are not going to hurt anyone!" :eek: yes yes they might.

Sorry </rant>
 

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I really like Poly's answer. I think intervention is the right thing to do. And starting with a puppy, you set the standard. So that later in life, when you have a situation developing, you can deal with it handily.

Exactly how you intervene is really not a science, IMO. It's an interaction between you and your dog, letting her know where the boundaries are. Some people will do that with a verbal correction, some with a leash correction, some with a time-out, some will scruff their dog's neck and some will lay them down. And some will let it go until it becomes a fight and then deal with it. In my opinion, that's way too late. The actual responses are all over the board. And most will work fine.

I can tell you that I was very proactive when my dogs were puppies so that these behaviors never had a chance to form. Now I have very well-behaved dogs. Nip it in the bud isn't just a saying. :)

What I would do is follow my intuition. If it was your child starting a fight with another kid, what would you do? How you stop it is a matter of personal preference. I'm pretty sure I don't have to say that pain, hitting, yelling, kicking, strangling are out of the picture, but I'll say it anyway. :)

I think you did the right thing at the park. You set a boundary. Give her plenty of opportunities to approach that boundary, while being uber-aware of her behavior before the behavior starts - even before she gets to the growl - so you can stop it the second you see the signs. Awareness and proactive behavior on your part are going to be your best friends.

Good luck! I love your puppies!
 

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I'm gonna agree with tooney. I'm certainly going to monitor the situation to make sure a fight doesn't break out, but I'm not doing anything beyond that. Brutus can be somewhat of a bully and at first I tried to interfere and sort things out, but they've seemed to work out who goes first to get stuff. We come back from a walk and both of them want a drink of water. Zero usually gets there first since he's younger and faster, but when Brutus gets to the water bowl, Zero backs off and lets Brutus drink. Once Brutus is done, Zero drinks. No one fights over it. It's not a "dominance" issue or anything. The way I see it, the dogs are just working out their pecking order.
 
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