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Hi,

I'm having a bit of an issue with my almost 6 month old puppy. When eating her food or chewing on bones, she starts to guard it from other people. She does not do this to me or my hubby, only to our cats and strangers.

If she has a bone in the other room and our cat walks into the room, she will run ahead and stand in front of it or pick it up and stare the cat down. She will also do this if a stranger walks near her bone or goes into the room where it is.

The problem is that on a few occasions she will growl and snap if someone is too close to her bone, or if someone touches it/cat smells it.

Now, she is generally a very sweet and gentle dog. This is her only issue and i'm trying to work on it so it doesn't progress to the point where she might actually bite someone or hurt our cat.

I've tried petting her while she's eating/chewing on toys as was suggested to me by someone, but she never growls or guards from me so that hasn't really helped. I'm also careful not to take her toys/treats away. If I do have to for whatever reason, I praise her and give it back or give her something else she loves.

Does anybody have any tips/suggestions that might help?
How come she does this to strangers/cats, but not to us?
 

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Hi Lupin,

She obviously trusts you which is why she allows you to take her food and toys because she knows you will return them :) that is a good thing. Now you just gotta work on getting her to trust strangers around her food/toys/bones. Try to have different friends come over and drop treats near her every time they walk near her while she's munching away. Then if she's totally fine with them 3 feet away, gradually lessen the distance, until she eagerly looks to people when they approach her food bowl. Eventually you should be able to put your hand in her bowl and she will expect a treat to pop out of thin air!

If it's too hard to do this exercise (i.e. where will you find so many strangers?) Is it possible to not give her bones/food while there are strangers in your home?

Also, it is perfectly natural for her to be guarding away from your cat as it's their natural instinct, so I think for now, whenever you cat is getting near to your dog while she's eating, just drop treats so she associates cat approaching = more treats?

Hope this helps!
 

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My opinion, it's ok for a dog to protect its resources from another animal. It just seems wrong to let a cat or dog take her bone away from her. If she doesn't actually attack and injure the cat, let her express herself in a way the cat can understand. The growl and snap is a warning. It's good that she warns the cat instead of going straight to biting. As long as the cat heeds the warning, I wouldn't have a problem with it. If the cat doesn't heed the warning, I'd teach the cat to stay away from the dog.

If she gives up her bone to you, I'm not sure I'd consider it a problem, but teaching her to "drop it" would be a good idea.
 

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Yeah, I don't think it's wrong for the dog to guard from the cats. The cats should be able to figure out that getting near an eating dog isn't a good idea. Cats aren't stupid. This behavior doesn't mean the dog will be aggressive to the cats at other times, it's a pretty specific reaction. What kind of dog is it? There are a few breeds of dogs it's a bad idea to have around cats, but for the most part, being raised around cats the dog should be fine.
 

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Yeah, I don't think it's wrong for the dog to guard from the cats. The cats should be able to figure out that getting near an eating dog isn't a good idea. Cats aren't stupid. This behavior doesn't mean the dog will be aggressive to the cats at other times, it's a pretty specific reaction. What kind of dog is it? There are a few breeds of dogs it's a bad idea to have around cats, but for the most part, being raised around cats the dog should be fine.
Thanks, she's a lab/beagle. It's funny, she leaves our older cat alone because he will swipe back if she is playing a bit too rough. Our other cat is the one she guards from (and will chase sometimes) and this cat is the most gentle, submissive cat i've ever met.

I'm more concerned about her reacting this way to people, like our little nephew. But, I'm going to avoid giving her bones/treats when other people are around.
 

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Thanks, she's a lab/beagle. It's funny, she leaves our older cat alone because he will swipe back if she is playing a bit too rough. Our other cat is the one she guards from (and will chase sometimes) and this cat is the most gentle, submissive cat i've ever met.

I'm more concerned about her reacting this way to people, like our little nephew. But, I'm going to avoid giving her bones/treats when other people are around.
That's a good plan; I recommend adding a 2nd part, which is teaching the nephew to be careful approaching any dog, but never approach a dog who's eating or chewing a bone. Just as an extra precaution.

Adult dogs know the difference between children and adults, and make allowances for the very young. At least, well-mannered dogs do. Puppies on the other hand don't make that distinction.

Lab/Beagle, sounds pretty cool. She can hunt it down then retrieve it for you. Got pics?
 

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That's a good plan; I recommend adding a 2nd part, which is teaching the nephew to be careful approaching any dog, but never approach a dog who's eating or chewing a bone. Just as an extra precaution.

Adult dogs know the difference between children and adults, and make allowances for the very young. At least, well-mannered dogs do. Puppies on the other hand don't make that distinction.



Lab/Beagle, sounds pretty cool. She can hunt it down then retrieve it for you. Got pics?

Haha, exactly! It also means you can't hide food from her at all.

rupey.jpg rupert.jpg 383790_10150487637679130_507339129_9087543_1842789567_n.jpg
 

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Hi Lupin,

If you're concerned about resource guarding from other people, I think you should consider the option of desensitizing her. What I mean by this is that you can train her to be so used to having people around her food that it doesn't matter to her anymore. Instead, she learns that when people are near her food bowl, good things happen, and no one is there to take it away from her. This, in my opinion, is the best outcome, and the one that will provide a more easy going atmosphere for everyone.

With strangers, it's a bit of a difficult level, but with family members such as your nephew, always closely supervise, and have your nephew throw treats to her at a safe distance each time he walks by her. Then she will learn he is not there to take it away from her, but to give her more treats! Otherwise, be prepared to always feed her and give her a bone in private as she will likely guard if not taught that it's okay

The other thing is, dogs continually need to be socialized around people and other dogs, increasingly so as they age. If you stop giving treats/bone whenever other people are around, she won't get that learning opportunity to reinforce the socialization that you've worked so hard for in the past. On the other hand, if you give her a bone or treats whenever someone new is around, she will start to make that connection that meeting new people = a tasty bone! Instead of feeling like they are a threat to her resources, she will look to them eagerly, thinking that they are the source of her yummy food bones and knowing that they will not take them away from her.
 

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I've told this story before, but I had a dog who resource guarded food from other pets in the home, never from people. Through our failure to properly supervise and manage this problem or take it seriously, she put two of our cats in the hospital (they were both fine). After the second incident, through a combination of management and training she lived for many years with us, until the end of her life, incident-free although many people advised us to euthanize her.

First of all, when your dog has a bone I would highly recommend you physically separate the dog from the cats. Don't rely on the cats to "know" to stay away from her... they are cats, not dogs. They speak cat, not dog. You can crate the dog or temporarily confine the cats to a spare bedroom or bathroom or whatever, but separate them. Ditto mealtime - just physically separate everyone. We would feed meals only, cats fed in bedrooms with closed doors while the dog was fed elsewhere. The rooms the cats were fed in had baby gates as well so if they left a few stray pieces here and there the dog wouldn't be able to go in and vacuum. Food (including human food) and bones/chewies were NEVER just left out unattended, ever. Become the food/toy police.

My dog would guard OUR food from the cats as well, so it was a bit more extreme than it sounds like your dog is. You may be able to get away with simply managing and separating everyone. What we did to help with guarding our food was teach a "go to mat" command. If she was hanging around while we were eating or snacking and one of the cats appeared, if she growled or lip curled she had to go to her mat until we were done eating. If she was calm and ignored the cats, she got to stay and got a bite of our food when we were done. Over time, she became less and less reactive to the cats around our food, but we never trusted her with any uncontrolled/unattended food.

Not trying to scare you, just want to commend you for taking this seriously and point out that the cats need you to have their back. :)
 
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