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Discussion Starter #1
Before I begin this thread, just let me say that we're NOT going to rehome Marlin as a result of this. We were both taught at an early age that you don't just give up on someone just because they are being difficult for a little while. We both love Marlin very, very much and are more then willing to work with him on this.

Over the past couple of months, Marlin has very slowly been growing more and more possessive/protective of me in regards to my husband. Marlin LOVES my husband, and my husband loves him, so it's not a matter of a human and dog having a negative relationship.





Please don't bash me for this. I'm already aware that this is most likely my own fault for not handling it correctly. Truth is, this is a situation I have never dealt with before, so even though I recognized an issue was starting, I wasn't completely sure on how to handle it. It started a few months back, when we noticed Marlin started growling at my husband whenever he would crawl into bed. I was always laying in the bed when this happened, and we thought he was just one of those dogs that get's grumpy when trying to sleep. We would scold him when this happened and he would stop.

We didn't think to much of this, up until the day came when we noticed he started doing this when I was sitting on the couch with him curled up next to me. If my husband tried to hug me or sit with me or kiss me, Marlin would begin growling. That was when the dots connected and I realized he was growing possessive. When this happened, I'd simply push him off my lap and stand up. This was ONLY happening with my husband. Our other dog could crawl all over me as much as she wanted, and he wouldn't even bat an eye.

A few months ago, we went hiking in the canyons of Sedona. As I was crossing a creek, I slipped and fell in, badly smashing my leg against a rock. I screamed, and Marlin came racing to my side, whimpering loudly and sniffing me over. When my husband got to me, he reached down to help me up and Marlin actually snapped at him... We yelled at him to back off, and he did so.

Fast forward to these past few days. My husband and I both work at the same place, but usually he is called into work earlier then I. I was in bed, still half asleep, when my husband came over to say goodbye. He was leaning over me, getting ready to give me a hug when Marlin stood up and threw himself in between my husband and with a loud snarl, bit him in the face. My husband jumped back, and Marlin layed down over my stomach, fur standing on end and teeth bared, growling at my husband.....

He didn't draw blood, or even leave a mark. Part of me thinks this came out a lot more vicious then he intended it to be. But this is NOT okay! I consider myself EXTREMELY lucky to be married to someone with such understanding and patience, as not many people in this world would be towards something like that.

I can't let this happen again. We are BOTH willing to work with him on this, but we need help on how to handle it. Marlin is ONLY like this with my husband. If other people make sudden moves at me, he'll growl, but has NEVER bitten anyone. Still, I don't need it getting to that point. Any and all advice/help will be considered.
 

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No advice - perhaps check the material on resource guarding or the book Mine (can't remember the author)?

Sorry this happened. From your posts, I know you're a great dog person and will do whatever it takes to correct the situation. All the best to you.
 

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I am sorry that you are going through this and wish you the very best.

I am sure you have thought of this already, but if he was my dog, he would no longer have any furniture or bed access and would have a 4 foot drag line on him at all times. As a starting off point.
 

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I'm so glad your husband wasn't hurt. Whew.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but Marlin does not look comfortable in that first photo. He looks stiff and has "whale eye."

Yep, he is resource guarding with you as the resource. You've gotten some good advice already. I'd also try to find a behaviorist who can see the behavior and offer advice.

Any chance Marlin is having any physical issues that might be causing this? A vet visit (if he hasn't had a recent one) is a good place to start.
 

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Am I remembering correctly that Marlin has or has had seizures? If he is medicated, I would have his medication blood levels checked and make sure it's not either too high or too low. Also a thyroid panel (if it wasn't done when he was worked up for his seizures) would be a good idea.

Having said that, Pip resource guards me from the other pets. Years ago he RG me from my husband just a few times - like your situation, he growled at my husband a couple of times when I was in bed and my husband came to bed. We would immediately ordered him off the bed and I would either ignore him or leave the room for several minutes, and he lost bed and couch privileges for awhile (NILIF, basically). He no longer guards me from my husband but he still will from the cats sometimes. He has never progressed beyond a growl, thank goodness, but honestly I think that's more because of his personality than because of anything we did or didn't do.

"Mine!" is a good book about resource guarding in general, I personally also found Donaldson's "Fight!" very helpful because it more directly addressed RG by one pet directed towards other pets which is the ongoing problem in our house and also had more information about resource guarding of a person, which I didn't find much information about in Mine!. They are both short and inexpensive so I'd recommend both.

Also consider involving a behaviorist. Once they've "broken the seal" on biting, so to speak, things can get ugly and it's may no longer be a DIY situation.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Please don't take this the wrong way, but Marlin does not look comfortable in that first photo. He looks stiff and has "whale eye."
It does look that way, and was probably a bad picture to use, but it's just the position he was in when the photo was taken. It was done at an angle and he had to kind of bend his head and look at me in an awkward position. As far as the stiffness goes, he likes to stretch his legs out when relaxing. This was actually a really sweet moment, in which Marlin purposely chose to curl up with my husband. Seconds before the picture was taken, he had his face nuzzled against my husband's. I can assure you, he was very comfortable and happy in that picture at the time it was taken :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah, a behaviorist is something we've discussed already. I guess I was just hoping there was a way I could handle this without having to go to one. I don't believe it's a medical issue, as he's always been a bit protective, but I guess anything is possible.
 

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NILIF would probably help a lot. If your husband is willing to do some of the walking/feeding/training that would also help. Definitely start with keeping him off the furniture. To me, they have to earn furniture priviliges. Resource guarding (even a person)/ any aggression means they get relegated back to the floor.
 

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Our elderly ACD mix used to do that to me, years ago. She was my husband's dog, before I met him. He'd only had her a couple of months when we met, but she was already very devoted to him. She'd been through 6 homes in only 18 months and was probably feeling super insecure, then she got her "person" in my husband. I spent a lot of time with her while we were dating and cared for her when he went out of town and she was fine, but, when I moved in, two years later, she started growling at me when I got close to him or when I came to get into the bed and she was already there. She must have seen me as a pretty serious threat to her place in the life of the only person she'd ever been able to rely on. Resource guarding the most valuable resource of all! When she growled at me, my husband would order her onto the floor. It had to come from him. Pretty much since I moved in (10 years ago now), I've been doing nearly 100% of the pet care for the dogs and cats...feeding, walking, grooming, training, playing nurse, vet visits, etc... Within a few months, she decided that I was not so much of a threat, since pretty much everything she needed was provided by me! She still loves my husband best and follows him everywhere, but she'll let me do anything to and with her now.
 

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Marlin should not be aloud on the furniture unless invited and if he starts growling, fur standing up or becomes stiff at your husband he should be told to get off the furniture. Also if your husband isn't already involved in Marlins daily schedule get him involved. Have him feed and water Marlin or take him on walks and or other things like that.
 

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i would also rule out any medical issue before i went fwd with a behavorist, best of luck to you, in the mean time i would also practice NILF, i use this method from the beginning when mine come home & i have never had a prob with RG.keep us posted on his pogress & i also want to say that i really admire your willingness to work on this issue.
 

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Definitely full physical including TBD and Thyroid. And professional help and NILIF. I might give off care-taking duties to the husband for a while, and any dog that guarded the bed or the sofa would be banned from those places. BTW, your husband looks a lot like my husband did many years ago (now he looks like Santa)
 

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Yeah, a behaviorist is something we've discussed already. I guess I was just hoping there was a way I could handle this without having to go to one. I don't believe it's a medical issue, as he's always been a bit protective, but I guess anything is possible.
I know other breeds do this.... But this is SOOOOO ACD it is not even funny...... Sure get the dog checked. But I would be surprised if there is an issue. The entire progression as you wrote it reads like Chapter 1 of owning an ACD for the first time.
It is almost uncommon if they don't attach themselves to one person. As it happens the breed can become over protective. He had no desire to harm your husband. If he did, your husband would not have come away without losing some blood and skin. He just wanted to put your husband in his place. (in his place as the dog sees it.)

The biggest mistake most ACD owners make is to be too easy going and matter of fact. And Some ACDs will lull you into thinking that will work with them. But as a rule, ACDs are not easy going. They are INTENSE, drivey, and can be tenacious. Their tenacity has a a way of sneaking up as well. Many do not wear it on their sleeve. It remains hidden then BOOM there it is.

This is all about boundries and leadership. Whenever I help someone with an ACD, I tell them that if ACDs had opposable thumbs they would rule the World. There are varying opinions on dominance, packorder, etc. Regardless of opinions..... The fact remains if an ACD does not have boundries and leadership it will take over. It is as simple as that.

I see no reason with average ability you and your husband cannot take care of this yourselves. AS LONG AS you both remain in a confident mindset with no fear or apprehension. Most dogs can read emotion. ACDs are masters at it.

If you have apprehension in this matter..... Get help now. Don't mess around with it. Failure and losing battles with the dog, will only make it stronger.

If you are confident, unafraid, etc Proceed.




You need to ground the dog. Literally.

Here are your steps....

1) Ground him.... No furniture, no beds. YOU (as in not your husband) are going to enforce this. For Now. He NEEDS to remember he is a dog.

2) Right now he has moved on to a role of your protector. Do not allow him in a position where he is laying next to you, sitting beside you on a couch etc. No positions where if your husband is going to have any physical contact with you, the dog is in the immediate area.

This is very important and a key........ You do not want your husband in a position where he is in a direct confrontation with the dog. As in a situation where the dog has to make a decision to stand his ground or back down. Right now he has manifested his behavior in protecting you. But I would not be surprised if your husband went to physically remove him from the couch you would see a similar behavior.
So your husband needs to pick his battles for now.

3) NILIF - put this in place religiously

4) Have your husband feed the dog. Using the principles of NILIF. He controls the food.

5) Have your husband do on leash obedience routines with the dog daily. Vary them up and it really doesn't matter what he does, sits, heels, etc. Whatever commands the dog knows or your husband wishes to teach him. It is not the commands that are important. It is the excercise itself. The dog getting used to looking to your husband for direction and obeying commands.


I hope you find it useful......
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I also wanted to show some more pictures of Ian (my husband) and Marlin taken more recently, just so you guys can get a better understanding of their relationship.





The thing I neglected to say (or atleast make clear) is Marlin is very protective by nature. He's one of those dogs that does NOT like violence, and will get extremely rowdy and nippy even towards me when I'm rough housing with Ian and it looks like I have the upper hand. His old owners warned us about this behavior as well back when we first adopted him.

Ian does help out with the care of the dogs, but admittedly it's me doing most of it, even with Charlotte who is technically his dog. This has NEVER been an issue with us, because despite the fact that we love them both, it's clear I'm the one with the higher interest and knowledge in their care. We've discussed this though, and have decided to switch roles for a while to see if that helps. This is going to be harder on me, because I LOVE being their primary care taker. Ah well, it's just temporary.

While taking him to a vet and a behaviorist is next on our list of actions to take. I'm going to see if we can work with him and fix things, as my gut feeling says this is just a behavior issue that got out of hand because I LET it get out of hand, and it probably could have been nipped in the budd a long time ago if I had acted.

BTW, your husband looks a lot like my husband did many years ago (now he looks like Santa)
Pfffff hahahaha XD
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I also wanted to add that while we DON'T let him get away with these kinds of things at all, Ian getting angry at him only seems to piss him off more. He doesn't cower or act ashame when he get's reprimanded, he get's defiant.
 

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FWIW......... I never thought for a second when I read this your dog did not have a good relationship with your husband. There was no blood in the story.... LMAO :)

He just loves you more and has decided he wants you for himself..... ACDs have to be reminded they have to share sometimes...
 

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I also wanted to add that while we DON'T let him get away with these kinds of things at all, Ian getting angry at him only seems to piss him off more. He doesn't cower or act ashame when he get's reprimanded, he get's defiant.
That is why I mentioned not letting Ian get in a position where there is a direct confrontation.

All this is very typical ACD.... Trust me there is hope.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I know other breeds do this.... But this is SOOOOO ACD it is not even funny...... Sure get the dog checked. But I would be surprised if there is an issue. The entire progression as you wrote it reads like Chapter 1 of owning an ACD for the first time.
It is almost uncommon if they don't attach themselves to one person. As it happens the breed can become over protective. He had no desire to harm your husband. If he did, your husband would not have come away without losing some blood and skin. He just wanted to put your husband in his place. (in his place as the dog sees it.)

The biggest mistake most ACD owners make is to be too easy going and matter of fact. And Some ACDs will lull you into thinking that will work with them. But as a rule, ACDs are not easy going. They are INTENSE, drivey, and can be tenacious. Their tenacity has a a way of sneaking up as well. Many do not wear it on their sleeve. It remains hidden then BOOM there it is.

This is all about boundries and leadership. Whenever I help someone with an ACD, I tell them that if ACDs had opposable thumbs they would rule the World. There are varying opinions on dominance, packorder, etc. Regardless of opinions..... The fact remains if an ACD does not have boundries and leadership it will take over. It is as simple as that.

I see no reason with average ability you and your husband cannot take care of this yourselves. AS LONG AS you both remain in a confident mindset with no fear or apprehension. Most dogs can read emotion. ACDs are masters at it.

If you have apprehension in this matter..... Get help now. Don't mess around with it. Failure and losing battles with the dog, will only make it stronger.

If you are confident, unafraid, etc Proceed.




You need to ground the dog. Literally.

Here are your steps....

1) Ground him.... No furniture, no beds. YOU (as in not your husband) are going to enforce this. For Now. He NEEDS to remember he is a dog.

2) Right now he has moved on to a role of your protector. Do not allow him in a position where he is laying next to you, sitting beside you on a couch etc. No positions where if your husband is going to have any physical contact with you, the dog is in the immediate area.

This is very important and a key........ You do not want your husband in a position where he is in a direct confrontation with the dog. As in a situation where the dog has to make a decision to stand his ground or back down. Right now he has manifested his behavior in protecting you. But I would not be surprised if your husband went to physically remove him from the couch you would see a similar behavior.
So your husband needs to pick his battles for now.

3) NILIF - put this in place religiously

4) Have your husband feed the dog. Using the principles of NILIF. He controls the food.

5) Have your husband do on leash obedience routines with the dog daily. Vary them up and it really doesn't matter what he does, sits, heels, etc. Whatever commands the dog knows or your husband wishes to teach him. It is not the commands that are important. It is the excercise itself. The dog getting used to looking to your husband for direction and obeying commands.


I hope you find it useful......
Several people have mentioned it. I'm going to have to google it and see what that is. You're post was extremely helpful, thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
FWIW......... I never thought for a second when I read this your dog did not have a good relationship with your husband. There was no blood in the story.... LMAO :)

He just loves you more and has decided he wants you for himself..... ACDs have to be reminded they have to share sometimes...
Yeah, this is pretty much what both of us figured, just knowing his personality and how he works. You essentially just reaffirmed our thoughts :) We're going to work with him as a team over the next month and see if he makes any progress. I'm still kind of a budding dog trainer in comparison to some of you on this forum, but I'm confident and my husband is willing to follow suit. If nothing changes or things seem to be getting worse after a month, we'll take the next step and bring him to a vet and see if maybe this is a medical issue and then to a behaviorist.
 

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JohnnyBandit...that is the best description of an ACD I've ever read! All of it dead on. I had no experience with ACDs until I "inherited" responsibility for this dog when I married my husband. It hasn't been the easiest thing in the world gaining her respect. Now, that we've come to an agreement that she is not the boss of me and that I actually AM allowed to tell her what to do, she's wonderful, the best dog I've ever had. She's very old now (14+) and, while we were looking for the next dog, so she could teach it household manners, I wanted to get another ACD or mix. My husband did not, he says he's tired of being "ElvisJesus" to a dog and that it's too much of an emotional and physical burdent ;). We've got a young BC mix, totally different dog. Also smart, much "sweeter", but lacking the unshakeable confidence of the ACD.

You are very right about needing to be confident and definite with these dogs, they'll take any little chink in your "armor" as an opportunity to take over. The defining moment in my relationship with this ACD was when my husband was in France for work for two weeks early on. She was doing Ok with just me and my then teen son. BUT, one day I took her out with me somewhere, pulled into the driveway and let her out of the car. She ran to the back door and "guarded" it so I could not go in the house. She put on a pretty good "Cujo" imitation, snarling, teeth, quite intimidating. It was an obvious test, "CAN you really run this household? I don't believe it". I was pretty sure she wouldn't actually bite me (after all who would care for her with DH gone?), but she was trying to convince me that she would. I decided to just keep walking, right over her, and in the door, it was a bit scary, but my gut was right, she didn't bite me, as soon as I passed her, she became nice again and stopped challenging me from then on. I think if I'd let her intimidate me and had called for help, it would have taken many more months to get her to take me seriously.
 
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