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I have an 18 month old male Border/Healer. He is not neutered yet. He is a very energetic pleasant dog. He was my son's dog but when the dog was a puppy my son left for college. He is now very attached to me. He follows me everywhere when I am home. When I am not home my wife and other son play with him, walk him, etc... He is perfectly fine with them, content and pleasant. Beginning about 8 weeks ago the dog began acting differently when I am home, however. When I am home, if the dog and I are in a room together and my wife or EITHER of my sons get close to me the dog growls, gets close to me and stays between me and whoever is approaching me. (The dog could have been playing with them just minutes before I got home.) This behavior can occur when I'm standing in the kitchen, lying on my bed or sitting on a chair or sofa in the den and the dog is near me. Regardless of where I am, when my wife or my son's approach me the dog gets closer to me and growls. If they continue to come closer he growls louder, shows his teeth and even nipped at my son once. He did not break skin but he left teeth marks. I firmly tell the dog to stop and tell he is is being bad but it doesn't stop him from growling, etc. I have to put him in his crate until he calms down. When I let him out of the crate, the dog will play ball with my son in the same room as I'm in as of nothing had occurred. I don't know if this is protectiveness or possessiveness on the part of the dog. I have to think the latter since the dog is not afraid of my wife or sons when I am not home. In any case, I need to stop this behavior. I am more concerned how the dog would respond if someone he was less familiar with than my wife or son's approached me.

I am very anxious to hear any ideas on how to stop my dog from acting this way.
 

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It sounds like your dog is resource guarding you. Luckily, this is a very simple fix.

First, don't punish your dog for growling. That is his way of communicating with you to let you know that he doesn't like the situation. It is one of the first steps towards telling you he's uncomfortable.

Here are a few links that should be able to help:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23820.Mine_A_Practical_Guide_to_Resource_Guarding_in_Dogs

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12624770-behavior-adjustment-training

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8939711-how-to-behave-so-your-dog-behaves

http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/resource-guarding-treatment-and-prevention

Hopefully others will chime in if I didn't cover everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Missc89,


I think you are onto something. I have read the article by Dr. McConnell that you attached and am looking into the other books.
Thank you very much!
 

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Also, if he is on the couch or bed and he does it, I would have a leash on him and remove him as soon as he started that behavior, dont scold him or say anything to him, just remove him.

If he does it when he is next to you, you and your son stand up without a word and leave the room. He will learn that if he guards, everyone leaves and he gets no attention at all, also, refrain from telling him no, because even negative attention is better than no attention at all.

How much exercise is he getting? Are you mentally challenging him as well as physically? For some dogs, physical play can amp them up more and more, here are some links to give you some ideas for mental games with your dog.

pets.webmd.com/dogs/enriching-your-dogs-life

www.dogguide.net/mental-exercises.php

www.mnn.com › Family › Pets

You can also search you tube for "brain games for dogs" and that will also turn you up some ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Also, if he is on the couch or bed and he does it, I would have a leash on him and remove him as soon as he started that behavior, dont scold him or say anything to him, just remove him.

If he does it when he is next to you, you and your son stand up without a word and leave the room. He will learn that if he guards, everyone leaves and he gets no attention at all, also, refrain from telling him no, because even negative attention is better than no attention at all.

How much exercise is he getting? Are you mentally challenging him as well as physically? For some dogs, physical play can amp them up more and more, here are some links to give you some ideas for mental games with your dog.

pets.webmd.com/dogs/enriching-your-dogs-life

www.dogguide.net/mental-exercises.php

www.mnn.com › Family › Pets

You can also search you tube for "brain games for dogs" and that will also turn you up some ideas.
I am concerned that he doesn't get enough exercise or mental stimulation. He is calmer on days where he has long walks and play sessions. Last nite when my wife and son entered the room I had them toss him string cheese, his favorite treat, and wait until he ate it. Then they took a step or two closer and threw him more string cheese. He did growl mildly but ate the cheese. They ultimately were able to get up to him and pet him. I sat passively and did not react to his behavior or there's. We'll try this with consistency and see if we can break this habit. I do wonder whether it will stop him from growling when other people, i.e., not my wife or sons, approach him tho.
 

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wait, does he just not want them in the room or just when they approach you? I am confused now, LOL.

this might be a combination of not enough exercise (making guarding you his job), so I think also give him more things to do, whether its a good fetch game a couple of times a day, jogging in the evening, something. Has he always been like this or is this a recent thing? because some health issues can cause behavioral problems, too.
 

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wait, does he just not want them in the room or just when they approach you? I am confused now, LOL.

this might be a combination of not enough exercise (making guarding you his job), so I think also give him more things to do, whether its a good fetch game a couple of times a day, jogging in the evening, something. Has he always been like this or is this a recent thing? because some health issues can cause behavioral problems, too.
Sometimes if they aren't already in the room he'll growl when they start to come into the room. Other times they are in the room before I am and the dog in already in the room with them. Then after I am in the room if they begin to approach me the dog will growl. In terms of timing, it has been going on for about 4 months or so now. The dog is now 19 months old. He does have some idiosyncrasies. He will go into a room and bark at overhead lights for example. In the beginning it appeared that he was barking at a bug on the ceiling. Then he started doing it when there wasn't a bug there. He has not been doing this as much lately. But at times when I open the door from the other room he is in with me, e.g., the downstairs office, he will bolt into the kitchen and bark at the overhead light for a minute or so. He jumps up at the slightest noises, or movement frequently too. A few months ago, I was tossing the ball to him but he saw a squirrel and climbed 4 feet up a crap apple tree after it. I had to get him down because I was afraid he'd get hurt getting out of the tree. He has not done that since tho. He loves to chaise anything that moves, i.e., rabbits, squirrels, cats, foxes, deer, etc... He has a very keen sense of smell too. Several months ago I was taking him for his late nite walk before bed. He kept pulling me over to a flower bed not far from the front door. It is full of flowering ground cover, like mountain laurel. He kept sticking his nose into the ground cover. I pulled him away but he went back to it as we finished our walk. He began digging feverishly and then pulled out a mole that was burrowed into the ground. I had to stop pull him inside to stop him from eating it. He is fed well so it wasn't a matter of hunger
 

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He does have some idiosyncrasies. He will go into a room and bark at overhead lights for example. In the beginning it appeared that he was barking at a bug on the ceiling. Then he started doing it when there wasn't a bug there. He has not been doing this as much lately. But at times when I open the door from the other room he is in with me, e.g., the downstairs office, he will bolt into the kitchen and bark at the overhead light for a minute or so. He jumps up at the slightest noises, or movement frequently too. A few months ago, I was tossing the ball to him but he saw a squirrel and climbed 4 feet up a crap apple tree after it. I had to get him down because I was afraid he'd get hurt getting out of the tree. He has not done that since tho. He loves to chaise anything that moves, i.e., rabbits, squirrels, cats, foxes, deer, etc... He has a very keen sense of smell too. Several months ago I was taking him for his late nite walk before bed. He kept pulling me over to a flower bed not far from the front door. It is full of flowering ground cover, like mountain laurel. He kept sticking his nose into the ground cover. I pulled him away but he went back to it as we finished our walk. He began digging feverishly and then pulled out a mole that was burrowed into the ground.

Yeah, this dog needs a job for sure LOL, I would do a youtube search for "dog brain games" or "dog mental exercises" that should get you started. Also search for "triebbal" (not sure if that is spelt right). You might also want to look up "barn hunt" in your area, its a organized, simulated hunt for dogs of all breeds and ages. also look up "lure coursing" I bet he would enjoy that, too!

Sometimes if they aren't already in the room he'll growl when they start to come into the room.
I would have a leash on him, one that is long enough for you to get ahold of safely, but short enough for him to drag around the house (when you are there only of course). When he starts his growling, remove him from the room for about a minute or so, then rinse and repeat. Dont scold him or say anything to him while removing him, just do it silently.

Other times they are in the room before I am and the dog in already in the room with them. Then after I am in the room if they begin to approach me the dog will growl.
When he does this, simply get up and move to another chair or couch in the room, again silently, have your wife and son come with you, NO ONE talks to the dog. if he comes over to where you are and tries it again, leave the room completely for about a minute.

Dont get discouraged, you have what sounds like a high drive and reactive boy (and that can be a good thing when tweaked the right way!) with patience and persistance, he will get it :). BUT ... if he EVER becomes more than you think you can handle, please consult a certified animal behaviorist, NOT a trainer, a BEHAVIORIST.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
IMG-20150624-00309.jpg Tucker Nov. '14.jpg
He does have some idiosyncrasies. He will go into a room and bark at overhead lights for example. In the beginning it appeared that he was barking at a bug on the ceiling. Then he started doing it when there wasn't a bug there. He has not been doing this as much lately. But at times when I open the door from the other room he is in with me, e.g., the downstairs office, he will bolt into the kitchen and bark at the overhead light for a minute or so. He jumps up at the slightest noises, or movement frequently too. A few months ago, I was tossing the ball to him but he saw a squirrel and climbed 4 feet up a crap apple tree after it. I had to get him down because I was afraid he'd get hurt getting out of the tree. He has not done that since tho. He loves to chaise anything that moves, i.e., rabbits, squirrels, cats, foxes, deer, etc... He has a very keen sense of smell too. Several months ago I was taking him for his late nite walk before bed. He kept pulling me over to a flower bed not far from the front door. It is full of flowering ground cover, like mountain laurel. He kept sticking his nose into the ground cover. I pulled him away but he went back to it as we finished our walk. He began digging feverishly and then pulled out a mole that was burrowed into the ground.

Yeah, this dog needs a job for sure LOL, I would do a youtube search for "dog brain games" or "dog mental exercises" that should get you started. Also search for "triebbal" (not sure if that is spelt right). You might also want to look up "barn hunt" in your area, its a organized, simulated hunt for dogs of all breeds and ages. also look up "lure coursing" I bet he would enjoy that, too!

Sometimes if they aren't already in the room he'll growl when they start to come into the room.
I would have a leash on him, one that is long enough for you to get ahold of safely, but short enough for him to drag around the house (when you are there only of course). When he starts his growling, remove him from the room for about a minute or so, then rinse and repeat. Dont scold him or say anything to him while removing him, just do it silently.

Other times they are in the room before I am and the dog in already in the room with them. Then after I am in the room if they begin to approach me the dog will growl.
When he does this, simply get up and move to another chair or couch in the room, again silently, have your wife and son come with you, NO ONE talks to the dog. if he comes over to where you are and tries it again, leave the room completely for about a minute.

I tried this but as soon as I begin to move to get up from the chair or couch he is right next to me and follows me. The last few days I have asked my wife and son to carry around a cheese stick and a ball when they are in the room with Tucker. If he looks like he's going to growl, e.g., when they approach he first gets very close to me and postures, they throw him a piece of cheese or throw him the ball. They don't come closer until he eats the cheese or picks up the ball. Then they move closer and do it again until eventually they get up to him. He seems to then relax and not growl at them. I do not know long term if this will result in him stopping the possessive behavior if they don't bring cheese or a ball but it seems to be working now. I also don't know that this will stop him from acting possessive when other people approach me. [My only solace is that most people, unlike my wife and son, stop approaching when he growls as they approach.] I plan on doubling up on balls for him to play with so anyone in the house can pick one up and play catch with him when they come into the house. Meanwhile, I hope no one else, including me, falls on a ball left on the floor. We are going to try this for 3 or 4 weeks and do it consistently and see how he reacts. If it does not work I promise that I will contact a behavioralist.

Dont get discouraged, you have what sounds like a high drive and reactive boy (and that can be a good thing when tweaked the right way!) with patience and persistance, he will get it :). BUT ... if he EVER becomes more than you think you can handle, please consult a certified animal behaviorist, NOT a trainer, a BEHAVIORIST.

I will not get discouraged. The key is to stay disciplined enough to be consistent. Tucker is a very strong minded but fun dog. I really was happy not to have a dog for a while after our last dog passed away. My 18 y.o. son tho talked my wife into getting a dog. They were focused on lower key dogs like Goldendoodle or boxers (bc they know I like boxers and wouldn't say no). Then when they went back to the Goldendoodle breeder to pick out a puppy from a litter they saw several weeks earlier when the pups were only 5 wks old, they discovered the pups were all sold. They then stopped at a pet store where my niece worked. That store does not sell puppy mill pups. They saw Tucker and his sister. They played with his sister first but she was less playful. Tucker, was 8 wks and 3 days old and immediately ran to a ball. My son started playing with him and that was it. They texted me that they were about to buy the dog if I didn't object and sent me a photo of this cute fella. I asked what breed he was and they replied boarder collie/red heeler mix. I googled that mix and learned they were very intelligent, energetic dogs that needed a lot of exercise. I described them to my wife and son as Jack Russell Terriers on steroids. Of course my son, 6 months before leaving for college said he would walk the dog. My wife said she would too. He idea of walking him tho is around the block.

After my son left for college, Tucker would spend the days with me in my home office, on the days I am home. I would take him on 2+ mile walks and feed him, etc... He became attached to my hip. My older son, who is living home while in grad school, and my wife have been trying to walk him more and play with him more in order to get him to be more comfortable with them. He seems to be very comfortable with them when I am not home. When I get home tho he reverts to following me every where. If I am in the house and he is not in the room, e.g., he's gated into the den when I am in the shower or when we are eating, he will whine. Even to this day when I put him into his crate for the night, he will bark for 5 minutes or so, when I leave the room to go to bed. He is very demanding when he wants to play, which is much of the time, he will not take no for an answer. He's often not very affectionate, in that he won't just sit still to let you pet him for long periods. That said, he is very interactive and stays close by me. Then, he can have times where he thinks he's a lap dog, and jumps on my lap or the arm of the chair I am sitting in and stays there, often licking my face or my arm, for 5 or 10 minutes before jumping down and looking for a toy.

I have to say I really like Tucker. I try to take him with me when I run errands, etc. I have taken him with me into hardware stores, pet stores, etc.. I wanted to let him sleep in our bedroom but since we got Tucker our bedroom has become our cat's refuge. If I try to let them both in the bedroom at night, Tucker will wake everyone up by chasing the cat in the middle of the night. One night Tucker jumped on my wife while she was in bed sleeping, when he was chasing the cat. After that, I had no shot of getting her to agree to let Tucker sleep in our bedroom. He sleeps in his crate in the den. He is a very nice and fun loving dog as long as you play with him and walk him and as long as he's not fixated on chasing a cat or other animal. We have a cat that he chases but he just plays. The cat will run until the cat is tired of playing. Then he whacks Tucker in the head, luckily with his claws retracted. When he goes to my brothers house or sees a cat outside it's a different story. He is not playing when he chases these cats.

If he is not on the leash Tucker will come to me when I call him, except when he wants to chase another animal. I have to get him more training so that I can be confident that when off leash he will not run after other animals and will come to me on command. Until I can to that I am limited on where I can bring him without putting him on a leash. So far I have refrained from electric collars. I wanted to put an electric fence in the backyard so he would have more room to run. There's about 3/4s of an acre with plenty of trees and shade. The problem is that there are plenty of squirrels, rabbits, cats, a fox and many deer that frequent our property and our neighbors' properties. I am not confident that he will not run right through the electric fence when he's fixated on chasing these animals. God only knows how far and where to he'd follow these animals.

I am afraid we would need a real fence high enough for him not to jump or climb over. He can really jump, even without much of a running start. When he was younger he would jump onto he dining room table and even onto the island in the kitchen when chasing the cat. It scared the bejesus out of the cat when he realized he couldn't just jump onto kitchen counters, chairs or tables to escape the dog. Tucker climbed onto the back of a wing back chair and then jumped a few feet from there onto the mantle of the fire place to chase a bug on the ceiling in the den. He watched the cat walk on the window sills and now does it too. He's almost 40 lbs so this isn't easy for him. It scares me when I see him watch the cat walk on the banister on the landing of the 2nd floor. I worry that the silly dog won't try to do it too. He wants to do and thinks he can do everything the cat does. He does not seem to have a well developed fear/danger filter.


See above.
 
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