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Hi all,

I have a 14 week old alaskan malamute puppy that I got at 8 weeks old. Beautiful pup, pretty much the most friendly puppy you could actually ever meet. He literally runs up to people and rolls over for belly rubs haha, he's great. When I first got him he was actually petrified of anyone and everything. But with the socialization classes I've been bringing him to he has done great.

However I do have one concern that really just discourages me. I tend to overthink this stuff but it makes me worry because he is going to be a big boy.

When I first moved into my house, whoever the jerks were who did remodeling before I came in, someone must have dumped a full rib dinner on our lawn. I didn't notice this, but when walking around with him when he was 9 weeks, he found probably 3 bones total even after me searching around. I had read cooked bones are extremely dangerous, so I had to kind of wrestle them away from him. They were so high value he just didn't want to give them up. After the first or second time he would growl and snap, but one time when I tried to take away a piece of drywall he found from him, he snarled and bit my hand, not like a nip, but a real bite. I didn't bleed or anything, but he definitely wasn't happy. He does not resource guard kibble, toys, or even antlers/other things i've given him. It's only weird things he finds that he knows I'm going to try and take away from him. I have started training with drop it, trading up, and tossing treats when he's chewing on things. Honestly he lets me approach him just fine, or even pet him, he's relaxed. It's just when I actually try to take the object does he freeze and get upset. Yesterday he tried a pig ear for the first time and was chewing it happily next to me on a dog bed while we watched T.V. About 20 minutes into chewing it, he randomly got up and brought it into his playpen. No idea why he decided all of the sudden after 20 minutes I was going to try and take it, but he puts his paws around it and guards it. He didn't bite me, or growl or anything, but he air-bit once or twice when I tried to trade him, but it wasn't nearly as aggressive as before we started the training. He actually will trade me for sticks outside now too which previously he wouldn't.

Anyway, really what I just wanted to put feelers out there for is just, at the point where it seems now, do you think this is something we can fix and train out so it's not an issue when he's 100+ lbs? I see videos of other dogs who resource guard, and I feel like his is almost more on the minor end of the spectrum, although I read most people who talk about it they don't bite, just growl/airsnap where my pup actually bit me that one time. I love this guy to death and when the first incident happened it really made me sad, kind of like our trust was gone. I never thought in a million years he'd bite me, he's just the sweetest dude. He's in like 4 different training/socialization classes because I'm trying to jump out in front before it gets worse, I just want to know it can be dealt with haha.

Some of this is just venting frustration so I appreciate any input/advice, all thoughts welcome!
 

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Resource guarding is very manageable. Playing the trade game is an excellent way to help. Make sure you're using super delicious stuff, though, like a hunk of steak, deli meat, way, way more enticing than your regular everyday treat. You want the dog to gladly drop what he has in exchange for the special treat. Also, wait until he has actually dropped whatever he is guarding and is moving away from it before trying to take the guarded object. Once the guarded object is in your possession, then the pup gets the special treat which he should be left alone to enjoy.

You might also try only giving him chews he can finish in a single sitting. Once you give him the thing, it's his until its gone. Really reinforce that "leave it" cue in controlled situations (start with boring stuff and work up to really great stuff) with those special super great treats, too, so that when he does inevitably get ahold of something he shouldn't have, he will gladly give it up.

"Mine" by Jean Donaldson is a book that many here often recommend when questions about resource guarding come up. I haven't read it myself, but I know some have and highly recommend it.
 

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This sounds like very normal resource guarding! You're absolutely right that it needs to be worked on now so it doesn't get worse and you can manage these situations safely as he gets bigger, but resource guarding in general IS a normal dog behavior. A normal animal behavior, really (I know I'd be tempted to stab someone with a fork if they took my favorite dessert away from me even with my big human brain, lol), and not a sign of serious underlying aggression issues on its own.

I highly recommend the Jean Donaldson book 'Mine!', which is all about resource guarding and how to work with it and prevent it. You want to change the conversation around high value items by starting trading games with low value items. So even if he doesn't guard a toy, for example, you practice asking him to trade it, then give him something he likes more than the toy (treat, game, affection, whatever motivates him), then you give the toy right back. Giving the traded items back is super, super important because as you work up to higher value items, the dog will learn that if he gives you something, he gets a reward AND doesn't lose the original object. Then those rare times you ask for a trade because he gets something dangerous or important (my boy learned stealing credit cards gets him lots of attention, boy do I regret that one), he'll be much more willing to hand it over. But you have to practice regularly so those scenarios stay rare.
 
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