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267 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Spirit is a 2.5 year old 30 lb terrier (SCWT???). I've had her for just over a year and except for jumping on people she seems well behaved. I believe I've taught her that there is nothing to fear from me grabbing her food, toys, and treats. I can pet her or even pickup anything she's eating or playing with and she'll calmly sit there without protest. The only exception I know of is that she doesn't extend the same courtesy to other dogs and I now avoid such situations.

That was till last night. Last night I visited my parents' house and she was chewing a stick (reward for respecting my parents' room). She was fine until my mom walked up to her. This was the first time I've ever seen her growl at my mom. After getting my mom to step back I picked up the stick (without even a peep), relocated her to a different area, waited for her to settle and then let her continue. The rest of the night was mostly uneventful.

1. I live alone and she's never shown RGing against me. How do I teach her there's no need to RG against people in general, not just me.

2. Does this mean there's a whole list of behaviors that she doesn't display towards me but might towards other people?

740 Posts
Please take this with a grain of salt - other people would disagree with these methods, but I've used them with a lot of success. In the end, you can decide to try it out or not.

It may
help to just teach him that really good things happen to him when
people are around his food and toys. They suggest that whenever you
and your family approaches him while he's eating or chewing a toy, to
throw treats to him, gradually decreasing the distance until he is
happy with you sitting right next to him and even petting him gently
while he's playing. You'll know you are doing it right when you
approach him, and looks eagerly up at you hoping to get some treats.
When he's eating a forbidden object, rather than scolding him, which
can be intimidating at times, it may be good to try to distract him
away, or trade up with a really good treat. If it's a non threatening
object (like a tissue), let him have it, and just ignore him, as it's
ok for them to chew on those once in a while, and taking it away will
only slow his progression. Whenever you play "drop it", it's also
super important to ALWAYS return the toy/object back, that way he
learns that he can give it up, and will still get it back in the end +
treat and praise. It's also good to incorporate the word "Take It",
for when you want him to take back the toy you traded him for. This
way you have a control stimulus for when he's allowed to take it and
when he should drop it. In the end, he must learn 2 things: That good
things happen when people are around, and that he will not lose his
object/food if he gives it up to a human, rather, he will receive a
tasty treat, and get the object back right after!

For food, hand feed him from the bowl at least twice a week: sit on
the floor with him, and feed the food to him from the bowl.
Praise him for eating the food nicely out of your hand. And randomly
drop treats into his bowl while he's eating. That way he associates
human hand near food = more better food! And also, when he's getting
better with food, you can pick up his bowl, put a really tasty treat
in it, and return it to him. Again, never take away his food bowl if
he hasn't finished eating, as this will reinforce guarding.

For resource guarding places/furniture, teach him "Off" and "On"; Call
him on the couch, but don't treat. Then, lead him off the couch with a
lure/tasty treat, and when all four paws hit the floor, treat and
reward heavily. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until he is willingly leaving
the couch/bed every time you say "Off". (Keep in mind that you want to
do this exercise when he's in "training/play mode", not when he's
already resting on it. This way he's highly motivated to interact with
you, and is also hungry so the treats are super motivating). That way,
he finds it rewarding to listen to you, as he knows that it means he
gets a treat!. Allow him back up on the bed/couch each time, so you
have ample opportunity to practise. Also, like your son's room, any
place that he guards, he should have restricted access to, until he
learns the "Off" cue, and has a reliable Recall. These behaviours are
reinforcing themselves, so giving him that opportunity to guard will
slow his progress (it's excellent you are crating him, this is the
perfect thing to do in that situation). What you can teach him here,
is when he's resting in a room, call out to him, "Come Charlie!", and
if he gets up to go to you, reward EXTREMELY heavily. I did this with
him while he was upstairs, and I was in the kitchen - not when I was
in his space, as this can have the opposite effect. Give him the best
treats, all the praise and attention. That way, any time you want him
to move from his current location, you can just call to him, and you
won't have to risk moving him yourself. The recall command needs to be
practised daily at home, and also on the street, in the dog park,
everywhere! It is the single most important command he needs to get
down solid.

9,436 Posts
I agree with chubby, but you should do this with many different people, not family. This is called socialization, and usually you do this as a young puppy... However , with care and patience, you can socialize an adult... I imagine that Spirit already does OK with you.

267 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm realizing that while Spirit does well with me (follows commands, never ever RG or growl, etc) but she treats other people differently. My only concern is while I have accepted the risk of a bite while teaching trade up long ago, I can not in good conscience ask others to do so. Especially since some people (me included) are somewhat slow to pickup on other dogs' warnings.

9,436 Posts
I agree with you about not involving anyone else in the resource guarding issues. Even an experienced dog person can overlook the split second freeze and hard stare of a terrier about to snap. However, socialization in non-guarding situations can help a dog's confidence and may make it a little easier as you attempt to reduce the resource guarding. Plus, it'll make things easier if you find that you need to bring in a professional...
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