Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

We have a young golden retriever + cocker spaniel mix (basically a miniature golden retriever). He is 10 months old now, weighs about 30 lbs and is the sweetest dog.

We have had zero issues with Resource Guarding until the other night while he was eating a meaty bone. Below is a quick background:

We started giving our pup raw meaty bones once a week for a treat and he absolutely LOVES them. We like the health benefits and enjoy that he continues to chew his bone for a few days after finishing the the meat and marrow. It's been a great way to keep him occupied and happy. Up until last weekend, we never bothered him while he ate them so we never knew we had an issue. The other day, while he was chomping away on his bone I touched his back and he immediately stiffened, growled, hunched over his bone and became 'fierce'.

"What the ****?" my wife and I both explained, staring at each other. A quick google search and BAM...Resource Guarding came up. Until now, I have never even considered this issue. We can take all his toys away from him anytime we want without him getting upset. He'll even bring them to us and we can simply take them away with or without a treat.

What I have begun to understand is that his raw meaty bone is a 'High Value Treat' and must be way above whatever all his other toys are. I can even take his food away while he's eating and won't get that reaction. We were immediately happy to learn that Resource Guarding (RG) is normal (whew..so he's not a psycho pup whose going to eat us in our sleep!).

Now this brings us to our question for you very helpful folks. How do we resolve this? What have you done if you have experienced this? I have read up online a few options and I've listed them below. Do you favor any of these?

1) Forcefully take the bone away, teaching him you're the Alpha - but - quickly return the bone to him after you've taken it so he understands he'll get it back but is it MINE, not his.
I'm not 100% sure this is a solid route. Wouldn't I be reinforcing his purpose for RGing? He's guarding so I don't take it...but then I DO take it. I would be pissed off too! But perhaps being aggressive with him would resolve this quicker.​

2) Use treats and no force. Grab a bunch of kibble and while he's eating his bone, drop the kibble next to him. Repeat a few times so he understands when your hand comes near him, it's a good thing. Then - drop kibble, and take the bone away while he's eating it. Immediately return the bone once he eats the kibble. Repeat.
This sounds logical. I'm not sure he'll take kibble over the bone though, I suppose I can try and find out. This goes along the lines of positive reinforcement which we've been using since he was a young pup​

3) Old school method of taking a sandal or something, if he's RGing, wack his but (of course not actually hurting him) and scare him, then take the bone. Return it when he calms down.
I'm uncomfortable with this method, but, I know a lot of people do things like this. Is this really a route to take? At the moment, this is a last resort for me, not necessarily even being considered but throwing it out there as colleagues of mine swear by this method and their dog stopped right away. Still - of course an animal will stop if its scared. Anyhow. Option 3.​

4) Shock collar method. Putting it at a low setting, using it to make him behave.
Again, very uncomfortable with this method. But there's lots of videos on it etc so I've included it. I know, at a very low setting it won't hurt him and I can even test it on myself but still - this goes against our training methodology that we've done from the start (positive reinforcement). BUT...is this actually not that bad? Am I being an over sensitive dog parent?​

Any other options I'm not considering here? Of course, we can get 'professional help' but I don't think he's THAT bad. Or should I just go that route?

*for the record - we've never punished him physically or even verbally, we are patient and continue to reward GOOD behavior and it's been working GREAT. But the other day, when he was RGing and snipped at my wife, biting her (not drawing blood), he really roughed their relationship and my wife who was initially timid around dogs was finally SO comfortable with our has lost her trust. It breaks my heart and I want our pup to earn it back. The right way.

Thanks again everyone. You've always been very helpful. Cheers!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,725 Posts
Absolutely do not do 1, 3 or 4! That will escalate matters.

Kibble will be of no use in this case if the RMB is the only thing causing RG. It means it is one of THE highest value items. I would suggest teaching him to trade for equally valuable/more valuable things. Don't start here though -- start with lower value items and work your way up. Do not grab it out of his mouth, do not yell at him, do not touch him when he's eating it, and do not get too uncomfortably close. You will see signs before he bites. Usually they will turn stiff, hunch their backs, show the whites of their eyes, and get very still. They will also growl and if none of the above works they will either a) try to go somewhere else safer to eat, or b) bite to send a warning to get back.

Look up the "trade up game" and try incorporating into your training.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20,766 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Personally I would just let him have it in peace and remove it when he's done, since it's just this particular item.
Thanks ireth0. I hear ya, and this is easy enough to do. But what concerns me is that 'one time' when someone brings a child over and something happens. I'd rather correct the behavior than play ignorant albeit that's the easy route :)
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,277 Posts
Personally I would just let him have it in peace and remove it when he's done, since it's just this particular item.
Agreed.

Thanks ireth0. I hear ya, and this is easy enough to do. But what concerns me is that 'one time' when someone brings a child over and something happens. I'd rather correct the behavior than play ignorant albeit that's the easy route :)
If the raw bones are the only issue, it's pretty easy to simply not give the dog a raw bone when children are over, or to crate the dog with the bone if you simply must give him one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
But isn't this 'treating the symptom and not the problem'?

Again - Yeah that's really easy to do. But is this more about him learning that we are sharing OUR bones with him and not the other way around?

I'll certainly consider this though. Thank you for your input!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Also - just to throw this information in. As soon as he finished the meat and marrow he'll actually bring the bone to you and doesn't care at all if you take it from him.

This makes sense given the meat + marrow is probably the best part of the RMB, but thought I'd add that info to the discussion.

Thanks again everyone!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,380 Posts
But isn't this 'treating the symptom and not the problem'?

Again - Yeah that's really easy to do. But is this more about him learning that we are sharing OUR bones with him and not the other way around?

I'll certainly consider this though. Thank you for your input!
Dogs don't work that way... he isn't going to be 'grateful' to you for giving him the bone. He isn't growling because he is ungrateful. He is growling because he wants his bone - it became his when you gave it to him. Growling is his way of communicating, along with the body language.

I agree with the others that in this situation, I'd basically leave it alone - but if it bothers you, learn about trading up, start with lesser value items and work on applying it to the bones. Or potentially train 'leave it' or 'drop it', starting with simple items, and once it is solid it should apply to the bones.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
So you're saying he's not a small, furry little human? (hah)

Okay sure, that makes sense and an interesting point. Thank you for your input!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,186 Posts
Even if you do properly deal with the RGing, you still shouldn't give him RMBs around children. It's just too much of a risk and it's not necessary to do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Even if you do properly deal with the RGing, you still shouldn't give him RMBs around children. It's just too much of a risk and it's not necessary to do.
Thanks Amaryllis - agreed and of course we would never. I was just trying to create an example of a situation where the RG behavior came out of no where.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,211 Posts
It's basically a situation of management vs training.

Some things are much easier to manage than to train and fix, and depending on the thing it might just make more sense to handle it that way.

In this case, you would be managing the situation by being mindful of when you give high value items (not with kids or other animals around) and mindful of your behaviour during those times (don't bother the dog).

Certainly you can address it if you feel the need to, however for me since it is only with a specific item that you control him being allowed to have (not something like a toy that would be out all the time), he is fine otherwise, and there being a risk of worsening the behaviour if you address it incorrectly... eh, if it ain't broke, you know?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,186 Posts
Thanks Amaryllis - agreed and of course we would never. I was just trying to create an example of a situation where the RG behavior came out of no where.
I treated my dog's unexpected guarding of an RMB successfully. However, I stopped giving him RMBs with a child on the property because I gave him one when we were babysitting my then 5 year old niece. He took it to the upstairs hallway, as he always did. (We've since moved.) A little while later, my niece says she's going to the bathroom. Instead of going to the bathroom 10' away on the first floor, she decides to go to the master bathroom upstairs. She walked past one other bathroom on the second floor to get to the master bathroom. (I'm trying to express just how unexpected this was on her part.) She stepped over my dog with his RMB.

It turned out okay. He was totally fine, didn't even growl. However, it could have turned out very, very badly and I simply did not anticipate when I gave him the bone that my niece would even end up on the second floor, let alone step over him as he chewed on it. (We had a very long talk about that.) So it's really important when you have a dog and kids around one another to assume that whatever weird thing you think couldn't possibly happen will absolutely happen. Twice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Thanks Amaryllis for sharing your experience. That's exactly the situation we're hoping to avoid too. So even if we solve the RMB we'll be sure to not test any limits! or assume its 100% contained.

Do you mind sharing how you treated your dog's RGing?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,225 Posts
I agree with what everyone else suggested in the way of management. However, if you do want to make his reaction better there is a pretty simple and non-forceful method you can use. Basically, your idea about the kibble BUT kibble will not be high value enough. When my dog RGed over a raw bone (and he got to the point where he would snarl and lunge), I would toss pieces of raw meat at him while he was chewing. No eye contact, no sweet talking, no approach. Just tossing meat. After a while I would walk by, at a respectful distance, and continue to toss meat. Eventually I was able to get closer. At a certain point I could approach him, hand feed him the meat, and then leave him be (NOT trying to trade at this point). He came to associate my presence with even greater reward and would come when called even when chewing on a bone. Which makes sense... He was trying to get the meat off the bone and it's so much easier to just get a big free chunk from me! So nowadays, I do leave him in peace when he chews and I put him in a place where he isn't disturbed. But if for any reason I need to retrieve him or stop him, I can recall him or I can go up to him and trade. The key is to go slow and if at any point your dog is stiff or growls, you're moving too close too fast.
I think management is the most important thing and even if you make great progress in counter conditioning your dog's reaction, I would still prioritize management and especially with other people around. And yes, like Amaryllis' example, people can walk by my dog while he's chewing and he will ignore them (though that proved false one incident a year ago). My dog will always be a resource guarder to some degree and it has not impacted our lives or relationship at all, and most importantly he has never bitten anybody. But I still take all the necessary precautions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,186 Posts
Sure.

The first time I gave Kabota an RMB, I walked past him, not even close, and he stiffened up, pinned his ears back and bared-teeth snarled at me. It was a total shock, Kabota is normally so mellow he's almost comatose. I went to the fridge, grabbed a few slices of deli ham (highest value treat I could think of) and walked back and forth tossing pieces of ham at him. After 3 slices of ham, Kabota was stiff, his ears were still pinned, but he wasn't growling. The next day, same thing and by the end, he was still hovering over the RMB, but not stiff or ear pinned. By the end of day 3, he was eagerly anticipating ham. Nowadays, he'll chew RMBs at my feet so as to be closer to tasty goodness. I still give him at least one high value treat at some point while he has an RMB just to confirm that RMB + me = so much awesomeness.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,031 Posts
The best way is to get the dog to move away from the item. Either train recall on leash or train the dog to move away (back off or go on a mat/crate) from item on cue in addition to the drop it/leave it cue. At the same time you can do treat dropping exercises.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top