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Old 10-14-2012, 12:40 PM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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Dogs...all living things are pre-programmed to defend their food and valuables. If we weren't, we'd all starve. Some dogs will never do this guarding stuff because somewhere along the line, they've figured out that they don't need to. But some dogs have had things taken from them too much or scolded in association with their feeding or swiping things. You puppies who grab something off the coffee table and they're told, "no." And the thing is ripped out of their mouths. When these things happen too much, some dogs will get growly and even snappy when they fear something will be taken. And many dogs will just resource guard regardless because it's an instinctive thing and some dogs are more instinctive than others. lol.

The idea of a systematic training protocol is to re-program their brains, their natural wiring to protect their belongings. (No Cesar is NOT your food because you bought it or because YOU think you're the "pack leader.") lol. Once the dog has it, it's his. We can not go by our rules on this. We must go by the way dogs ARE.

Dogs can be re-wired to learn that their food or other valuables will not go away when people or dogs come near. And if they are taken, they get them right back again and besides that, they get even more fantastic stuff added to the loot. It becomes a win-win thing for the dog. Once this re-programming gets solid and consistent, it's unlikely that the dog will go back to thinking the way he use to. He will have a new lease on life. When he's eating, he'll look up and ask you, "well? Are you bringing something more? Come over here will ya."

Now, some cases are harder than others and some are extremely dangerous. If you ever feel truly unsafe or nervous, do get a positive reinforcement trainer to help you. I do not think that every single case will necessarily be worked though. But most can be.

There are lots of good links with information on this. Look for Ian Dunbar on resource guarding. He has good articles. There are many others too. Just don't believe anything that tells you that you are the pack leader, the alpha and it's your right to do anything or take anything you please from your dog and they should put up and shut up. No scolding, force or dominating your dog. You must change his mind about coming near his he thinks it's a fantastic deal. And this can be done. There are loads of good tricks and recommendations. For food bowl at first since that makes it HIS. You control his resources. You're God to him because you provide everything. Since he doesn't own it in the first place, there's nothing to guard. Anyhow, it's too much to go into now for me, but hunt for Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson, Kikopup has some wonderful videos. Look her up. There are others too.
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Old 10-14-2012, 12:57 PM
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Shai Shai is offline
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Yeah a couple caveats to my previous post:

-- In Webster's case he had a good warning system in place. The whole progression of warning signals really. So as long as you weren't an idiot and surprised him in the dark, it was easy to see coming and the situation could be mitigated

-- One upside of getting chomped was I discovered for certain that Web has pretty good bite inhibition.

Both are pretty important when it comes to successfully rehabing a resource guarder with minimal risk, and preventing relapses, at least IMO

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Old 10-14-2012, 01:08 PM
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Chloe has changed from a dog that would attack you if you approached her within 15 feet while she was chewing on a high valued item to a dog that will drop rawhides on command...but that was after a LOT of work and management, and she will still bite if you approach her wrong/are the wrong person/she has the wrong thing.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:48 PM
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Bandit used to be a nasty resource guardy dog and now he will happily sleep on the floor while toddlers dump over his food dish and nom his kibbles.
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:43 PM
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BlackPuppy BlackPuppy is offline
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My youngest is from a litter of 11. He had some serious resource guarding when he came here. I have 3 dogs, and they all get a fair share of anything and everything. I did the usual hand feeding and would body block if he went after anybody else's food bowl. It is very rare that he will do any guarding now, but sometimes I hear a growl when he spots what he thinks is food on the floor and somebody else is closer.

I don't know if it's much harder with an older dog. Did you see that awful Cesar video with resource guarding? Don't do what he did!
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:35 PM
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JustaLilBitaLuck JustaLilBitaLuck is offline
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Originally Posted by sassafras View Post
I think between training and management, it's an "I can live with it" behavior. Some dogs I don't think it ever completely goes away, but you can get it to a level where management takes care of the rest.
This. I think you need to combine training and management, and realize that it may NEVER completely go away - you may always be managing it in part.

Jack was a terrible resource guarder when I got him. He has gotten so much better with training, but I'll never say he's "cured". We played lots of trading games. We did a lot of conditioning to teach him that people approaching your stuff is the best thing ever. And even now, when he rarely shows guarding behavior, we STILL play the trade game, we still do the conditioning routines.

And I manage it. I would much rather be safe than sorry. When people are over, he eats food or chewies in a crate (or after the people are gone). If I can't trust visitors not to be stupid (like taking a toy away from him), then he doesn't get to be around them at all. When I had foster dogs, the fosters always ate meals and chews in crates so there wasn't the potential of a fight.
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:36 AM
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Taqroy Taqroy is offline
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Like everyone else has said, I think it depends on a lot of factors. Murphy resource guards from everyone but me (and sometime me too just to mix it up). I've played the trading game with him, and we hand feed, but the number one thing we do is manage it. He only gets high value items when no one stupid is around to try and take it from him. And there's never food sitting out (see: hand feeding) so he has no reason to guard bowls. The girls are completely respectful of his space and his food so there's no issue there. And, he has fantastic bite inhibition. The ONLY time he's made contact with someone, it was her shoe and it was a muzzle punch as opposed to a bite. And she fully admitted that she made the wrong choice and that he was warning her as clearly as he could before he went for her shoe. (And all future dog feeders are warned that if Murphy gets ahold of something just to let him have it. I'd rather have an overfed dog than a bit friend.)

On the other hand, Mu LOVES the trading game. And despite my early habit of just taking things from her, a couple days of the trading game and she will let me take anything out of her mouth. There are differences between her and Murph of course - Murphy had 4 years to refine his guarding behavior while Mu only had a few months, and Mu is much more "trainable" in certain aspects. But still, different dogs have different responses.

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Old 10-15-2012, 12:02 PM
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Kimbers Kimbers is offline
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I'd agree with Doverluv; in order to work with a RG dog, you show it that sharing or not aggressively guarding its possessions leads to really amazing things. You're conditioning their train of thought, changing it from "You'll steal my food, I'mma snap at you. to something like "Seeing you walk around my bowl and stick your hand in always leads to the most amazing rewards! I'mma let you do what you want!
For some dogs, though, I think they are just so hard-wired to protect their resources that the responsive behavior to someone coming too close is nearly impossible to rewrite. You can make their response less aggressive and increase the threshold, but not always completely rewrite their reaction.

For Kailey, I "rewrote" her response to other critters getting too close to her food by letting the cat nibble on her breakfast while she was on-lead and getting fed cheese. She used to snap at the cat, but now, she wags her tail and looks at me. She's even backed up a few steps and lay down just to watch the cat eat. After several weeks, I'd built up such a positive association with the cat eating her food that she actually almost enjoys sharing it. lol
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Old 10-15-2012, 12:06 PM
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Paige Paige is offline
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I think Bandit was more insecure than anything. I would never leave him out in the house with something he REALLY values like a bone. I don't think he would do anything but why take the risk? Thats a solo activity he gets to partake in away from the rest of the family. I think his guarding of food though when he was young stemmed from the other dogs, not so much people. Ever since he's been an only dog he's been so much eaiser.
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