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Old 07-21-2010, 02:30 PM
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Chewbecca Chewbecca is offline
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Default Luke is growling when in crate with frozen kong

Now, let me make a few things clear before I go any further:
*Luke and Ophie's crates are next to each other for now, but I have dark blankets draped over the sides of the crates, so they cannot see each other, but they get along anyway, so right now this is not an issue.

*Luke has been a food guarder (only food, though) since we got him, FROM OPHIE. NOT from US.
No food items are free outside of their crates. I may give them each a chewy under MY SUPERVISION, and I make sure they are quite a distance from each other, and I watch them.

*Typically, I feed Luke inside his crate AFTER I have done the whole "hand-feeding" or feeding from the bowl with tossing pieces of hot dog in occasionally, and I've taken his food bowl from him in the middle of him eating and made him watch me put a piece of hot dog in it, and I've stuck my hand in his bowl while he's eating, WITH NO GUARDING ISSUES, what-so-ever

Ok, so now that I have that out of the way, I'll go on. )

I have noticed that Luke will growl when I put him in his crate with a frozen kong. It's ONLY after I close the latches on the crate.
I THOUGHT he was doing this because he would growl, usually, when I put Ophie in her crate AFTER I put him in his, and he would hear the latches on her crate. I figured he was afraid that she would get his food.

But this still didn't sit right with me. I just had this odd feeling about it. So, I tested yesterday by putting Ophie in her crate first, and THEN putting him in his crate.
He growled when I put his bowl of food in his crate and then shut the latches on his crate door.

I thought, "Great, back to "Resource Guarding 101".
And I fed him outside of his crate this morning and I tossed the hot dogs in, took his bowl away from him in the middle of eating, etc.
He was FINE. No growling, no frozen/stiffened body language.

So, today, I was going downstairs to work on some collars, and I crate the pups, each with a frozen kong.

I put Ophie in her crate first and I close her crate door and close the latches.

Then I put Luke in his crate toss in his frozen kong, and close the door.


And I stop and look at him. And he growls again.
So, I go over to Ophie's crate and unlatch her crate, take her kong out and talk to her. No growling from Luke.
This confirms that he's growling at ME.

Oh hell no.

So, I'm like, "Are you growling at me????"


So, I open his crate door, and his fish stick chewy is right by the edge of the door, and I carefully poke his kong with it. No growling.

I grab the kong (scared to do so, yes, but I am not the brightest crayon in the box sometimes...) and take it away. No protest.

I put the kong back in the crate with him, and I close the door.


So, I'm baffled and I put in a call to my trainer/behaviorist. She cancelled class last night because she was sick, so I was not shocked when she didn't answer the phone, and I left a message.
I go downstairs and do what I need to do, and then I come back up.
I walk into the livingroom, and I sit down in front of Ophie's crate, and I'm talking to her.
I stop, and I turn my head over to Luke and look at him.


What the hell?

Any idea how to work with this???

I don't need my dog growling at me, and I have NEVER dealt with this before. And I don't know if things like this can become a BIGGER problem, or, or, a problem that starts to cause him to carry it over into another area in his behavior (example: he starts guarding outside of the crate, he starts guarding toys or guarding anything else from me).
I know A LOT of you have dealt with this before. And I know it may be a minor issue that is easily worked with.
And some may be used to this type of behavior.

So, I apologize in advance for saying this: But it's quite unsettling to me that he is growling at me.
I don't like it. AT ALL.

So, please help? Any suggestions (preferably other than beating him or being mean to him would be appreciated).
I want to keep things as positive as possible with any interactions as these puppies do not know any kind of positive punishment.
And I'd like to keep it that way.
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Old 07-21-2010, 02:42 PM
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Izzy's Valkyrie Izzy's Valkyrie is offline
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I have no ideas

(((But you could send him to me)))

I hope you get to the bottom of it though, I hate being growled at by dogs, freaks me out.

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Old 07-21-2010, 02:53 PM
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Old 07-21-2010, 02:53 PM
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Miakoda Miakoda is offline
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Wrigley was food/resource aggressive and I do say aggressive and not "possessive".

I deal with him and this issue every single day of his life for 6 full years. I worked with a wonderful trainer that I had worked with for all my dogs. I consulted numerous other trainers/behaviorists...some as far away as New York.

One thing that I finally realized (and was so bluntly told) that I was doing wrong was that I was reaching down and picking up his food/treat/whatever when he was growling at me. With him, I had to pick it up and put it away and walk away for a while because he did not just turn "off" took him a few minutes before coming to me and politely asking for his food back. Well, what was wrong is that I was ignoring his warning: the growl. By ignoring his warning, in his canine mind that justified going to the next step: biting.

You see, I learned that a dog growling doesn't go along the lines of thinking "Oh...she just took my food away because I growled at her. I better stop growling and be nice.". It's more like "That hag just took my food away even after I told her to leave me alone. Guess next time she'll have to pull back a bloody hand in order for her to get the message."

While I do believe that some of these dogs have mere behavioral issues that can be ironed out, not all of the cases are as easy as that. Wrigley food aggression was tied in to his entire temperament. He was a leader. He wanted to be dominant (he wasn't over me...but I promise you that everyone else was below him on the totem pole in his mind). He wanted things his way when he wanted them and how he wanted them. And if people didn't listen, then he had to tell them in a way they would get the message.

NO amount of training ever solved this issue. We worked on many commands such as "WAIT" which meant he could NOT touch his treat/food until I gave him the "OK". We worked on "LEAVE IT" which came in useful when I needed him to back away from his food bowl/treat so I could move it or do whatever I needed to do. Mind you, this dog would still rumble under his breath at me, but teaching him to leave his food and back up and sit down probably saved me all my fingers if not my whole hand.

Wrigley was never "cured" of this behavior. While we continued to work on it, the only solution was to feed him in his kennel in the room by himself where no person would walk by and inadvertently put themselves in a position to get bitten (all you had to do to get him hunched over his bowl with hackles raised and him growling was walk in the same room where he was was that bad).

But by then Cole was approaching the one year mark. I knew he would be crawling soon and being mobile. And I trusted Wrigley 100%. In that, I trusted that he would bite Cole if they both happened to see a stale cheeto on the floor and both went for it at the same time. I trusted him to bite Cole if Cole were to put his hand through the kennel while Wrigley was eating.

The decision to euthanize Wrigs was the hardest one I ever had to make. He was perfectly healthy otherwise (other than bad hips, but they weren't slowing him down) and out of all my dogs I've ever owned, he was my heart dog (probably because of all the time I spent working with him. lol ). But I had to. He was 100 lbs. I owed it to Cole and I owed it to Wrigley. I would never put Wrigley in a position where failure was his only option. I would never allow Wrigley to have been hated and despised for an action that I could have prevented.

So with Wrigley, I had to let him go. I couldn't change him and I couldn't "fix" a behavior that was actually a temperament trait.
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Old 07-21-2010, 03:00 PM
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Chewbecca Chewbecca is offline
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Are you saying that because he's a puppy this is most likely a temperament trait?
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Old 07-21-2010, 03:00 PM
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Miakoda Miakoda is offline
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Sorry for two posts, but I wanted this separate:

Definitely work with your trainer. Don't be afraid to call around and get opinions from different trainers/behaviorists. Work on commands like "leave it" and "wait" in order to get him to realize that he can have his treat, but he can only have it on YOUR terms and not his.

But don't push him to the next level (such as when he growls by bending down and taking the food/treat can definitely do so, but first get him to a point where he'll leave it and back up and sit while you do so).

If you want to talk more about the specifics of what I did in all those years of training and working with a true food aggressive dog, I'd be more than happy to talk either by phone or more in pm's. And if I get more time to type, I'll add more to this thread.

The biggest thing is repetition. You've really got to be ON 24/7. You can't let one half-growl or hunching over the food/treat slide. You've got to be stern and you've got to be patient and you've got to be repetitive.

As for those who are in the "only positive training works", Wrigley cured me of that belief. You see, there is NO reward to be given for a dog growls every time you try to move/remove his food/treat. You can't allow him to growl, pick up his bowl, and then tell him "Oh...good puppy!". You're only reinforcing his behavior. This is situation where you must use a sharp "NO!" and redirection to make him understand that such behavior will NOT be tolerated as it can't be. A dog protecting what is precious to him is a very dangerous dog.

I wish you all the best. And hopefully his issues are nothing more than snotty teenage puppy ones that can be worked out.
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Old 07-21-2010, 03:04 PM
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Miakoda Miakoda is offline
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Originally Posted by Chewbecca View Post
Are you saying that because he's a puppy this is most likely a temperament trait?
No, not at all. (I was posting at the same time )

He could very well be going through a "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine" stage combined with a little pre-teen/teenage puppyhood attitude.

He may very well just be testing his boundaries.

So work with him. It may take a while to get this issue to go away, but IMO either it does or it doesn't. In Wrigley's case, he actually got worse as time went by.

For instance, if I was cooking in the kitchen, he would actually growl and run my husband out of the kitchen if he tried to come in. It wasn't because Wrigley was being protective of me, but rather because he was guarding the food. If there was food on the counter, he'd lie down underneath the counter and guard it. Wrigley did go after my grandmother's leg one time. And when he was only 8 months old, I was sitting down in the kitchen floor polishing the underside of my table and talking to my now-husband when Wrigley, who was many feet away eating, turned and lunged at my face....all because he felt I was too close. (let's just say that Wrigley had a come-to-Jesus meeting at that point and I changed the way I trained my dogs....I was humanizing them a bit too much and training them as such instead of as thinking DOGS)
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Old 07-21-2010, 03:11 PM
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corgipower corgipower is offline
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I agree with Mia on the not taking it away when he growls.

Ares is a hard core resource guarder. I like it that he growls. Growls are communication. Growls tell me something is making him uncomfortable. Growls allow me to make changes to minimize his need to warn.

With Luke, you might stop giving him frozen kongs for now. Give him lower value items in his crate and work on trading him for higher value items. Any time you walk past his crate while he has something in there, toss treats inside the crate. Teach him that by you being near him and his crate and his stuff, he gets better things. Don't take away what he's guarding unless you have something better to give him in exchange.
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Old 07-21-2010, 03:26 PM
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Steve is a resource guarder as well. He is not a dominant dog at all. He is a worried and insecure dog. When he guards, it's because he's super concerned that whoever is coming near him is going to take his food/treat. I don't think I've ever given him cause to worry, but he worries anyway.

I would not correct for guarding. Growling is communication. I would work to change the feelings of the dog. When somebody approaches, it is a Good Thing. I would work very hard to take the confrontation out of it.

With Steve I did a lot of cookies raining from the sky. I did a lot of trade your lower quality item for my higher quality item. I did a lot of calling him off low level items for super good treats.

He's not perfect by any means, but he's definitely better. I've learned how to manage him, he's learned that I'm not coming to steal his dinner. I can call him off nearly anything wonderful, but I still can't necessarily walk up and take it.
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Old 07-21-2010, 03:28 PM
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If you're able to reach your hand in there without him growling or excalating, but he's growling when you're not even opening the door, I wouldn't worry too terribly much. I would stop taking away his stuff, even if you do give it back, but would rather work with lower value things for a while. When he is more confident that nothing will be taken, you can start working with lower value trades.

If you feed him in there in a bowl, put a handful in. As he finishes his last bite, walk away. Come back. Drop another handful in. Stand there until he finishes, walk away. Come back, drop another handful and/or a special treat besides. If you're going to give him a high value thing and you're able to distract him with another higher value thing in order to take the other thing away...if he's okay with that and not growling or biting, you should be okay.

Don't let the growling in and of itself scare you. It's like someone saying to you, (only in English) "Hey! Don't take that." It doesn't mean he's trying to dominate you. If he continues to feel threatened, yes, it can escalate to a bite, certainly. He's naturally a little concerned about his food or bone or whatever. He needs more of a history of practice with lesser value things and receiving much better stuff in trade. That regime needs to be practiced enough that he is positive that he's only going to get even better stuff when you come around. Start with stuff he likes but isn't ape over. Trade for something somewhat better. When he stops warning you and seems comfortable, move up the hierarchy of valued items. Make the traded items progress proportionately higher in value than what you want to remove. Practice in a variety of locations.

When you take things away from him without trading something significantly better, it makes him worried and he's not sure whether you're going to open the door or not or what's going to happen. (my guess). Maybe once you're in the act of taking something, he gives up and doesn't bother growling. But when you haven't yet reached your hand in, the door is closed, maybe the anticipation is what gets him "talking."

It's hard to say. To reiterate: (to repeat myself like I tend to do. lol) I would stop picking up his food bowl when there's food in it. Start feeding him by handfuls, showing him that your coming near his stuff means good news and that you're walking away equals no food, no goodies, no nothin'.

I'd work with him with things that aren't extremely valuable to him for practice and trade him (a game of give and take) for higher value stuff. Start with a toy he likes and trade him for a better toy or treat. When he gets onto the give and take game, say he has a Kong with kibble in it and you want to take it to put it away for some reason. Hold out a chunk of steak or chicken and swap him. Give him another piece of meat and praise him. Do something else fun with him if you need him distracted or to forget about what he had. Only move up to taking a bone away if you have a juicier, meatier bone to trade him for. And only move up when he's comfortably giving up lower value stuff.

Have you done any of this stuff? If he still growls under these circumstances, (not when you take stuff, but when the crate door is closed and you're not even attempting to get in there with your hand) are you sure it's an actual warning growl? Does he sound ferrocous? Serious? Is it very purposeful or is it sort of wishy washy sounding? It's possible he's just mumbling...talking. Do you know anyone who chews his food and makes vocalizations at the same time from the throat? I have known own Dad, for one. I wonder if dogs do this sometimes. Just a wild thought.
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