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  #11  
Old 10-05-2011, 09:03 AM
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Danefied Danefied is offline
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Originally Posted by Aleron View Post
The training program outlined in the MINE! book didn't help?
I think they would


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Originally Posted by mjb View Post
Spanky only guards stolen food items. He doesn't guard toys, his food, food that hits the floor when we're around..........but if he steals a food item that got left out at his level, he will growl rather menacingly sometimes when we go to get it.

The obvious answer is to not leave food lying around.

Next, is not to challenge him. I don't. I will trade with him. It is just that once in awhile, visiting relatives, etc., have found him with something, for example, a potato chip bag, that he's tearing up to get the crumbs, and he's growled when they go to get it away so he doesn't make a mess.

Is there anything we can do, perhaps based on the exercises in 'Mine' to work on this particular type of guarding besides keeping everything put away to prevent the stealing in the first place?

'Mine' has nice specific steps to work on guarding food bowl, toys, bones, etc., but I couldn't figure out how to implement for guarding stolen food.

Any ideas?
I would use the exact steps outlined in mine for stolen items too. It may seem different to you that the food bowl is different than the stolen bag of potato chips, but to the dog the only difference is that the potato chips are higher value than the food he gets regularly every day.

The other thing may be the surprise factor - he may be used to you being around while he's eating from his food bowl, but if he has had a chance to enjoy scavenged goodies while home alone, he may not be anticipating any human company while enjoying his scavenged snack. If he is a reticent or fearful dog anyway, the surprise of someone descending on him (however gently) and trying to trade will exacerbate a guarding response.

I'd use the suggestions in "Mine" and give them time to work. Resource guarding is not something you fix in one or two sessions, you have to give the method time to work and give the dog time to change his emotional response.
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  #12  
Old 10-05-2011, 11:34 AM
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We struggled/are struggling with this. My suggestion is that once he's stolen something stop thinking about how to prevent stealing and go into prevent resource guarding mode. I'd rather a dog who steals but doesn't try to maul people than a dog who rarely gets anything but when he does is extremely dangerous. Work on the stealing separately and do try your hardest to make stealing impossible when not in a training session or else the behavior will just get stronger and stronger.


Tucker will not trade if he has stolen many things, he knows trading means he looses the object, the object is super new and has lots of potential for hours of fun. He knows what to expect of food, he eats it, it's good, then it's gone. So no trading for him, at least not with food. If I were to offer him a new TOY he'd totally go for it, but I don't keep new toys stashed away so I usually can't do that.

What has worked for me in the past I grabbing a toy or sock and running away from him like a crazy person wiggling the object wildly around. He usually chases me with the stolen thing in his mouth. I let the toy I have hit him in the face (like if we were playing) as I wiggle it around and eventually the urge to grab the quickly retreating and teasing object becomes too much and he drops his stolen thing for mine. DO NOT STOP HERE. Continue running and intermittently tugging so he has a grand old time. Get near dropped stolen object and throw the toy you are playing with away from you so he runs to get it. Quickly pick up dropped stolen object and stash it in pocket or swiftly put it out of site. When dog comes back with toy continue playing for a good while, hopefully he forgets about the stolen object. Don't decrease the vigor of play, keep running around the house like a crazy person. Whatever you do don't let him see you pick up the dropped item and don't stop the game as soon as he drops it. This has worked the best for us, might not want to do it with dangerous things.

What has also worked, though not quite as well (he seems very reluctant to fall for it), has been throwing food/treats on the floor (handful at once) and stepping away, even leaving the room and peeking around a corner (since he might be suspicious of you). He'll drop the item to eat, come in a throw more food further away from the object and wait until he's busy eating to nonchalantly bend down and pick up object and hide it. Something that might work better for distraction in this scenario is breaking out a short training session right after he's done eating the food off the floor to keep his mind off of the item he dropped. This would likely be safer if he has something dangerous as you're not making him run and jump around with it in his mouth.


The risk of doing any of these things is that the more you do them the less likely it is that the dog will fall for them. This is one of the reasons you should practice really good prevention and work on some sort of training to target the stealing.


Also, take time out of every day to work on a drop it command with his toys, then use the command on his toys in an everyday situation. Eventually use it on non-doggy items (socks, sunglasses, pens, etc. you might want a leash on him the first time just in case he isn't ready and decides to bolt with the item). Once this is very solid (and not a moment before) you can use it on stolen items. My recommendation is to only use it on safe and non-valuable items so that you can repeat it multiple times. By that I mean have him drop it, reward, give item back, ask for drop it, reward, give item back, etc. Even let him have it back for a minute or two, have him drop it, reward, keep item, and give super reward like a game or going for a walk (immediately give indicator that you're doing awesome thing). If he has stolen something you really don't want him to have and so don't want to give back multiple times then I'd use one of the other two methods if you can.


Another important reminder is not to react quickly when you've noticed he has something. Nothing irritates me more than when Tucker walks in with a stolen object and mom or dad say "what do you have Tucker?". Now Tucker knows he's not allowed to and we're gonna take it. Swell. Best bet is to pretend you saw him walk in with a normal toy, glance at him and resume what you're doing for a minute so he thinks he's in the clear. If you need to go get treats or a toy do so without approaching him. Don't indicate that you care about what he has. Avoid trying to get the object from him first and then when you fail switching to the run away or throwing treats methods as he will already know what you're aiming for and may not fall for it, thus ruining the method. This is why you shouldn't use the drop it command on stolen things until you are 99% sure it'll work.

Make sure everyone in the house is on board or it won't work, I promise you that

As to how to stop stealing, I don't know, good luck. I was using a squirt bottle, no one else was so he stole when I went to bed. So it could have worked if we didn't do an awesome job of teaching him how he could avoid the squirt (waiting until I went in my room). Now our bigger problem is the cat throwing things off of table for him to eat, how the heck does one train a dog to leave things thrown down for him? Or teach a cat not to throw things down?
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  #13  
Old 10-05-2011, 06:10 PM
mjb mjb is offline
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I am not ignoring the answers. I have been having quite a time signing in to Chazhound for a couple of weeks now. Half the time I just can't get on. I've been trying all day so I could see if I had any advice I could possibly use!!
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  #14  
Old 10-05-2011, 06:11 PM
mjb mjb is offline
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Originally Posted by Aleron View Post
The training program outlined in the MINE! book didn't help?
I'm sure it probably would, but she gives detailed steps to use for most any scenario except stolen items.....at least stolen food.
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  #15  
Old 10-05-2011, 06:14 PM
mjb mjb is offline
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Originally Posted by Danefied View Post
I think they would




I would use the exact steps outlined in mine for stolen items too. It may seem different to you that the food bowl is different than the stolen bag of potato chips, but to the dog the only difference is that the potato chips are higher value than the food he gets regularly every day.

The other thing may be the surprise factor - he may be used to you being around while he's eating from his food bowl, but if he has had a chance to enjoy scavenged goodies while home alone, he may not be anticipating any human company while enjoying his scavenged snack. If he is a reticent or fearful dog anyway, the surprise of someone descending on him (however gently) and trying to trade will exacerbate a guarding response.

I'd use the suggestions in "Mine" and give them time to work. Resource guarding is not something you fix in one or two sessions, you have to give the method time to work and give the dog time to change his emotional response.
What I can't seem to figure out is that she starts with feeding the dog by hand, then putting hand in dish while dog is eating, etc., progressing to touching dog while eating.

I don't know how to start training him to accept us close and touching him with stolen food, and I didn't see a step-by-step in the book that would be similar. I know in listing the potential guarded items, stolen items and stolen food are things she lists, but I just don't see where she gives a method to work on stolen food.
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  #16  
Old 10-05-2011, 06:24 PM
mjb mjb is offline
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I will be honest, I find it very disturbing that you bill yourself as a behavioralist and talk of dominance and heavily correcting a dog for something like resource guarding. I can only imagine (and its not pretty) what would have happened had I taken your advice to deal with my 140 pound ex-feral dane and his resource guarding. That's the kind of advice that gets people bitten and dogs euthanized for aggression.

If the dog is truly a dominant dog (which BTW *true* dominant dogs are so rare that most people will never encounter on in a lifetime of dog ownership), then confrontation will end very ugly - for you
I know a lot of people can't stand Leerburg, but this is Michael Ellis, who while I don't agree with everything he does, there's no denying he gets dogs and knows his stuff. Its a long clip, all interesting, but for the "meat" start at 3:55 - truly dominant dogs.
Michael Ellis on Dominance in Dogs - YouTube

Heavily correcting a dog who has guarding issues is entirely counter productive. The guarding stems from FEAR of losing the item in question. Correction just reinforces that fear the dog had. It may effectively stop the dog from outwardly showing that fear, but it has not solved the issue.

I think of it this way - think of the fear reactions as little bombs going off. Correcting a dog can effectively burry those bombs, but they are still going off, still causing damage, you just can't see it. But what if you put two bombs in the same hole, (guarding a resource add stranger danger) or what if you don't burry the bombs deep enough? Now you risk the bombs going off and spraying you (or some innocent passer by) with shrapnel.

Using desensitization and counter conditioning as in the trade game, diffuses the bomb, so they're not going off at all.


The other thing I would recommend for a resource guarder is building up their confidence and trust in you with other activities like obedience or agility training. Part of the issue with guarding is that the dog lacks trust. Training in other areas really helps to build trust.
So do you think trading is the best counter conditioning to use? And would it help to set up some stealing situations so that he can get used to the fact that a trade will happen?

Also, I talked to the behaviorist I used when Spanky was a puppy for some training sessions. He's a positive trainer, and the county uses him whenever they are dealing with 'aggressive' dogs in court, etc. His opinion is that Spanky is not an aggressive dog in the least, but he can be food reactive.

He mostly talked of controlling the situation.....not letting it happen. Putting food away. He did mention that if I wanted to (I couldn't tell if he was all for it, though) that I could toss some cans with pennies in his direction without hitting him which would move him away from the item. He said it would not be associated with me; just that if he steals something, those loud cans might be close-by.
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  #17  
Old 10-05-2011, 06:27 PM
mjb mjb is offline
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If it makes any difference, we've had Spanky since he was 12 weeks old. He came from the pound. He has never resource guarded or growled at anyone (except in play) until he was about 5. He's been seen by a vet, and nothing is wrong with him. He's had some medical issues, but they weren't necessarily at the time this began, and they';ve been dealt with as they've come up.........

Those issues were an ACL tear that got repaired, and stealing that ended up putting him in the hospital......dark chocolate, and quite a bit of it!!
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  #18  
Old 10-05-2011, 07:29 PM
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Aleron Aleron is offline
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I'm sure it probably would, but she gives detailed steps to use for most any scenario except stolen items.....at least stolen food.
I would think the basic steps would still be the same, since she wants you to start off with objects the dog doesn't guard anyway. It's been a long time since I've read the book though, so I could be wrong.
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  #19  
Old 10-05-2011, 08:34 PM
mjb mjb is offline
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I would think the basic steps would still be the same, since she wants you to start off with objects the dog doesn't guard anyway. It's been a long time since I've read the book though, so I could be wrong.
If I remember it correctly, for guarding the food dish you would hand feed for awhile, then put your hands in the dish while he is eating for a few days, then touch dog while he is eating.....giving him wonderful treats during these things.

Those particular steps wouldn't work for stolen items.

I haven't looked at the book in awhile, but maybe I can look at some of the other items that are guarded and see if there's a way to interchange the steps if the guarded item is stolen food.
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  #20  
Old 10-05-2011, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Danefied View Post
I will be honest, I find it very disturbing that you bill yourself as a behavioralist and talk of dominance and heavily correcting a dog for something like resource guarding. I can only imagine (and its not pretty) what would have happened had I taken your advice to deal with my 140 pound ex-feral dane and his resource guarding. That's the kind of advice that gets people bitten and dogs euthanized for aggression.


Actually, I did not advise the OP to do ANYTHING, in regards to the actual guarding behaviour. I said how I would handle MY dogs in that situation, because they are trained not to steal. So, I advised the OP on how to work with the dog to NOT steal. Apparently I should not have shared my own personal opinion on the topic (considering it was regarding dogs who don't steal in the first place), and simply left it at the training advice I offered (which was in regards to the STEALING, NOT the guarding).

I'm sorry that you find it disturbing, but if there is one thing I've learned after 12 years of dealing with clients' dogs - it's that you do what works with the dog, and worry about what people think later. I'm not about pleasing people, OR going all Cesar Milan-style with using excessive physical force, intimidation, and borderline abuse. Yes, some dogs require a heavier hand than others... but each dog requires something different than the next.
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