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Old 10-14-2012, 07:24 AM
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Locke Locke is offline
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Default Is Resource Guarding a "breakable" behaviour?

Is a dog who resource guards always going to resource guard? Or can proper training break the behaviour entirely so that it never rears its ugly head ever again?


I ask because there's this dog that fits all my criteria for my next dog, but he has a pretty bad case of resource guarding. The foster family is working on it (using the trading game mostly I believe), and I would continue the training if I were to adopt him, but I'm wondering if it will ever "go away"?
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:28 AM
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Yes. I don't know if it *always* is, but it certainly can be.

My friend is a trainer who once took in a dog from the humane society to work with who had severe resource guarding issues. Not only against humans, but she'd go after dogs or cats who walked by when she had something. We played the trading game non-stop with her, with anything she had, for a while. My friend actually wound up keeping her when the dog started having seizures and the humane society wanted her to come back to be put to sleep. Within a few months, not only could you take anything from the dog, but she'd pick up everything she could find and bring it to you hoping for a trade. "I have a sock! Look! Don't you want it? How about this shoe? I have a ball. I'd give it to you for a cookie."

I've heard from more than one trainer that it is the most easily corrected behavioral issue, and I've seen enough dogs worked on with it to agree that it is fixable.
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:29 AM
Brattina88 Brattina88 is offline
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I'm no expert, but I think resource guarding is something that has to be managed - it doesn't go away. I had a couple fosters with the same problem, and after some training it didnt seem like there was a problem, but with poor management itd be easy for them to go back to their 'old ways'
But I'll let some others chime in who have more experience than me.
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:34 AM
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Depends on the dog, depends on what the dog guards, depends on the home, depends on the training.

In our case, Lunar was very food aggressive but only with food - very manageable. Actually he did try to guard the bed when he first discovered beds, but that was very short lived, we nipped it right in the bud and it hasn***8217;t been an issue.

He was also 40# underweight when we got him. (Though interestingly his guarding didn***8217;t show itself fully until he gained some weight.) He also guarded mostly with humans, not so much with dogs - our other dogs respect his signals and he doesn***8217;t escalate with them like he did with humans.

It has been 3 years, and we have ZERO issues with him. It was intensive management and training there for a bit, but once he figured out he could trust us, he***8217;s never looked back.
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:45 AM
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Webster was a pretty bad resource guarder...bad enough that he would've been put down if he ever made it to our city shelter (which is where he was heading when we rerouted him) and bad enough that he chomped my hand when I didn't realize that his guarding wasn't just food but also locations and I sleepily tried to move him over in the dark and didn't see the warning signs before teeth hit skin.

He also spent a year doing therapy dog work and was certified. Legitimately so.

It can be done.

I do however agree with Brattina that with poor management it would probably come back. Fortunately his managers are the same folks who helped him in the first place so that's unlikely.
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:54 AM
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IMO resource guarding is a hard wired dog trait - just as much as the wag or the bark. You can mess with thresholds or manage it but in the end the trait never completely disappears.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kat09Tails View Post
IMO resource guarding is a hard wired dog trait - just as much as the wag or the bark. You can mess with thresholds or manage it but in the end the trait never completely disappears.
I do think this is true. RG is a *normal* dog behavior. Kind of like marking. You can teach the dog to pee outside but heís going to pick the spot he wants to pee on if that makes sense.

I donít consider guarding from other dogs a problem behavior - especially in a household where the dogs respect the possession is law rule, which mine do. If youíre having fights - yeah thatís a problem.

With humans, I want them to know to trust us implicitly around food.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:07 AM
Fran27 Fran27 is offline
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We had a dog that had it. We tried to work on it, but with two little kids, it was hard. I remember being stuck on the stairs with my kids crying downstairs while the dog was growling at me at the bottom of the stairs after he stole a sock. We had to find him a new home eventually because he snapped at the kids, but was barking all day if we put him behind a gate.

We saw a trainer at the time and she said it could probably be fixed. I don't know about 'easy' but I guess it depends how comfortable you are with training etc. I wasn't comfortable at all dealing with a dog that was growling at me. Even if we had managed to fix it though, I don't think I would ever have trusted him around my kids.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:40 AM
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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.

I know I've told this story before, but my old Roxy was a horrible RG of food against other animals. Back in the day when we were relatively ignorant, she put two of our cats in the hospital before we realized exactly what we were dealing with. A lot of training and very, very strict management of food later, and everyone lived harmoniously together for the rest of her life.
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Old 10-14-2012, 11:13 AM
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My thoughts are for most dogs it can be trained away and the dog can stop being uncomfortable with you around his stuff. But I also think there is a personality/temperament/genetic reason some dogs are so much quicker to guard than others, regardless of how they were raised. Because of that I think even if you change their logic, teaching them to become happy when you approached their food/toy/whatever so that the no longer guard, it will be easier for them to revert back to guarding if training is not kept up. I don't think it's the sort of thing where you work with the dog until he stops guarding and then he's done with training. I think resource guarding training needs to be continued throughout the dog's life even if he hasn't shown any signs of discomfort with you around his food in years. You are relying on his logical reasoning to override his instinct, which can of course be done, but you must remind the dog now and again that there is a reason he's not going with his gut feeling. I also think it means the dog might still guard if startled while he has something, thus he does not have time to use his logical brain.


But that's just a theory really...counter conditioning may be able to entirely change the dog's gut feeling.
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