Zoey growled at me... Help!

Melissa_W

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#1
I gave Zoey (the stray we took in a few weeks ago) a rawhide to keep her busy while I'm studying. A few hours later, I went to reach for it, and she growled at me. :( It scared the living daylights out of me. I tried again and she did the same thing. I put her out in the garage and took the rawhide away when she couldn't see me. I have noticed her hording things in her crate before, but this is the first time she's shown any aggression because of an object. I'm scared that she's going to bite me. I'm honestly afraid of her now, and I don't know what to do. She's knows I'm scared of her now too. We can't keep her if she's dangerous to people and I'm not sure how I feel about rehoming her if she has tendencies like that. I know it's horrible, but I never wanted an aggressive dog and I don't think I can handle one. I know Kai would never do anything like that, he doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body. I don't like the thought of being scared of a pet. It's very distressing to me. Am I over reacting?
 
R

RedyreRottweilers

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#2
IMO you are a little bit.

Do a search on resource guarding. This is a new dog to your household, whose background you are not certain of.

ALWAYS TRADE. Never ever go reach for a high value item such as a chewy from a dog without a cookie to trade for it, esp if it's a new dog in your house.

A little work on the "trading" game and I think your new pup will be fine.
 

Baxter'smybaby

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#3
I had a dog who was a stray--she was wonderful about most things, but give her a rawhide chew and she became a whole other dog!! for some reason the raw hide brought that out in her--I stopped giving them to her, and never had a problem with any other item! Redeye gave some good suggestions re: trading game. But I would avoid the raw hide and see if that changes anything. Good luck--I hope it all works out!
 

jason_els

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#4
You're right to be concerned and being frightened is natural.

It's good you're recognizing this early on. Resource guarding is a fairly common problem and one that can usually be resolved. Use the search function here to search for posts specifically on, "resource guarding," and I'm sure you'll find a lot of information. Others with much more experience than I will give you better answers but, I'm a big fan of toy boxes. Seeing as my mom was completely anal retentive when I was growing-up, toy boxes were a must and it turns out they're good for dogs too because they show the dog that YOU own all the toys. You decide when the dog gets a toy and when she's done playing with it you take the toy and put it away. You did exactly the right thing by removing the dog before removing the toy. The next time she sees the toy it will be because she sees you going to the box and giving it to her, preferably after she follows a command properly. Use toys as rewards for good behavior. When she tires of it, the toy goes back in the box. Rotate toys and use some of the favorite toys only in places the dog may not like. My dogs HATE the car so I leave the tennis balls for the car only. The rolling of the car helps move the toy too so it seems like MAGIC! Whee!

I do know a lot of people do what I do and that's hand feed. I admit I don't hand feed all of every meal, but always at least a few pieces first. I hold the food and feed my dogs one or two pieces of kibble and make a game of it. They think it's fun and it reinforces that the food is as much mine as the toys and the furniture is because I control how it is dispensed and how long they have it. This is supposed to be especially effective for resource guarding and I suggest you try it. Hand feed and use the toy box. Don't try to take away something she's playing with right away. You work-up to that.

The more you lead, the more you control her environment, the more she realizes you are the leader and the easier it will become for her to accept your leadership.
 

Melissa_W

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#5
Thank you for the responses. I've calmed down a bit now, btw.

I guess I'm just spoiled by Kai. I always pick up his chew toys, even while he's chewing them, to check and make sure they're holding up okay and he's not getting big hunks off. He doesn't care, and I always give them back when I'm done looking.

I tried the trading game with her, and it seemed to work. I was even able to trade the rawhide... in exchange for another rawhide. I let her have it when I was done, but I think we'll lay off the rawhides for a while after this one.

I'll definitely do a search on resource guarding... but thanks for the preliminary responses.
 

Doberluv

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#6
I wouldn't worry so much. It's not about leadership. It's a defense instinct that some dogs sometimes have more abundantly than others. Even in nature, heirarcy has nothing to do with an animal defending his food, even from a more dominant animal. If he just said, "Sure, go ahead and take my bone," he'd starve to death and be unable to breed, reproduce and the species would die out. That said. It is not abnormal behavior to feel defensive over his stuff. Repeatedly taking things from dogs can cause this. Some dogs don't care. Some do.

What we have to do, as humans living with dogs is teach them a new way to feel about us getting around their stuff. First, I recommend putting away the rawhides. First, because rawhides are dangerous. Small pieces can break off and lodge in their intestines, causing a blockage and death. Second, the counter-conditioning exercise I will explain needs to be done, starting out with lower value possessions.

Put all toys and things he likes away except when you're about to start one of your many practice sessions each day. Find a toy, ball or other chew bone that he likes, but that he doesn't go "ape" over, as he does the rawhide. As Redyre said, you'll be trading him for a treat. Always use a higher value treat to trade for his less valuable toy or chewy. You can use small pieces of hot dog, cheese, chicken...something yummy.

This is going to be a game, so get your happy, playful voice ready and sit down on the floor with him. At the very first, you'll show him what you've got in your hand while he has his toy in his mouth. Bring your treat close to him and he'll drop his toy to get the treat. Pick up the toy simultaneousy as he takes the treat. Praise and give him back the toy. Make a fuss over him. Repeat.

Next, you're going to add a cue word, like "give" for when he is to give you the toy and "take," when he is to take the toy back again. When he starts to look like he's getting into the game and enjoying dropping the toy for the treat, you will stop showing him the treat ahead of time. With your friendly voice, say, "give" while you hold your hand, cupped under his chin. He should let go and you quickly give him a tasty treat which you'll have in your pocket or on a table right next to you. Praise and give the toy back, saying, "take."

Next, you can add some fun to the game and toss the toy 2 or 3 feet away and encourage him to go get it and bring it back to you. "Give"...he gives. You treat and praise. And "take." He gets the toy back again. You can mix it up...sometimes do it like that, sometimes toss for a little retrieve game.

When he is really getting onto this, and realizes that he not only gets the toy back, but a treat, praise and a game, he will not worry about you taking his toy.

Now, it's time to move up the heirarchy of value as far as toys, balls or chewys are concerned. But still.....do not use a very high value item. Move up gradually and play the same game with each toy....several times a day for a few days. Don't move up to a higher value toy until he is very, very comfortable with the previous one.

Soon, you'll be able to trade and not give the toy back every time. Remember to trade up....that is, that what you give him is better than what he has. Lots of praise and change the subject if you're not giving it back again. Continue some other kind of fun.

To make a long story short, you're proving to him that not only are you trustworthy to take his stuff, but you're totally wonderful because you give him better things in exchange. It's a win, win situation.

More obedience practice where he complies (as he learns things) and he ends up with great treats, praise, games. It's all good. That will help too. The more he trusts you, the better.
 
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#7
My Mom rescued a JRT mix almost four years ago. Valery too had resource guarding...bones, biscuits etc. And she would growl when approached. We very carefully added "take it" and "drop it" to her training and as others have suggested, always traded with her when taking something away. We never became confrontational.

While you are right to be a little nervous (it's always a shock the first time) I want you to know that very often this can be resolved with time, trust and training! Valery would never growl at any of us now over a bone. It just took a little effort and time. Good luck and thanks for providing a good home for another special pup.
 

Melissa_W

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#8
Thank you so much Dober and Christin! I feel much better about it now. I'm going to follow your instructions and I think everything will be fine. She's a very sweet dog otherwise, which is why I was so shocked I guess. She has a really deep, frightening growl and I don't really know her that well... so I was spooked! I realize it's fairly normal now. I think Kai's just abnormal.

P.S. Kai doesn't get rawhides, he has Nylabones. But Zoey doesn't chew Nylabones. She only got a rawhide because I was feeling guilty for neglecting them due to finals week. :eek: I got the compressed kind and was supervising... but I should probably try to find some safer chews for her.
 

Fran27

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#9
We had the same problem with Boris, and now I'm happy to say that he hasn't growled for months! I'm sure it's fixable with some training.
 

amymarley

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So many people are on the mark above! Remember... humans and animals all speak a different language. As for dogs, some things are gen. breed into them, that is their "way." Us humans, "hopefully" don't have our human children growling at us. It's all a matter of animal behavior, animal instinct, etc....

I believe that certain things should be "nipped in the bud," but some of that is just natural. And again, everyone above said it all...
Amy
 

sam

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#11
Ever been really hungry and had somebody grab one of your fries without asking? You probbaly said "hey!" or if it was your bf /sister maybe you slapped his hand and said "go get your own fries!" :lol-sign:
Same thing. You should do the work though, to condition your dog to allow people to take his things, touch his food etc.You can condition your dog to think that people touching his valued possessions is a GOOD thing.

Here's my fav resource guarding article it's by Pat Miller.

http://www.kerryblues.info/WDJ/SHARE.HTML
 

Dizzy

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#12
I'm sure someone will have said it before, but always make her work for her treats..

Bodhi doesn't get anything for nothing, and she pretty well KNOWS that what she gets it's on MY terms. I choose to share with her, NOT the other way around.

Even toys. I keep them. I choose when she has them, and I choose when they go away!
 

Dizzy

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#13
Also... when Bo was a young pup I hand fed her for awhile - it was a bit of a fad, I read a book about it - but actually, I think I am reaping the benefits of it now..
 

Melissa_W

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Thank you for the link, sam!

Thanks Dizzy. I took her toys too. I started hand feeding her a little bit as well.
 

goosey

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#15
i think being scared of her is the worst thing you could do you need to show her your the boss of her and she cant just put it over you. What size is she wat sort of dog
 

Melissa_W

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#16
I just wanted to give you guys an update. I've been following Doberluv's advice and it's been working really well. I'm up to tossing a ball for her and she brings it back and lets me have it with no problem. She hasn't even had a problem sharing the ball with Kai. So, things are going really well! Thanks for the advice!
 

Doberluv

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#17
Wonderful news! Keep up the good work and practice. Be sure and go through the steps methodically, working up gradually where the value of the items are concerned. Keep us updated. I hope everything continues to go well. Way to go Melissa!
 

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