Nicole M: Dog resource guarding...?
I have a nine-month-old beagle/cocker spaniel. Recently, at the dog park, he's been getting into fights with other dogs that try to take his stick ( or sometimes even come near him)
At home, he is very submissive. He's not allowed on any furniture, is very respectful, and has never been protective of anything towards people and he knows that I am his leader.
However, this is quite an issue, as I don't want to bring him to the park if he's going to be causing fights.
Is there anyone who has HELPFUL suggestions of what I can do to help dogs on dog resource guarding?
( he is fixed already so it's not that)
I should also comment that I also would like to know what to do with him after he's already gone after another dog. I put him down and made him submit and put him back on the leash, but I'm not sure if that's what I should be doing.
Answers and Views:
Answer by trooper
There are dogs who growl and snap when approached while chewing a toy, eating, or lying on a favorite spot. These dogs are guarding what they consider to be a valuable resource. That's why this type of behavior can be called "resource guarding."
Some dogs are prone to this because of temperament tendencies. Others have learned to be this way. For example, if he has been "attacked" by humans after he drops something such as a shoe. How, then, can he prevent your wrath? Dropping it didn't work. Some dogs will then choose aggression in an attempt to back you off. This is painfully familiar to many owners. This behavior can be a part of general confusion about who leads and who follows in the home.
First of all, remove anything he may protect. If you can't remove the item (such as a bed or couch), block access to it by closing a door or putting up a gate. Keep him on lead in the house so you can more easily control him.
Teach him to "Leave It" in a positive, fun way. Do NOT make this into a battle. Make him think this command is an opportunity for a reward, not a chance to lock horns with you. Always start teaching this command with boring objects so that praise and treats will be the obvious choice.
Reward spitting things out. Much of this sort of aggression is man-made. People get angry when their dog takes things, then fail to give him away to please them. They create a situation where once something is in their dog's mouth, there is no way for the dog to win. This can force the dog to start defending himself.
Here's the rule: Once something is in your dog's mouth, it is TOO LATE to teach him not to take it. The only thing you can teach him now is to spit it out promptly. Therefore, reward spitting it out.
Take then Give. Early on, practice "Out" with your pup. Walk up when he is chewing a toy. Say "Out" and take the toy. Praise him for his brilliance. Give him a treat. Return the toy and leave him alone. A few weeks of this once or twice a day and your dog will want you to come and take him toys.
Neuter him! The most serious bites come from intact male dogs. Make the neuter appointment today!
Ignore him. Do not look at or speak to him unless he is working for you and even then, keep attention short, sweet, and intense after which you ignore him again. You want him to want your attention, not constantly be getting more of it than he desires. Leave him wanting more.
Redirect him. If he is pawing you then keep him on the lead and work his demanding self. Every time he paws you have him "Sit, down, Sit, down -- come, stay, OK" -- with little praise. He may well decide that a nap is a better idea.
Teach him to move out of the way. This will help with his understanding that you lead and he follows. If it is safe to do, simply shuffle your feet into him (no kicking) until he moves then praise him. Or leave a lead on him and guide out of the way then praise.
He owns nothing! He has no "favorite" chair or toys that are "his" -- everything in the house is yours. If he is protective over anything, a bowl or a toy, remove it until his attitude has improved.
All of his time must be spent on the floor. The higher up he is in the room, the higher up he is in his head. Nope, his place is on the floor. Teach him to get off things on command. Always praise him cheerfully for obeying. If need be, close off rooms and/or leave a lead on him so you can manage him more easily. Always praise him cheerfully for obeying --- that is important!
Confine him daily. Daily crating is a generally good routine for this sort of dog and keeps him out of trouble in many ways. Even if you are home with him, crate him for several hours every day. [Note: many behaviorists advise that it can be counter-productive to crate a dog more than 5 hours a day over the long term.]
Increase his exercise. This is a great deal of change for him. Exercise will help relieve stress and release excess energy. Be sure to play games that promote cooperation and control -- skip tug-of-war, wrestling, and chasing after him.
We do NOT recommend:
Going to battle over a squeaky toy. Your dog, no matter how small, can injure you. When a dog shows he is ready to battle a human, we already know that he is misinformed and confused. We need to straighten out that confusion prior to discussing that unwanted aggression. If you attack him for threatening to attack you, you may well escalate his aggression. And, even if you "win" he may decide to fight sooner and harder next time. What he needs is education, not attack.
Anytime -- ANYTIME -- your dog threatens you, hands-on help from a qualified professional is the best next step. Aggression is complicated and, if it isn't dealt with quickly, can get worse. In the end, it can lead to the death of your dog assuredly as any disease.
* Thinking it is OK for him to have a chair or a toy that is "his."
* Assuming he won't bite.
* Avoiding the problem rather than dealing with it.
* Leaving toys that you know he is protective over out because "he likes them so much."
* Thinking this behavior will get better with time.
* Allowing denial of the problem to put other people at risk.
Answer by Miss JJ
Stop taking him to the dog park. I know you know what your dog is capable of but you don't know what stranger's dogs are capable of. It's not safe for your dog, the dog he fights with or you.
Even though he doesn't have aggression towards you or other people, the dog world is way different. He's exerting his dominance and stature in that pack.
I suggest taking him to doggie daycare. At least at doggie daycare, every dog has been evaluated and the attendants are trained to handle any situation that arises.
If you really insist on taking him to the dog park. Call a reputable trainer who offers private sessions. Most will hold the training session at the place where the unwanted behavior occurs which in your case is at the dog park.
Answer by jamie
If he's not happy playing at the dog park, quit taking him. My dog generally enjoys playing with other dogs, but the dog park seems to overwhelm her - she's much better in a small group. Most dogs don't know how to 'share' and will resource guard out in public even if they don't at home (he doesn't have to worry about it at home). If you do play in smaller groups, be sure there is nothing to guard (no toys, etc.). If he is uncomfortable with other dogs coming near him (even if there is nothing to guard), there are other issues going on and you may want to try to figure out why he's uncomfortable with other dogs (are they rude, pushy dogs for example? In which case, he is actually right for being upset with them).
EDIT: and what purpose do you suppose alpha rolling your dog when he is in an already hyper-aroused/aggressive state due to an altercation with another dog will serve? Do you think he is learning anything other than a reinforcement of his reactivity to other dogs? You may want to learn more about how dogs learn. A good place to start is Jean Donaldson's book The Culture Clash. The pack leader theory is overworked, misunderstood (as you have demonstrated), and just plain off-target in too many cases. It causes more problems than it solves.
Keep him out of the park until you can resolve his reactivity/aggressiveness toward other dogs.
Answer by Steve L
Nicole, I recommend visiting this website I went to that teaches you how to curtail your dog's aggressiveness yourself. I used it on my dog and his behavior totally changed. Hope it helps.
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