Help with resource guarding....

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by mjb, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. mjb

    mjb New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    2,194
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    3
    Location:
    Florida
    I got the book 'Mine', and it looks good, but I can't find "directions" for our specific problem.

    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?
     
  2. momto8

    momto8 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2011
    Messages:
    792
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have a resource guarder, I believe this is something that never really goes away, it is controlled, but there can be "flare ups". Ace would guard his food, toys and bed, and then started guarding me. He started only guarding from other dogs, then from my husband.
    I have "Mine" Love this book! Helped us alot! Also we started using NILF, this helped alot and we pushed up our obedience. If you can I'd sign up for a local class :) Work on drop it and leave it for when he does take something, this has helped us alot, esp when he would steal something, a good solid drop it command and a solid recall helped tons :)
     
  3. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2004
    Messages:
    12,953
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    OH
    Really Really strong, practiced, jackpot Leave its?
     
  4. Kat09Tails

    Kat09Tails *Now with Snark*

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    3,452
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    6 + finches
    Location:
    Upper Left hand corner, USA
    The trade game comes to mind as a way to clear this up.

    Basically you offer something appropriate that he really likes in exchange for what he's not suppose to have. It changes the game from "someones going to take X" in the dog's brain to "ooh! snacks! time for a walk!? or BALLL!!!" So for instance my dogs LOVE love LOVE natural balance rolls and the only time they get a taste of one is when they crate up. So usually I can call a dog off of a really tasty item in exchange for a bit of natural balance roll along with a crate up or a small toss away from the object they would normally guard. This requires a high value item or treat. You need something that is worth more to the dog than what it has currently but only for a moment.
     
  5. Teal

    Teal ...ice road...

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2011
    Messages:
    1,497
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    A lot!!
    Location:
    Northern California
    Home Page:
    Wow, yall are SO much nicer going about this than I would be! In my house, I own *everything* - my dogs wouldn't even think of stealing something that wasn't theirs, because you don't steal from the alpha! In all honestly, if I went to take something from my dog and they growled at me, they would get a hefty smack, or collar jerk, with a stern reprimand and complete removal from the area.

    To me, the trade game just seems like encouragement. Or at least, there is nothing there telling the dog that the initial behaviour - stealing - is wrong. All you're doing is dealing with the result - guarding.

    What I would do, is set the dog up to steal something and hide out of his sight but where you can still see him, and have a squirt bottle. When he goes to steal something - come out from wherever you are, reprimand ("No!" or "Leave it!" or whathaveyou) and use the squirt bottle.
     
  6. Kat09Tails

    Kat09Tails *Now with Snark*

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    3,452
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    6 + finches
    Location:
    Upper Left hand corner, USA
    I hope you never have a dog with a serious resource guarding issue that shows you how wrong headed doing this would be. Extinction not punishment is a far better technique for animals already fearful that you might take their precious. Punishment only fuels anxiety and if you don't have a dog that's soft enough to shut down you may end up with a serious bite or escalating aggression series that absolutely didn't need to happen.

    As far as the issue of possession there is some truth to managing objects do discourage self rewarding behavior but once the dog has decided the object is theirs - and worth trying to keep in their possession you need to deal with that accordingly and in a way that won't make the resource guarding
    problem worse or more dangerous. Dogs don't know stealing unattended objects is wrong, especially when foraging is a self rewarding behavior.
     
  7. Teal

    Teal ...ice road...

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2011
    Messages:
    1,497
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    A lot!!
    Location:
    Northern California
    Home Page:


    Which is why I suggested a technique for the OP that didn't involve directly confronting the dog with the stolen object.

    *I* know my capabilities as a handler/trainer/behaviouralist, and I am confident in my ability to gauge a dog's reaction. Like I said - with MY dogs, they would get heavily corrected. However, it's a moot point because my dogs know better than to steal in the first place (or guard anything else) But, I have worked with dogs that truly just needed to be told to knock it off, get reprimanded, and have the item taken. Did they all shut down? No. Did some of them require more than just a single reprimand? Yes. But depending on what they are guarding and why (like in this case, of a dog just being a dominant animal and guarding inappropriate items), punishment is not always a bad thing.
     
  8. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2010
    Messages:
    1,722
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    One husband of 15 years
    Location:
    Southeast
    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.
     
  9. Kat09Tails

    Kat09Tails *Now with Snark*

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    3,452
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    6 + finches
    Location:
    Upper Left hand corner, USA
    I went back and found an older video of someone practicing extinction and counter conditioning with a serious resource guarder that in most cases (including my home) would have been PTS. Rocky at the beginning of the video is great as a visual. The stress on that dog is pretty intense complete with teeth chattering and you can see the brain switch once a higher value reward is offered. *please do not do this without professional assistance*

    Aggressive dog training and aggression rehab tips (www.k9-1.com) - YouTube
     
  10. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Messages:
    2,269
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    several
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Home Page:
    The training program outlined in the MINE! book didn't help?
     
  11. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2010
    Messages:
    1,722
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    One husband of 15 years
    Location:
    Southeast
    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.
     
  12. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Messages:
    8,070
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Cats, Dog, Leopard Gecko, Gerbils, Fish, African C
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    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?
     
  13. mjb

    mjb New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    2,194
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    3
    Location:
    Florida
    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!!
     
  14. mjb

    mjb New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    2,194
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    3
    Location:
    Florida
    I'm sure it probably would, but she gives detailed steps to use for most any scenario except stolen items.....at least stolen food.
     
  15. mjb

    mjb New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    2,194
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    3
    Location:
    Florida
    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.
     
  16. mjb

    mjb New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    2,194
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    3
    Location:
    Florida
    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.
     
  17. mjb

    mjb New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    2,194
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    3
    Location:
    Florida
    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!!
     
  18. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Messages:
    2,269
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    several
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Home Page:
    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.
     
  19. mjb

    mjb New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    2,194
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    3
    Location:
    Florida
    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.
     
  20. Teal

    Teal ...ice road...

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2011
    Messages:
    1,497
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    A lot!!
    Location:
    Northern California
    Home Page:


    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.
     

Share This Page