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  1. #1
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    Default Resource guarding and dog agression - WTD?

    I have a 5 year old mix (Bad Dog or BD) that was neutered when I got him at 2 years of age. He came from a home with three other dogs so it never crossed my mind that he would be aggressive with other dogs.

    So far he has shown resource guarding which I could probably prevent 95% of the time, but he also went after another dog in the dog park (the first sign of trouble I saw) and my other dog (OD) in the yard. I couldn't in either case make out the trigger to his behaviour.

    I booked a one on one session with a nearby trainer with a good reputation. I assumed I'd be going to private sessions and working intensively with her, but she doesn't think that is necessary. Of course, during our session BD was nothing but train-able and well behaved even with food and another dog nearby. She feels that I simply need to assert my dominance more often with him and this behaviour will disappear. She doesn't feel I need to remove all toys/triggers to the resource guarding. I'm not sure...

    I've been working on his obedience and it has seemed to help. Until last night when I stupidly left the garbage out and something happened. I could hear the dogs fighting, then OD whimpering, and they were apart by the time I got to the room. To be fair to OD, should I be cage muzzling or crating BD when I am not home?

    Dog trainer's next obedience classes begin in Sept and I will attend those but I feel I am not doing enough to keep OD safe.

    Any and all advice welcome - please! I'm already removing BD when food or treats are around and I've picked up all dog toys. The trainer didn't think this was necessary but I do. His reaction can be so swift and surprising that I feel OD is at risk if I don't. Also working on his basic obedience to get him more responsive.



  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alice View Post
    I have a 5 year old mix (Bad Dog or BD) that was neutered when I got him at 2 years of age. He came from a home with three other dogs so it never crossed my mind that he would be aggressive with other dogs.

    So far he has shown resource guarding which I could probably prevent 95% of the time, but he also went after another dog in the dog park (the first sign of trouble I saw) and my other dog (OD) in the yard. I couldn't in either case make out the trigger to his behaviour.
    if you don't know the trigger how can you address the problem?

    I booked a one on one session with a nearby trainer with a good reputation. I assumed I'd be going to private sessions and working intensively with her, but she doesn't think that is necessary. Of course, during our session BD was nothing but train-able and well behaved even with food and another dog nearby.
    I am not surprised, lots of RG is situational. Ie: at home, over food or only great food, over a special toy or during high arousal times (like the dog park you mentioned).


    She feels that I simply need to assert my dominance more often with him and this behaviour will disappear. She doesn't feel I need to remove all toys/triggers to the resource guarding. I'm not sure...
    I think I've made it pretty clear in previous posts how I feel about human/dog heirarchy or dominance issues. I just don't go there.

    I think until you have this better under control and the dog doesn't make so many poor decisions, it's a safety factor to pick up those things that might be a trigger. You've had this dog for 3 years and are just now seeing this behavior?

    I've been working on his obedience and it has seemed to help. Until last night when I stupidly left the garbage out and something happened. I could hear the dogs fighting, then OD whimpering, and they were apart by the time I got to the room. To be fair to OD, should I be cage muzzling or crating BD when I am not home?
    I would crate the BD for sure. RGing dogs can amp it up to the point the fights are deadly.

    Dog trainer's next obedience classes begin in Sept and I will attend those but I feel I am not doing enough to keep OD safe.

    Any and all advice welcome - please! I'm already removing BD when food or treats are around and I've picked up all dog toys. The trainer didn't think this was necessary but I do. His reaction can be so swift and surprising that I feel OD is at risk if I don't. Also working on his basic obedience to get him more responsive.
    you need to change the meaning of treats/toys/triggers. You also need to instill some self control behaviors in BD.



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by threedogpack View Post
    if you don't know the trigger how can you address the problem?



    I am not surprised, lots of RG is situational. Ie: at home, over food or only great food, over a special toy or during high arousal times (like the dog park you mentioned).




    I think I've made it pretty clear in previous posts how I feel about human/dog heirarchy or dominance issues. I just don't go there.

    I think until you have this better under control and the dog doesn't make so many poor decisions, it's a safety factor to pick up those things that might be a trigger. You've had this dog for 3 years and are just now seeing this behavior?

    Actually, yes. The episodes are so infrequent and usually I haven't been around to see them with my own eyes. I now think it has happened in the past but as I'd never seen anything happen before I just didn't know. The two dogs have been fed side by side (and given treats) for years with no issues.


    Quote Originally Posted by threedogpack View Post
    I would crate the BD for sure. RGing dogs can amp it up to the point the fights are deadly.



    you need to change the meaning of treats/toys/triggers. You also need to instill some self control behaviors in BD.
    Thank you for taking the time to respond. I will crate BD and continue with Obedience lessons, at the least they are making him better trained and that is a good thing.



  4. #4
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    if the behavior is infrequent, what is the trigger?



  5. #5
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    Wow, do I hate labels.

    It doesn't sound like your dog has any of those problems, though I know that this is not what you want to hear.
    Resource guarding is an ALWAYS thing, not an every-once-in-a-while-while-mom-is-out-of-the-room thing. It means, anyone who approaches Rover's <whatever> is taking life and limb in hand. Not, Dog A growled at Dog B when Dog B took his bone. I love my kid, but I'm hardly "resource guarding" when I yell if little fingers dive into my plate or snatch something out of my hands.

    And every little scuffle is not dog aggression. Just like I just had an argument with my cousin, but I am not "people aggressive" or someone likely to commit a violent crime.
    If there is no blood, they were just disagreeing. No two creatures can live in the same place forever and never disagree. Dog communication is lightening fast, and very clear (to the dogs) You would not have owned this dog for 3 years without bloodshed if he was dog aggressive, and you would not be able to go to the dog park at all. There was a trigger, you just didn't see it, and again, if they meant it, there would be blood.

    You are paying a trainer. Presumably because you trust her professional opinion, and not just because it seemed like more fun then just burning the money.
    Please listen to her. If you have a question, call her up and ask it, and don't just listen to any-old-person on line. Call her, talk to her, do what she says, let us know in 3 months how it's working out. If you don't trust her enough to give her 3 months, pay someone else, and listen to them.

    Sorry if this sounds like a rant. Just, having worked with problem dogs and horses, it kills me when someone PAYS me to tell them what to do, and I tell them a million times that I am a phone call away, tell them exactly what to do, then next time I come out it's worse because they did the opposite of what I said, because Uncle Frank said different.



  6. #6
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    Are you sure he's not in pain? A friend's dog started having all types of aggression issues when he developed hip dysplasia. I think arthritis changes, or other conditions could make a dog pain sensitive too, and cause retaliation. Or is your other dog aging and not the pack leader or something like that? It might be that the pecking order is changing, and there is competition where there used to be clearer roles.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riverotter View Post
    Wow, do I hate labels.

    It doesn't sound like your dog has any of those problems, though I know that this is not what you want to hear.
    Resource guarding is an ALWAYS thing, not an every-once-in-a-while-while-mom-is-out-of-the-room thing. It means, anyone who approaches Rover's <whatever> is taking life and limb in hand. Not, Dog A growled at Dog B when Dog B took his bone. I love my kid, but I'm hardly "resource guarding" when I yell if little fingers dive into my plate or snatch something out of my hands.

    I've been thinking about this. I'm not sure it's true. I think some dogs exhibit RG'ing in response to other stressors or when the pressure cooker of life builds up to the point of no return.

    I've got a RG at my house, but she doesn't .always. hover. She only does that when it's a person or item that is valuable AND when she's had to tolerate a lot from another dog she's fearful of. When circumstances are such that she doesn't get a break from the pressure of the other dog, the RG will surface and she will become less likely to eat her food and hover over it.

    And every little scuffle is not dog aggression. Just like I just had an argument with my cousin, but I am not "people aggressive" or someone likely to commit a violent crime.
    If there is no blood, they were just disagreeing.
    I really disagree with this statement. I've got a very strong minded dog at my house right now. When she takes someone to task over something, there may be no blood, but she won't let go. She's deadly serious about what she's doing and she .means. it. If the dog she's holding gets away, she's liable to grab it again (and hold, not thrash or puncture), anywhere she's able. If that happens to be on the top of the neck, there probably will not be blood. If it happens to be a leg, there will be. Blood vs no blood does not mean it's not serious.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanM View Post
    Are you sure he's not in pain? A friend's dog started having all types of aggression issues when he developed hip dysplasia. I think arthritis changes, or other conditions could make a dog pain sensitive too, and cause retaliation. Or is your other dog aging and not the pack leader or something like that? It might be that the pecking order is changing, and there is competition where there used to be clearer roles.
    Agree with this. Our old ACD mix has become much more grumpy and intolerant of other dogs in her space since her arthritis has really kicked into high gear. Other dogs don't even have to touch her, just the anticipation of pain when one gets too close is enough to cause a pretty intimidating reaction.

    That said, does your dog actually bite? ACD puts on a BIG show, it sounds horrible, she's pinned my young BC mix to the floor, teeth in her face, but she never actually bites. Last year a neighbor's JRT got loose, came in our yard, jumped on her back and sunk his teeth into her, drawing blood...she growled and snarled and sounded like she was going to kill him, but she didn't actually put a tooth on him. Scared the crap out of the little bastard, though, good. Though, you do never know when a dog will be pushed over the edge and resort to really going for it, so I do try to keep other dogs away from her. BC mix has learned her lesson, so there is peace in the house, ACD growls at her and BC mix puts 30 feet between the two of them.



  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    First, sorry for the thread drift OP

    Quote Originally Posted by threedogpack View Post
    I've been thinking about this. I'm not sure it's true. I think some dogs exhibit RG'ing in response to other stressors or when the pressure cooker of life builds up to the point of no return.

    I've got a RG at my house, but she doesn't .always. hover. She only does that when it's a person or item that is valuable AND when she's had to tolerate a lot from another dog she's fearful of. When circumstances are such that she doesn't get a break from the pressure of the other dog, the RG will surface and she will become less likely to eat her food and hover over it.



    I really disagree with this statement. I've got a very strong minded dog at my house right now. When she takes someone to task over something, there may be no blood, but she won't let go. She's deadly serious about what she's doing and she .means. it. If the dog she's holding gets away, she's liable to grab it again (and hold, not thrash or puncture), anywhere she's able. If that happens to be on the top of the neck, there probably will not be blood. If it happens to be a leg, there will be. Blood vs no blood does not mean it's not serious.
    Well, see, that's why I hate labels. The labels being used describe aberrant behavior. You're not describing aberrant behavior. What you're describing are isolated situations in which we can predict that this animal is stressed to the point where it reacts.
    If a big, scary person came up to you and punched you in the face and took your lunch, you'd react with fear and aggression. This does not make you a "fear aggressive" person.

    But when it happens to a dog, that's the label we stick on them. And they really don't deserve the label. A real fear aggressive dog is one who's stuck in the "fight" of "fight or flight" mode panic, and is unable to function normally.

    Ok, perhaps you're right, perhaps I should have used the word "damage" instead of blood. But the fact remains that dogs are born with deadly weapons and spend their entire lives honing their use. If a dog wants to hurt something, it hurts it. Please know that 99.9% of the time, a dog inflicts EXACTLY the amount of damage that it meant to. There is no "Oh that was really close!" unless you had to beat and drag one dog off another.
    If there was some growling and you come into the room and one dog is here and one dog is there, that is EXACTLY what they meant to have happen.

    I can tell you this from sad experience, having worked with on a professional level, and owned many dogs (currently 6). I am far, far more a dog professional then I am a horse professional, though I've made my living working with each.

    Dogs can be very physical. It's how they talk. To take an example from my pack. D is hard on pups, and once "scolded" a pup far too harshly. Pup lay down and screamed bloody murder. Dogs R and S, seeing that D was being his usual too strict self, went to go and tell him to stop. Dog R reached D first, and instead of backing down, D told R where he could stuff it. R is at least 2x the size of D, and picked him up and threw him. Literally. And when D still told him where he could stuff it, S nipped him and R went and held him down till he could mind his manners.
    It was hugely loud, and I'm sure looked like they were all killing each other.
    Not one had a single mark or bruise.
    If R had wanted too, he could have killed D, and if D had wanted too, he could have killed Pup. No question about that at all.
    But they didn't want to, they had something to say to each other, and they said it, loudly and physically, because they don't speak English. Healthy pack members don't damage other healthy pack members.

    Which brings me back to the OP; I could hear the dogs fighting, then OD whimpering, and they were apart by the time I got to the room. To be fair to OD, should I be cage muzzling or crating BD when I am not home?

    Neither dog was hurt, this sounds like a perfectly normal interaction. Whimpering is usually frustration or appeasement. Just keep the trash up.
    Crate if you want to, but please don't muzzle! There is no need for it, and the dog will freak, and start acting weird. It will not solve anything, you'll just be creating a problem.
    And please think of all the ways that muzzling a dog and then leaving is cruel. So very many ways he could get hurt there I don't even want to count them.



  11. #11
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    I kinda feel like I have to lay low since I posted a thread asking for training help that has a very simple, seemingly obvious solution.

    That's my confession/grain of salt.

    I have a 2-dog household. One is an intact breeding dog from a kennel environment at 7yo who sneered in their first neutral-location-meeting. The other is a 9yo fun police pound hound with street dog style (ie RG). Now they share small living quarters and precious resources.

    Yes, crate or separate when unsupervised even if you are just going to the mailbox or taking a leak. Less inconvenient than a trip to the E-vet.

    I disagree that is it normal for dogs in the same household to scuffle. The only disagreements I see are raised lips and when that happens the resource is unceremoniously removed. Therefore the raised lip rarely appears anymore. My pets don't make the rules or decisions amongst themselves. I do. I'm happy to take that away from their co-existence.

    Sure my dogs communicate (constantly! body, location, eyes, ears, tail: it is amazing when you pay attention) but they don't argue and it's my job to render any strategizing useless.

    OP, it's your job to keep your animals safe. Please disregard advice indicating dogs work it out themselves. We armchair trainers don't know exactly what is going on. Better be safe than sorry. And drop the Bad Dog moniker .



  12. #12
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    I really don't understand the issue from your OP- dogs DO talk to each other, and sometimes it comes across as "aggression" to us humans when it really isn't. A growl, a snarl, even one of those "yelling matches" where two dogs spend 10 seconds flashing teeth and shrieking at each other isn't aggression, it's just loud communication.
    Not that such things are good, but they aren't aggression, just talking. Often the dog we blame for starting the yelling match isn't even the instigator- the other dog was unbearably rude, and yet the dog that snapped and told him off is the one we are likely to blame for causing the problem when it wasn't. Or the dog that snapped at the other dog over the food wasn't the one that started the problem- the other dog made threatening gestures in an effort to get the food, and the snapping dog was just responding to this. Often we "get it wrong" when we try to figure out which dog started it. Go around punishing the wrong dog and you can make the problem worse, much worse.

    She feels that I simply need to assert my dominance more often with him and this behaviour will disappear.
    if it's dog-dog aggression, how can a human asserting "dominance" affect the problem? it can't. I'd look for another trainer, one who actually understands dog behavior instead of throwing around old-fashioned terms like "dominance".
    When people start trying to assert "dominance" over dogs it usually leads to trouble- several studies have shown that trying to establish "dominance" over your dog actually causes your dog to become more aggressive. These studies demonstrate that if you take steps to establish your "dominance" over your dog, your dog is much more likely to bite a human (most commonly a member of your family, or a close friend), and much more likely to exhibit severe behavioral problems including resource guarding and aggression.

    Proven methods to cure resource guarding all involve trust-building exercises, not "dominance" building exercises. They are based on teaching dogs that they have no need to guard stuff from others. With dog-dog resource guarding, it's best to just remove the triggers- keep the toys put away, feed the dogs in crates, etc. so there is no need for any dog to guard stuff from the other dogs.

    It sounds silly, but if you have a bunch of dogs, your best bet towards keeping the peace is to encourage peace.
    If you go around punishing and yelling and man-handling the dogs, as is commonly done by people trying to assert their "dominance", you a) increase stress in ALL the dogs, which can lead to aggression, and b) are teaching by example that aggression is allowed and encouraged in your home.
    If you instead are calm, quiet, and gentle, while simultaneously being very clear in your communications and very consistent in your rules and expectations, your dogs respond accordingly.

    That said, I believe that people have very little ability to actually affect dog-dog relationships. If dog A hates dog B, you can't change this dynamic. You can manage the dogs behaviors so they are less likely to hurt each other, but you can't make dog A like dog B, and you can "dominant" dog A until dog A cowers and pees whenever you glance at him, but he'll still hate dog B and act accordingly when you aren't looking.
    And expecting dog A to share his favorite toy with dog B is likely to not work out too well, and expecting dog A to let dog B share his food isn't going to go over well either. They are kind of like amoral toddlers- sharing is a foreign concept.



  13. #13
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    Riverotter, I don't want to hijack the OP's post. If you want to discuss it further, we can, but start a new thread. I'll respond there.



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