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  1. #1
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    Apr. 1, 2008
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    Default Possession Aggression

    Cowboymom wrote that her dog is a guarder. The first thing I would do is to make the item worth less. I would not punish this. I would call the dog away from the item, ask for a sit>down>sit>treat. I would also treat any dog who stayed out of reach of the other dog. The Chi came into the room, and I would try to capture a sit at the doorway and heavily treat that, while ignoring the guarder/item. I'd probably let the dog guard the item and then go train the other dogs in another room. You want to guard a bag? Ok...but it's not going to mean anything while the other dogs are in the other room getting clicked and treated.

    And a similar story from a favorite of mine. Victoria Farrington is an outstanding trainer and a fab writer.

    Not long ago I undertook the scary endeavor (scary because I've never
    trained this many dogs before, not scary because they were APBT's--
    they're
    all sweeties) of training a whole kennel of American Pit Bull
    Terriers for a
    breeder who was overwhelmed and didn't have time. Among those 22
    dogs was
    Juliet, a return to the breeder without much explanation. Juliet
    was so
    uptight about her dinner bowl that she'd go into a full blown
    aggressive
    display if anyone neared her kennel when the EMPTY bowl was in there
    with
    her. The breeder and her son ended up feeding Juliet by dumping her
    kibble
    on the ground and she got water through one of those giant hamster
    tubes.
    But she was still dangerous because she'd get hold of "bowl like
    objects"
    including a frisbee in the general dog yard and pitch a fit. Other
    than
    this, she was a very nice dog. Which sounds silly but she was--and
    is. I
    didn't feel any nervousness about feeding her from my hand, she
    showed no
    problem with food guarding around other dogs--it was the BOWL that
    was
    making her crazy.

    I thought a lot about Gail Fisher's post to the list about people
    insisting
    that dogs allow them to handle their food bowls. From Juliet's
    responses,
    I'd imagine that she'd been punished for being defensive about her
    bowl
    until she was screaming bloody murder if anyone touched that bowl--
    so much
    so she didn't even notice she was guarding an EMPTY bowl, silly
    dear. SO I
    decided she was tense about bowls because they meant things would be
    taken
    away from her. I thought maybe I could reverse this by making bowls
    merely
    objects that meant food was coming. I have to admit I wasn't sure
    or how or
    why this might work--if it did work at all--but she was slated for
    euthanasia so I couldn't have made the problem much worse.

    So I went to the Dollar Store, bought all 6 bowls they had in stock,
    threw
    them in Juliet's kennel and outwaited the initial threats. (And
    she's very
    frightening when she's threatening, weighing about 80 pounds and
    having a
    lovely set of teeth, all of which she showed me when I took a half
    step near
    her). Because we'd been doing enough clicking and treating that she
    had the
    general idea, I started clicking every time she touched a bowl. She
    had 6
    of them and was running from one to the other, trying to protect all
    of them
    from me, so this was pretty easy! I'd click, lob a treat into her
    kennel,
    wait until she ate it and moved over another bowl, clicked and
    treated
    again--in about 15 minutes, she was running from one bowl to another
    and
    waiting. Not growling, just standing there with her head over it,
    waiting
    for the click and treat. I did this for about 4 separate sessions
    of 15
    minutes or so. The breeder and her son did this. IN fact, this is
    how
    Juliet got her dinner. WHile she had 6 bowls in there, no one could
    get
    near the door so it was necessary anyway, something I didn't think
    of when I
    threw them in there. Session 5, I showed up and she stood over a
    bowl, I
    was slow, she waited, she waited, she picked up the bowl, ran toward
    me and
    threw it at me! After three more sessions in which I simply waited
    to see
    what she'd do next, she learned to toss bowls. The next day she ran
    up to
    the door with a bowl in her mouth and was pushing it at the
    breeder's son.
    He ran to get a clicker and she stood there at the door, insisting he
    acknowledge the bowl in her mouth! What an amazing thing! When he
    returned, she dropped the bowl and let him put his hand through the
    door to
    hand her the treat. Two days later when I showed up for a lesson,
    Juliet
    was carefully dropping bowls near him. He still couldn't pick them up
    without her flashing teeth but she was learning she had to let him
    get
    closer to the bowl. I decided he was doing a great job on his own
    and just
    encouraged him. IN a week, he had Juliet so comfortable that she'd
    drop the
    bowl at his feet and wait until he picked it before she got her
    treat. She's
    still a little edgey but she's no longer a dog you'd have euthanized
    for
    this problem and they are keeping her so they aren't putting anyone
    else in
    danger who might be sloppier than they are. A success story, if a
    rather
    limited one. She continues to show no signs of being aggressive or
    defensive about things other than bowls. SHe got in my treat bag
    last week,
    there was a whole bag of dehydrated liver in there and she moved
    aside to
    let my silly puppy stick his head in there with her, then simply
    looked
    disappointed when I carefully pulled the whole bag away from both of
    them.
    (I was more worried about the puppy than that she'd go for me.)
    Every once
    in a while, she'll stand over the water bowl in the yard and warn
    people not
    to come close but she doesn't seem as convinced as she used to be
    and she
    doesn't scare the breeder's son at all when she does this.

    I imagine this has something to do with the importance of
    resources. If an
    object is less significant in resource terms than what an animal can
    get for
    giving it up, then you're on the winning side of the equation. If
    what you
    offer isn't as good, the dog still has something to guard because
    it's still
    a valuable resource. I don't know. I"m still thinking it out and
    trying to
    decide why it worked because it's been a dramatic change in her.

    Just some thoughts,

    Victoria Farrington



  2. #2
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    Jan. 25, 2009
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    1,460

    Default

    A question for you . . .

    What about dogs that are possession aggressive with other dogs?

    I don't have that issue right now. In the past I had a dog that would get snarky around food and even water with the other dog that I had at the time. It was never an issue because the other dog always backed off immediately. It was never something that particular dog did with people - just her housemate. She was not necessarily always the boss with the other dog. I'm always eager to learn about how to handle situations and from the other post, it seemed like a big part of the problem was possessive aggression with other dogs, and I was wondering how that is addressed - especially when neither dog will back down.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2007
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    5,454

    Default

    HEY! Of course... this is all such a mind game, I wish I had figured this out for myself... She does get all tied in a knot protecting something that nobody else even cares about and really won't even affect her b/c I won't just open the bag and give it to her! LOL She's always gotten scolded and removed, now I have something else I can do...

    This dog is very responsive to all our training-I hope this helps her a lot, she hates to be in trouble but we hate to have all our cats and dogs getting slobbered on!

    Thanks 3 dogs!



  4. #4
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    Oct. 16, 2006
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    835

    Default

    So what about when you "the human" are the resource they like to guard?

    I have a dog (rescue, mixed breed, 2 years?, 54lbs, black lab cross maybe) that is pretty dog friendly, relaxed and easy going in general.

    If I am giving affection to her or if she is sitting in front of me she can get snippy with other dogs. She obviously is not happy when I am giving her a treat for a good behavior such as responding to "come" and another dog comes up to us.

    She is not protecting me. I had a GSD mix who was protective - sat between me and the door, had a "perimeter", etc - this is totally different.

    I have not seen her resource guard toys, her bowl, her bed or anything else. My boyfriend has two very laid back labs who are around frequently and I've had the opportunity to see what she guards and what she doesn't.

    Human affection seems to be the most significant. Not just mine either as anybody who is petting her becomes a reason to make a face at another dog if they get too close.



  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Casey09 View Post
    A question for you . . .

    What about dogs that are possession aggressive with other dogs?
    it doesn't matter WHO the possessor is aggressing to, it matters how valuable the object or item is.

    I don't have that issue right now. In the past I had a dog that would get snarky around food and even water with the other dog that I had at the time. It was never an issue because the other dog always backed off immediately. It was never something that particular dog did with people - just her housemate. She was not necessarily always the boss with the other dog.
    it's not about who is boss, it's about who thinks they have something valuable. I am not particularly attracted to raw bones or dead song bird carcasses. So the value level for those where I am concerned is very, very low. However, the dogs around here think those things are a hill they are willing to die on.

    See what I am getting at, what is valuable is decided by the animal willing to guard it and because of that, it isn't dominance. It's ownership. What you have to do is make other things more valuable and the item they have a problem with less valuable.

    I'm always eager to learn about how to handle situations and from the other post, it seemed like a big part of the problem was possessive aggression with other dogs, and I was wondering how that is addressed - especially when neither dog will back down.
    if I have two dogs who are willing to be ugly over the same thing(s), I start by addressing one of the dogs and change the value of that thing. Time spent with me is far more valuable than let's say, an empty kibble bag that smells like kibble but is actually empty. Guard that all you want Fido, I'm over here training Young Dog to ignore you and that stupid empty bag.

    I'm making time with me more valuable than the empty bag.



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by west5 View Post
    So what about when you "the human" are the resource they like to guard?
    you remove yourself if the guarder is being ugly. The only way I will stay is if the dog is nice.

    I have a dog (rescue, mixed breed, 2 years?, 54lbs, black lab cross maybe) that is pretty dog friendly, relaxed and easy going in general.

    If I am giving affection to her or if she is sitting in front of me she can get snippy with other dogs. She obviously is not happy when I am giving her a treat for a good behavior such as responding to "come" and another dog comes up to us.
    I'd move and c/t the other dog for something simple like a sit, nearby but out of reach.

    OR (depending on the dog this might be more effective), I'd remove the other dog from my presence. Crates are good for that.

    At the moment I've got 2 bitches who hate each other. The smaller, younger bitch sleeps with DD up in her bedroom. The older, larger bitch will hear them stir around and wait at the end of the steps. This was a situ just brewing for a major fight. I don't like fights, so I first taught the older dog to fly to her crate from across the room and sit there. Then I had DD begin to send Older Dog to the crate as she came down the stairs, and now, as soon as Older Dog sees DD, she flies to the crate and waits there with the door open.
    So you could teach your dog that every time she gets snarky, she is removed to a crate. No punishment, just gets to go to her crate. She should 1) begin to anticipate what will happen and 2) remove herself if she gets snarky.

    I have not seen her resource guard toys, her bowl, her bed or anything else. My boyfriend has two very laid back labs who are around frequently and I've had the opportunity to see what she guards and what she doesn't.

    Human affection seems to be the most significant. Not just mine either as anybody who is petting her becomes a reason to make a face at another dog if they get too close.
    right now faces = drive dog away. What happens after the = needs to change.
    Last edited by threedogpack; Apr. 9, 2013 at 11:00 PM.



  7. #7
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    Oct. 16, 2006
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    Thanks! She is new to my life so overall things are going pretty well.

    I am on the right track then inside the house. If she does it in the house to the labs I discontinue affection, usually remove myself and she gets the cold shoulder while the labs get attention. I can put her in a reasonable down stay so it works.

    Outside it isn't so easy, public park - huge area but a fair amount of dogs and I do want to reward her for recall success - but I guess I can just practice at home and maybe it will start to carry over.

    Can you explain why there is no "discipline" for this behavior?
    My boyfriend likes to say "no".
    I need an explanation to tell him why not to do this
    I've always just done the remove myself because it made sense to me not because I had a "reason" so to speak.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by west5 View Post
    Thanks! She is new to my life so overall things are going pretty well.

    I am on the right track then inside the house. If she does it in the house to the labs I discontinue affection, usually remove myself and she gets the cold shoulder while the labs get attention. I can put her in a reasonable down stay so it works.

    Outside it isn't so easy, public park - huge area but a fair amount of dogs and I do want to reward her for recall success - but I guess I can just practice at home and maybe it will start to carry over.
    if you step away AND recall outside, she will begin to watch for you to get up and move. Remember you can't control other dogs, only your own.

    Can you explain why there is no "discipline" for this behavior?
    My boyfriend likes to say "no".
    I need an explanation to tell him why not to do this
    I've always just done the remove myself because it made sense to me not because I had a "reason" so to speak.
    several reasons. First it leaves a vacuum, if you don't want snarky behavior, you must replace it with something else. Second, if you read the original post which contains the story of Juliet, the owners (not breeders) punished her for guarding bowls. It did not make the guarding go away, it increased her anxiety to the point of nearly euthing her. I do not want my dogs anxious, I want them to replace the ugly faces and guarding with something better or different. "no" does not tell her what to do, it only takes away.



  9. #9
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    Thank you for the explanation. It will come in handy for the discussion that will occur when he gets back from his business trip.

    I really appreciate your advice and enjoy reading your posts even when they address issues I am not having.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by west5 View Post
    Thank you for the explanation. It will come in handy for the discussion that will occur when he gets back from his business trip.

    I really appreciate your advice and enjoy reading your posts even when they address issues I am not having.
    you are very welcome. I hope some of what I post is useful.



  11. #11
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    I noticed that when we punished our freaky dog it did escalate the behavior. I think that's why she looks so anxious as she's guarding, she knows we don't like it but she can't help it. It never stopped her or even slowed her down; flat out didn't work.

    I'm glad I save the old dog and cat food bags (they are good for holding used kitty litter) so I will set those up around the house and next time we buy some food we'll stage a situation for her.



  12. #12
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    We did this when we added the second dog. 1st dog had only been with us for three months but he claimed me as his. The 2 dogs got along great, but #1 Dog did not want me sharing affection with Dog#2 and would warn Dog #2 away with a snap. He learned quickly that snapping/nipping/nasty faces meant any affection he was getting stopped immediately. Allowing Dog #2 to come in for a few pats and some love meant the affection continued plus we got a tasty tidbit. After all, I do have two hands.
    Simon still tries to chase Lance off sometimes so he can have all the love for himself, but he doesn't snap or threaten, just body blocks Lance. When he does that he gets a little reminder about how it's supposed to work. All it takes is for me to immediately stop scratching his butt/rubbing his ears and leave him. He gets it.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mara View Post
    We did this when we added the second dog. 1st dog had only been with us for three months but he claimed me as his. The 2 dogs got along great, but #1 Dog did not want me sharing affection with Dog#2 and would warn Dog #2 away with a snap. He learned quickly that snapping/nipping/nasty faces meant any affection he was getting stopped immediately. Allowing Dog #2 to come in for a few pats and some love meant the affection continued plus we got a tasty tidbit. After all, I do have two hands.
    Simon still tries to chase Lance off sometimes so he can have all the love for himself, but he doesn't snap or threaten, just body blocks Lance. When he does that he gets a little reminder about how it's supposed to work. All it takes is for me to immediately stop scratching his butt/rubbing his ears and leave him. He gets it.
    Your reminder is to quit scratching him?



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowboymom View Post
    I'm glad I save the old dog and cat food bags (they are good for holding used kitty litter) so I will set those up around the house and next time we buy some food we'll stage a situation for her.
    if you want them to keep their smell, roll the tops over immediately after you empty them. Empty pizza boxes also work well.



  15. #15
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    I think cramming them in a heap behind the dog food bin has accomplished smell preservation! Thanks for the idea though.

    She's easy to set up-yesterday morning I made sourdough pancakes for the family and then made puppy dog pancakes out of the leftovers and fed them out from the corner by the stove. This morning she ran to the stove and won't let any other dogs come over there! LOL I didn't do breakfast this morning so she's guarding a completely worthless resource as far as the rest of us are concerned...

    She's a goof, a high-maintenance goof!

    This is the look on her face as she sits by the stove...

    http://s7.photobucket.com/user/steel...tml?sort=2&o=3



  16. #16
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    Not quite that easy - I stop scratching, then get up and walk away from him!



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mara View Post
    We did this when we added the second dog. 1st dog had only been with us for three months but he claimed me as his. The 2 dogs got along great, but #1 Dog did not want me sharing affection with Dog#2 and would warn Dog #2 away with a snap. He learned quickly that snapping/nipping/nasty faces meant any affection he was getting stopped immediately. Allowing Dog #2 to come in for a few pats and some love meant the affection continued plus we got a tasty tidbit. After all, I do have two hands.
    Simon still tries to chase Lance off sometimes so he can have all the love for himself, but he doesn't snap or threaten, just body blocks Lance. When he does that he gets a little reminder about how it's supposed to work. All it takes is for me to immediately stop scratching his butt/rubbing his ears and leave him. He gets it.
    Quote Originally Posted by threedogpack View Post
    Your reminder is to quit scratching him?
    He's smart, but it's not quite that simple! I stop scratching and THEN get up and walk away from him.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mara View Post
    He's smart, but it's not quite that simple! I stop scratching and THEN get up and walk away from him.
    ok, that makes more sense to me.

    But I bet you can back it up to just a look and quit scratching eventually!



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