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Resource guarding (very long and kind of sad really)

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  • Resource guarding (very long and kind of sad really)

    First, before anyone bashes me, this is not my dog. It is a shelter dog who is in the no-kill shelter I work for. We are working on options for this guy, as he's young, and cute as heck. And it's not his fault he's like he is. If he can't be fixed, he will be euthanized as he is not adoptable in his current state, and it's not fair to let him live out his life in a kennel situation. So, here goes...

    This is a six month old small hound puppy. He was found wandering the streets by a family with children. He was VERY skinny when found. They brought him home, fed him, took him to the vet and got what he needed, then brought him to us. This took about a week. In the time they had him, they only noted that he played rough. We did an initial temperment assesment, noted he wasn't very social, but he was friendly, playful, and seemed like a typical hound type puppy.

    Fast forward two weeks. Puppy has been neutered and a formal temperment assesment has been done. Come to find out this cute as heck young hound is one of the worst resource guarders I have ever seen. Currently, he is guarding toys, food, and chewies. If you give him one of the above objects, he runs with it (unless it's in a bowl). If you approach him, he gives you a split second freeze, then attacks. As in multiple bites with shaking attacks. There is no growl and no other warnings before going straight to bite.

    We have tried trading objects with him. He just keeps the first clamped in his mouth and tries to take the second. When he had a rawhide, we offered him a bowl of food with the hope that we could get the rawhide away from him. He put the rawhide in the bowl, gulped the food, and re-grabbed the rawhide. Any attempt to interfere and he went straight to biting. If you know bite levels, he is doing level four bites.

    We have had a local trainer come out to assess him. In a split second of inattention (we warned her how bad he was, don't think she completely believed us), he nailed her on the hand, bad enough that she had large lacerations that required stitches. We have contacted a veterinary behaviorist and are currently trying to get him an appointment with them. This could take weeks.

    In the meantime, any thoughts on what to do with him? My thought is to bring him home and put him on leash attached to me and start some serious training and NILIF type work. I have over 20 years of training experience, including behavior modification work. I would like to give him a shot as he is very young. However (here it comes), one of my dogs is dog aggressive. She will not tolerate me bringing home another, not without serious time and work. On top of that, I am the caretaker for my 94 year old grandfather, and there is no way I can risk him taking a bite like this little guy could inflict. No one else at the shelter has the training and behavior experience to even attempt to deal with this guy.

    So, in a shelter environment, what do we do for the little monster? Currently he is on lockdown, we are not allowing him to be handled by anyone but behavior and veterinary staff. He is not allowed toys or chewies for enrichment, nor is he getting the exercise he needs. He is not allowed yard time or volunteer walks because of the risks associated with him. He is CUTE! I mean, really, really cute. And young. So no one believes what he is doing until they see it first hand. I think that might be the biggest risk, as people are going to "pooh pooh" our warnings and get bit badly. As I am a member of both the behavior and veterinary staff, I can work with him, and I've already started to load a clicker and work on food zen. When I am there, he is not eating from a bowl, and has to work for every bite. When I'm not there, he is fed normally.

    I know I can't save them all, but it pains me to just euthanize a six month old puppy without at least giving him a shot at learning proper behavior. I do know he will never be able to go to a "normal" home, but if we can get the guarding under control, we might be able to find a place for him with people who know how to maintain this type of dog. It seems that every time I think we have an unadoptable dog, someone comes in that either doesn't mind the bad behaviors or that has dealt with it before and knows how to extinguish and train it out of them.

    Ok, enough for now. What do you experienced dog people think? Is my little hound worth saving?????

  • #2
    Is there anyone else that could foster him? I'm not sure there is really anything that can be done in a shelter environment. It could be this is behavior brought out because he is in the shelter.

    I remember watching an Animal Cops show where a rescued mastiff was very food aggressive. He was going to be put down. One of the workers (an animal cop) had mastiffs and decided to take him on. They never saw any signs of food aggression from the moment they got him home. Being in a shelter environment sometimes will bring out the worst in a dog, a side you normally wouldn't see.

    If you don't have a volunteer who will foster him, you might have no other option but to euthanize.

    Good luck.

    Comment


    • #3
      what state are you located in? I have a friend who speciallizes in this sort of behavior issues. If your shelter is close perhaps she could help.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Because of the dogs intensity in how he guards, and the fact that he has NO bite inhibition, I am fairly sure it's going to translate into a home environment. A lot of our dogs resource guard, most of them growl, or eat faster, or try to run with whatever it is they have. We work on training that out of them, but we don't worry about it too much because a lot of the time the dog doesn't act that way out of the shelter.

        This dog goes straight from happy to level 4 bite in a split second without hardly a warning. It's really kind of scary. I for one am glad he's only about 20 pounds.

        Tradewind, we are in North Florida. I would love to have someone who specializes in this kind of thing take a look at him. Just to be fair, I'm not sure how much we can spend on him though. I hate to put money into the mix, but we are a small, private shelter.

        Comment


        • #5
          Before I start, let me say I don't hold a tremendous amount of hope out. This little guy is a "gray area" dog, who has black, black strikes against him. Even if you get the RG under fair control in the shelter, it will probably regress in a home and he must go to a home that has the resources to handle him. Must. He will never be an ordinary, happy go lucky dog. If he bites anyone, ever, in his home, the shelter will be obligated to euth him. In fact, I am surprised they are even willing to try and work with him considering the level of bites.

          Ok, so on to what I would do if this dog came to me.


          Originally posted by Arrows Endure View Post
          First, before anyone bashes me, this is not my dog. It is a shelter dog who is in the no-kill shelter I work for. We are working on options for this guy, as he's young, and cute as heck. And it's not his fault he's like he is. If he can't be fixed, he will be euthanized as he is not adoptable in his current state, and it's not fair to let him live out his life in a kennel situation. So, here goes...
          just be prepared for this.

          This is a six month old small hound puppy. He was found wandering the streets by a family with children. He was VERY skinny when found. They brought him home, fed him, took him to the vet and got what he needed, then brought him to us. This took about a week. In the time they had him, they only noted that he played rough. We did an initial temperment assesment, noted he wasn't very social, but he was friendly, playful, and seemed like a typical hound type puppy.
          this is all good and at 6 months, being VERY hungry, I would think he might not be very social yet. He also might be a bit cautious from unknown past experiences.

          Fast forward two weeks. Puppy has been neutered and a formal temperment assesment has been done. Come to find out this cute as heck young hound is one of the worst resource guarders I have ever seen. Currently, he is guarding toys, food, and chewies. If you give him one of the above objects, he runs with it (unless it's in a bowl). If you approach him, he gives you a split second freeze, then attacks. As in multiple bites with shaking attacks. There is no growl and no other warnings before going straight to bite.
          red color mine. This is really bad. But, if he were at my house AND I wanted to work with him, the first thing I'd do is leave him alone. I would NOT set this dog up to fail. If he distrusts this much right now, doing anything like removing a bowl/chewy/toy in order to prove you can, is going to make him distrust more.

          1. get his morning ration of food, preferably dry, have his bowl near the chain link of his kennel and sit in a chair with a book. Randomly drop kibble through the chain link into the bowl one piece at a time. This does several things. a) this is the most important. it keeps you safe. Remember if you are injured, this dog has NO chance of surviving. Keep safety upper most in your mind at all times. b) it teaches him patience. Patience is the base for all subsequent learning. If you run out of time, pour the kibble left into his bowl and walk away. It is important that he gets at least a handful delivered by hand.


          We have tried trading objects with him. He just keeps the first clamped in his mouth and tries to take the second. When he had a rawhide, we offered him a bowl of food with the hope that we could get the rawhide away from him. He put the rawhide in the bowl, gulped the food, and re-grabbed the rawhide. Any attempt to interfere and he went straight to biting. If you know bite levels, he is doing level four bites.
          quit taking things away from him. If you give it to him, walk away for right now. Do that for at least a week before you trade and when you do trade to it this way.

          have him in a smaller area where he cannot get away but you are still on the other side of a barrier (wire crate that is too big is ideal

          give him a chewy

          take a minute to walk away and get some chicken or cheese or something worth working for.

          Come back with the Super Treat,

          ask him to come forward

          drop the treat in

          let him grab the treat and get the chewy again.

          Let him run to the back of the crate with his chewy.

          Walk away to get Super Treat, rinse lather repeat until he is no longer frantic to grab up the chewy again. End the session there.

          We have had a local trainer come out to assess him. In a split second of inattention (we warned her how bad he was, don't think she completely believed us), he nailed her on the hand, bad enough that she had large lacerations that required stitches. We have contacted a veterinary behaviorist and are currently trying to get him an appointment with them. This could take weeks.
          no, this will take months.

          In the meantime, any thoughts on what to do with him? My thought is to bring him home and put him on leash attached to me and start some serious training and NILIF type work.
          you will be able to use NO corrections with him. None. Any confrontation will elicit aggression and he's proven he will bite.

          I have over 20 years of training experience, including behavior modification work. I would like to give him a shot as he is very young. However (here it comes), one of my dogs is dog aggressive. She will not tolerate me bringing home another, not without serious time and work. On top of that, I am the caretaker for my 94 year old grandfather, and there is no way I can risk him taking a bite like this little guy could inflict. No one else at the shelter has the training and behavior experience to even attempt to deal with this guy.
          I agree, do not take him into your home.

          So, in a shelter environment, what do we do for the little monster? Currently he is on lockdown, we are not allowing him to be handled by anyone but behavior and veterinary staff. He is not allowed toys or chewies for enrichment, nor is he getting the exercise he needs. He is not allowed yard time or volunteer walks because of the risks associated with him.
          this does nothing to help, can he be allowed out where he can be herded in or follow a toy in safely?

          He is CUTE! I mean, really, really cute. And young. So no one believes what he is doing until they see it first hand.
          I think that might be the biggest risk, as people are going to "pooh pooh" our warnings and get bit badly.
          you are correct, this makes him far more dangerous


          As I am a member of both the behavior and veterinary staff, I can work with him, and I've already started to load a clicker and work on food zen. When I am there, he is not eating from a bowl, and has to work for every bite. When I'm not there, he is fed normally.
          well you can only do what you can do. This will likely teach him discrimination but you don't really have any other choice.

          Comment


          • #6
            Arrow,she is not in your area, but has an extensive background and contacts, I will call her in the am and see if I can get you a reference. Sometimes these dedicated people will do some pro bono work. I cant promise, but I can try.
            Last edited by tradewind; Aug. 15, 2012, 09:56 PM. Reason: typo

            Comment


            • #7
              Flame suit on. Why not euthanize? I understand that as animal people it is hard to let a cute young animal go but is he really worth it? With the resources it could take to try and rehab him (time, money, etc.) couldn't you help multiple dogs and ensure that those dogs went into homes where you didn't have to worry about an employee getting badly bitten?

              If you are the only person with the experience to help and you cannot take him into your home because of your other dog then what alternatives are there? Sure a trainer could donate countless hours or take him into her own home but for what end goal? A knowledgeable person could adopt him if he showed signs of improvement but they would (a) always need to be on alert (b) need to understand that they own a ticking time bomb (c) ensure that the dog will never be around children, other dogs, clueless people, etc. At only 6 months you would be asking someone to make that commitment for 10+ years at least.

              With so many unwanted dogs in the world I feel like your knowledge and resources could be better used.

              That all being said, I really admire your dedication and I am sure that this is a really hard situation. It is very easy for me to have this opinion from a distance and it would probably be much more difficult if I personally knew the dog. I wish you the best of luck with whatever decision you make.

              Comment


              • #8
                As hard as it is, I too would choose to euth this one before a bad situation gets worse. Can you easily forgive yourself if someone or another animal somehow gets badly hurt by this doggie? Even though he is young and cute, the best thing for everyone AND for your limited resources might be a loving final trip to sleep. And I am a big softy, I do not say this lightly at all.
                If you love me let me go....

                Comment


                • #9
                  I really hate to see dogs not get a chance, but a dog that has proven it will bite a human that aggressively needs to be euth'd IMO. Even if you spend months working with him and it appears to improve, how will you ever adopt him out knowing what he is capable of? Too much of a liability and far too many good dogs that need homes as well.

                  If it were dog aggression I'd say work with it, even if he were biting out of fear and it was a one time strike and he wasn't latching on, I'd say work with it...but biting a human with such aggression/intent is unacceptable.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Riley0522 View Post
                    I really hate to see dogs not get a chance, but a dog that has proven it will bite a human that aggressively needs to be euth'd IMO. Even if you spend months working with him and it appears to improve, how will you ever adopt him out knowing what he is capable of? Too much of a liability and far too many good dogs that need homes as well.

                    If it were dog aggression I'd say work with it, even if he were biting out of fear and it was a one time strike and he wasn't latching on, I'd say work with it...but biting a human with such aggression/intent is unacceptable.
                    I think he is biting out of fear.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
                      I think he is biting out of fear.
                      She said he's resource guarding and nowhere in her post does it at all mention or suggest that he's fearful of humans, just not very social.

                      When I think of fear biting, I think of dogs that bite when around strangers and cornered or in a strange situation/environment...not dogs who bite when you try to remove their toys/food. Fear biting is easier to work with because you can control a dog's situation, but a dog who guards toys and food is much more difficult....you can't just remove food from a dog's life.

                      I have a timid hound-mix who is a fear biter (never actually made contact with a person) and will attempt to bite when cornered by a stranger or when he's overwhelmed with new people in our home, but it's easily controlled by crating and just allowing him to become used to the new person and realize they are not a threat. This dog also by no means has ever latched on or gone for multiple strikes.

                      OP have you removed him from the shelter situation and assessed his behavior? If not, is that possible? Just asking because I've seen multiple dogs exhibit behaviors in shelter situations and then never exhibit them again once removed from the high-stress shelter environment.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
                        I think he is biting out of fear.
                        A dog this fearful is not a happy dog. Although threedogpack gave you excellent, and I do mean EXCELLENT advice, I would have no problem supporting you in your decision to euth if it came to that. Why? Because there are sweet dogs without these problems who need your help more.

                        Dogs do NOT know they have a life expectancy. They do not know that 'one day he'll be fine' when they get a hopeful diagnosis that will require chemo, surgery, casts, pins, pain etc. They only know the hell they're living in TODAY. We decide what we put our pets through.

                        I think I would send this puppy to the Bridge and let him be free from fear.
                        ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                        Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                        "Life is merrier with a terrier!"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Based on what you've described, I would euthanize. The lack of bite inhibition is the true problem, not the resource guarding. Yes, you might be able to train this dog out of resource guarding with a lot of work. However, unless this animal is going to live in a kennel the rest of its life, it's going to have to interact with humans in a home situation.

                          Humans make mistakes and have accidents. What happens when someone trips over the dog in the kitchen and drops a tray full of tater tots? Ideally, the dog should stand up, shake the tater tots off with a WTF expression, and move to the side while the humans pick up the spill. A lot of dogs will even help clean up the tater tots. A skittish dog will tuck tail and bolt to someplace where cookie trays aren't falling from the sky. A really skittish dog might even growl and snap in the air before fleeing. Under no circumstances should the dog actually bite the person who tripped. Based on what you've described, I wouldn't trust this dog not to freak and draw blood at what he thinks is an unprovoked attack.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Kryswyn View Post
                            A dog this fearful is not a happy dog. Although threedogpack gave you excellent, and I do mean EXCELLENT advice, I would have no problem supporting you in your decision to euth if it came to that. Why? Because there are sweet dogs without these problems who need your help more.

                            Dogs do NOT know they have a life expectancy. They do not know that 'one day he'll be fine' when they get a hopeful diagnosis that will require chemo, surgery, casts, pins, pain etc. They only know the hell they're living in TODAY. We decide what we put our pets through.

                            I think I would send this puppy to the Bridge and let him be free from fear.
                            Well said. I support euth for this dog.
                            We do not have an overpopulation of dogs, we have an under population of responsible dog owners!!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Riley0522 View Post
                              When I think of fear biting, I think of dogs that bite when around strangers and cornered or in a strange situation/environment...not dogs who bite when you try to remove their toys/food. Fear biting is easier to work with because you can control a dog's situation, but a dog who guards toys and food is much more difficult....you can't just remove food from a dog's life.
                              fear biting and RG are not exclusive. They often over lap each other. I actually think RG is easier. Fearful behaviors are more innate to the dog, RG is often a learned response. Learned responses are easier to unlearn than behaviors that are hardwired in the dog. Many fearful dogs are RG'ers due to the fear they will "lose their stuff".

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I agree that euth may be the kindest option for all. This does not sound like a dog that will be able to be trusted in a home...and if you knowingly adopt out a bad biter...well, we all know how litigious this society is, and it costs a lot to defend yourselves in court.

                                It is very hard to make these decisions, but consider this...there are cute, young puppies out there who do not resource guard or bite being euthanized in shelters because there are no homes for them, or no space in a no-kill shelter or rescue. In the time it would take to even try to rehab this one, you could take and adopt out several other dogs.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I vote for euth. A friend had a dog that bit me enough to leave welts on my wrist as a 9 month old puppy- blood hound. They had her spayed since vet thought it might be hormonal. She would resource guard in an odd sporatic way. You could pick up her dinner, you could take a rawhide out of her mouth. If you dropped a napkin that she then picked it up, don't make eye contact.
                                  Another time she was in the owner truck with other dog to go for a ride and she wouldn't let the owner in the truck.
                                  One time she was sniffing at a trash can and neighbor who would dog sit said "Dog, leave it" and the dog lunged at her.
                                  Over the years the dog got progressively worse. Finally she put a laceration on the owners hip that required 12 stitches.
                                  The problem with this do was it was only every 6 months or so but each bite escalated.

                                  I feel that if a puppy is already that willing to bite and bite hard that is that part of that puppy's core personality. I don't see how you will ever 100% train that out of him. Yes, friend's blood hound was 90 lbs and this guy is 20 lbs but he has already inflicted wounds that require stitches. He is also already way more escalated than the bloodhound was at the same age.

                                  There is another thread about dogs/cats getting out. Read all the ways a dog can accidentally get out and think about it. All it takes is one small thing going wrong and that dog is out of the house or yard. If in that short time he encounters a child or another person do you want to take the chance on whether he will or won't bite. Even years from now you will never be able to trust him.
                                  In the wrong circumstances he will always be a biter. The wrong circumstances can be he popped a screen, is in the front yard and somebody stops to help owner catch dog or pet the pretty puppy. If he feels threatened at all he will likely bite again and bite hard.

                                  Another food for thought is that the biting is the reason he was dumped not that he was dumped, was starving and became a biter.

                                  I agree with other posters about much as we want to save them all, especially young cute puppies, we can't. You will likely do better to put your resources towards other dogs that are much more adoptable. By resources I mean money & time. If you can find a foster home a tough puppy like this can burn out a foster.

                                  If a professional dog trainer didn't take you seriously about the risk this dog presents do you think Joe Q Public, or the vet tech at his yearly visit is going believe that such a cute little puppy dog is really Cujo?
                                  Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    No matter how young and cute he may be, and no matter how sad it is that his early experiences may have shaped him to be the way he is... he is a dangerous dog. He lacks bite inhibition, has demonstrated a willingness to inflict serious damage to a person, and has a trigger that could pop up at literally any time (all he has to do is decide that something is valuable to him).

                                    Yes, with a lot of hard work, time, and patience, this dog *might* be fixable to a point of being adoptable. Or you may sink a ton of effort in, only to have him seriously injure another person.

                                    Alternately, you could take that same amount of time and hard work, and rescue half a dozen perfectly friendly, wonderful dogs (they're a dime a dozen!). Dogs you can adopt out without losing sleep at night worrying that they're going to take their new owner's hands off because they try to take back a napkin he stole.

                                    A dog with no bite inhibition and a serious resource guarding problem is the canine equivalent of a horse that will flip itself over to avoid something it doesn't like.

                                    Life is too short for horses that rear or dogs that bite.

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                                    • #19
                                      In this economy, with so many dogs without these types of intensive issues losing their homes, I think the shelters limited resources would be best spent on finding more normal tempered dogs a home. Part of responsible rescue is responsible euthanasia. In this case the shelter could certainly not be faulted for doing so with this unfortunate puppy. It is sad, and not the pups fault, but he is what he is none the less. Also, since he is a known severe biter, the liability issue is huge. There is more than enough lawsuits around, and more than enough anti dog legislation.With all that being said, I am still waiting on my friend to call me back to see if someone who is truly experienced in these issues may be willing to take this dog on.

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                                      • #20
                                        Arrows -- since you work with a shelter, I presume you know about Dunbar's bite scale.

                                        From your description, this dog is a Level 4. If you were a dog trainer, and this was a client's dog, you would be fighting an uphill battle -- but if the level of commitment on the part of the owners were there, it may be worth it. This, however, is a dog without a home, and (as you probably know) the types of homes that are willing to commit to that level of behavior mod are going to be few and far between. I have one of "those dogs" in my home, but I knew what I was getting into from the get go. You can't expect that of many others.

                                        These choices suck. I very well know, I've made them myself.

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