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The dog is growling at my daughter

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  • The dog is growling at my daughter

    I need help. Our dog, who we have had since she was 4 months old and DD was 3ish, has become food and toy aggressive with our daughter.

    I have worked with her, I can take any toy, any food, anything out of this dog's mouth. She ha never shown food aggression towards me or my husband.

    This happens when our daughter is just walking near the dog and I'm not in the room. She is under strict instruction not to take things from the dog, or basically do anything with the dog when we're not watching.

    Btw this dog adores her otherwise. She taught the dog to climb the ladder and slide down the slide. My daughter is very mild mannered and doesn't tug on the dog, or otherwise taunt or tease her.

    Tonight she had a rawhide, and was upstairs. My daughter went upstairs and walked by. I heard the dog growl and I called my daughter down. We went up together and I told dog to drop it, she did, I took the rawhide. I praised her for dropping, and gee it back. Rinsed and repeated with my daughter standing with me.

    Can you help me figure this out?

  • #2
    I would personally ask your vet for a recommendation to a professional. Resource guarding is common, but when you have a child in the home you really want to be extra careful.
    Personally, I would not give high value items like rawhide to this dog. I don't know how you have addressed this behavior in the past but I would work on adding more exciting things into the food bowl or have her bring you a toy and give her something much better and then give the toy back. I would probably feed this dog in a crate to be on the safe side. Go by and add more exciting things and work up to having your daughter add more exciting things to the food from a safe distance.
    Be careful, look for positive ways to work on this, and get professional help. It is a common thing for dogs to do, but the growling is an indicator that something that you are doing isn't working well for this dog. I would suspect that maybe you have influenced taking things away too much instead of emphasizing that people close to her valued stuff will bring even better stuff, but not being there that may not be the case.


    • Original Poster

      Thanks. I have an email in to a trainer friend of mine. I definitely want to nip this in the bud, we have had have for almost 3 years now and obviously she is a family member but when it comes to my daughter, oh heck no!


      • #4
        Where does the dog sleep at night? If she sleeps in your room and your daughter has her own room, I'd start keeping the dog in a non-bedroom area at night. She may consider herself to be ranked above your daughter because she gets to sleep with the pack leaders and the kid doesn't.


        • Original Poster

          It depends. Sometimes she's with us, sometimes downstairs on her own.

          She has seperation anxiety, which is something else we are working on.

          This is the second rawhide she's ever had, I wonder if this "new" thing is too precious to her. I can't remember if it was a toy or a treat she growled before, I kind of think it was a bone that she doesn't chew, really. She more or less runs around outside with it and tosses it around and acts a fool.


          • #6
            When I first got my dog he did resource guarding to me twice. One time out of a dead sleep, so I thought I had startled him and another time I just went to walk by him (that time he had a rawhide).

            I talked to the behaviorist at my school and she had me practice drop it, but give a treat in exchange, so it wasn't like he was loosing something. He was getting something better in exchange. I only had to do a few session like this and he figured it out quick. It was odd though because I never locked his toys away from him or anything. Now of course he didn't always have a rawhide and really doesn't get them much at all. If he ever does get a rawhide, I usually do the exchange of a treat for a rawhide to reinforce not to guard "his stuff". Its been well over 9-10 months since the last offense (I have only had him for a year).

            I wonder if something happened between the two of them that you don't know of or why he feels like he must protect his toys from her.

            I agree with talking with a trainer/behaviorist for sure. You want to nip this in the bud before it escalates.

            I was very proactive with my dog since he tends to be dog agressive. I knew he had that dominant side to him. He had also lived in a kennel for 2 year before I got him so he never had anything of his own which I think lead to his behavior and had also never lived in a house etc.
            I love cats, I love every single cat....
            So anyway I am a cat lover
            And I love to run.


            • Original Poster

              Eta: my DD is now 5 and the dog is probably close to three, I think. My memory is so bad, I can't remember!


              • #8
                Originally posted by spacytracy View Post
                Eta: my DD is now 5 and the dog is probably close to three, I think. My memory is so bad, I can't remember!
                Hmm I wonder if the dog always felt dominate over your daughter when she was younger, but now that she is getting older feel threatened. Do you ever have your daughter do an basic obedience work with the dog. I wonder if you started doing this obviously under your supervision if that would help establish her as an alpha to the dog.
                I love cats, I love every single cat....
                So anyway I am a cat lover
                And I love to run.


                • #9
                  I have a very resource guarding dog, a real worry wort....In my experience the only thing that works with her is to beef her up, I feed her more, I put her in a safer place with her toys, I play with her more, I take her for more one on one walks... No amount of negative or crackdown domineering work did any good; When she gets freaky about wanting to guard things I put more abundance in her world and she sweetens right up. For my dog, it's not a dominance thing, it's a "please don't take it, I don't have enough" thing...
                  “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


                  • Original Poster

                    This dog is submissive to the bone. I mean, she is the most submissive dog I have ever seen.

                    She is high energy, and we work on that. I have some kids who come and walk her and play with her during the day (with their mom's supervision, these are older kids), and she is played with hard in the am and pm when I'm outside with the horses. She could probably use more exercise but there are just not enough hours in the day.

                    My daughter does SOME "fun" stuff with her. Like, the teaching her to climb the ladder and slide down the slide. That was accomplished because this dog wants to please us (and our daughter) that she will basically do anything she can to be near us. You can do anything with this dog. My daughter wants to do more (walk her, etc) but doggie is too strong right now. They both weigh the same. lol.

                    When my daughter has a treat she wants to give her, she knows that the dog must do "something" and she does. She knows a ton of tricks, we taught them to her when we went through Reactive class (she is happy-excited-inappropriate-reactive to other dogs). She has also been through CGC (passed everything but supervised separation) and we started Agility but with all the dogs it was a disaster, and I was just recovering from a bowel surgery so her pulling and acting like an idiot was not good for my recovering tummy.


                    • #11
                      Sounds totally like mine. High energy, very sensitive and very submissive. My chi puppy pushes her around. She's bonded with my 12 year old daughter and does anything she asks but when she's worried about food she gets freaky.

                      I am so not a dog trainer-I've learned a lot here and part of what I do with my fear resource-guarding dog I learned here. Wait until 3dogs and wendy and others show up b/c I"m not a dog trainer, but if it were me in the situation, I would put the dog in a safe zone with her chew treat where nobody will walk by or disrupt her prize and maybe give it to her on a scheduled basis where she knows what to expect. Pull her off with another treat.

                      Otherwise I bow out-I'm very happy that I've been able to manage my freaky dog and I won't pretend to know that works for us will work for another. My kids are older-10-13ish to my dog's 3 years old and home raised.
                      “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


                      • #12
                        This may seem silly but I have used this and it worked. Your dog is trying to establish the pecking order now that they weigh app the same. When you go to feed the dog . Take the bowl, in front of the dog and pretend to eat some food from it. Then hand the bowl to your daughter and have her do the same thing. then have her put the bowl down for the dog. In my experience it worked very well to explain in dog style how the pecking order works in your pack...


                        • #13
                          Hasn't the whole Alpha dog pecking order thing been debunked?


                          • #14
                            It may be but I have used it and had friends try it and it worked perfectly, so I would not dismiss it.


                            • #15
                              Hasn't the whole Alpha dog pecking order thing been debunked?
                              yes it has.

                              Resource guarding has absolutely nothing to do with "pack rank" or "alpha dog-ness". Most dogs who resource guard are anxious, fearful types, the exact opposite of the myth about the "alpha dominant dog". Confident, bold, pushy dogs are far less likely to resource guard because they don't feel they have to.

                              Resource guarding is actually a sign of fear/anxiety in the dog- the dog is afraid someone is going to take away his precious thing, he's anxious the child will take away his thing- that's why he growls. He's not anxious about YOU taking away his stuff, he's just anxious and afraid that the CHILD will do so. Why, we may never know. The child probably did something you didn't notice. Anyway, the cure is to relieve the anxiety- teach the dog that the CHILD won't come and forcibly take away his stuff.

                              Since the child is so young, and you really don't want to risk a bite, I'd suggest keeping the dog and child physically separated while the dog eats. Put the dog in a crate or another room so the dog can relax and enjoy his chews. Don't leave the chews lying around where the child can accidentally get hold of them- the dog might notice before you do and react badly.

                              And work on anti-resource guard training: you teach the dog that GOOD STUFF happens to dogs who let little kids take their stuff, and usually the dog gets the stuff back as well as having been given good stuff.
                              If the dog has a good "drop it" command, start by getting something you don't think the dog will guard, some low value toy, and ask the dog to "Drop it", then let the kid hand the dog some treats and give the toy back to the dog. Gradually work up to having the dog drop rawhide when the child says "Drop it", and the child then gives the dog really good treats and gives the rawhide back. Don't do this too much or it may make the dog more anxious that you're going to be constantly taking his belongings away- do it once, then give him the rawhide and leave him in peace to eat it.

                              Work on teaching the kid to leave the dog alone when the dog is eating, too. Give the dog some respect, and this will help ensure the dog's anxiety about the kid taking his stuff is unfounded.

                              Whatever you do, don't punish or discipline the dog for resource guarding- you can make dogs so much worse by doing that. Induce actual, real, very scary aggression. And NEVER forcibly take things away from the dog. That just teaches him that he needs to resource guard even harder.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                                Hasn't the whole Alpha dog pecking order thing been debunked?
                                Why would it be? There definitely IS ranking among most social animals, wolves included.

                                Just because one social phenomena doesn't explain everything is no reason to throw it out.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Wendy thank you!!!

                                  Going to work on this immediately.


                                  • #18
                                    Would it make sense to incorporate child into the giving of resources?

                                    Modified NILF? I know she's young, but if she were involved in feeding the dog, giving the toys, etc, would that help?
                                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by spacytracy View Post
                                      This dog is submissive to the bone. I mean, she is the most submissive dog I have ever seen.
                                      Not if she is showing aggression to your daughter.

                                      Our dog was like this to our kids when they were younger ( protecting her stuff). We had the kids many years before this dog. She never offered to bite and she never did it to my husband or myself. Now that my kids are teens she seems to like them better and her behavior is still the same but she does it in play. I would leave the dog alone and teach your daughter how to behave with the dog ( under no circumstances take something from her). It is what we did.


                                      • #20
                                        My dogs only get treats that they can eat in a few seconds. I stopped the chews and bones when they started to show this behavior toward the cats. They have never felt the need to guard their food bowls or toys. Does your dog really need a long lasting treat?
                                        My blog: Crackerdog Farm