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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-17-2016, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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Resource Guarding/warning growl

Hi all....

Lincoln, who is now 17 weeks, and a bit over 8pds, is doing great overall! Potty training is well on its way - he sits by the door and/or rings his bell or barks. He knows the basic commands well, and unless he's distracted, he will follow them pretty consistently. He's less hesitant with new scenarios than when we first got him, which is great, too.

What we've realized the last week or two is that he is doing what our puppy trainer said is "resource guarding" with some toys/sticks/himself if he doesn't want to be bothered or picked up. He will give a low growl (no aggressiveness/teeth showing) to warn us, which I know is important to not punish him for. The puppy class trainer said to work on respecting his boundaries when he does this, but to at the same time, help him learn to "drop it/trade" with treats so he is better comfortable with people taking things/messing with him if they need to. Funny side note is that he's fine with that when he's eating - we've always been in charge with the food bowl, making him wait until we release him to eat.

Any tips, training tips, experiences with this issue? I don't want him to become a snippy, crabby guy. Is this a common phase they go through? I think he likes being picked up less, too now.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-18-2016, 09:48 AM
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Hi all....

Lincoln, who is now 17 weeks, and a bit over 8pds, is doing great overall! Potty training is well on its way - he sits by the door and/or rings his bell or barks. He knows the basic commands well, and unless he's distracted, he will follow them pretty consistently. He's less hesitant with new scenarios than when we first got him, which is great, too.

What we've realized the last week or two is that he is doing what our puppy trainer said is "resource guarding" with some toys/sticks/himself if he doesn't want to be bothered or picked up. He will give a low growl (no aggressiveness/teeth showing) to warn us, which I know is important to not punish him for. The puppy class trainer said to work on respecting his boundaries when he does this, but to at the same time, help him learn to "drop it/trade" with treats so he is better comfortable with people taking things/messing with him if they need to. Funny side note is that he's fine with that when he's eating - we've always been in charge with the food bowl, making him wait until we release him to eat.

Any tips, training tips, experiences with this issue? I don't want him to become a snippy, crabby guy. Is this a common phase they go through? I think he likes being picked up less, too now.

Thanks!
It may be partly a phase, and is partly just personality. Kodi is more seriously resource guard-y with"treasures" (usually something he knows he shouldn't have) with people. (me... I won't let anyone else deal with that) He will "trade" for something else of high value, though, when I do need to get something away from him. In other cases, like when it's kleenex, I've just decided it's less confrontational to let him eat it. It's gross to me, but won't hurt him.

The girls don't resource guard from US at all, and never guard food. But they can be territorial with each other and with Kodi. Pixel jumped on Kodi when we were all in bed recently, and started really snarling at him. She immediately got tossed (gently) off the bed and told that wasn't acceptable. She was back on the bed in seconds, all hugs and kisses, and lay down nicely next to Kodi.

It sounds like your trainer is coaching you very well in how to handle this!


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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-18-2016, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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It may be partly a phase, and is partly just personality. Kodi is more seriously resource guard-y with"treasures" (usually something he knows he shouldn't have) with people. (me... I won't let anyone else deal with that) He will "trade" for something else of high value, though, when I do need to get something away from him. In other cases, like when it's kleenex, I've just decided it's less confrontational to let him eat it. It's gross to me, but won't hurt him.

The girls don't resource guard from US at all, and never guard food. But they can be territorial with each other and with Kodi. Pixel jumped on Kodi when we were all in bed recently, and started really snarling at him. She immediately got tossed (gently) off the bed and told that wasn't acceptable. She was back on the bed in seconds, all hugs and kisses, and lay down nicely next to Kodi.

It sounds like your trainer is coaching you very well in how to handle this!

Thanks for sharing your experiences! I know what you mean about tissues; etc. I just let him eat a tiny piece of styrofoam yesterday rather than pin him down to fish it out.

I really hope it's a phase, since it's not something he had been doing previously. I think I exacerbated things by recently going into his mouth to get things like tissues out. That, and the fact that the neighbor kids always want to pick him up, I think just annoyed him and made him feel he had to be more obvious with his boundaries.

I really hope we are able to curb the need to resource guard and growl. I hope that the drills help decrease it!
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-18-2016, 11:31 AM
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Thanks for sharing your experiences! I know what you mean about tissues; etc. I just let him eat a tiny piece of styrofoam yesterday rather than pin him down to fish it out.

I really hope it's a phase, since it's not something he had been doing previously. I think I exacerbated things by recently going into his mouth to get things like tissues out. That, and the fact that the neighbor kids always want to pick him up, I think just annoyed him and made him feel he had to be more obvious with his boundaries.

I really hope we are able to curb the need to resource guard and growl. I hope that the drills help decrease it!
I think it's REALLY important NOT to let people pick him up when he's not in the mood. You have to make it clear to neighbor kids that he isn't a toy, he's a living being with feelings of his own. Tell them if they want to play with him, they must sit on the floor, and see if Lincoln will come over on his own to play with a toy or take a treat from them. NOT to be hugged or picked up! If he wants to play, fine. If he doesn't, make it clear to the kids that the best way to make friends with him is to let him come to them when he's ready. No dog should be forced to be handled when they don't feel like it just for a human's (even a child's) entertainment.


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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-18-2016, 12:07 PM
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Resource guarding is something all dogs are capable of. It doesn't disappear on its own. A dog doesn't resource guard himself. That is simply a sensitivity to being picked up in certain situations. You have to find out what these situations are and work around them. Yes be careful outsiders are aware of this. Here are two good articles on this and how to counter condition to it.
Resource Guarding Jean Donaldson http://www.4pawsu.com/Donaldson.pdf

Details on desensitizing. http://canineconcepts.co.za/articles...urce-guarding/

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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-18-2016, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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Resource guarding is something all dogs are capable of. It doesn't disappear on its own. A dog doesn't resource guard himself. That is simply a sensitivity to being picked up in certain situations. You have to find out what these situations are and work around them. Yes be careful outsiders are aware of this. Here are two good articles on this and how to counter condition to it.
Resource Guarding Jean Donaldson http://www.4pawsu.com/Donaldson.pdf

Details on desensitizing. http://canineconcepts.co.za/articles...urce-guarding/
Thanks to both of you for the insight. When we first got Lincoln, they approached him how you suggested. But I think as time went on, and he seemed to get used to them and be friendly with them/jumping and tail-wagging, things just sort of progressed, and then maybe went too far. Even sometimes when one of us wants to pick him up, he will resource growl.

Do a lot of puppies develop this tendency? I know you said all dogs are capable of it, but I feel like I "did damage" to his easy-going personality and the work to back out of it is going to be hard.
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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-19-2016, 10:34 AM
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To my knowledgeable friends in the forum:
Is it possible that my Henry is resource guarding me? Am I the resource he is protecting? He was once a friendly puppy who liked people and other animals and was good with people touching him and playing with him.

Now, at age 6, he does the low growling thing when anyone (beside the people he trusts) tries to touch him! If they come to close he even snaps! Horrible! He does seem to pick certain people for "trust" - the mailman (strangely), and people he has grown to know over time. People tell me he is friendly when I am not around.

What is this about? Can I get him to stop growling and snapping through training or do I just have to accept that this is his personality?

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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-19-2016, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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I think it's REALLY important NOT to let people pick him up when he's not in the mood. You have to make it clear to neighbor kids that he isn't a toy, he's a living being with feelings of his own. Tell them if they want to play with him, they must sit on the floor, and see if Lincoln will come over on his own to play with a toy or take a treat from them. NOT to be hugged or picked up! If he wants to play, fine. If he doesn't, make it clear to the kids that the best way to make friends with him is to let him come to them when he's ready. No dog should be forced to be handled when they don't feel like it just for a human's (even a child's) entertainment.
Follow up question on when Lincoln growls if we try to pick him up when he doesn't want to be picked up.....

*The best plan it seems is to back off and wait/try again when he may be more ready to be picked up or cuddled


*Is there any training exercise you can recommend to help him decrease his tenseness in certain situations like this? I am working on using treats to reinforce drop it/take it/allowing me to touch or take his stick when he is into it so he doesn't associate it with negative. I wondered if there were similar exercises for touching/picking up?
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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-19-2016, 11:17 AM
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Thanks to both of you for the insight. When we first got Lincoln, they approached him how you suggested. But I think as time went on, and he seemed to get used to them and be friendly with them/jumping and tail-wagging, things just sort of progressed, and then maybe went too far. Even sometimes when one of us wants to pick him up, he will resource growl.

Do a lot of puppies develop this tendency? I know you said all dogs are capable of it, but I feel like I "did damage" to his easy-going personality and the work to back out of it is going to be hard.
As Dave said, when he growls about being picked up, it's NOT resource growling. Resource growling is to keep some "resource" (food, a prized toy, a favorite sleeping space) away from another dog or person.

He IS telling you that he doesn't really WANT to be picked up right then. Certainly not ALL puppies (dogs really) develop this tendency, and some show their displeasure in other ways. Often, a dog who doesn't want to be picked up will roll over on his back, and give what is called a "whale eye" (showing the whites of the eye) rather than growl. This is often misinterpreted as either "submissive" behavior, or that the dog wants a belly rub. What he's REALLY saying is, "I really don't WANT to be picked up right now!"

How you handle it depends on on a lot of things. It should be respected, IMO, and unless there is a good REASON to pick the dog up right then, let him be. As I said before, they aren't toys, they are creatures with their own needs and feelings. And some dogs just NEVER like being picked up.

Very young puppies rarely object to being picked up. But if they are picked up to swiftly, or in a way that makes them feel insecure about falling, they may start to object. If you HAVE to pick him up, stroke his back gently (NOT his head... Most dogs actually HATE having their heads stroked... they just put up with it because they love us) then slide one hand under his rib cage, and the other under his rear end, so he is fully supported as you lift him.

Better yet, if you don't HAVE to lift him, find a way to get him where you want him to go without lifting. That might mean luring him with food initially, then later turning that into intermittent rewards for going where you want him to go.

A "for instance" is Kodi. (again) Kodi relaxes on the bed with us in the evening, then goes to bed in his crate at lights out. He went through a period where he didn't WANT to get off the nice warm bed, where he was already asleep. (if it were only up to me, I'd let him sleep with us, but Dave has a "no dogs in bed" rule ) So he'd give this sort of grumbly growl when I picked him up to put him in his crate. He is very happy in his crate, so this wasn't that he had a problem with the crate... only that he didn't want to be moved. So we "sweetened the deal" by tossing a cookie in his crate and calling him to go to bed. His interest in food outweighed his desire not to wake up and move.

Now it has just become our evening ritual. At bed time, all three dogs are told to "go to bed", and the first one in their crate gets the first cookie. It's a fun game, and everyone is happy.

Interestingly, the two times he has stayed on the bed, not wanted to wake up and growled since we started this (years ago now) it turned out that he was ill. Once with an ear infection, once with a Rabies vaccine reaction. So if your dog growls at you in a way he's never done before, be alert to the fact that he might be in pain or not feel well. (though I don't think that's what's happening with Lincoln right now)

I don't think you've created a "big problem". But I do think you have to look at things from his point of view, and find a solution that works for both of you.


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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-19-2016, 11:22 AM
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To my knowledgeable friends in the forum:
Is it possible that my Henry is resource guarding me? Am I the resource he is protecting? He was once a friendly puppy who liked people and other animals and was good with people touching him and playing with him.

Now, at age 6, he does the low growling thing when anyone (beside the people he trusts) tries to touch him! If they come to close he even snaps! Horrible! He does seem to pick certain people for "trust" - the mailman (strangely), and people he has grown to know over time. People tell me he is friendly when I am not around.

What is this about? Can I get him to stop growling and snapping through training or do I just have to accept that this is his personality?
Yes, it's certainly possible for a dog to resource guard "his" human. But I'm not at all sure that's what's happening with Henry. I don't think a dog should have to accept being handled by someone he doesn't want to touch him. I think we need to respect that.

That said, the snapping worries me, because it could get him (and you!) in trouble, especially because, if I remember right, you live in the city? I would see if you can get a good local positive trainer to come and see what's going on in person and try to help you with it. Most snapping behavior is fear-based, and it's quite possible that a good trainer could help you help Henry to feel more comfortable around strangers. In the mean time, s/he can give you tips on how to manage Henry in ways that make HIM feel safer, and therefore keep him out of situations where he feels the need to defend himself.


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