7 month old puppy possessive aggression

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7 month old puppy possessive aggression

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Old 02-18-2019, 09:05 PM
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7 month old puppy possessive aggression

Hi there! I have a 7 month old golden retriever black lab mix (which is what they said when I got him, but I swear he is mixed with something evil!) he is an absolute angel in every other situation, but once he “finds” something he wants to keep, he gets extremely aggressive and tries to bite me. This is only when he finds something on his own like a dryer sheet or hidden sock somewhere. He knows to drop his toys on command, but of course when it’s something potentially dangerous, he growls and will try to bite me if I go near him to take it away. I’ve tried positive reinforcement with treats and other toys to give him, but absolutely nothing works! I’ve asked two different vets, three dog trainers, and countless other dog owners and everyone just says “you need to assert your dominance more.” BUT HOW?! Without being super aggressive back to him. He moves as fast as a cheetah when he knows I’m going to take something away from him and super aggressively jumps and growls and tries to bite me every time. I want to stop this before he gets any older because I’m nervous he’s going to become aggressive with other people I may leave him with. ANNNNNNY suggestions are greatly appreciated!
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Old 02-19-2019, 02:31 AM
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Have you tried "trading" a high value treats, something he really loves, with him to get the object back? My dog loves bacon treats, and steak. Either of those he'll do absolutely anything for. He'd definitely rather have that than a sock.

Keep trying to find a trainer as this can be very dangerous. Otherwise, I'd keep him in a room or gated area with absolutely no access to any area of the house he could get to anything you don't want.

When he's out of that area I'd keep a muzzle on him so he can't pick up anything. Do this as management while you work daily on his skills on the commands drop it and leave it while you're looking for a trainer.
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Old 02-19-2019, 06:21 AM
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Find a behaviorist. It can be a long road. Tell everyone in contact with your dog not to try to get something from him. I would definitely trade up with something of high value to get the object back, and use those to teach 'drop it' too.

We had to give a dog away (to someone with experience) because he had the same issue and he tried to bite our toddler. We worked a lot with him beforehand, but we never got him to drop an item without treats, unfortunately, and I just wasn't going to take the risk with 1yo kids in the house.
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Old 02-19-2019, 04:26 PM
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Do NOT use force or dominance for resource guarding dogs!!

Originally Posted by FinneganLasagna View Post
everyone just says “you need to assert your dominance more.”

.... when he knows I’m going to take something away from him and super aggressively jumps and growls and tries to bite me every time..
NO!!!!! Don't listen to these people if you really want to help him--- and thus stop the aggressive RG.(resource guarding)

Pleeeeeze.... don't use force or dominance or anything else that will make him worry even more about his "treasure" being taken from him at this point!

I know it seems that may be the right thing to do, because we sure don't want him RG (resource guarding) anything, but it is actually counter productive to use force or show him you are mad at him..only to make him worry more about losing his prize!

Which as you are seeing will increase his aggressive behaviors as he feels he has to step it up to get his message across. Sigh. Very frustrating and scary behavior, right?

My next post here will have some good info for you that may help you guys.
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Old 02-19-2019, 04:30 PM
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Good helpful info on stopping resource guarding in dogs!

Here is some info on resource guarding in dogs that may help you and your dog:

From one of my prior posts here:

I have a RG-(resource guarder) at home. I constantly am teaching her (conditioning her brain) that me coming near her valued resource (toy, bone, whatever) brings her even BETTER things.

Resource guarding dogs are genuinely worried about losing their valuable resource whether it is food, toys, bones, human's lap, or anything else. If you end up yelling at them for growling at you, or trying to punish them for this behavior, it will generally make the whole situation worse. It sounds like kinda weird logic, but that is generally true.

To explain the theory, I like to think about it like this. Pup steals your sock. You see it and get mad at pup and yell "Heeyyy, give that back to me, you BAD dog!!" So--- now your dog is worried about losing his treasured possession AND worried about getting you ultra mad. Jut intensifies the stress and situation for the dog. Basically teaches the dog that she/he was right to be concerned over losing his treasure!

Same for human laps. Say the dog, is in the cherished lap of beloved person. Another person (or dog) comes near and the dog on lap freaks out and starts growling and barking or snarling etc. RG ing the lap. By yelling at the dog or telling it to stop in harsh way, we are doing the same as above. Making the dog more worried about losing the valuable lap.

I find it is best to re-wire the dog's brain and make the dog think hmmm, someone is coming closer to my treasure, gooood things will happen. So now no need to worry and resource guard anymore. No threat perceived= no RG behavior.

Patricia Mcconnell
has great info online for free about RG and how to treat it!

Excerpt from
Resource Guarding: Treatment and Prevention

TREATMENT FOR INTERSPECIFIC GUARDING: I’m going to talk here about resource guarding between dogs and people. Treating it between two dogs uses the same basic principles, but requires enough alterations in technique to deserve its own article.

That said, the most effective technique for stopping a dog from guarding resources from human intervention is to change your dog’s internal response to anothers attempt to possess their “treasure.

That is why you are best off using Desensitizing and Classical Conditioning to teach your dog to love it when you approach and reach toward an object.

In other words, in this case you are not training your dog to respond to a cue, but conditioning an internal response to someone approaching something that they cherish.


Last edited by AthenaLove; 02-19-2019 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 02-19-2019, 04:41 PM
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Resource guarding ---more help to stop the RG aggressive behavior

More on Resource guarding...

From one of my prior posts:

You can definitely help Finn with his resource guarding. My little 3 month old rescue puppy, Puma, came to us with some not so hot resource guarding issues. We have been together about 1 1/2 months and made huge progress in this area.

The good news-- Finn is giving you warnings about him feeling uncomfortable by his snapping and growling. Please make sure to never punish or yell at him for growling, otherwise you could end up with way worse problems. A dog who has been punished for growling can easily end up going straight for the bite. He learns he cannot safely tell you how is feeling (afraid or stressed) and his only method to cope is to lash out and deliver a bite to get the stress to stop.

Sometimes it can be hard for us to restrain from not being instantly offended when they growl at us, but if you look at it that he is actually trusting you, I find it easier to understand and help my dog.

****The key is to make your dog come to associate humans near his food (or toys or bones) predict GOOD things will happen!!

So for me, multiple times a day do the following:

1) I feed Puma treats, food, chewie stuff throughout the day and in various places in the house, work (our shop), outside. I give Puma the food (or beloved chewie or toy)then walk away, then get near her again and say her name. Every time she growls at me I give her extra yummy little treats either by dropping them or hand feeding them to her depending on intensity. I also say something nice to her or ask her if I can see her bone (or whatever she has)
Even if there is no growl or negative feedback from her I still do the same routine and give her small treats when I go near her as she is chewing to ensure she associates my coming close to her as a positive thing!

2) When I feed her by bowl in morning and night, I drop extra goodies in bowl as she is eating. Now I can safely pick her up bowl while she is eating and fill it up with more yummy food. If too unsafe for you to get that close you could say Hi Finn, and when he looks at you, toss him high value food bites at a safe distance. Eventually you will be able to get closer as he realizes you are adding to his food and not taking away his valuable resources.

3) I also do tons of very slow and patient hand feeding with all 3 of my dogs together so that Puma learns patience around food and knows she will get her share... and thus not need to resource guard around my other dogs. She had a couple of incidents were she got in my little dog's space and growled while he was eating...not cool since she will soon be way bigger and stronger than him soon and could hurt him if they fight over food.

4) I also working consistently with Puma on leave it, drop it, fun impulse and waiting games. I have her show her "leave it" game in front of other people so she sees that no one will be a "food threat" to her. These games/tricks help her overall with changing her mindset about humans approaching and her fear of "losing" something she values. All are done by me with ample food reward and praise and FUN! And I make sure to get my SO to do the same so Puma is not afraid of him "stealing" her stuff.

5) I play the exchange game with her. I ask her for her item, and when she gives it, I give her something better. And I usually give her the original thing back too if it is safe.

6) If you and your family/friends choose to reward him for his good behavior randomly throughout the day using small food bites, he will probably see much faster that he need not worry about each meal and that you are GIVING food and not taking away like he may fear.

You basically want to change Finn's mindset to : "Hmmmm....humans always seem to deliver me food, so I don't need to worry anymore that humans approaching means they will take away my beloved food.... so I need not growl and try to drive folks away"

Baby Puma is now most times starting to look up at me when I approach and see what I am bringing her. Way less resource guarding overall. And she will let me take a beloved bone away from her, inspect it, and then I give it back to her Not 100% of the time, but sooooooo much better!!!
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Old 02-19-2019, 05:23 PM
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Puma's resource guarding is worse at night or when she is over tired

Hi again. A bit more to share with you about resource guarding from my own experience with my RG dog, Puma.

I find that my Puma pup's resource guarding is worse late at night (we stay up very late some nights) or when she is overtired or had too much stress in one day. Do you find that with your dog?

Mostly her RG is pretty good and under control compared to before! Like just now, she let me gently take a bone she was working on away from her with zero issue. Of course I gave it right back to let her know I wasn't going to steal it from her. And I praised her for it. She even was so good now that she propped her cherished bone on my leg and continued chewing on it with me right next to her. Very cool. I snapped a pic as proof to myself that the method I use for RG works!

Prior she would have NEVER given it to me, and she would have taken it FAR AWAY from me to gnaw on this prize by herself. And if I had approached her or even talked to her at a distance??? MAJOR GROWLING and snarling!!! Scary stuff. Yikes!

And yup, my socks are always the ultimate prize to her. I make sure to keep all my socks away from her to not allow her to RG unless we are practicing our exchange game. If she finds one accidentally most times she will drop on cue and we trade for some yummy food. Many times she will drop for no trade now.

But----last night----RG reared its ugly head. It has been a really long time since she has RG like this. Stress stacking probably caused it.

Why do I think that?? Here's what stressful events happened that day:

1)I had to treat Puma's ear with meds for the first time and she was very fearful and nervous about it.
2) My Sig other (her beloved dad) is out of town
3)I fed everyone (the dogs) super late that night, like at midnight!
4)Our routine totally changed since Dad was not there
5)Before feeding them, I had a super intense stressful phone call where I almost ending up crying from being over stressed....and Puma was right next to me hearing it all. Yes, I know dogs pick up on our stress, but sometimes it is just inevitable!
6)Puma and I got home extremely late from work last night
7)Dad was not there to help me with the dogs and cats so I did not have time to play Flirt Pole or soccer outside with Puma before dinner (Puma had too much pent up energy)
8)Bc Dad was not there to help me monitor, I let Puma sit in different position than normal on couch with her treasured big chewy.
9) Way overtired Puma!!!

Anyway-- after dinner, Puma was eating her beloved chewy, then was so overtired she almost fell asleep on the rest of the uneaten chewy. I looked over at her (sitting next to me).... and the "old' growling began. I said her name...more growling.. I sent her calming signals to let her know I was no threat. Still growling and snarling, mostly to herself it seemed. She was so cranky and tired!

Then my Gracie dog came over to us to see what all the growling was about. Yikes! Puma gave her a hard stare. I quickly got up, got Gracie and my other dog to the bedroom, safely behind a baby gate, to ensure no problems.

I then went back to Puma, traded her yummy food bites for that stupid chewy (ok, I might have even lied and said to her "look squirrel!" to get her mind off the dang chewy!!!) Necessary parenting skills at times, right? It was not fun, and I had to be careful with her since she was warning me that she was stressing.
After I got the chewy, I immediately got her away from that area to prevent her from looking for the chewy. I then took her gently by her leash off to the bedroom.

We then all went to bed and she instantly fell asleep all curled sweetly into her regular lil ball of nice Puma right next to me where she always sleeps. Whew!!

Problems averted.

Resource guarding is no fun. Thank heavens we work on it regularly and it happens very infrequently now!!!
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Old 02-19-2019, 06:30 PM
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Look up NILIF training. That's basically what I did when I had a resource guarder. He had a couple of episodes of going after one of my cats and giving a warning bite to a roommate whoboushed him away from his food bowl when he was eating a high value bone or treat.
I intervened immediately. He had to go to his room and had to sit or lie down and wait for any meals or treats. I could piyr the food and out it right in front of him and he wouldn't touch it before I said ok. I could say wait and he'd stop eating and let me take it away and handfeed him.

I handfed him treats. Dinnertime he'd sit near me next to four of five begging cats and not touch any of them or touch anything until I said ok. If he did he lost all treats and got sent to his room and had to miss the treats till the next day. He still got his dinner. Sometimes I'd save him some and out it in his bowl later.
If he stole socks or anything, he'd let me take it. I'd reward him with one of his toys.
He never had any issues with me taking things from him. Never any insecurity or fear or worsening either. He actually got better once he had the security if knowing the limits and structure to follow.

My current dog has never had any resource guarding over food, treats, toys or anything. Occasionally he'll steal a squeaky toy in the park and keep it for a while. If another dog steals it when he's just about to catch it, he gets frustrated and will sometimes intimidate the other dog with a growl and dogs. Same thing for one of his squeakies that he's obsessed with. Completely unacceptable so I immediate take it away. If it belongs to another dog I give it back to the owner asking them to hide it to prevent disputes. Tell my dog first firmly no fighting.
He loses his ball until we're alone. He's fine. They both were neither got worse.
Like all training you need consistency and very good timing.
True behavior theiry and classical conditioning uses positive and negative reinforcement of and punishment.
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Old 02-19-2019, 06:54 PM
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Resource Guarding--another great article!

Here is a fantastic online article about Resource Guarding and how to stop it!

Definitely read this if you have a resource guarding dog!

Resource Guarding – How to Teach Your Dog to Share | Grisha Stewart


It's a huge mistake to label a dog with a resource guarding problem as 'dominant'. This is largely because it is just too simplistic to think that everything a dog might do which his owners disapprove of is some kind of a bid for power, especially if it involves threat behavior. This label can also encourage owners to look for opportunities to score points back on their dog when their time would be much better spent looking for opportunities to teach the dog not to guard his possessions and to reward him for doing other things.

Here are a few of the myths about resource guarding, according to Jean Donaldson's book "Mine! A Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs."

Myth #1: Resource guarding is abnormal behavior.
Myth #2: Because resource guarding is driven largely by genetics, it can’t be changed.
Myth #3: Resource guarding can be cured by making a dog realize that resources are abundant.
Myth #4: Resource guarding is a symptom of “dominance” or “pushiness.”
Myth #5: Resource guarding is the result of “spoiling” a dog.
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Old 02-19-2019, 07:04 PM
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Resource Guarding--- more good info in this article

Here is some more good info on Resource Guarding from Victoria Stllwell's Positively website:


Should I Punish My Dog for Guarding Resources?

Because people often misunderstand why their dogs guard and why there is social competition, many owners of resource guarders often get angry and confrontational with their dogs.

Confrontation, however, increases competition and causes the dog to guard the contested resource even more.

Using physical punishment on a resource guarding dog is the exact opposite of what you need to do. Instead, make sure you understand the canine experience and work to instill more confidence in the dog so that he feels less threatened.

When working to rehabilitate a dog that aggressively guards his resources, he should not be 'dominated' into submission, nor should he be challenged or physically punished. It is much safer to attempt a 'bloodless coup' without the dog ever realizing you are doing so.

How to Stop a Dog Guarding His Food Bowl........

More info here:

Last edited by AthenaLove; 02-19-2019 at 07:10 PM.
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