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Hello All,

I am new to this forum and am seeking advice. I'd first like to preface this post with the disclaimer that my fiance and I are only seeking advice that aligns with positive reinforcement training methodology. About 2.5 months, ago we picked up our female Japanese Spitz puppy. She is completely adorable and we love her with everything. She is very smart, cute, sweet, and sometimes willful (of course). She is 99.9% toilet trained and sleeps through the night downstairs in her exercise pen. We have very little issues with her.

About 2 weeks ago, I noticed that she snapped and lightly growled at me when I went to pick her up and put her in her pen. I did not feel any pressure from her teeth, but I was concerned. I probably made a mistake in doing so since she had one of her bully chew sticks with her and it fell from her mouth. I planned on putting it in the pen with her, but she probably thought I was going to take it away. A few days later she did it again when she did not want to come inside from the screened in porch. My fiance had been digging up the grass to replant it, and she was super excited by this. She lightly growled again as I picked her up.

Last evening, she was sleeping at our feet on the floor in the living room. When it was time for her to go into her pen, she woke up, saw me approach her, and growled when I went to pick her up. I should mention that I always try to lure her with treats before picking her up. She does not growl when my fiance does this. We are having our dog walker/trainer come by this afternoon to discuss training options....he says resource guarding. He is firmly in the PR camp, thankfully.

I suppose I want as many suggestions as possible. I plan to stop picking her up until we figure out what is happening, and then possibly reconditioning her with PR methods. Still, there may be I time when I have to pick her up, such as when I am walking her to do her business and she will not come back inside. She is still learning leash walking/not pulling, so it presents me with a bit of a dilemma. Thanks in advance!
 

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Hi there and welcome to the DF!

You will find that we are big pushers of positive reinforcement training, and we do not ever recommend aversive training in any form!

Resource guarding is SO common (i'm currently experience it with my 4 month old Border Collie. She is a dog-to-dog RG, but isn't with humans)

For Resource Guarding with people, I would highly recommend the book Mine! by Jean Donaldson. She offers amazing advice on how to deal with RG from toys, to locations, to food bowls and special treats.
 

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Wonderful news :)

Thank you so much, Shandula! I will definitely read that book. I am also glad to hear that this is a normal issue!!!
 

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I noticed when my Pax turned around 5 months old he "discovered" his growl and seemed to want to growl at anything and everything. I didn't make a big deal about things and gave him the impression that I didn't take him seriously. I gave him treats when he was good and was patient when he growled. He seemed to understand what was acceptable and hasn't done it in a long time.
 

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That does not sound completely like resource guarding to me, it may also be his objecting to being physically moved from where he wants to be. It's not all that uncommon for smaller dogs to do.

Besides working on resource guarding I'd also work on picking him up and putting him down for those times when you need to pick him up. Try breaking picking him up into small steps and practice each step until he's happy to have you do it, use high value treats broken into very small pieces to reward him. The process could go like this... step one putting your hands under his belly (like you would if you were picking him up) letting him go and give him a treat right after you let him go. Next put your hands under his belly and apply a bit of pressure then let him go and give him a treat. After that you'd pick him up slightly then put him back down and give him the treat. I'd do each step 5 or so times in a row and practice a few times a day, if he's visibly upset about a step try breaking it into an even smaller one. Once you are actually holding him feed him treats as you hold him then put him down and don't give him the treats, he'll start associating the treats with you actually holding him and the treat party ending when he's on the ground

For everyday getting him to move try teaching him a cue that lets him know you want him to move, or where you want him to go. Pretend he's a 200 lb mastiff that you simply would not want to physically move. So for getting her to go into her pen teach her that cue, and practice when you do not want her to actually stay in there so that she does not come to associate the cue with being confined. A way to train it would be to say the word and toss a very nice treat into it, when she goes in after it drop a few more treats for her and praise her then let her out. Once she gets it try saying the word and only once she goes into the pen drop the treats for her. Next try saying the word and giving her a very high value chew or stuffed kong, but close the door to the pen once she's in there. What you are trying to teach her is that it's good to be in the pen with the door closed so you do not end up with a dog that views the cue as something she does not want to do. If she's fussing in the pen let us know, that takes a different type of training.

You can teach other cues for simply getting her to move out the way, cues like Go to move in whichever direction a person points, or Off to get off furniture, can be very useful.
 

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We also made it our puppy's choice to be picked up, eg. by climbing onto my partner's lap or into his arms. We made it into a really fun thing with excited voices and loads of praise. He gets a jackpot of treats for climbing aboard, and we continue to treat until my partner is stood up and carrying him.

We were concerned Raiden would start to not enjoy being picked up, eg. out on walks, because it ends his fun. Since having my partner bend down so Raiden can *choose* to be picked up, it's been so much easier and Raiden sees it as a wonderfully exciting game...he races to get picked up now :)
 
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