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Discussion Starter #1
My 15 month old has recently started showing some aggression, and I'd like some advice from other folks on the forum. Below, I'm going to describe a few incidents that have been building up.

About a month ago, I dropped off my dog Dorje with a dog sitter. The dog sitter has his own dog, a very gentle older dog named Trooper. We had done a meet and greet beforehand a couple of times, and the dogs got along well.

When the sitter came to my apartment to drop Dorje off, I invited them in and the dogs played a bit. But then Dorje started acting weird, jumping on the hovering near me - he had never been a protective dog before. Then the other dog started moving round near Dorje's toy box, and Dorje lunged toward him and there was a dog fight! First time that Dorje has ever been in one, and he initiated it.! I had never seen him act like that before. The other dog ended up with a cut on his ear that dripped blood. It was so upsetting.

He's very well socialized towards humans and other dogs, but I realize that it always took place outside of the home.

I've trained him extensively on resource guarding, but it's only been with me and other humans - never with dogs. I'm not sure how to do the training towards other dogs, since we are a one dog household. He's always been very friendly towards other dogs, which is why this incident was so shocking.

Fast forward to about a week ago. There's a baseball field at a school near me that's gated. It's not an official dog park, but lots of people bring their dogs by to play. I'm very careful to call Dorje back from people who don't have dogs with them or don't want to interact with him.

That said, I realize this incident is COMPLETELY my fault. A man and his son came in to toss a ball around. And the young boy saw Dorje and started calling him over. Unfortunately, me calling Dorje back couldn't compete with an excited child saying "Come here! Come here boy!" and Dorje ran top speed toward the child - he loves kids. But when he got there the father freaked out and kicked him hard in the face. I heard the yelp from across the field. It was so awful! Dorje started backing away and barking at them both, and then ran back to me.

Literally five minutes after that, he started growling at the other dogs there, probably on edge from the incident. I felt so terrible.

Yesterday, I was walking him to daycare, and a man on the street suddenly, without my permission, stepped toward him and reached his hand out toward Dorje. It was rude of him not to check with me first, but in the past when strangers did that it only made Dorje happy and excited. This time, however, he had his toy with him and snapped toward the man.

Then, at his three hours of daycare, the staff (who have been working with Dorje for over a year and have always told me that he's very good natured) told me that he had been in two fights - growling only. They were surprised because he's never done anything like that before.

Right now, I've enrolled him in a "Stop Stealing!" group class with other dogs, which will help with his resource guarding as well. I've also reached out to a couple of behaviorists and am waiting to hear back. There's a place near me that has a""Growl" class that deals with minor dog-dog aggression, but it's not until August.

I should also add - Dorje has started "marking" for the very first time about a week ago - he had always squatted before to empty his bladder, and he still does, but now on walks he has started lifting his leg and doing small sprays on certain trees and hydrants. So I'm thinking some hormonal, developmental changes are occurring alongside this incidents. I also think that now that's he older, other dogs are getting less tolerant of his playful high energy exuberance.

Any advice on this would be well appreciated! I'd like to start dealing with this on my own and at home before involving a professional, since that will take time and I don't want it to escalate in the meantime.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I'm bumping, because I'm freaking out and am seriously desperate!

Last night Dorje and I were at the park, and he was playing with two small schnauzers that he's played with many times before. After thirty minutes of positive playing, one of them walked over to sniff my bag - I was sitting on the grass and one of Dorje's favorite toys was in it.

Dorje freaked out and attacked him! It was the most terrifying thing - the little dog was squealing this terrible sound and I thought Dorje was going to kill him. Like an idiot I jumped in there with my hands and got lightly bitten myself (not sure which dog)

Both dogs were unharmed at the end, but this is so terrible! The other owner didn't seem to upset - he said Dorje just grabbed the little dog's scruff and wouldn't let go and the little dog just started squealing, but he was probably just being nice.

This behavior is escalating like crazy! I thought I was raising a gentle dog.
 

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I think his behaviour is escalating quickly and he may be a bit too much for you to handle on your own, I think you should speak to a dog trainer/behaviourist and in the meantime keep him on a lunge line and muzzle just incase it happens again.
 

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Augusta,

Unfortunately, I don't have any expertise or experience, but just wanted to send you my support. I'm looking forward to reading what guidance your trainer provides.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you SusanLynn. I'm not sure what the root of this new behavior is.

I'd like to get started on desensitization/resource guarding training, but the problem is other dogs. So even if I've trained him not to guard around humans, the issue remains.
 

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First for any aggression make sure that the trainers are only using positive methods since punishment based ones can make the behavior worse. You don't want confiscate the guarded item since it confirms the dog in it's belief that the treasured item was going to be stolen and it's liable to make the behavior worse.

Have you read the book Mine! by Jean Donaldson? Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs: Jean Donaldson: 9780970562944: Amazon.com: Books! I think that it will really be able to help you. It's written specifically for owners with dogs that resource guard.

Until you have a plan together to work with him I'd do prevention. If you know that he's going to guard something, like his toys, do not have any of them around when he's around another dog. If you have friends with dogs that are willing to help you you can do DS/CC exercises. Have both dogs on a leash and while you feed your boy high value treats have the other dog go by Dorje's toys. When the dog steps away from the toys stop feeding Dorje treats. When the dog goes by the toys again start feeding Dorje the treats. You may have to play with distances, and start with the other dog a bit far away from the toys and work on getting the dog closer as Dorje gets comfortable. You'll also have to practice with a lot of different dogs, and in different locations, if you don't do that Dorje may learn that it's only that one dog, in that one location, getting close to the toys that gets him the treats.
 

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Thank you SusanLynn. I'm not sure what the root of this new behavior is.

I'd like to get started on desensitization/resource guarding training, but the problem is other dogs. So even if I've trained him not to guard around humans, the issue remains.

It may simply be age, some behaviors show up as dogs get older. I had a terrier that didn't start resource guarding his chews until he was 8 months old. He was fine up until then. After that he also started guarding his food from my other pets. he'd take a small mouthful of kibble, put it on his bed, lay on top of it, then growl whenever my other dog or cat came near.

Zody simply a weirdo, at my friend's house he will not play with a toy that her dog has played with, he acts like it's contaminated, but he does not mind that the dog gets by the toys he has over there. At his house he will not share his toys with another dog and will try and fight them over it, that's if he's not decided to resource guard the whole house. He'll let people he knows into the house without a problem, but he will rarely let a dog he knows well, and gets along with, into the house without pitching a fit, but he's fine with dogs outside the house or at their house.
 

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Hi Augusta,

Dog fights can seem very scary things to us humans, but most of the time it's just a display with both dogs not intending to harm each other and most socialised dogs causing no severe injury.
That being said, your dog at 15 months old is still very young and just maturing.
You say you have given him extensive resource guarding, is that not to do ? Or to do ?
I would agree with previous comment regarding lunge leash and work on recalls as this most certainly will give you better control over situations that may occur while you are out walking and getting to the root of the problem.
A muzzle would also solve the problem of fights while out walking, but not actually dealing with the issue of aggression towards other dogs and humans.
You would certainly need someone to come in and see the dogs home environment this can tell you a lot about a dog.
Is the dog fixed ?
1 dog household, what's the dogs status in pack, does it sit on the furniture ???
This can all lead to dominating behavioural traits which is what I think your describing.
Dominant behaviour rather than aggressive behaviour.
If that is the case, that is the second thing to address and can be.
Every dog can be trained to behave appropriately and be responsive to its handler at all times. Behaving how you want them too, not the other way round.
Working on recalls and ignoring dogs on walks, using lunge leash with a clicker to recall, further dog gets on lunge leash use a whistle. Giving treats at every successful recall to start. That will give you better control to start.
Hope this might help a bit. ?

Basil
 

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Discussion Starter #11
@Rain Thanks! I just ordered the book. I remember you suggesting it a few months ago, too.

There is one place near me that specializes in rehabilitating aggressive dogs. I emailed them to ask them if they use all four quadrants, and if they, what kind of aversives they use (for example, I know some trainers refer to a sharp clap to interrupt bad behavior as a positive punishment, which I don't have a problem with)

If I don't like their answers, I'll consider someone else. I figure that if they know how aggression works they'll understand that this is a case that can be treated gently. That said, I remember approaching them a year ago when I was enrolling Dorje in puppyschool, and I thought their manner was a little macho for my taste.

Until I get a plan in place, I'm going to skip dog parks and daycare.

By the way, all of these incidents are around the same exact toy, which I bought for him about a month ago. Not sure what's so special about it (he' s never been much into toys) but for some reason it's special. It's the only one he hasn't tried to chew/destroy, and he carries it around with him gently in his mouth. Right now I have it put away. Not sure if I should destroy it forever as part of management or if I should keep it to use for desensitization training.


I would like to train with a different dog here, but wouldn't feel comfortable asking someone to do that.
@Basil1985 I've trained him NOT to resource guard. Or guard. I don't need a guard dog. And only with me - I haven't trained him not to resource guard with other dogs.

He's never been a problem while walking. He's amazing on a leash, actually, walks to heel when asked and never lunging or getting aggressive with dogs or people. Every time so far it's been while he was off leash.

He is neutered, yes. He has started marking recently - he literally started marking for the first time two weeks ago.

I don't know anything about dog status. He's allowed on furniture with permission. He gets off when I tell him to. He sleeps on my bed only two or three times a month, and sleeps in his crate the rest of the time. He's never tried any sort of dominance with me so I haven't worried about it. That said, there are times he tries to resource guard and run under my bed with an item, and I've trained him to come out and give it back for a trade when I ask him to.

One thing he's also doing is sort of hovering around me lately. Like he'll give me these long soulful looks and keep staring for like ten minutes, and he's been trying to cuddle more. He does seem to be getting more protective.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Just a quick update:

So I bought the Jean Donaldson book @Rain suggested above about resource guarding. Also bought (
) by the same author.

They are arriving Monday.

On Wednesday I have a consultation with a facility that specializes in rehabilitating aggressive dogs. I emailed them and asked them if they use all four quadrants, and they said that they want to meet me and the dog and that we'll together come up with a plan that makes sense of everyone involved. So that's a yes, I think, which I don't like. To be honest some of the folks there are cool but others are a bit macho for my taste. If I think they are exaggerating the seriousness of this and start making insinuations that Dorje is bound to kill a baby unless I drop 2 grand on some special bootcamp or something, I'm going to walk away. I know a lot of such places capitalize on people's fears about dogs. I also know that sometimes the "assessment" or "consultation" is really just a sales pitch.


I trust his regular trainer completely, so I was curious about why I hadn't heard back from her. I asked around and it turned out her husband passed away this week, which explains it. If the facility I meet with on Wednesday doesn't work out, I'm just going to follow the plan from Donaldson's books and reassess in a month if I don't see an improvement. I have a shortlist of trainers that are well regarded and use positive methods, so I'll turn to any of them.

Lastly, I mentioned that he doesn't resource guard with me, but I thought about it and remembered he does, in one instance! He guards the space under my bed. I had noticed it was a problem months ago, and so I trained him to come out from under the bed on command when I asked. He does that now whenever I call him, so I've been considering it taken care of since he always comes out when asked. But actually if I put my hand under the bed or pretend that I'm going to crawl under the bed, he starts air snapping at me and backing away. So he's still guarding that space. I need to figure out a way to "fill" that space that doesn't involve more money, since this dog already has me tapped out!

Some of you may remember my separation anxiety (http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training-behavior/my-dogs-separation-anxiety-getting-worse-254170/) where I was freaking out. I consistently updated that thread as I trained on the problem, and soon enough he was fine alone, though it took months.

Hopefully this will be the same sort of thread. I'll update with tiny successes and failures, and maybe other folks who have similar problems now or in the future can offer their input or get ideas in posterity.
 

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I'd like to start dealing with this on my own and at home before involving a professional, since that will take time and I don't want it to escalate in the meantime.
I'd start to connect the dots and observe your dog's behavior and nuances leading up to these incidents. Become knowledgeable of your dog's precursory actions, changes in posture, gestures, facial, ears, eyes, stance etc. You need to get ahead of the dog before your dog goes off. This is the teachable moment where you can make changes.

In the mean time, I would reestablish all boundaries, limits and obedience from the ground up. The dog is maturing and "flexing his muscles", so to speak.

Example, " Like he'll give me these long soulful looks and keep staring for like ten minutes, and he's been trying to cuddle more." Read up on how this works in the dog world when it comes to "affection" and attention. You will find it's quite the opposite of how it works in the human world. You are the one who controls when "affection" and attention are given not the dog. When the dog solicits you for attention, ignore the dog. Yes, it's difficult for many to do but when a dog is testing boundaries and taking liberties which it used not to, you need to be indifferent and administer a bit of tough love. I'd also make the dog work for every single resource you provide, the dog earns everything because you are the rightful owner of everything in the dog's world especially its most prized toy or ball.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
@DriveDog Oh yes, I go by the "nothing in life is free" model. This is why he has a perfect sit-stay and walks beautifully on a leash.

In fact, I've gone as far as ceasing his regular meals in a bowl, and have been feeding him 1/4 and keeping the rest in my pockets to dole out only when he behaves and follows orders.

You're right in that the long looks and the cuddling isn't affection. For starters, I specifically train him to look at me and "check in"when he wants something. So I think months of training on that is just taking place at longer intervals. Since he's still an impulsive dog, just because of his age, I'm going to continue to reinforce check ins with praise when I'm at home, and with the occasional treat when he checks in with me in a public place.

As far as the cuddling - yes, I recognize that he is owner guarding! In fact, literally twenty minutes ago, I was walking him past a bar and two men were chatting with me and he started barking at them. Again, a new behavior!

He's resource guarding like crazy! Guarding toys, guarding locations, and now guarding me! Pretty soon I'll have no friends left!

I realize now that there were warning signs before the fight I described in the OP. First, Dorje has been walking around with his mouth open like the pic below for two weeks, which he usually doesn't do. I interpreted it as a "smile" or being relaxed. It actually was never a very common expression from him. But he looks like it all the time lately and I've sort of liked it because I thought it meant he was more confident.


But, before the fight, he lifted his upper lip a couple of times and showed his upper canines to the little dog while he hovered near me. I remember thinking it was weird. I just didn't think a fight would break out, since he has never been an aggressive dog before. He lifted his upper lip and sort of rocked his head before returning to that goofy look in the picture below.

Lordy! So much work, this dog! It's like he's developed an entirely new personality in the last two weeks!
 

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Pointers are generally very soft dogs, however I got an elderly pointer rescue for my equally elderly mother, a very experienced dog handler. It was a match made in heaven but he was exceedingly over protective of her which came as a bit of a shock! He was never aggressive towards other dogs though he was neutered.

I now have another rescue pointer who came with no training at all, pulled like a team of huskies on leash, no recall, jumped up and overly excitable and food aggressive.

All this has gone out the window, his main problem was lack of exercise, he gets a good 90 minutes off leash exercise in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.

Your dog is reaching maturity and would suggest he is neutered if he hasn't been.

A lot of this sort of resource aggression as with fighting other dogs, comes from you expecting it now. You need to learn to recognise the signs and correct before he has a chance to actually start a fight.
 

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He's resource guarding like crazy! Guarding toys, guarding locations, and now guarding me! Pretty soon I'll have no friends left!
I know this forum and many members do not subscribe to leadership theories because it might give credibility to pack theory including rank and file ( hierarchy) however one has to investigate the impetus of a dog's resource guarding or lack of. It's a fascinating subject and sometimes the reasons for RG seem blatantly obvious while other times it remains a mystery.

augusta, you sound like a capable and competent individual that knows your dogs well and has taken the time to raise them properly. Please do not interpret my thoughts in the above paragraph as a slam on your relationship ( position ) with your dog. My point is, dogs are so varied in the process of finding their position, especially at this age of reaching full adulthood. Your comment " I was walking him past a bar and two men were chatting with me and he started barking at them. Again, a new behavior!", is of interest. It could be many things, could be a vibe you were giving off or it could be your dog is searching for its "position" in the relationship as your dog is reaching full maturity. Once again, this is not a dig on you but more a suggestion of the strength of your dog's wiring to find its "position". I am a believer in the old adage that a dog is either led or leads, it will gladly accept either position but most always will tend to lead if any opening exists. However, I also believe a dog is more content and desires to be led because it reduces the pressure on a dog significantly and undesirable behaviors disappear. Leadership qualities on behalf of the human needs to be commensurate with the dog's criterion of what constitutes a worthy leader. Again, this is something more particular to the individual dog's requirements, wiring and nature, they all vary. I have learned this through my experiences with the dogs I have had over the decades, what worked for one dog and applied to another dog didn't work, I learned my lesson the hard way because I was reluctant to appreciate the uniqueness of an individual dog, even if they both came from the same bloodlines. Some dogs simply require " more " in this department than others.

I have a feeling you and your dog will be just fine. Your dog is just going through an awkward phase but will soon come to realize you are a very worthy and capable leader because of your fairness but still maintaining exacting expectations and will win the dog over and the dog can find its comfortable position with you at the helm.
 

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Example, " Like he'll give me these long soulful looks and keep staring for like ten minutes, and he's been trying to cuddle more." Read up on how this works in the dog world when it comes to "affection" and attention.
Do you have any links/can you tell me more about this?
 

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Do you have any links/can you tell me more about this?

This might disagree with some people's approaches in here however.

www.spca.org/Doent.Doc?id=112

https://dramadogtraining.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/the-only-dog-syndrome/

http://www.webring.org/l/rd?ring=petdogsl;id=5;url=http://k9deb.com/socialis.htm

Dominant Dogs

In particular, how dogs solicit attention from other dogs and which dogs solicit the attention and what it means supposedly. How a dog solicits attention from its human and what it means. There are numerous articles discussing this. Search them out and see what you might believe makes sense.

If you choose not to read through the entire articles, use control F and search " attention".
 

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Augusta, I do not think you have a dog that is trying to dominate you, or one you have to assert leadership over.

I believe Dorje is an anxious dog. Separation anxiety stems from a dogs fear of losing it's owner and being abandoned, and Resource Guarding also usually stems from anxiety. With resource guarding the dog is anxious/fearful that it's going to lose the resource so it feels the need to guard it. The key to working with both is to help to dog be more confident and to learn that it does not need to fear losing what it loves. With Separation Anxiety that the person always comes back and the dog is safe alone. With Resource Guarding that the dog is not going to lose the resource.

In my experience both behaviors often show up as the dog matures, although signs of it usually can be observed in puppies.

Resource Guarding: Treatment and Prevention
 

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I do not think you have a dog that is trying to dominate you, or one you have to assert leadership over.
I'm curious, what is your definition of "leadership" as well as a dog "trying to dominate you" ?

Do these terms have a negative connotation in your opinion?

Why is this dog at this particular age showing all these different behaviors when it didn't previously? Is the "anxiety" something brand new or been there all the while?

When a dog is territorial especially bitches, is this the same as RG and caused by anxiety or just the nature of the animal?

FWIW, resource guarding in the canine world is pretty much considered normal behavior. It's how they communicate to each other not because of anxiety but because dogs are opportunistic by nature.
 
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