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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

New to the forum. I just adopted a 5-6 month old puppy about 3 weeks ago. I've been planning for quite a while to get one. I've had a lot of experience with dogs in the past, spent several years working in a shelter and vet clinic, and raised two puppies of my own. I got divorced about 3 years ago and my ex husband kept our two current dogs. Ever since then I've really missed having a dog in the house; however, now that I've got one I just keep feeling like it was a huge mistake.

Astro is a lab/border collie mix (best guess) and he's really been amazing. Already housebroken and crate trained when I got him and for the most part extremely laid back for a 5 month old puppy. In the few weeks we've had him he has already made huge progress in obedience training. I still can't seem to shake the feeling that I should not have got him. Really his only issue is that he is a borderline resource guarder. I specifically asked about this before I adopted him as I have a 5 year old boy and was told that he didn't have any issues with people, but he'd occasionally growl at the other dogs.....no big deal since we don't have any other dogs. However once we got him home I've definitely noticed that he will freeze, tense up, and/or gobble if he has any sort of higher value chew or treat and last night he lunged at one of our cats who got close to him while he was eating. I know that it's something that for the most part could be managed (no high value items, put the cats away while he's eating) however I don't want to rely on management because what happens if he finds something he values and one of the cats get to near, or my son tries to take it away? I've done loads of reading on counterconditioning and desensitation but I feel completely overwhelmed. I am so worried that my son is going to end up get hurt...even though I always supervise them closely and Astro seems to love my son. I'm especially frustrated because we had adopted a dog a couple years ago that we had to return after about a month because he resource guarded everything! I tried to be so careful making sure this dog would be right for us and he's got the same issues (though to a much lesser degree). Has anyone had success working with a pup this age to stop resource guarding? I don't want to forever have to be concerned about my son's and my cats' safety....but my son is already so attached and the dog is really amazing otherwise.
 

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I am so sorry to hear about the troubles with your dog. I know you have done a lot of reading on your own in terms of counter conditioning and such, but have you considered working with a certified behaviorist? Because you have a cat and a small child at home, I feel that the stakes are higher. I think it would definitely help to have a professional evaluate the situation and see what kind of behavior modification and expected outcome would be reasonable both for yourself and the dog.

Your dog is still rather young and I think if you initiate right training plan as soon as possible, you can probably make great process in ameliorating his RG tendency.
 

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My BC puppy (who I got at 8 weeks) was a very bad resource guarder. Not against people (she never growled at me, or anyone else who took anything from her), but quite seriously with my Aussie. She would also snarl, snap, and charge other dogs if everyone was getting a treat. It was awful.
My Aussie is a HUGE push-over, so instead of correcting that bratty little puppy, he would drop whatever he had, and would run away from her.
It took a couple (maybe..6?) weeks to really condition her to not have to worry about RG-ing things. We would give one boring treat to our Aussie, and one amazing treat to her. Then two boring treats to our Aussie, four amazing treats for her. We played lots of trading games (give me that sock, and we will play tug with a toy!), and also made sure her crate was near-by and open in case she wanted to retreat with her something special (I still don't allow ANYONE to bother my dogs when they are in their crates. That is their space). For a long time I figured that would never be able to have "high-value" items or special treats, but now they can happily eat their bones, or pizzles etc. without any problems between each other.
The only thing she still tends to RG is her special football from strange dogs at the park.
 

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You might consider bringing a trainer into the picture, to start the process. My guess is, you only need a trainer for a short period of time, to get the process going, then you can probably continue until you become comfortable with him. Labs are typically very energetic and affectionate, Borders are often energetic and a bit aloof, but friendly, so you probably have good genes to deal with.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks everyone. I've got a consult set up with a trainer next Sunday. She seemed pretty confident that his behavior would be able to be modified, and she's done extensive work with dogs with aggression problems. He really is a complete joy outside of the RG behaviors. We went to the dog park for the first time last night and he had to immediately go and politely greet all the people there. Took him a little longer to warm up to the other dog--it was a very big Husky--but after about 15 minutes they were playing wonderfully. It's encouraging to hear that his RG behavior can hopefully be modified...I am really looking forward to the consult with the trainer. I think it may help my mind at ease just knowing I'll have help dealing with it.
 
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