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This was a long posts and each of your subjects would normally warrant a detailed response; I'll try and touch on each. You will meet folks are diehard proponents of one side or another .. often the truth lies some where in between. For example...

"Dogs are like wolves so they must be fed a raw diet" ... science tells us that both today's wolves and today's dogs have a common ancestor a prehistoric wolf. Due to ages of hanging around early man, they evolved to process starches and grains . It shouldn't be the bulk of their diet but they do tolerate and in some ways benefit from them.

"Dogs are not like wolves because they do not display typical pack behaviors" ... and yet don't dogs display protective behaviors, and show emotional attachments to their inter-species families ? This behavior is exhibited by dogs in inter-species families as they very quickly recognize who they are dependent on. You won't change this behavior by attempting to force your will on them, you change it by making them understand who they depend on.

The other side of that coin is that what works on one dog may not work on others, especially dogs of different breeds. Breeds vary as much in behavioral tendencies as they do in appearance. Listen to all the advice you can gather, pick the one that seems right, try it and see how well it works... if disappointed in the results try something else.

When bringing a dog into the home, we immediately begin "sharing" responsibilities. The younger the dog the easier this is. With a young dog, everyone from the oldest to the youngest participates in the feeding. Hand feeding is done to teach the pup to be gentle. Bowl feeding involves requiring them to do a task before they are fed. Feeding also involves, early on, giving the dog a small amount, picking up the bowl when empty and then giving them more, teaching that there's more where that came from. Then pick up the bowl before they finish. Of course on must make adjustments for older dogs and large dogs.

The drop issue, grab an broken old leash or a rope and play with the dog. If he won't give it up, wait till he walks away from it, pick it up and take him for a walk associating the walk with the old leash / tug toy by clipping carrying it of clipping it to his collar.

Your dad is of larger physical stature ? How does your posture with respect to considence compare to that of your dad ? You dad was in charge of feeding at least early on ? Your dad is more insistent not giving up as easy when there's a clash of wills ? Who crates / uncrates the dog ?

I trained and took care of security dogs for 4 years at a day camp across from where I lived. I knew the dogs from working there early on but then was not responsible for feeding them, chaining them or placing them inn the kennels. If i went near them while feeding, being chaoned or kenneled they'd lunge at me.... running free they were fine. Every now and then the dogs would venture into our neighborhood, sending groups of teenagers running. Since I was usually around, I drive after them, open the car door and they'd jump right in ... they loved car rides. On the down side, they more often than not would refuse to get out of the car... grabbing the dominant males collar and pulling was responded to his mouth on my arm and a growl... when I let go, he let go. Knowing I'd be the loser in a battle of wills. I asked the proprietor to let me bring them their food and in the am and to kennel them after pm feeding. Over time, I didn't need to use food / rewards to get them to do what I wanted, they recognized the proprietor and myself as the people who provided for their needs and the quid pro quo that that entailed.

A dogs's recativity to other dogs will be greater if he fears you are not capable of protecting him. Walk with an erect stance, no slumping shoulders or looking at the ground. When visitinga dog park, always start in observation mode. Go with your Dad, let him keep the dog on the leash and watch YOU go into the park and talk to the owners, mix with the other dogs. Do this a few times and sk one of the regulars to meet you during not busy hours where it will be lass stressful, you go inside and meet one or the two owners up by the entrance, ... gradually move towards the fence where he can see you. Come out again and stand with your dog as they smell each other thru the fence.

Desensitize your dog on walks by never backing away from an approaching dog / owner .. maintain posture and keeping your dog on the left while turning right placing you between the dog and yours. turn to the right . From your description, your dd, though somewhat anxious please the dog, he maintsains an air of confidence ... you OTOH sometimes become emotional and that's creating anxiety in the dog.

When meeting other dogs at first, make the encounter short. If neither is acting aggressive, counto to 3 or 5 and move on. Next meet, linger a little longer. Another useful tactic would be to walk the dog with your dad... when meeting another dog say across the street, have yoiur dad hold your dog and you walk over and greet the owner and their dog. Your Dad's presence will calm him and seeing you walking over and interacting with the owner and their dog will make him less fearful of them and more confident in your ability to keep him safe.

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This is how resource guarding starts. The dog learns to fear his food will be taken away, so he starts guarding it. That's not even unreasonable, if someone tried to take my food I'd have words with them too.
I reread my post but can't really see where we got so far apart. I was concerned about the post's length but perhaps a bit more detail was necessary. I'll divide the response into 2 parts one for each topic. When dealing with smaller breeds, resource guarding may be an annoyance; with larger breeds it can mean serious injury to a family member or other pet and even death.

Therefore we consider resource guarding the primary behavioral concern for large breed owners and take it very seriously investing more time on this than any other aspect of training. Given the results, with my own, family and friends and professional security dogs, it's been simple and effective both with new dogs even ones with previous displays of such behaviors w/o a single hint of increased resource guarding... and we are talking breeds (Dobermans, Huskies and Shepherds) in the Top 20 for aggression towards other dogs. Yes, if a dog learns his food will be taken away ads in... he won't get to eat it...yes I see your point .... but that never happened. They have been taught that "every time this bowl leaves it come back within seconds with more food in it".

Can we look at this in the full context it was presented. Food was / is never taken away during training, it is delayed ...kinda like when you wave a treat in front of a dog till they display a desired behavior. The desired behavior being taught here is teaching the dog not to exhibit any resource guarding behaviors by providing no experience where they might perceive this to happen. The hand feeding stage teaches the dog to be comfortable around people and other pets when they are eating .... an important step in our home with 2 large dogs and 2 cats in the immediate area.

At 1st, sitting on the floor next to them, frequent contact occurs during feeding and other pets are "shoo'd" away with a hand gesture, the dog learns that its "hooman" is a) in control of his food supply and b) protecting his food supply from anyone / anything else.... resource guarding is therefore an unnecessary response because having food actually taken away never happens... it never leaves their sight.

Controlling the food supply is the "heart" of positive "treat based" training .... the owner "holds the treat" delaying the reward until the dog displays the required behavior, and then he gets food. Same thing. Sitting on the floor, as when hand feeding, picking the bowl up to eye level for a 3 count and placing it back down with more food and petting him is not really different than holding a dog treat in your hand ... his eyes are locked on it and withholding the treat until the dog displays the desired behavior. The food never leaves their sight and everything that have learned so far tells them that when the hooman touches food, it's no big deal, it never goes away and when he touches it, he always gives me more. Sequencing is important so they never get the sense that food will actually be lost.

"Feeding also involves, early on, giving the dog a small amount, picking up the bowl when empty and then giving them more, teaching that there's more where that came from. " I'll feed a third or his meal, pick up his bowl to snout level , reach up to the counter and add some more food and place it down again, sometimes asking the dog to sit... rinse and repeat.

Clearly, when an empty bowl is removed, no food is lost. What's to guard ? The dog is thinking "Oh my, I finished my food and I'm still hungry... oh wait, why is he holding the bowl ? Oh wow ... he's giving me more yipee ... Got it, ... bowl leaves, bowl comes back. I'm reminded of a quote from the movie 2010 ... when the bowl leaves, "something wonderful is gonna happen" . This is no difference between "when my hooman tells me to sit, and I do, I get a goodie" and "when my human points to the floor, and I sit, I get a goodie". It's a conditioned response which after a time will work even when you use the gesture and don't have treat... just have to get that treat in there often enough to keep the link. Same thing with lifting the bowl.... the response is conditioned that when the bowl moves nothing bad ever happens ... food never leaves his sight.

Before you move on to picking up the bowl with food in it, the dog is already well conditioned to understanding, "no biggie, the food is immediately coming back".. "and with more". The dog is actively being trained not to resource guard, sitting patiently, waiting for it to be placed back down is the immediate reward.

In this step, the 'more' continues and then some. The dogs food is generally placed in their bowls as we are cleaning the table after evening meal. They are usually about half way thru by the time there's two plates of table scraps and / or leftovers on the counter is stuff they can have, one is stuff for the trash bin.

At that point, the bowls are picked up, their share of table scraps added and placed back on the floor. Sometimes the dogs will walk up to their bowls when 1st dropped, give a sniff and walk away. The learned behavior is if they come back in a minute or two, some extra goodies may be there but at worst, nothing ever goes away. It's an automatic, as reliable a bell ring and Pavlov's dog... a bowl being picked up off the floor means one thing and ONLY one thing .... something is going to be put in it, and I get to eat it. ... every time.

That's not to say, nothing is ever taken away.... While eating out of each others bowls never results in a reaction, at one point the dogs started fighting over a squeaky toy .... any growl, show of teeth, pounce whatever was met with visual and audible cues letting them know '"unacceptable behavior, go to your crate." where they'd sit until told to come out. The next day, each was give a squeaky toy ... within a very short time, they learned that "I can have a squeaky toy anytime I want" and now they sit and are mostly ignored.

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On the 2nd topic ..

If you were nervous of, say, snakes and I didn't allow you to take a detour around one on a path and insisted you carry on towards it regardless, how do you think you would feel? You wouldn't be any more confident about snakes, and your trust relationship with me would be damaged. Turning and walking away is exactly what we suggest with reactive dogs; not only to avoid a confrontation but also to show the dog you are listening to him and acknowledging his concerns.
Since the actions in the snake analogy were not actually part of the recommended approach, I don't think the question posed has an appropriate answer. It would seem that a mistaken inference was made, a word or two was missed or perhaps I wasn't explicitly clear in the early part of the encounter, and that set a tone for the response. For the great majority of the dog to dog encounter, we seem to be in "violent agreement with one another" :) other than the one glaring misconception that being that the was no suggestion that the owner and dog should continue moving forward in the same direction closing the gap. Aside from the anxiety / fear transfer concerns, from a practical standpoint, not seeing the advantage to "turning tail" as with two dogs heading in the same direction, the separation distance is maintained, exposing (to my view) the dog to additional fear and anxiety over a more extended period as the threat follows behind.

For the purposes of the discussion, to spatially illustrate the point, let's assume the dog owner is walking north and the other angry dog is walking south. So I'll start at the end covering the great majority of the timeline of such an encounter and then I will go back to the start.

3. The snake analogy is based upon the misconception that no detour is take and this is not accurate. a) the owner never insists or requires the dog to "carry on (north) towards [the other dog], b) the recommendation was that the owner detours to another path, turning the dog to the right (heading east) going away from the other dog and thereby avoiding the other dog's path by a wide margin c) Should the Owner and dog retreat and turn tail, heading south, angry dog is still following them, there is no increase in the distance between them and owner's dog will remain anxious as "angry dog" is now "on its tail" following, possibly encouraged in its aggressiveness by the flight of the fleeing pair, d) if this walk is a regular thing for both dog owners how will dog react next time ? Angry dog having "won the day" the previous time will likely be even more aggressive on next encounter. We could use half the alphabet on other tiggers, but the above gets the major point across.

1. With the last majority of the encounter covered, let's go to the 1st 2 or 3 seconds and try and clear up the disconnect ... my apologies if this wasn't clear as originally posted. The recommendation made was not to back away (that is don't show the typical signs of fear or retreat, don't maintain a staring gaze locked on the angry dog and don't step backwards or "turn tail") ...this is the classic exhibition of what any dog will recognize a retreat / fear response. All that does is show a dog that his owner is as afraid of the other dog as he is. What confidence will the dog have in his owner when he watches him / her turn tail and run away ?

2. What you want to show is that you are not afraid of that dog and that at the same time convey that he has no reason to fear the other dog because you view it as no real threat and if it is, you will protect him. Backing away is a very different thing than detouring around and out of the way. Turning to the right, not maintaining a tight gaze on angry dog exhibits confidence, that the other dog is not considered a threat and conveying "we can just go on about our day doing everything we intended... Pffftt... that dog is of no consequence."

In short, there was no recommendation to "approach a snake" on a trail up a mountain .... but to detour and increase the distance and eliminate the sight trigger between the two by going of the trail to the right (or left as appropriate) and go around it as it passes. The question of whether we can "transfer" emotional feelings of anxiety and fear to our dogs, is not new. The emotional ties between dogs and their "hoomans" have been been part of the Behavioral Sciences curriculum since the early 20th century and research to date has only reinforces the notion that dogs interpret our body language visually, our emotions thru smell, our anxiety in our voices and the way we touch them, with our hands or thru how we hold their leash. When a dog is in an anxious or fearful state, I believe it's "settled science" and bet to avoid exacerbating their anxiety and fear by communicating our own fears and anxiety to them. National Geographic recently (last October) wrote an informative article on the subject.

"Just as human toddlers look to their parents for cues about how to react to the people and world around them, dogs often look to humans for similar signs. When their people project feelings of calm and confidence, dogs tend to view their surroundings as safe and secure.... Dogs are amazingly social beings, so they are easily infected with our warmth and joy.” But the converse is true as well, which means their owner’s stress and anxiety can also become the dog’s stress and anxiety."

I'm hopeful that on a re-read, we can agree that we can alleviate the dog's anxiety and fear responses by increasing distance, eliminating visual, audible and olfactory cues as was described w/o necessarily having to turn our backs. As to the extent that our emotions, body language, voice tones, smell and touch can affect our dogs I hope that we can continue that discussion again at some point. Most of the time, they communicate their needs well when they want something. But often enough, I'm left trying to figure out what our dogs (2 full time and another 2 part time) want when they're whining and pawing at me while working at home and I have already addressed "all the usual suspects". T I chose the behavioral sciences as my minor in college and why people (and animals) do what they has always been something that I found fascinating. he exchange of ideas on forums like these is both informative and entertaining.

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That would be bribery, not training. Treats should be out of the dog’s sight (if not out of smell). In a bag/pocket or, if all else fails, behind the owner’s/trainer’s back.
If there's a difference between holding a treat behind one's back and holding a bowl 3 feet above the floor, I'm not seeing it. They have a great sense of smell. And even if their noses were on vacation, they've seen that pouch before, they know what's in it.

"The concept of positive reinforcement is associated with the work of behaviorist psychologist B. F. Skinner. As part of his work during the 1930s and 1940s, Skinner considered ways in which behavior could be changed by treating someone differently based on what they did. This theory is known as operant conditioning. Positive reinforcement refers to the introduction of desirable or pleasant stimuli after the performance of a behavior. This reward can be used to further encourage that behavior, or change a pre-existing one ... A classic use of positive reinforcement is in animal training and behavior. The general adage of animal training is to reward positive behaviors, and ignore undesirable ones. It is important to note that positive reinforcement is not to be confused with bribery. Bribery happens when someone is given something in exchange for doing something that they otherwise would not do, before it happens.

In the Skinner box, the rat / pigeon randomly stepped on a lever and got rewarded ... there was no human intervention. That is a true "conditioned" respnse. But in typical "sit" training, is that really what's going on ? Not from what I have observed. The treats are often waved in the dogs face, more often that not owners are pushing the dogs butt down ... hiding them in a pouch isn't fooling the dog. Watch people training their dog to sit ... when they have that treat behind their back and the dog gets up on all fours or jumps, what do their owners do ? ... that treat goes right behind their back again, they're not fooled, dogs can smell. We have 5 floors in our 200 year old converted dairy barn that we all live in. ... 2 in the front, 3 in the back. One of my occasional late nite snacks, after leaving the office is tuna and crackers and at that time the 2 cats and 2 dogs are on the 5th floor with the wife. Before I get the can opener haf way around the can, I hear what seems like a team of Clydesdales galloping down 4 flights of stairs,and soon after there are 2 cats and 2 dogs in the kitchen, sitting and staring at me.

If you tell your kid that he can't play video games until he finishes his homework ...does that fit the definition of a positive reinforcement ? Under the above definition, as the reward (playing games) didn't come until after the kid finished his homework, it's positive reinforcement ... but did it ? Didn't he get what he wants (a commitment to play games) BEFORE he did the homework ?

[QUOTE ]You’ve lost me here. If they get into handbags moments over squeaky toys, you send them to their crates (presumably remove the toys?), and then the next day - after the incident is well and truly behind them, give them squeaky toys - how does that teach them they can have squeaky toys any time they want?[/QUOTE]

I said when they exhibit this behavior a cue is given to indicate "'unacceptable behavior, go to your crate." ... you said "you send them to their crates"
I said "The next day, each was give a squeaky toy .. " ... you said "next day - after the incident is well and truly behind them, give them squeaky toys"

When both have squeaky toys, there's nothing to fight over. Months later, squeaky toys are boring, both of them sit mostly undisturbed on the floor and when one does play with one, interest fades fast and the other doesn't give a hoot.

It’s like going to a restaurant and the maitre de standing over you while you eat, keeping tabs on every mouthful. Would you be comfortable? I certainly wouldn’t.
A more appropriate analogy would be when I was tending bar at a restaurant and customers chose to sit at the bar and have a meal, just 2 of us in the room so to speak, just like me and the dog, I'd stand there and talk to them .. when their glass was was empty I'd take it, walk over to the tap and fill it up again ... just like the empty dog dish. More importantly, having worked as a waiter and bartender, I have never had the experience of having a customer bite my hand when I took his glass or plate away. But when you do a web search on "attack child food" ya get more hits than ya can read in months

"a 1-year-old baby in Illinois was mauled to death by her family's dog when the girl crawled close to the dog's food "
"Why did my 4 yo husky attack & kill my puppy when she was eating? "

If only someone was nearby to prevent that from happening.

This is the context, I'm talking about. When you own or train large dogs, one has to take that responsibility a bit more seriously. In addition to food training, we also do touch training ... when the dogs jump up to cuddle on the couch, we stick fingers between their pads, hold their paws, hold their tails, stick fingers in and rub their ears ... no more hassles cutting nails, cleaning ears.... no reactions when children do the same. It's conditioning .... when owners grab the dogs paws and they experience it for the 1st time, pull the paw to an angle where they can see better, dogs fidget, they pull away ...after being conditioned not to fear the touch, no longer a 2 person job. They actually enjoy getting their ears cleaned ... when they snuggle up on the couch, they push their head under our hands for ear scratches.

It is, however, vaguely similar to the established practice of adding food to the bowl as the dog eats. Bowl never leaves the ground, dog doesn’t have to stop eating. Owner comes up, stoops, adds kibble/treats to the bowl, carries on. Like the waiter popping back with your dessert and then going to serve the family at Table
Well if we are going to go with the waiter analogy ... don't they take away the dinner plate before bringing the desert plate ? Again, context is important .. training (or better said "operant conditioning) is a process and the individual steps are important. The previous step is important.

""Feeding also involves, early on, giving the dog a small amount, picking up the bowl when empty and then giving them more, teaching that there's more where that came from. " "

I don't get upset when the waiter takes my empty plate away, because I know, he's going to come back with another plate. The dogs don't get upset either ... there's no resources to guard when you pick up an empty bowl. And no, the dog never had to stop eating. One doesn't move to that next step till the dog is conditioned to know that a bowl being picked up is a good thing. They are already conditioned to know that what goes up, immediately comes back down ... just as they learned to sit waiting to get a treat, they learned that bowl going up is a good thing. There's also some excitement ... we keep two 40 lb kibble bins, one contains kibble, one Instinct Brand's "Kibble + Raw" ... sometimes its the Kibble + raw, other times it's table scraps in the 2nd bowl. The 2nd bowl is usually "more interesting". Now we just mix the two kibbles, feed them the full bowl and then sit down to eat our own dinner. Older one eats a half bowl then waits to see if anything gets added after dinner table is cleared before finishing ... the younger is more patient ... she won't touch her bowl until after the dishes are washed. But when we leave the room, she'll go to her bowl and eat.

Resource guarding is an instinctual reaction to inadequate food resources ... we see it in all species, particularly in street dogs which have to compete for food. Resource guarding is a learned behavior which appears as a result of the dog becoming conditioned to know that if he does not react in a certain way and protect his food, he goes hungry. Condition them to know that food is always available for the asking ... and the guarding behavior fades.
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