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Discussion Starter #1
I'm pretty nervous about this and I need some encouragement/advice.

Finnegan is 3 months old today. He sometimes gets something in his mouth that I don't want him to swallow--a few strands of my long hair off the carpet, or some random fuzz/lint, or a piece of a chew that's gotten small enough to be a choking hazard. Ever since we brought him home I've been reaching into his mouth to take stuff out, and he always let me do it without a problem.

Recently he started running away when I came over to him, but not all the time--only if he had something bigger, like a napkin (stolen off the coffee table). Sometimes he'll take a treat in exchange for the item, but most often he won't, and I have to grab him and take it. He never growled or protested before, but today was different. He ripped the tag off something, started running around with it, and wouldn't drop it even when I tried to trade him a treat. I managed to eventually grab him but this time he clenched his teeth hard so that I couldn't pull the tag out of his mouth. Then he growled at me, not playful puppy growls but mean ones, and he bit me. I didn't think it was very hard--not much harder than his play bites, anyway--but I noticed a few seconds after that one of his teeth had broken the skin beside my fingernail. It's not bad--it sort of looks like a paper cut, and bled about as much as one. But the same thing happened a few days ago when my mother took a too-small chew from him. He growled and nipped her on the finger as well.

Now I feel kind of sick. Anxiety, I guess. I'm worried about aggression. He has never shown any resource guarding tendencies before these two incidents. I can stick my hands in his food dish, take his toys, etc. I just took a look at the resource guarding sticky and I'm not sure how worried I should be. I think I messed up by repeatedly taking things out of his mouth. Though when it's hair or lint I have no choice, really, because once it's in his mouth it's wet and stuck to his tongue. For other things we have been working on "drop it" and "leave it" but he just doesn't seem to be getting it, though he's such a fast learner in other areas...I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong...

How bad of a sign is this for the future? He's just a puppy, he's still very bitey and mouthy in general, and we've been working on bite inhibition but it's going slowly. I'm not sure if his bite inhibition is bad and that's why he broke skin or if it was just bad luck that a single tooth happened to strike the more sensitive area beside the fingernail.

Like I said, I'm really nervous about this. Can someone tell me how nervous I should actually be? Is it too late to nip this in the bud? I won't take anything from him again if I can help it...I'll have to find something really enticing to trade him so that he drops stuff on his own...but the resource guarding sticky talked about confidence...how do I address that? He also was overtired and needed a nap when both of these incidents occurred, could that have anything to do with it? I'm just really scared. Is this normal for puppies since they have such little self-control? Will he grow out of it or get better/more patient as he gets older? What can I do to encourage patience and security? Sorry the post is so long. Thanks guys. :(
 

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I worked with my Aussie a lot when he was a puppy, and as a result he has zero issues with anything being taken from him (be it person or dog). I expected my BC to be the same way. Um, nope. She was a nasty thing, not with people, but certainly with dogs. In puppy class, if another puppy came near her, she was a growly, snappy beast. She even started getting snarky with my Aussie, and he's too much of a push-over to correct her. So I decided to step in.
I worked with her a lot, giving my Aussie a piece of kibble, and then giving her something much more valuable, like cheese. We worked up to being able to give him a handful of treats before she got something really good, like meat. She now happily sits around while dogs near her get treats, and if a dog bumps her while she gets cookies, it's no big deal. She still has an issue with her favourite toy (a football), but only with strange dogs. Not the same situation as your puppy, but I wanted you to know, it can be fixed!

I don't think it's ever really too late to help fix a problem your dog is having. What I would do with him is:
1. Teach a really good leave-it. I personally like a default leave it, which is why I use It's Yer Choice. I basically do the following:
- Hold a cookie in my closed hand. Let the puppy lick, sniff, etc. As soon as they back off, I open my hand and tell them to "get it".
-Progress to having a cookie in your open palm. If puppy tries to take it, close your hand. He needs to back off from your open palm in order to "get it".
-I then work up to having it on the floor, and covering it with my hand.
-Both my dogs can have treats thrown at them and won't go for them. I can also put them on their heads and paws. ;)
Impulse control is very helpful!

Another thing to work on is the trading game. If he likes to play with toys. I would start tugging with him or something. Then present him with a treat he likes or a higher value toy. This will hopefully teach him that regardless of what he has, you probably have something better! I used to do this whenever my guys were playing with toys, I'd come over, ask them to "out" and when they did, they got a mega reward like a special treat. When they are eating, I sometimes cue a "sit" and drop something amazing into their bowls.

Stay strong - you can easily nip this in the bud. Resource Guarding is SO common.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much, Shandula. I was panicking a bit when it first happened but I feel better now that a couple of hours have passed. I understand why it happened, I understand that it's normal, and I feel calmer/more rational about handling it. Phew.

I don't think it's ever really too late to help fix a problem your dog is having. What I would do with him is:
1. Teach a really good leave-it. I personally like a default leave it, which is why I use It's Yer Choice. I basically do the following:
- Hold a cookie in my closed hand. Let the puppy lick, sniff, etc. As soon as they back off, I open my hand and tell them to "get it".
-Progress to having a cookie in your open palm. If puppy tries to take it, close your hand. He needs to back off from your open palm in order to "get it".
-I then work up to having it on the floor, and covering it with my hand.
I actually have been doing this with Finnegan and he learned super fast to leave the treat alone, to make eye contact with me, and to wait for me to say "Okay, get it!" before going after it. I'm really impressed with him on that front, but I'm having trouble transferring it to other objects. Is there any particular method for that?

Thanks again. He's been his usual sweetheart self ever since the incident so I guess he still loves me :eek::)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
An Update:

I would say this issue has gotten worse instead of better. I'm starting to get really nervous about it. Finn's almost 6 months now. I noticed him guarding his food some weeks ago, so I started feeding him exclusively by hand, which seems to be having a positive effect. But lately I've noticed him guarding other objects too. First it was anything edible, chews and puzzle toys with treats/food inside. I can get him very relaxed and comfortable by approaching gradually, tossing treats, slowly building up to touching the item and him, but overall the behaviour isn't getting better and he seems to be guarding more often.

For example. Last night he started chewing on his leash when I had him tethered near me. I reached down to move his toy closer to him, and he guarded his leash. This morning, we were playing with a ball--I'm working on teaching him "fetch" and "drop it", and he was doing great. But after a while I guess he got bored and decided to take the ball and start methodically pulling the "fuzz" off it with his front teeth. Any time I made a movement toward him, he guarded. I managed to eventually get him comfortable with me touching the ball again, but when I reached for a bit of ball-fuzz laying on the carpet he attacked my hand. Then, after a while, he got bored with that and jumped up on the couch where he started chewing on a quilt. I stood up and said "Not yours" and reached to move the quilt away, and he guarded again. :headshake:

The thing about all this is that when he guards something, he doesn't give any warnings. No stiffness/hunching, no hard stare, no growling or lip lifting. He might scramble to pick up the item if he can, but otherwise he goes straight to biting. It's like he just panics, the action is very frantic, although the bites are very soft. I just really don't like that he does this and I'm not sure what else I can do, especially when he has something that could hurt him or that I cannot allow him to damage.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Just a few minutes ago, my mom dropped a tissue and Finnegan grabbed it and started shredding it. He is more protective over tissues than anything else--as soon as I stepped near him he tried to attack my hands. I crouched down and tossed him some treats to show him that it was okay for me to be close. But he kept biting me and started eating the shredded tissue pieces, which I didn't think was good, so I took his leash (he was already tethered) and tied it shorter so that he couldn't reach the tissue shreds anymore. He went crazy. Jumping, high pitched barks/screams, any time I moved anywhere near the tissue shreds. He calmed down for a moment and I rewarded him, but then he went back to screaming and jumping/trying to get at the tissue. I had to remove him from the room in order to clean it up.

What do??????:(:(:confused::confused::(:confused::(
 
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