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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I have a 3 year old, 80 lb, weimaraner mix, who has been resource guarding, and showing aggression (teeth, growling) towards me and my husband when she is under her 'spell' as I like to say. (Her pupils get huge and she gets stiff).

She is generally a very sweet and loving dog, and this random behavior started after we introduced a second dog to the house about a year ago. They get along extremely well. They play together, run together, give kisses, etc.

The problem is, her guarding behavior has generally been very sporadic, but has now become very specific. She has started guarding sticks she finds from the yard (we have a TON of trees).

We took her to the vet a few months ago to have her tested for illnesses or other issues, and there was nothing.

I have read everything I can on how to fix this. She gets a ton of exercise. Every time it happens, I try to counter-condition with high value food, dropping it when I approach her and then leaving...repeat, etc. This may take an hour, but usually, I get her away from the stick. I play games with her to 'drop' less highly valued items. We also have ALWAYS used the 'nothing in life is free' rule with our dogs. They sit before treats, sit and wait for a command before eating their food, etc.

She does NOT guard her food - I can stick my hand in her bowl as she is eating and she is fine. She has guarded a raw hide and bone in the past, but we no longer purchase these. She is not responding at all to any of this. I am actually worried that I am training her to act this way by giving her treats when she is crazy-eyed and possessive.

As I said, it typically has been random - she may do it three days in a row and then not again for three months. This week, however, it has been for about 8 days in a row. Every night she goes, grabs a stick and sits on the patio guarding it. We don't have the finances right now to hire a trainer/behavioralist (they are SUPER expensive where we live). We are going crazy and are worried she will bite somebody.

I was wondering if anybody has experience with this, and might be able to suggest alternative behavioral training.

Thanks in advance for your help!
 

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Hello,

I have a 3 year old, 80 lb, weimaraner mix, who has been resource guarding, and showing aggression (teeth, growling) towards me and my husband when she is under her 'spell' as I like to say. (Her pupils get huge and she gets stiff).

She is generally a very sweet and loving dog, and this random behavior started after we introduced a second dog to the house about a year ago. They get along extremely well. They play together, run together, give kisses, etc.

The problem is, her guarding behavior has generally been very sporadic, but has now become very specific. She has started guarding sticks she finds from the yard (we have a TON of trees).

We took her to the vet a few months ago to have her tested for illnesses or other issues, and there was nothing.

I have read everything I can on how to fix this. She gets a ton of exercise. Every time it happens, I try to counter-condition with high value food, dropping it when I approach her and then leaving...repeat, etc. This may take an hour, but usually, I get her away from the stick. I play games with her to 'drop' less highly valued items. We also have ALWAYS used the 'nothing in life is free' rule with our dogs. They sit before treats, sit and wait for a command before eating their food, etc.

She does NOT guard her food - I can stick my hand in her bowl as she is eating and she is fine. She has guarded a raw hide and bone in the past, but we no longer purchase these. She is not responding at all to any of this. I am actually worried that I am training her to act this way by giving her treats when she is crazy-eyed and possessive.

As I said, it typically has been random - she may do it three days in a row and then not again for three months. This week, however, it has been for about 8 days in a row. Every night she goes, grabs a stick and sits on the patio guarding it. We don't have the finances right now to hire a trainer/behavioralist (they are SUPER expensive where we live). We are going crazy and are worried she will bite somebody.

I was wondering if anybody has experience with this, and might be able to suggest alternative behavioral training.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Not quite sure what the problem is. She gets a stick and guards it. Why is that a problem?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Because if you get close to her while she has the stick, she growls and has snapped at us a few times. It is the aggression I am concerned about. If we ignore her, she will lay on/over the stick for hours (she's done it over night).

Based on what I've read, this seems like textbook resource guarding which can escalate to aggression if left alone. The problem is, she is not responding to the recommended 'remedies' I have found.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Not quite sure what the problem is. She gets a stick and guards it. Why is that a problem?
Because if you get close to her while she has the stick, she growls and has snapped at us a few times. It is the aggression I am concerned about. If we ignore her, she will lay on/over the stick for hours (she's done it over night).

Based on what I've read, this seems like textbook resource guarding which can escalate to aggression if left alone. The problem is, she is not responding to the recommended 'remedies' I have found.
 

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Welcome @2dogmama !

I see your concern! It sounds like you've done a lot of the things that I would recommend. @cookieface brings up a good point about moving too quickly for her. Have you tried trading for something so rare and super yummy that she will do anything for it? In my house, that would be hot dogs or more recently, chicken feet.

I would also suggest Mine! and the stickies on this forum as well.

We have a lot of knowledgeable people on here and I'm sure they will chime in with some great ideas!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You might be moving too fast for her or not using something of high enough value to CC (have you tried trading sticks for sticks?).

What "recommended remedies" have you found?

Jean Donaldson's Mine! is the most commonly recommended resource. Patricia McConnell has a nice blog post, and there's a sticky, Resource Guarding, causes, prevention and modification here on the forum with good info.
http://www.dogforum.com/training-be...guarding-causes-prevention-modification-7511/
Thanks @cookieface for your reply.

I have read Patricia McConnell's blog, and a lot of similar articles. I have not yet read Jean Donaldson's book, but maybe its time to check it out.

What i have read suggests I work on managing the problem, using positive reinforcement when I get near her, and for 'trading' items with me during training.

You are right, that maybe I am not going slowly enough and escalating her guarding. I offer her very high value treats (other than maybe a whole raw steak, I am not sure what else I can offer.) I do tend to get impatient. It is very stressful.

I will check out the forum. Thanks so much for your help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Welcome @2dogmama !

I see your concern! It sounds like you've done a lot of the things that I would recommend. @cookieface brings up a good point about moving too quickly for her. Have you tried trading for something so rare and super yummy that she will do anything for it? In my house, that would be hot dogs or more recently, chicken feet.

I would also suggest Mine! and the stickies on this forum as well.

We have a lot of knowledgeable people on here and I'm sure they will chime in with some great ideas!
Thanks @Aspen726
I appreciate your advice - hot dogs are an interesting idea. We have been using ham, and chicken skin, but maybe something new will help.
Will take a look at the stickies!
 

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Resource guarding is like an illness and, if left untreated, it will spread. It presents itself with one item then slowly generalizes to anything the dog values. For my dog, it started with food bowls, then chews, then toys, then water bowls, then my room, then me (towards other dogs). I've worked really really hard on managing the behavior, as well as counter conditioning. You need good management in place before you can CC. I treated it almost like a reactive dog. The other dog would appear at a distance away from my room that Pax (my dog) was comfortable, I would treat him, then the dog would go away. I repeated the process until the other dog appearing made him look at me expectantly. We slowly worked on closing the distance at a pace my dog was comfortable. If an incident happened, it was poor management on my part and we started over. This has been a long process since I adopted him, but I am pleased to say that recently, I've been able to let both dogs enjoy chews very near to eachother without problem. I also have trained them together on occasion and release them from a command by throwing treats into the grass, and they very respectably eat the food and come back. It's taken over a year of daily work and now he's 90% better. I haven't pushed certain things because they don't need to be pushed. Like the other dog will never be in a bowl at the same time as pax, but most other things are nearly fixed.

HOWEVER. One thing I will stress, it is important to keep this training fresh in their minds even after success is gained. The dog will likely go back to old ways if you don't practice RG training at least weekly. I think important things for the all the dogs in the house (not just the ones who guard) to know are "watch me" "leave it" "drop it" "take it" and "place". Especially if your dog listens well to you, but doesn't trust the other dog not to steal their things. That's what I had to work on. We built trust that Huck (other dog) would back off if Pax had something, and vice versa.
 
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