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What causes food/resource guarding?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
Bauser

Mmmm...stinkbugs- .
 
 
Barked: Sun May 8, '11 6:46pm PST 
Okay so I am asking this because we are going to be bringing home a new pooch soon and I want to make sure I am doing everything right. Both my dogs have/had some kind of guarding issue. Bandit USED to be food aggressive, but we have overcome that. Bauser never did it with food. However, high value treats they will guard so they no longer get them. And bauser will SOMETIMES have some guarding issues with toys if he is really into chewing on them and not just playing.

So being that both my boys have some guarding issues I am feeling like this behavior was caused by my upbringing.
I was a little worried to bring another dog into the mix, but I feel like for the most part I have both their behaviors under control. There have been no incidents so we are finally ready.
Also.Bauser has been fine with toys because bandit never tries to take them away. However, when I had a foster dog sometimes when they played she would take his toy and they would get into a tiff. SO how would I go about conditioning him to be okay with a dog taking his toys if I don't currently have a dog that WILL take his toys? Should I just continue working on his drop it? I am thinking that for the first week at least, all the toys will be put away until everyone is used to eachother. I don't know if thats a good idea or bad.


And just a random question that isn't really related that I have been curious about. If bauser has like a stuffed or destuffed toy and I grab it...he wraps his arms around it immediately and tries to hump. What's the deal, is this dominance related or just him playing. Its never caused any issues, its actually quite funny I just wanted to see what it stems from.
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Risa- W-FDM/MF RE- RL1 CA CGC

Awesome Dog
 
 
Barked: Mon May 9, '11 6:14am PST 
Resource guarding is a completely normal dog behavior. Think about it. If dogs were in the wild, who would live longer: the dog who willingly gives up his meals or the one who holds onto them for dear life?

As far as resource guarding from people, the book Mine by Jean Donaldson is a great resource. If you're interested in more dog-dog resource guarding (preventing and fixing it), I would recommend Fight also by Donaldson. Both are great books.
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Bauser

Mmmm...stinkbugs- .
 
 
Barked: Mon May 9, '11 10:17am PST 
That makes sense, but there are so many dogs that don't show any signs of resource guarding it makes me think SOMETHING triggers it. I guess it just depends on the dog? I do have the book mine, and that has helped a lot. Thank you for the recommendation on Fight...I will have to order that. I just want a moderately peaceful household.

Oh if anyone else can recommend any books to pick up, this isn't my first puppy but it's the first time I am bringing a permanent(not a foster) member into the household since I got bauser 3 years ago. Bringing bauser into a 1 dog household was easy because bandit ignores other dogs. However I feel like because bauser actually ENJOYS the company of other dogs...it will lead to more complications than 2 dogs that ignore eachother.
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Risa- W-FDM/MF RE- RL1 CA CGC

Awesome Dog
 
 
Barked: Mon May 9, '11 4:30pm PST 
It definitely depends on the dog. I have heard that only confident dogs share; they know they can get the resource back if they want it. I don't know how much truth there is in that having only owned a non-confident dog. Ris is a resource guarder.
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Lupi

I\\\'ll do- anything for a- treat!
 
 
Barked: Mon May 9, '11 5:04pm PST 
I've wondered about this too, because anybody could pet Lupi while she's eating and she wouldn't flinch. As much as she loves her bones, she gives them up when asked, and if a child unthinkingly grabs her Kong, she just waits to get it back. I always assumed she didn't care because she gets fed so well she knows she's got nothing to worry about! But she will give a little growl to a puppy that tries to take her food. Not an older dog though. So wouldn't that show a recognition of "status?" or does she just know she could take a little puppy on but not a person or bigger dog?!
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Goodman

Be Cool
 
 
Barked: Tue May 10, '11 2:26am PST 
I think different dogs resource guard from different reasons.

Some had bad past experiences, for others the need is innate. And yet for others it is a combo.
As it has been said above, resource guarding is *normal* behavior.
With people too- if we sit together and eat at a restaurant, and I suddenly take a bit of your favorite food from your plate, depending on your personality, past history and relationship with me, you might let me take the food happily, give me an annoyed face but let me take it anyway, say "Hey!" or slap my hand.

That being said, resource guarding is very workable, even for "bad" dogs who guard nearly *everything*. And yes, I'm talking from experience here, both with my own dog and with foster dogs.
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Shayne CGC,- RL2

Shayne- Disc Doggin in- the 'Burgh!
 
 
Barked: Tue May 10, '11 7:01am PST 
I think it depends on the dog... it is a natural behavior, as Risa stated, but I know that many of the dogs I've worked with have had their guarding behaviors intensify/start because of the behavior of the humans.

Humans yelling at the dogs when they have something inappropriate, humans trying to chase the dog around to get the item, humans ripping the item from their mouth and then yelling at them more, humans who play with a dog's food bowl (pick it up while eating, put their hands in it, try to pet the dog while eating, or otherwise make the dog feel concerned), humans who simply take items from the dog.

I tell my basic obedience classes within the first class or two that they can absolutely create a resource guarder and that they need to be mindful of how they approach various situations. When i have a dog in class who is JUST starting to guard things, i almost always discover that their reaction has begun to escalate the problem.
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Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
 
 
Barked: Tue May 10, '11 11:01am PST 
Watt doesn't resource guard from humans, just his bones from the other dogs in the household. He only growls -- no snapping....

Drives me crazy. I have him drop the object, and I put it away -- no problem with him dropping it for me, he practically spits it out. But he doesn't seem to be learning a darn thing. shock
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Bob, CGC

To err is- human-to forgive- canine
 
 
Barked: Wed May 11, '11 9:52am PST 
I agree resource guarding is normal. Yet of my five dogs only two resource guard (Bob and Pint) neither resource guard with humans, just eachother. I read mine and it didnt help much with my issues (excellent book though) b ecause my dogs where guarding between eacother (ie Bob guarded his food) What helped was management (feeding Bob in a crate, treats in controlled situations as a group). Bob has gotten much much better to the point that if food falls on the floor he will look up at me. I still crate him for meals. Luckily my dogs dont guard toys. Bob will growl if one of the dogs bumps him on the bed, but I dont worry to much about that. I see it is appropriate communication "hey I am here!" My other dogs will just walk away. However, I supervise if he where to attack, not growl, that would be different.
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Glacier

Slick as Ice
 
 
Barked: Thu May 12, '11 10:43am PST 
Mals are notoriously bad resource guarders, so there's got to be some instinct based in it. We worked out Tanuk's human related resource guarding, and his dog-dog guarding as lessened with maturity (thank dog). It's really been a huge behavioral barrier with him though. I suppose if we expected less of him it wouldn't be as big of an issue, but because we do expect good behavior from him we tend to push his buttons so we can work on a behavior.

Glacier we didn't think guarded anything, he seemed very happy go lucky about it, until we gave him some Nylabone/Greenie type dental chews. I dunno what it was but oh man he's obsessed with those and nothing else. We're working on a leave it command with him and it's helping.
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