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!

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Barked: Sun Nov 11, '12 1:02pm PST 
So when I got my puppy, I worked on having her let me reach in her mouth, have my hands by her food while she's eting, the cats by her food, even my other dog. She knows leave it, give it, drop it.

Lately she's been guarding her chews. She'll just push the cats away. If I'm there she doesn't react at all.

My elderly dog though, she can't see very well and she'll wander over to the puppy while she's chewing. Sirius freezes, ears back. I tell her no, drop it! but it's like she doesn't know I'm there. By the time I reached for her, she's already on my other dog. Shaking her. So I grabbed her hind legs and lifted her up. She drops the other dog and that's the end.

So I figure, it's over high resources. So I make sure hwen they're in the same room nothing is on the floor. Trying to figure out how to approach this otherwise. But last night, it happened again and I really can't figure out what she was guarding.

So now I'm afraid to have them in the same room. I tried kenneling Sirius and tossing a high value reward closer and closer to her kennel while the other animals ate it. As long as she can't see me she's watching the other animals hard. Soon as it gets close enough to get agrowl, I move the food back away and reward her for not reacting. is this a good idea? It's the only thing I could think of to work wtih her on this...

Edited by author Sun Nov 11, '12 1:05pm PST

Toto, CD, RN, CGC

We don't do- doodles!!!
Barked: Sun Nov 11, '12 2:02pm PST 
We really don't have enough information, BUT, GSD's are notoriously same sex aggressive and my fear by your, in effect, "teasing" her by allowing the other dogs to have their treats while she is confined seems to me to be an excellent way to build further resentment by her toward the other dog, and will untimately end up with a battle over anything she feels necessary.
I worked for a GSD breeder for 15 years and we always did crate and rotate with the females. There was no way, no how once they reached maturity, there wasn't going to be a battle.
Luckily, you were right there, but what happens when you AREN'T right there OR there are kids in the middle or a hundred other things, all not unheard of with a female GSD.
I would certainly consult a good veterinary behaviorist and have them come to your home and offer ways to deal thru this, but until that happens, I would be crating and rotating and ONLY give treats when everyone is crated.

Edited by author Sun Nov 11, '12 2:03pm PST


Barked: Sun Nov 11, '12 2:08pm PST 
well she has the same food in the crate with her. She just won't eat in her crate for some reason. Never has. I've had to use baby gates for meal times.

Thanks for the info, I'll look into your suggestion.


Woo-woo- whineybutt
Barked: Sun Nov 11, '12 2:24pm PST 
Have you used the crate for time outs or anything else? Does she go in her crate on her own ,i.e., does she like her crate?
If her crate has bad associations with it (punishment) then she might feel anxious and scared in it, and a lot of the times dogs won't eat when they're stressed.

By waiting for her to growl (and teasing her) you're allowing her to practice this guarding. You should always work under threshold (no hard stares / growling) because once you get over threshold she has gone from learning mode ---> defend.
I wouldn't have her in the crate.. Leash her up with you. Toss a piece of food but don't let her have enough leash to get it. Wait for her to come back to you and give you eye contact, then reward and praise. Practice this and then slowly walk around the food, rewarding her for ignoring it and giving attention to you. If you could have a family member leash up the older dog and just sit on the opposite side of the room while you do this and if she looks at the other dog, wait until she looks back at you.. Massive reward!

But, Honestly, don't let her have chews without you supervising, reward her for looking away from the other dog and at you, watch for signs that shes stressed and most importantly, manage! There is no quick fix for this.

I don't know much about Same Sex Aggression, but it is entirely possible. Research it and take preventative measures. Goodluck!

Barked: Sun Nov 11, '12 2:38pm PST 
I think the leash idea would work, when I'm right next to them and they have food the most that happens is Sirius will sort of nudge the other dog away, just like she does with the cats actually.

The dogs lay with each other, play, and otherwise get along. shrug

Oh no, crate has never been used for punishment. she'll sleep in it and take her toys to it. She doesn't seem to like it as much as other dogs I've owned have though.

Edited by author Sun Nov 11, '12 2:39pm PST


Cry cry cry!
Barked: Sun Nov 11, '12 3:09pm PST 
I don't know, I'm not inclined to jump straight to SSA with this. And I've never been of the opinion that SSA was common in GSDs, even in the females (though acknowledgment there that it is more common in females than males in this breed). Plus she's 10 months old, not yet sexually mature, so if it IS SSA... yikes. That's pretty bad, and going to get worse.

But again, that's not my thought. Resource guarding isn't uncommon, especially when it comes to dog-to-dog guarding.

Couple of questions- how old was she when you got her, and what was the litter size?

Ridley, just to give you an example, was from a very large litter (11 puppies) from a bitch who was accustomed to throwing more moderate litters (5 average). He actually left the breeder and arrived here at 9 weeks old.

When he got here, he was a big time RGer. Just over the food bowl, and granted I feed raw so that's a BIG resource to guard... but he would growl and hunch over and make a scene if ANYONE came near him while he was eating, including me. Putting it into perspective, he was from a litter where he did actually have to compete some for resources, even though his breeder was a very good one and made sure he got what he needed. He was also relatively young when he came to me- 9 weeks is older than is standard, but in the scheme of things still young and puppies generally do better with "social" issues like this when left with their littermates and dam longer.

My issue more or less resolved itself. I would hand-feed some of his meals, and toss extra scraps of meat into his bowl while he was eating, and that put a stop to any guarding behaviors with ME. Now with the other dogs I think it just took some time for him to figure out they weren't after his food... that said, I DO separate during meals (same room, opposite sides), because IF one of them tries to get in his bowl while he's eating, he WILL tear into them. Which, frankly, is fair... they don't need to be getting into his food, and I don't allow them to.

Now obviously your issue is a little more severe, as she isn't just guarding her bowl... and of course her over the top reaction is very undesirable as well. For starters I would do as you're already doing, making sure there are no high value treats left unattended while the two dogs are together. From there, I would suggest taking food out of the equation, and just working your puppy around your other dog. Doesn't have to be anything specific, just sits or downs or whatever it is you do, but make sure the other dog is present (crated if you feel it necessary) and try to avoid using food as a reward- use a ball or tug or whatever else she likes. Get her used to working and having to focus on you while the other dog is around. Once you have achieved that, then start adding food back in as a reward. Again, get her comfortable receiving the high value resource while the other dog is present, BUT do it in a structured working environment FIRST. GSDs of course like to work, and if she's working for you to gain her prized resource, she's not going to be focusing as much on your other dog. Getting that concept into her mind is a stepping stone to getting her more comfortable haveing the resources around period. After all, the way to a GSD's heart is through his head laugh out loudway to go
Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Mon Nov 12, '12 2:39am PST 
I'm not inclined to agree with SSA either, even though it's a possibility. This sounds entirely like resource guarding, and nothing more. If it was SSA it would be building up to her going after the other dog in more situations than just those of high value resources.

I tried kenneling Sirius and tossing a high value reward closer and closer to her kennel while the other animals ate it. As long as she can't see me she's watching the other animals hard. Soon as it gets close enough to get a growl, I move the food back away and reward her for not reacting. is this a good idea? By doing this, you're confusing her, completely as well as likely causing her to resent the other dog further and acknowledge that the other dog is causing punishment, rather than something positive. By tossing a high value reward close to the kennel and letting the OTHER dog eat it, you're reinforcing the other dog, not Sirius - who will simply see it as a "Well, why does she get that and not me?" What you WANT to do, is kennel the other dog, and reward Sirius for being in close proximity to the other dog with treats. Tiny treats are best, and not on the floor, as the floor is likely where she guards from, yes? So instead, when she looks at the other dog, but otherwise behaves calmly, mark with a "Yes!" and reward with a high value treat. Seeing the other dog earns her a reward. Undesirable behavior would make that reward go away - so if she starts to growl, you move away with her(on leash would work best) and wait a few moments before starting all over again and building her back up to being close to the new dog again. Rewarding her for not reacting is positive reinforcement. But rewarding the non-guarding dog for being near Sirius is only confusing to Sirius as to why the other dog got the reward, likely causing some resentment because the other dog got something of high value. You absolutely positively want Sirius to regard your other dog with positive/good things happening. Your other dog comes in the room? Sirius gets a reward. The other dog comes close? Sirius is rewarded. The other dog gets a treat? Sirius is rewarded a high value treat.

Never, ever leave them unsupervised either. Eventually, however, the more you work on creating the other dog into a conditioned reinforcer(something that happens and results in the delivery of the positive reinforcer/treat or food) and the more she begins to view the other dog as the positive thing, the more you can add other stimuli to the equation to build up her Leave It when the other dog is around(it seems a leave it either comes too late when the guarding happens, or she doesn't listen to it if it does happen), such as asking her to Leave It if she focuses on food that the other dog is eating in the crate. Keep her on leash for this though, if you do this exercise - even if you've already worked through the first step, because you want absolute control. If she focuses too hard, walk in the opposite direction until you have her attention, then reward for the attention. You can also give a Leave It while moving away and reinforce moving away with the high value reward, or the same food the other dog has. You want her to learn that she has to Leave It, even if it involves the other dog having something that she does not immediately have too. And you want this to be completely reliable too. You take enough time working on this each day, and you could easily end up with good results where you can eventually feed them in the same room(supervised of course!). However, it does take time and patience.

As management while you try to work through it, however, only reward her with chews when she's in her kennel and cannot be bothered by the other dog. This will make Sirius feel more safe with her food, and protect the other dog(who I believe you said can't see very well?) from getting attacked. Never take away, but trade instead. "If you give me that chew, I'll give you a treat that tastes even better!"

Good luck and if all else fails and you're questioning your ability to work her through it, contact a behaviorist who can help you in person. You can also check out the book Mine! - A Practical Guide To Resource Guarding by Jean Donaldson.

Barked: Mon Nov 12, '12 4:29am PST 
She was from a litter of 9 (2 were born dead though). She guarded everything when I first got her around 9 weeks old. I was going to wait until 12 wks but she was the last puppy and we see her parents all t he time so I figured might as well take her home. She hasnt been in heat yet.

She's not left alone unsupervised unless crated or baby gated anyway. I feed raw as well. I was watching her eat this morning and I started to realize how paranoid she seems that the other animals want her food. Any time they get within 3 ft she stops to watch them until they move on.

I'm going to put the other dog in the crate and work with her that way. It seems more reasonable and fairly safe. I'm almost positive it's guarding. They get along so well and the it does seem to happen when there's a goodie. I'm not so sure about the toher night, but it could be she was guarding me or the couch and I just didn't realize it at the time.

Spooky Mulder
Barked: Mon Nov 12, '12 7:43am PST 
10 months and not gone through a heat yet? thinking That's a little late... are you POSITIVE she hasn't, or isn't about to? Because honestly, random over the top hostility like this, especially if there was already a RGing issue there to begin with, wouldn't be too shocking.

Also, two dead puppies... were the people you got this puppy from friends, or was this from an outside breeder? thinking
Toto, CD, RN, CGC

We don't do- doodles!!!
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 4:46am PST 
Mulder, I have NEVER had a labrador come into heat prior to 14 or 16 months of age. In fact, even my toy poodles are normally a year or older before their first heat. I would be surprised if a GSD was in heat before 10 months.
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