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Thread: SUDDENLY 6 month old BLM resource guarding...

  1. #11
    Senior Member Mary Lynn Metras's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sixpacklabs View Post
    Before you implement any approach to address what you've labeled a resource guarding issue, I'd strongly suggest you do two things: (1) As DoubleHaul suggested, whenever a dog has a sudden behavioral change, it's worth looking into whether some physical or health issue might be involved. (2) PLEASE read this post on Patricia McConnell's blog about resource guarding treatment and prevention: http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/the...and-prevention

    If you're not familiar with Patricia McConnell, you can find more information about her here: http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/about-patricia. Her books and blog are wonderful reading. Her dissertation research was on communication between sheep herders and their dogs, she's a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist with many years in private practice (including working with 100s if not 1,000s of dogs with resource guarding issues), is well versed in current scientific literature on dog behavior and learning, has bred border collies and trained them for herding, and above all, is thoughtful and not dogmatic about all things dog. If I had a dog with a behavioral issue, her work is the first place I'd go to begin to seek guidance. Like you, she lives in Wisconsin. I don't think she's in private practice any longer, but the business she founded is still alive and well and could be a great place to seek a consultation if you think that's appropriate: http://www.dogsbestfriendtraining.com.

    Good luck with your pup.
    Thanks for posting that info as well! Very interesting.
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  2. #12
    Senior Member metalone67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Labs R Us View Post
    About two weeks ago, Henry suddenly began to show possessive aggression. I was totally blown away by this behavior as he has been the sweetest and easiest pup I've ever had and was a breeze to house train and crate train. His obedience is really good and I abide by the rule that "nothing in life is free". He has been CC'd to "here" as he had a tendency to go and visit the gunner rather than return to me. He has also been doing well with the "hold" and I'm about ready to start FF.

    His aggressive behavior first showed up a couple weeks ago when he grabbed a scarf off the floor. Normally, I could go right up to him and say "out" and he would drop the object. Not this time, he took off running and when I was able to catch him, his body became stiff and he started growling and snarling at me. I was able to get the scarf away from him by just waiting him out. Last Sunday was the worst incident thus far. I tried to get a toy away from him by telling him to "sit" and "out". I took a hold of his collar and he proceeded to bite my hands, arms, and leg. I was prepared and wore leather gloves, so luckily only ended up with some really ugly bruises.

    I am so surprised by his sudden aggression as he is a very happy and social puppy with people and dogs. I just have no idea where this aggression came from. I get conflicting suggestions from people such as to pin him down until he submits or trade him his guarded object for a food treat.

    I had really hoped Henry would be my first MH but with aggression rearing its ugly head, I'm not so sure any more. Can this behavior be corrected? (I have to admit that I am now nervous about taking any object away from him.)

    I am really upset about this so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    First off any dog of mine that tries to bite me gets lifted off the ground by their collar, they can't do anything if not on their feet, then I would proceed to take whatever it is away from them.
    You are now showing signs of submission to him due to the fact you are leary to take anything away from him. He's winning and quickly.
    I've been bit a few times, but I've always won in the end.
    You may want to have someone that knows what they are doing evaluate him and then leave him them.

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  3. #13
    Senior Member JusticeDog's Avatar
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    Well guys, this is a six-month-old puppy, and I had suggested to Becky to try a positive training approach with him first. Things have now gone to leather gloves for Becky And getting bit, I think she needs to use a more aggressive approach with him and control of the dog. He is obviously starting puberty early. Usually i have seen this about 8 to 10 months old although not often, in some of the sweetest labs.

    Ruff Love, the book I mentioned is by Susan Garrett, an animal behaviorist. It basically puts the dog in Boot Camp unless they are exhibiting good behaviors. Being keeper of the fun is key.

    I think checking the thyroid is a good idea, but I would also just go ahead and punch him in the nose hard or lifting him off his feet as someone suggested and then put them in Boot Camp like Susan Garrett suggests. If you've got a collar on him, you can grab him by the collar and shake the living daylights out of him so that it makes him dizzy. All the while telling him no no no no no in the loudest firmest voice you can muster out of your body.

    If you do it right, you usually only have to do it once or twice. And then you never see the behavior again. When my first lab justice was about 10 months old, he growled at me while on a walk. I had to put his head into the concrete and sit on him. He was my best lab ever. Died at 17 months old of cancer. I still miss that dog.

    So Becky, even the sweetest ones can have this turn and try and test you.
    Susan

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  4. #14
    Senior Member Julie R.'s Avatar
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    I am not a fan of the overused and often unsuccessful alpha roll; I think it creates more problems than it fixes but as Susan and a few others suggested, grabbing the scruff or the collar and lifting the dog off its feet is a very effective "come to Jesus" technique. There are certain battles you have to win with an adolescent dog and growling or biting--for resource guarding or any other reason--is one of them. Agreed that 6 mos. is young to be already trying to intimidate the owner, but not unheard of. Behavior boot camp is in order, too. In addition to the resources already listed, google nothing in life is free. Along the same lines as other suggestions in this thread, the dog gets all privileges revoked immediately. For example, if he sleeps on your bed or is allowed on the furniture, this stops. The young delinquent goes through doors last, gets fed last, gets greeted last (if at all) when you return. It really does work as an attitude adjustment lifestyle.
    Julie R., Hope Springs Farm
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  5. #15
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    I'm agreeing with Julie R. here regarding NILIF! You need to remember that it's more than just requiring a "sit" before treats or food, it's a lifestyle. For example, I do not give any attention to our 9 mos. old Chessie male, no petting, no sweet words, nothing, unless he comes and sits quietly. I also do not allow anyone else to pet him unless he is sitting quietly (no whining) though that is still a work in progress, since he is very affectionate and it's hard to control other people and he knows how to manipulate people with a smile and wagging tail, lol.

    He has no toys that are his, they are all mine. He is allowed to play with them when I give them to him, and then they are put away in a box where he cannot reach them when we are done. He is not allowed on the furniture, and is not allowed to have or chew on anything that we have not given him. He is never allowed to have anything that is our children's...ie. toys, pillows, bedding, and he is never allowed in the bedrooms without permission.

    In reading your post, I'm wondering if this has been subtly going on for a longer time than you realize. Specifically, the issue with the scarf...in your mind, YOU waited him out. But because you did not deal with the problem (He took something that was not his and needed a correction)immediately, you allowed him to have it when he growled at you. He won. He taught you in a single instance, that if he growled at you, you would give in and let him have whatever it was he took.

    In my experience, our Chessie (for whom it's bred right into him to resource guard), started that growling business when he found something that wasn't his that he really wanted, when he was just a few months old. His favorite were baby diapers. He would steal them out of the trash can and then run behind the couch and hide and growl at you when you would go back there to take them away. It didn't happen very often, but we had to make sure to deal with that EVERY time, immediately, because he had a LONG memory. It could be a couple of weeks before the next instance. When he was 3-4 mos. old, he got a spanking or an alpha roll at the instance, but we heavily worked obedience with lots of praise/rewards throughout that time as well. Things like "here" "fetch" and "drop" to the point that he wanted to do what he was told and get that praise or treat WAY more than he wanted anything else.

    By the time he was 6-7 mos. old and more than 65 lbs, he tried it again a couple of times. Stole a baby diaper or something and hid under the table and growled. I yelled at him and commanded him to give it to me and tried to go under the table after him, and he just growled more. Honestly, it scared me a little, because he was now big enough to do some damage. I could have fought him for the thing he wanted, but my husband and I found a different solution that worked better. I walked 10 feet away and grabbed a treat and called him to me in a happy voice. He looked at me funny, dropped the diaper, and trotted over for the treat. I picked up the diaper, told him it was mine, threw it away and put him through a mini obedience session in the kitchen. I did not trade the diaper for a treat, I moved a significant distance away from him, commanded him to come, and gave him the treat for doing what he was told and then launched into more obedience work immediately so he got the picture. It was his job to do what he was told, and if he did, he got great things, like praise and treats and toys. We also started to catch him when he picked up something and happily called him and told him to bring it to us, instead of correcting him for picking it up. We did start out being more punitive with him, but because he is pretty soft we found that with him, if we were aggressive with him, he would get even MORE aggressive back with us. so this is the solution we found that worked best and curtailed the aggressive behavior best with him. It may not work as well on your individual dog.

    Occasionally, he will still steal things, but now, he will easily drop them and trot on over for some obedience work when we call him. He also started picking up miscellaneous stuff that the kids left on the floor and bringing it to us without being asked to. Now, he will find stuff the kids dropped and bring it to one of us, because he knows he will get praise and loving. I really think he might be easier to teach to clean up the house than the kids are, lol.

    I'm not an expert , but in my opinion, 6 mos. is still puppyhood. It's that time when they WILL test their boundaries. You taught him he could have what he wants if he growled at you. Basically, you showed him you were scared of him and he was in charge. Since you said you put on leather gloves before you corrected him last Sunday, my guess is that you are exuding behavior all the time that tells him you are scared of him and he's in charge. You may not even realize it, but your body language is probably telling him that. Sticking to NILIF like Julie R. suggested will help you show him that you are in charge and he is not. Also, check your posture and your tone of voice, you need to be telling him that you are in charge in that way too.

    He probably needs a "come to Jesus" meeting including physical correction, and more obedience work. He also needs to be excited to do what you want when you ask him to, and the easiest way for that to happen is to make sure he has NOTHING that you have not given him. Now you need to teach him that what he gets from obeying you is WAY better than whatever it is he steals from you.
    Last edited by ChessieMom; 10-10-2013 at 11:55 AM.

  6. #16
    Senior Member Labs R Us's Avatar
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    Thank you all so much for your comments. I truly appreciate it. When this behavior first appeared a couple weeks ago, it was like a switch was flipped in his personality. My first thought was a surge in testosterone. I could understand (yet not allow) if he was trying to guard a bone or meat but he is guarding his silly toys which he has had forever. The minute it happened, I knew I had to correct it immediately so it didn't progress. Before this happened, when he would steal a slipper or such, I could go up to him and tell him “out” and he would do so without a problem. I really didn’t see any signs previously of this issue.

    Since the day he came home, I have had him work for everything he wanted...getting out of his crate, going outside, being fed, getting attention. He has also never been allowed on any furniture in the house. I thought I was doing things right.

    I've done research online regarding Patricia McConnell’s and Jean Donaldson’s thoughts on this subject. I will definitely have to look up the book Ruff Love, Susan, thank you so much. McConnell and Donaldson seem to go by the theory of counter-conditioning. I tried that with a piece of hot dog and he immediately dropped the object for the food. To me, tho, this would give him the impression that he can growl and then be rewarded for it. Not too sure about that solution. When I donned my gloves on Sunday, I was prepared to take Henry on if he showed aggression when I wanted to take one of his toys. I tried to hold him down while he continued to growl, snarl, and bite. The leather gloves helped but both of my hands are quite bruised. I should have also had a heavier shirt on because my arms were bit also. I want to get this issue done and over with ASAP.

    Just as side note, his playtime with my other lab (a 6 y/o blm neutered who is a mellow fellow) seems to be getting rougher. I think he is testing both of us. Maybe picking him up by his collar and taking his feet off the ground (i.e., come to Jesus meeting) will do the trick. Just need to make sure I am fully armed. I hope that his behavior can be corrected as I know what the only alternative would be. That would be a shame as he has shown to be an awesome dog to train.
    Becky
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  7. #17
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    I totally agree with Julie Reardon and Chessie Mom! Using Nothing In Life Is Free has saved a lot of dogs! It is worth a try. Not to say that the books suggested aren't good. Dr. Patricia McConnell is a favorite of mine also. Good, interesting stuff. Haven't tried Ruff Love, but sounds very good too! Check out http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm and good luck!

  8. #18
    Senior Member frontier's Avatar
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    The OP stated "he is doing well with the hold" which caught my attention. Normally, when you start hold, you are getting control of the dog's mouth and mind. How does the dog react to placing an object in his mouth and requiring him to hold? Did you see any aggression during your hold process? I would certainly temporarily delay force fetch until this behavior is resolved.

    Over the years, I've bought a couple of 4-5 year old intact Boykin male and Labrador males who tried growling/testing me shortly after arrival at my home. They only try it once. I do not nag.. I just settle it.
    Last edited by frontier; 10-10-2013 at 01:51 PM.
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  9. #19
    Senior Member 2tall's Avatar
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    Terrie, that begs the question. EXACTLY how do you settle it without risking losing the battle or serious injury?
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  10. #20
    Senior Member frontier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2tall View Post
    Terrie, that begs the question. EXACTLY how do you settle it without risking losing the battle or serious injury?
    It depends on the dog. I've used some of the techniques and recommendations mentioned with success if the behavior warranted it (well not the urination one... yikes.) at different times for different situations.

    No advice can replace a experienced trainer on site working with you observing you and your dog together.
    Last edited by frontier; 10-10-2013 at 02:46 PM.
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