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Discussion Starter #21
Actually work with many dogs that have been to a behaviorist and failed.

The recommendation was to AVOID a behaviorist - and I offered a referral which I was never solicited for. I'm not going to speculate why but I would imagine the second someone says "take charge" the need for professional help is reduced significantly.

Breed is irrelevant on this one in my experience with many many resource guarding dogs - I've seen it in everything from labs to pitbulls to bichon frise - it's a nerve thing - anxiety and fear based - it's not a "dominance" issue in any of my experience or a breed issue.
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"taking charge" may help - all the way around but it needs to be done carefully and be well understood by the dog. The dog has shown a willingness to be aggressive. Inconsistent and confusing punishment could lead to a big problem. There needs to be good balance. The dog's world needs to become black and white 24/7/365. The guarding might then go away without being addressed directly. Often times it won't though. So a good strategy to keep everyone safe until it's solved is also in order.
This is good advice and also correct - it's really not easy to believe that the dog is acting up because he's nervous, but from his behavior it was plainly clear that he was. Once I saw someone else confirming that the behavior was anxiety-based and that we needed to reassert consequences and rewards, we really didn't need much professional help.
The issue had also been confused a little by our vet, who told us that we should just let him be, avoid confronting him, and wait it out until he got distracted. Our chessie is not one to get distracted. That was terrible advice.
 

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<p>
Hey all, thank you for the help and advice. My chessie is coming on 14 months now, almost to the anniversary of the day we got him. He is much better behaved after a few months of love. We went from tantrums multiple times a day to tantrums once a month, if that. We did reestablish the social order of the house by making him "apologize" when he growled at one of us, locking him in the basement after tantrums, etc. We sent him to a daycare when he was younger, and the increased socialization also helped his behavior. He gets lots of exercise and regular trips to the dog park. He loves other dogs, but not always new guests. We're working on letting him meet them outside the house before they are invited in, which has calmed his fears for the most part. (As a note, I think the people we left him with over winter break really did make him very anxious. We won't be recommending them to anyone. The lesson here is don't take sitter recommendations from colleagues without heavy scrutinization.) As time went on, our chessie seemed to just outgrow the tantrums over toys. Still, we got him a shock collar. It doesn't really hurt him; when he starts working himself up over a toy we give him a buzz and it distracts him enough to listen to our words. I tested out the charges on myself and I never use a charge above an annoying buzz. However, since getting the collar, we've only had to use it for this reason once or twice. We use it on walks to remind him not to say hello to our neighbors. Even as he grew up, the one thing he used to consistently "guard" was his food. We feed him raw meat, mostly chicken but sometimes beef or even more rarely lamb as a treat. The problem was that we gave him too much and the pieces were too large, so he got worried that we would take it from him and started acting out. We started cutting the meat into smaller, bite-size pieces and hand-feeding it to him while he sits or lies down at our command. He gets enough smallish servings until he's not hungry anymore, which amounts to about the right amount of food each day. When he listens to us during a tantrum, he gets lots of love and positive reenforcement from his family, but whatever he was growling over gets taken away. He seems to have gotten the message that we love him, but not the bad behavior, which is exactly what we wanted. He's still not the best listener, especially when he's playing, but he's getting much better and can pretty much always be reasoned into doing what we want him to. When he was little, my biggest worry was that he wouldn't recognize us as his family, but, looking at his big brown eyes now, I am very reassured that we are on the right track to good behavior.
Really good to hear it's going better! Kudos for your time, patience, and dedication to your dog. Steve</p>
 
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