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Thread: My Dog's Dominance is Getting Worse

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default My Dog's Dominance is Getting Worse

    I have a corgi cross (not sure what the other breed is...maybe border collie.)
    He is almost 3 years old.
    Overall a lovely nature but for some reason(maybe because it's our first dog and we haven't trained him properly) he is extremely possessive. Today I took him to the park and he just lied on the tennis ball as if to say "Try and get it off me"..I tried but he growled and showed his teeth. This has happened several times before with toys and bones. I have been told it is dominant behaviour so maybe I should hire a dog behaviourist to fix it. Still I thought I'd try a net forum first.

    We really do love our dog but we want to address this because it is getting out of hand. I'vew never seen him aggressive to other dogs or humans...but maybe if ther is a possession involved it would be a different matter.

    thanks for your attention

  2. #2

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    Resource guarding does not usually mean a dog is dominant.

    It's a pretty common problem but your best and safest bet is seeking professional help

  3. #3
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    Default

    I taught my dog to trade for stuff. Including tennis balls, baseballs, other dogs toys, my ugg boots...

    So I offer her something much yummier to her than a tennis ball like a piece of roast chicken. If I can't get close enough - sometimes I throw a handfull of pieces of roast chicken.

    Offer the trade before the dog thinks you're trying to take something. Say "Thank you" and offer bits of chicken. If the dog takes the chicken - pick up the ball. Sometimes you might need a treat that takes a little longer to eat - like a piece of dry beef lung cube etc.

    Practice this at home before you go to the park. If the dog is growling over toys at the park - do not get toys out at the park - and put your dog on lead if other dogs have toys. It's not worth the risk.

    Misconceptions of the Mythical Alpha Dog | Dog Star Daily

    Your dog is not dominant. Your dog is not yet trained enough. Someone who can train you to train your dog - would be a benefit.

    Not sure who is good in WA but suggest you send an email to Steve Courtney at K9 Pro The K9 Professionals; Dog Training and Behaviour Site and ask him to recommend someone in your area.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by smeagle View Post
    Resource guarding does not usually mean a dog is dominant.

    It's a pretty common problem but your best and safest bet is seeking professional help
    Thanks for that. I should feel relieved he is not dominant then.

  5. #5
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    Hyacinth
    Thanks for going to such trouble. I really do fit the Junior Member status on this forum showing such ignorance. Was so convinced it was dominance. Will follow up that contact you provided. Believe it or not my wife and I have been to obedience school with him: so he can sit, down, and come. Under pressure (distractions in the park) he doesn't come and is still easily distracted by other dogs/human. Maybe we are too gentle with him and need to let him know we are the boss.(es)

  6. #6
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    Default

    That was an interesting article Hyacinth on misconceptions of the "alpha" dog. There still seems to be a lot of "old school" thinking out there about "dominance" and physically reminding your dog who is boss. eg.(hitting them with rolled up newspapers)

  7. #7
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    Does he growl around dinner time too, if you go near him while eating? When i first bought Oskar home, I tried to take his pigs ear off him, he growled and nipped me. I won't tolerate that behaviour in my home, so I tried a few more times and he got the message, I would say Ta and gently take it off him. I put my hand in his food, and I also make him wait until dinner. I encourage my children to do so to. You as his owner, must show him who is boss, and you don't need to smack him or anything. I would never dream of doing that. I have also discouraged the possessive behaviour in any other dog I have had.

    I agree with everyone else as well if you are unsure what to do, get professional help.

  8. #8
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    oncebitten

    You might want to do some research on operant conditioning.

    The safest most reliable way for a newbie to train a dog is using rewards, ie you figure out what you want the dog to be doing instead of what you don't want it to be doing, you encourage the dog to do what you want by rewarding him when he does it, and making it really easy for him to choose to do what you want by limiting his options - when you first start the task.

    Being tougher on the dog - to me - looks a bit like you want to use more punishment or correction. It's definitely ok to stop a dog from doing what you don't want or limiting his opportunity to do so - but it's not ok to add scolding or shaking or choking (yanking on the collar). Ie that's the kind of punishment that takes perfect timing for the dog to learn not to do something - and most of us do not have that kind of perfect timing. I would suggest that Steve Courntey is one who does have that timing - and I don't.

    I would also suggest watch more Victoria Stillwell and less or no Cesar Milan - he's a good example of what beginners should not do - because of something called "Fallout".

    Ie fallout is when you use some sort of physical punishment or correction on the dog and the dog makes the wrong assocation between the punishment and what you want (or don't want).

    Eg if the dog takes a long time to come back - and you scold it for being slow - it will come back even slower the next time - because you punished it for coming back. Ie the fallout is a dog that won't come back.

    The alternative rewards based method - would be to give the dog a low value reward like a bit of praise and a pat if he comes back slowly, and a high value reward like lots of little bits of roast chicken and praise when he comes back fast or faster than usual.

    If you scold a dog for peeing in the house - the fallout can be - a dog that hides when he needs to pee.

    If you scold a dog for resource guarding (growling when you want the ball), the dog thinks you are competition and growls more and basically the mutual aggro escalates, and you may end up with a dog that bites you if you try to take anything away from it. That's fallout.

    If you reward a dog with a high value trade for what you want - eg pieces of roast chicken for the ball - the dog will be more enthusiastic about letting you have the ball. My dog won't growl over the ball, but her fave game is chase-me... but roast chicken trumps a game of chase me - so now when I ask for the ball she gives it to me, whether I have roast chicken or not - ie once the dog has learned the task - you can change from regular rewards to random jackpot rewards like a pokie machine payout.

    hmm that's a bit long, but I really really don't want you punishing your dog. Stopping him yes but punish - no.

    On Steve Courtney's website there are two articles, triangle of temptation(TOT), and nothing in life is free (NILIF). Have a read.
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 10-16-2011 at 09:28 PM. Reason: words I thought I typed mysteriously disappeared...

  9. #9

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    I taught my dog from when he was a puppy that he had to let people take things off him, no matter what it was or who it was. I started out using tug of war with a rope and teaching him in the middle of the game to "leave it". Once he had that worked out i moved to food/bones etc. I have had other people take bones off him with no signs of aggression - sometimes he'll play tug until he's told to leave it but never growls or anything. I'm not sure if this is usefull to you, but maybe its a starting place?

  10. #10
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    Default

    I don't think much of the alpha dog theory either, but I do make sure my dog knows that I control all the resources. Food, toys, access to walks, etc. (I also have no problem telling my child that the main reason why I make all the decisions is because I have all the money and without me she doesn't get to eat or do anything!)

    I also think swapping for a high value treat would be a good start. If you teach your dog that 'sharing' his toys with you always has pleasant consequences, he'll get the hang of it pretty soon.

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