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Thread: Food/Toy Guarding/Growling, nipping & air snapping - please help

  1. #1

    Default Food/Toy Guarding/Growling, nipping & air snapping - please help

    my puupy is around 16 weeks and she has recently displayed food/toy guarding (freeze, tail down, growling, upper lip lifting and biting), and growling/air snapping/nipping hands when she is asked to do something she doesnt want to do at that moment (e.g. being picked up, going to toilet etc).

    She has bitten both myself and my partner and drawn blood when she had high value treat (or sometimes trash) in her mouth and thought it would be taken away from her when we approached too close. She is fine and relaxed with us around her and petting her during main meals because we feed her by hands and introduce hands in her bowl and petting at early age (she did growl and snap during main meals initially when we first got her and hence the hand feeding), however we did not pick up her guarding with treats at the time.

    Her toy guarding is not as severe as with food, usually it is with the new toys in the first 10 to 20 minutes when she first has the toys and all she does is mild growling and walking away with the toy. She recently learned 'let go' so she is able to give me her toy when asked and followed with treats.

    Please could anyone help me and provide advice in how to address/correct these behavioral issues? Thank u so much.

  2. #2

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    not sure but you don't want to get it negative I think, positive reinforcement is the best thing here, lots of praise when she gives you the toy/food gently. so if she won't give you something, get something else (like a piece of chicken or something) get her attention and swap it. do it over and over again until she gets the idea that you are not there to take away all of her things and instead somebody who has a seemingly infinite number of nice things to give.

    The thing is she doesn't respect you or trust you enough to take stuff away from her without her getting aggressive. At 16 weeks it won't take very much to earn her respect.

    Make her sit before meals, sit before giving her a toy, make her do something before giving her anything.

    I'm not sure exactly but aggression towards it's owner is not on and you don't want to get aggressive trying to deal with it or else you will probably make it worse. Earn her trust first.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by goggles View Post
    not sure but you don't want to get it negative I think, positive reinforcement is the best thing here, lots of praise when she gives you the toy/food gently. so if she won't give you something, get something else (like a piece of chicken or something) get her attention and swap it. do it over and over again until she gets the idea that you are not there to take away all of her things and instead somebody who has a seemingly infinite number of nice things to give.

    The thing is she doesn't respect you or trust you enough to take stuff away from her without her getting aggressive. At 16 weeks it won't take very much to earn her respect.

    Make her sit before meals, sit before giving her a toy, make her do something before giving her anything.

    I'm not sure exactly but aggression towards it's owner is not on and you don't want to get aggressive trying to deal with it or else you will probably make it worse. Earn her trust first.

    Thank you for the reply. I do ask her sit/drop everytime she is fed, given treat and play. I will try my best to make a positive experience for her and do the food swapping. I think the root lies at previously when she was smaller and tried to eat trash on the street we used to pick her up and take it out from her mouth, and didnt give her a swap treat as we didnt carry any at the time, so the experience taught and reinforced her to think when our hands reached her goodies were gone. another reason could be her expereince with her littermates as she is the smallest out of the litter and possibly most of the food were eaten by others, so she had to guard her food harder.

  4. #4
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    I guess you could try the food swapping but at the same time put time and in effort in training her and getting her to learn how to earn her treats.

    I personally am not a fan of food swapping. I once had a resource food resource guarding puppy and he simply didnt get his food if he tried that on. He soon learn that type of behaviour lost him his food, while nice behaviour earned him his food it was as simple as that. He very quickly played nice. Probably something you have to experiment with and see what works. You need to fix it quick or the behaviour will become entrenched and harder to deal with.

    At the time we lived where there were often tasty poisonous sea slugs on the beach that would kill a dog ( I lost one of mine), I needed to get something like that out of his mouth fast. Swapping wasnt an option. He soon learnt that I meant business and not to mess with me. He very quickly got over it all. I do spend a lot of time working with my dogs and establishing a good working bond with them.

  5. #5

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    I agree with Kalacreek. I would not recommend food swapping because essentially you're teaching the dog that if they pick something naughty up, you will reward them with something they want more. I take things off Sammy all the time, if I hear him with something in his mouth I always tell him to drop it, make sure it's safe for him to have and then tell him ok and he grabs it again. But if it's not ok, I take it off him and I think it's really important that your dog trusts you and respects you to allow you to do that. The only time I have redirected was when the dog had an urge and didn't know how to deal with it, such as when they're babies and they bite you and you show them that there are toys for that.

    How are you responding when she bites you? Kalacreek has given you some great tips for how to address the food guarding, but my concern is also around the fact that she thinks biting and aggression are effective communication tools. My dog has challenged me on a handful of occasions. To give you an example, I was playing with Sammy and when the game ended, he didn't want to stop. He found a new game, which was running past, jumping and nipping my arm. Now this is not a fun game to play with a dobe cross with huge teeth. I reprimanded him, he barked back at me, in a half play position. It was in play but I didn't want to play and he knew that, he was being challenging and naughty. I ignored him, as I usually do when he's being naughty but he was in high drive still so he did it again. I grabbed his collar, told him he was naughty and held him by his collar. He didn't like this at all, tried to struggle and then growled at me. I just ignored him at this point, but held onto him. Then he decided to try and mouth my arm. If in that moment, I had reacted fearfully which let me tell you would have been easy to do because he is a very large powerful dog, he would have learned that he could intimidate me and control me through using his teeth. I knew he didn't want to hurt me, he just wanted to see if he had a way to get control. Instead, I acted shocked and disappointed, but didn't move my arm. I basically shamed him out of the behaviour, teaching him that firstly I wasn't at all scared of him because I was confident in my position and my authority and secondly, that all he could achieve through using his mouth on me was my disapproval. He hasn't done it again since because it didn't work.

    I would be very careful to try and hide your reaction if the dog does bite you. I would disagree with anyone who says they hurt their dog when it hurts them, I think that just teaches that violence is how you solve problems. I honestly just ignore anything I don't like, if it doesn't work, they won't do it. I know it's hard especially if they're drawing blood and if you're scared, don't approach the dog because that's all the reaction they need to tell them that what they're doing is working. If you can't avoid being scared, you need to get a professional in because it's very hard to train a dog if you're scared of what could happen.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Geelong, Vic
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    Frankly with a puppy this age you need to practice the swap. There's two options, fight the pup or teach it to relinquish the item. You can fade out the food over the next few months once the anxiety and possession problems have decreased. Your pup has found your interaction mildly aversive, it bit you to back off and it learned it's a viable option - fight or lose what you have. Dogs dont know any better.

    I taught all my Malinois like this because I tell you, I dont want to have to fight a dog like that over something when it's older. They all drop whatever I tell them or don't even touch it, no food or toys required once the idea is in their heads. The best way to start is with two handfulls of mince. Sit on the floor and have the mince in your closed fists. Let the pup lick one hand and open it slightly so they can have a little. Say LEAVE as you close the hand so the pup cannot access. When the pup stops licking offer the other hand marking YES!! as soon as the pup pulls away from original hand. Rinse and repeat. Great for resource guarders especially as they cannot clench an item in their jaws so you have to fight them.
    http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c11/Mali_nut/K9LOGO.jpg

  7. #7

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    Hi all, I really appreciate all your advice.

    To be honest, at the moment i am not particularly comfortable doing food swap or having my hand close to her mouth while she's munching as I know for sure she will bite. Last night I had my worst bite from her. She was eating her pig's ear and i noticed she got dirt/fluff on her head. I wanted to clean it off her (stupid move) and so went up with another treat to direct her attention and bent over to remove the dirt. I think as i bent over, my other hand (with the treat) were too close to the pig's ear and she bit my hand hard and deep (she never bit that hard before). my reactions were shocked, gave her a loud 'No' and went away immediately becoz the wounds looked scary deep (lucky her teeth r tiny so not so much blood).

    I also think our relationship has worsened since last sunday. last sunday she was extremely naughty, trying to jump all over the place and climbing the doggy fence. I yelled no and gave her a serious stare a couple of times, then when she continued to behave naughty, I went and grab the loose skin on her neck and hold her down twice. She yelped and went into a submissive position. ever since that night i can sense her attitude towards me changed. She used to be very clingy towards me, would not let me out of her sight, and always acknowledge me first whenever both me and my partner were present. Now, she would be more excited to see my partner, and be actually quite cold. I am quite sad bout this as i am the one that do the feeding, cleaning, playing and training everyday. my partner has very limited interactions with her.

    I also have training sessions with her at least 3 times a day, we used to bond really well and although she would growl a little, I was still able to say 'leave it' and got the trash out of her mouth when she picked junk up on the street in the past. It was my partner that got bitten once when he tried to take a piece of chicken bone out of her mouth during walk.

    I am now scared to have my hands too close to her while she's munching her treats, but I also really need to get these issues sorted as she has the habit of putting in her mouth and eating everything on the street. I agree with 99bottles that maybe a professional is necessary at this stage as i dun want to mishandle this issue and make it worse.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Geelong, Vic
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    Thats why the mince is good, it encourages licking. If she goes to snap you roll your hand and move it away slightly.

    Maybe we can recommend someone to help, what area are you in? I do Geelong, Ballarat and Melbourne
    http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c11/Mali_nut/K9LOGO.jpg

  9. #9

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    Just a few questions !

    At what age did you get this pup ?

    What breed is your pup ?

    Did you go to puppy school at all ?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nekhbet View Post
    Thats why the mince is good, it encourages licking. If she goes to snap you roll your hand and move it away slightly.

    Maybe we can recommend someone to help, what area are you in? I do Geelong, Ballarat and Melbourne
    Hi thanks for the advice. I am in melb and we are actually attending a dog training class. Maybe I try to contact the trainer there first regarding the issue. But thank you so much.

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