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Can I check out a bone-guarding incident please? Pup snapped at dd1

(23 Posts)
Elibean Sat 15-Oct-11 17:09:52

which, to be honest, startled me because he is SO non-aggressive in every way, and doens't guard food or toys at all. He's 5.5 months old, we've had him a week, lab/something (staffy/beagle/lurcher??) cross.

I bought him one of those stuffed bone thingies from the pet shop as a treat, and he absolutely loved it - was lying licking it in the garden next to a swing hammock, and dd1 tipped towards him with her arm out. Clearly too near the bone, and he mouthed her arm and growled.

I don't blame him one bit - makes sense to me, dogs guard bones. Good lesson for dd1, who has recovered and is totally unharmed. BUT I just want to check out with the experts: should I just tell kids to stay away when he has a bone? They know not to disturb him when he is eating or sleeping, but they play with his toys with him and he's been fine with that - whether its a rawhide stick or a tugger.

Thanks for any advice smile

DooinMeCleanin Sat 15-Oct-11 17:17:36

Yup. Stay clear when he has anything of high value. If you want to try and train this the best thing to do is add better treats while he is guarding something so he learns that you going near his food/bones is a good thing and not a threat, but the general rule should still be to stay away.

minsmum Sat 15-Oct-11 17:20:24

I wouldn't give him a bone again. Cut up some cocktail sausages and nice smelly cheese and get the kids to ask him to sit and lie down, with you supervising, and let them feed him titbits if you want to treat him

SoTHISisWhatPanicLooksLike Sat 15-Oct-11 17:26:43

To him, a tasty filled bone is a scarce resource and therefore of high value and he doesn't want to share.

Imagine happpliy scoffing your favourite family sized bar of chocolate and someone comes over to you, threatening to take it from you. You'd tell them to fuck off, right? That's just what your pup did.

Rawhide, tug toys etc are obviously plentiful and so don't need to be guarded and he has no problem sharing those.

I'd not be concerned at all. You do need to either impress on the DC that they have to leave him alone when he has a bone or train him to give yo anything to you by swapping his current favourite thing for something of even higher value. Repeat until he learns that giving up whatever he has brings better things and he therefore doesn't feel the need to guard.

I train my dogs to give up whatever they have simply so that I can take something off them that may be potentially dangerous or poisonous. I never take a bone or whatever off them when they are actively enjoying it simply because I don't see the point but the training means that they don't feel threatened if someone is in close proximity while they're enjoying their treat.

That was longer and more waffly than it needed to be. Sorry!

Elibean Sat 15-Oct-11 17:40:26

Thanks, all helpful!

I was advised by his foster mum to mess with his food when he was eating, from time to time, to keep up the non-guarding. He's been fine with that, and will share his water bowl and toys with visiting friend's dog too.

Not sure whether to avoid bones, or just practice substituting higher value treats - I do like the idea of being able to remove anything dangerous, I know I could have done with my last dog (but I'd had him a long time before I trusted that). So...what would the highest value treats be, to most dogs, please? Specifically?

DooinMeCleanin Sat 15-Oct-11 17:41:47

For mine it's cheese or cooked meats.

bubbles4 Sat 15-Oct-11 17:46:45

We give ours stuffed bones but not as a treat but to keep them occupied,just like some people use stuffed kongs,it might be worth you training him to give up the bone for a treat ,he,s still very young and has lots to learn.

chickchickchicken Sat 15-Oct-11 17:49:10

foster mum's advice re food is good. i would continue to do that with regular food. of course only adults should do that. i think it is a valid part of training for such an occasion where you may need to remove something dangerous

re bones, treats, etc - agree with advice above. i would actually see what happened as a very positive thing as he 'only' gave a warning, which is fair enough imo. good practice for dcs too as they are learning as well as pup

for mine high value treats are cheese and cocktail sausages (those horrible prepared ones). i dont cook meat but if you do then any cooked meat. remember it only needs to be a small cube of a rich treat or they will get upset tummy

bubbles4 Sat 15-Oct-11 17:55:22

Elibean,I,ve just looked at the photos of him,I have a red staffy cross very similar to him,very leggy with similar ears,mine is supposed to be staffy cross rottweiler but I now think he,s staffy cross labrador.

SoTHISisWhatPanicLooksLike Sat 15-Oct-11 18:03:32

Cooked liver is very popular with my dogs (less so with smells vile!)

LtAllHallowsEve Sat 15-Oct-11 18:55:05

Every dog I've ever had has had to be taught not to be possessive. I've always done it the same way, but you may not want to do the same.

I've always taken food off them. Food bowls, bones, chews etc. I've been bitten a few times, but persevered. I carry cheese normally (something nice and smelly) and take whatever it is the dog has. If he snaps he gets told NO! and doesn't get it back. If he lets me take it (even if he growls) he gets some cheese and then gets the thing back.

I do this a lot. Whenever the dog has got something they want to keep, whenever they have food. I do it as part of the training process, so younger starting than your dog now, but also did it with a 2 yr old JRT and she picked it up quite quickly.

It has worked really well for me, none of my dogs have ever been possessive afterwards. JRT had to put up with crawling baby DD stealing her Bonios to teeth on!

Elibean Sat 15-Oct-11 23:31:30

Thanks for the treat tips smile will try him with cheese, and sausages. I'd heard frankfurters/hot dog sausages too?? Yuk.

He growled at me when I came too close to him with his bone, too - not just dd. My old dog used to do that but then look embarrassed and conflicted, iyswim, as if pleading with me not to put him in such an awful predicament! Mouse just looked straight at me and growled, cheeky thing.

Later on, when I gave him his supper, I put my hand in his food and mixed it around while he was eating - he ate faster, but didn't complain. I've done that before, but never taken it away - should I??

I'm pretty sure he's got Staffy in him, bubbles, but having looked at loads of pictures online...I don't think he's 50/50. I'd say more lab, a bit of staffy, and a bit of something else maybe. Or 75/25, lab/staffy. Big floppy ears can look very beagle-y at times!

DooinMeCleanin Sat 15-Oct-11 23:36:43

No, never, ever, ever take a dogs food away from them without swapping it for something better, even then I wouldn't do it. Adding tasty tit bits is the best way of training them to allow you to be near their food.

You could be lucky and your dog will just accept you taking his food, you might not be though and it would not be the dogs fault. I'd have no hands left if I tried that on two out of three of mine and they are trained enough to accept me walking past their food or taking away things they shouldn't have.

My children have been trained to never try and take anything from the dogs, no matter how precious it is. They are to shout me instead.

Joolyjoolyjoo Sat 15-Oct-11 23:41:11

This is one of the reasons I am not keen on giving dogs bones at all- they do become very possessive of bones, and it can be a problem if a child unwittingly goes too near (not even trying to take the bone away). the other high value treats people mention don't provoke the same reaction, as they are generally devoured very swiftly.

DooinMeCleanin Sat 15-Oct-11 23:43:29

I don't give bones when there are children about. I wait until they are at school.

Elibean Sun 16-Oct-11 10:17:59

Again, all helpful, thanks. I didn't have children when I had my last dog - I knowk dogs, and I know kids, but I don't have experience of the two together and boy is it different <exhausted>

i didn't think taking food away was a good idea, thanks for confirming Dooin. He's fine with us near food, it just seems mean to take it away, apart from anything else. Especially as he was half starved when he went into foster angry

I think I'll keep bones for school times as suggested. And we've discovered that left over bits of cheese string (ugh ugh) go down VERY well as high value treat, and I've put cocktail sausages on the weekly shop list.

All peaceful and well this morning, if you don't count a bit of attempted counter surfing. dh and dds taken Mouse out for his morning -tearabout- walk.

Elibean Sun 16-Oct-11 10:18:34

blush how do you that strike out thing? I read it somewhere but can't remember. Am a sad old lady with no tech skils.

cakeistheanswer Mon 17-Oct-11 12:47:46

Elibean - look under the box where you type your message, and the MNlovlies have given us really easy instructions on how to do the interesting bits!

Just type -- before and after whatever you want to strike through.

Ignore the above if that's not what you were asking! wink

cakeistheanswer Mon 17-Oct-11 12:49:50

Oops - just realised that's probably not what you were wondering, as you've used smileys in your post. Duh! blush

Elibean Mon 17-Oct-11 13:11:19

Thank you!! Yes, was asking about the (about to attempt one) striking things out technique....

Elibean Mon 17-Oct-11 13:11:45

hurrah! grin

cakeistheanswer Mon 17-Oct-11 13:38:03

Congratulations! smile

Elibean Mon 17-Oct-11 13:46:40


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