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is this guarding behaviour?

(10 Posts)
traviata Tue 23-Jun-15 21:16:46

Rescue spaniel has a game that he loves. He carries a toy around and ducks his head away from anyone who reaches for it. He will do this for ages, tail wagging all the time. The DC have entered into the fun of it, and the game has developed into chasing round and round. Ddog seems to adore it, and will come looking for a game, if you stop and stand still he comes back and 'lures' you to try to reach for the toy again.

I have told the DC not to try too hard to grab the toy, but to keep it as a game of feinting and dodging.

Today however Ddog has started growling as well, and the game has been more intense.

I am concerned that it is, or could become, guarding, and could be storing up problems for the future. Or is it harmless fun?

ddog has not been trained to 'leave it' , and I know we should start doing that soon (only had him 6 weeks), but this game is going in the wrong direction.

LeChien Tue 23-Jun-15 21:24:31

I would stop the game completely.
I have a spaniel who has tendencies to resource guard, he always carries around a toy or a blanket.
We have taught him to drop anything by having a really good treat (cheese or hotdog) then returning the toy to him.
None of us will try to take the toy, as that will teach him to guard it more, and if he's lying quietly with the toy, we've taught the children not to go near him. Not because they're frightened, but so that the dog doesn't feel threatened.
If he has something he's not meant to have (socks are a favourite), he'll drop it then we give him one of his toys.
I'm not sure if this is the right approach, so will carefully read any replies, but as a puppy he was a bugger for resource guarding, by training him to drop and respecting his space when settled, we seem to have sorted it out.

traviata Tue 23-Jun-15 22:27:27

thanks LeChien.

BirdyArms Tue 23-Jun-15 23:36:07

I agree with LeChien. I think that in general any games that involve you chasing the dog aren't a great idea because you are encouraging him to run away from you. And a game where he is keeping a toy away from you is potentially encouraging him to resource guard. I am trying to play games with our dpup involving him chasing us or retrieving and dropping a toy, or a tugging game, though some think that tugging games are a bad idea too.

Having said that when my dpup is in a certain mood he goes round the house picking up random objects I think as a form of attention seeking so that we will go after him. When we reach him he will drop the object easily but it's annyoing. Depending what he's taken I take a guess at whether he's going to chew it or not before I decide to go after him. But it's hard to ignore if he's got a shoe etc. Not sure what the answer is.

mistlethrush Tue 23-Jun-15 23:41:02

There are also different sorts of growling - there are 'this is a really good game' growls and there are 'I'll bite you if you come near' growls - other body language would help to work out which was which, but you might need a good dog behaviourist to help you work the two out. I would be working on 'fetch' games with two objects - throw one, pick up the other ready to throw, waiting for the first to be brought back... throw second as first is just returning near (hoping that 1st will be dropped - sometimes this needs some work!)

traviata Wed 24-Jun-15 08:14:02

Thanks for replies.

I am confident that it is all good spirited fun at the moment, even with the growls - ddog is relaxed, tail wagging, and he comes closer to the person to tempt them to reach for the toy - but in the long run I accept it isn't a good idea.

So we will introduce a strict 'ignore him' rule now when he has a toy, and lavish attention on him when he drops it; and we'll start doing some work on 'drop' and 'leave it'.

He does give up a ball when he sees another ready to be thrown, but occasionally he ends up with both balls.....

Floralnomad Wed 24-Jun-15 08:37:36

Our terrier mix does exactly the same ,including the growling , we play along as I'm very convinced that it's just friendly communication , that said I don't have small dc and my dog is quite well trained and will happily give stuff up , let you take food away etc .

needastrongone Wed 24-Jun-15 08:49:51

Agree, there's growling, and there's growling smile

2 spaniels here. Spaniel 1 does exactly the same thing, especially when playing 'tuggy', which we limit anyway. It's definitely fun, but we concentrate exactly on the things you are going to do i.e drop, leave it, wait etc.

Spaniel 1 also picks up random stuff for attention and always brings you a shoe when you come in the house (which is irritating when you are looking for said shoe when it's time to go out!). We praise for dropping.

Sounds like you are on the right track and you are enjoying your dog!

NKfell Wed 24-Jun-15 15:41:08

My dogs play the same game and growl but, it's not a mean growl it's defo playing and as soon as I walk towards where the treats are or reach into my pocket they drop whatever they have!

nellieellie Fri 26-Jun-15 16:51:26

My dog will approach with a toy and want us to pull it so it's a tug of war, after a tiny bit of chasing. When he started to growl, I would stop the game. It was purely play growling, but I didn't like it. He is huge so it can sound scary to other people or children. He's fine now. I didn't see it at all as resource guarding, and your doesn't sound like it, or why would he want to be chased? I personally would stop play when he growls though. Growling could escalate to play nipping.

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