Golden Retriever 8 months....resource guarding

(38 Posts)
Eliza22 Mon 25-Jan-16 20:14:10

I have a beautiful golden girl. She's 8 months old now. We've done puppy classes and are working toward our Bronze certificate for obedience so, basic "early doors" stuff.

Her stay/recall is good when there is no one else around to distract her, otherwise she just ignores me and is off after other dogs. We have a big problem with guarding. Not all the time and often over the daftest things. Today, she had found a strip of parcel tape and was prancing around the lounge with it sticking out of her muzzle like a long tongue. I went to remove it off her gently and she went for me. This also happened at the weekend. A fellow dog walker in our group put down a plastic bowl for water. My golden pup picked it up and when I told her to "drop and leave" she did so but...the guy reached down to pick it up and again and she went for him. Full-on teeth, snarl and scary "I'm going to rip your hand off" noise.

I'm getting very worried. She's so, so good. She IS only a baby but I don't trust her.

Our trainer gave me some exercises to do and she responds well but then, as I say, right out of the blue she'll have a real "go" about a piece of garden wire she's sourced.

She gets a good "free run" walk in a field in the mornings with other dogs and two pavement walks - one mid afternoon and one in the evening. Also, gets played with and bits of training in the day. She's comes in the car with me etc so, she's well "socialised" iykwim

Any help appreciated.

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Veterinari Mon 25-Jan-16 21:20:45

Have a look at learn while you earn by Sophia Yin. The principle is that the dog always has to do something in exchange for a reward. It's time consuming but is excellent at building trust and developing the idea of a fair swap.

For now always make sure you have treats with you and if you want something from your dog 'trade' it for a treat or toy. Giving you things will quickly become a pleasure - fetch is obviously great for this too. Once the trust is established and ddogis anxious about 'losing out' you can reduce the treating to an intermittent reinforcement. This type of behaviour stems from anxiety and a fear of 'losing' something precious - you'll need to spend time building trust to alleviate her anxiety. At 8 months she's also emotionally immature and with patience and reassurance, it's likely the behaviour will pass

Veterinari Mon 25-Jan-16 21:21:57

Once the trust is established and ddog is NOT anxious about 'losing out' you can reduce the treating to an intermittent reinforcement.

Hoppinggreen Tue 26-Jan-16 07:20:38

My 11 week old GR boy has started doing this occasionally and last week snapped at me badly enough to draw blood when he thought I was going to take away a chew. He is also quite dominant generally
This is my 4th GR and it's not something I've come across before.
I can't get any advice yet but I have a very well regarded local dog trainer coming to see us about it so after that I should have some tips to share if you like eliza

Eliza22 Tue 26-Jan-16 07:32:38

Thanks for your replies.

I'm seeing the vet today and hope they might point me in the direction of a good "dog whisperer".

She's sat next to me now, curled up, as I eat my toast. Looks like butter wouldn't melt!

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Veterinari Tue 26-Jan-16 07:32:43

Hopping resource guarding isn't due to 'dominance' or wanting to be 'top dog' it's due to fear and scurry over losing a precious resource. It usually arises because owners take away food/treats/toys and don't give them back so the dog experiences anxiety about losing something precious. A trade as I described above can help to address this.

This link is useful
Hopefully your trainer will use a sensible evidence-based approach as force can make these problems much worse

Eliza22 Tue 26-Jan-16 07:34:04

Hopping, I guess I'm wondering if it's something I've done without even realising. I chose this breed because they're so, so gentle. Then again, they are dogs. Mustn't forget that.

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Eliza22 Tue 26-Jan-16 07:38:33

Vet ... I'd never use force as I know this would reinforce the "fear" in her and exacerbate the behaviour. Thanks for the link. Will check it out. The exercises the trainer gave me were about getting her to relinquish the toy and then immediately letting her have it back. She's really good at this but then as I say, goes mad over a bit of parcel tape. If it's something I don't want to give back I "exchange" it for a toy/treat but it's the unpredictability that makes me fearful.

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LilCamper Tue 26-Jan-16 07:51:24

A really good book on resource guarding and how to deal with it is 'MINE!' by Jean Donaldson.

LilCamper Tue 26-Jan-16 07:52:02


Eliza22 Tue 26-Jan-16 08:17:51

Thanks LilCamper...will have a look at that after the school run.

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tabulahrasa Tue 26-Jan-16 08:58:22

Resource guarding is kind of self reinforcing are going to take things off them that they shouldn't have.

I'd go with trading as well, my dog got a bit guardy about random stolen things at that works well and you're preventing it escalating as well.

Golden retrievers btw are fairly notorious for resource guarding.

Hoppinggreen Tue 26-Jan-16 09:59:59

Thanks vet.
I don't necessarily think that the resource guarding is dominance, although we have certainly not taken away a toy or anything - although he is no longer allowed the chew he bit me over.
I meant he is generally starting to throw his weight around with the cats and children and to a lesser extent me ( but not DH )
As I said I have had this breed before and they have all been very gentle, if a bit clumsy and last week was the first time I have ever been bitten by a dog of mine in 30 years so it came as a bit of a shock.
Still, training is booked and hopefully it was just a blip because with 2 children and various visiting friends I cannot have a potentially dangerous dog.

Eliza22 Tue 26-Jan-16 10:34:07

Hopping that's how I feel. My pup bit me and drew blood when she was 3 months old but I blamed myself as she was chewing a plastic bottle top and I HAD to get it off her for safety's sake. I had two wee puncture wounds which bled on and off, for a week. I have a sin with autism who is very gentle with her (he's high functioning) but I have to remind him not to get too close if she's a toy she clearly won't give up. I'm starting to feel on edge a lot of the time. Also, due to massive pulling on the lead, she has a Gentle Leader which works well but I'm starting to feel nervous putting it over her snout. I HAVE to get a grip.

I contacted the vets and they've given me a local behaviourist they recommend. I will contact him today.

Have downloaded the Mine book, to be getting on with. Thanks Lilcamper

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LilCamper Tue 26-Jan-16 10:47:11

There is good Info here too Patricia McConnell
And here Grisha Stewart

Floralnomad Tue 26-Jan-16 10:51:25

Just a quick question for someone who knows do dogs pick up on the fact that their human is scared of them and play on that fact or is that beyond their capability ?

LilCamper Tue 26-Jan-16 10:56:14

Dogs can read human micro emotions that we aren't even aware that we are expressing.But....they haven't got the cognitive capacity to turn that round to play on it.

Eliza22 Tue 26-Jan-16 11:02:18

This is one of my concerns. I'd like her to know absolutely, that I am in charge. That I am her source of fun, safety, food, care etc. However, for all the attention, love, play etc, she would still snarl and growl and attempt to bite me (or at least warn/put the fear of God in me!) over something she considers hers.

I need to be able to trust her.

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LilCamper Tue 26-Jan-16 11:22:12

It is totally natural behaviour. Don't worry, until she develops opposable thumbs and dish up,her own food she knows you are in charge.

Hoppinggreen Tue 26-Jan-16 11:38:09

I know eliza I think my feelings were hurt as much as my finger!!!
We are getting some good advice on here and I will let you know what the trainer says next week

Shriek Tue 26-Jan-16 11:59:14

ddogs will respond to your reaction of course they will. I have had ddogs charge aggressively towards mine in full attack mode and stopped them.

I agree with the advice given about giving and taking stuff away, can't say that i've heard the GR are particularly aggressive! and you seem to have had a different experience of them all these years too. I've known them be very strong and playful/boisterous, lead-pulling, chewing lots and eating loads! but always kind, i've never known one be aggressive in any manner. Has he always done this? or just started it as a new behaviour? Is it always only random items (his finds) and never anything you train on? how about food? He is not supposed to view you in the same way he'd view a litter mate and fight over resources with you.

a young dpup is a very different matter to an 8 month old coming into full maturity, getting strong and full of sense of self power.

Shriek Tue 26-Jan-16 12:00:46

and yes, absolutely a ddog will respond to your fear. the sooner you get someone in to build your confidence and manage his aggression the better.

lots of luck, he's a big ddog and you all need to be very careful around him until you are absolutely sure he is 100% reliable.

Eliza22 Tue 26-Jan-16 12:07:04

She's a girl and yes, she is big now and very strong. As I say, she was 11 weeks the first time she bit and drew blood! I put it down to her being so little but, we've just gone on from there.

Have to say...the noise she makes when she "goes" is like those videos you see of dogs being trained to bring down a criminal. You know when a police dog trainer has the padded arm and the dog's making that dreadful noise. Not really a growl/bark as such more a "I will take your arm off" noise.

Left a message with the dog behaviourist. Hopefully, he'll get back to me asap.

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Eliza22 Tue 26-Jan-16 12:08:22

This is the girl. Very lovely.

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LilCamper Tue 26-Jan-16 12:10:55

Be careful who you hire. The dog training industry is totally unregulated and someone who spouts pack leader/ dominance rubbish could make things worse.

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