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7 month old retriever being so naughty!!(37 Posts)
I’m a previous dog owner and have never had such a naughty dog. He’s well exercised, has company all day both human and dog variety and yet he tests the boundaries every day. He is incessantly greedy, will steal off our plates, stands fully on dining table when we’re not looking to eat anything, if my back is turned he will eat even from a saucepan! Our cats are stressed as he steals their food. In addition, he is “resource guarding” with food, toys, sticks, rubbish and will growl at anyone coming near him. I’ve owned a number of retrievers and have never had this problem, I know they can be greedy but he simply doesn’t seem to care about making us cross. We’ve tried giving him time out, tried rewarding him with titbits if he stops the bad behaviour and obeys our command but it’s all very hit and miss with him. It’s getting to the point where he’s causing so much stress and now me and DCs are becoming very wary of him when he growls. DH simply says we have to speak in a low tone and be firm but that’s easier said than done. We’ve tried putting temptations away but tonight he had food out of a saucepan which was cooling down!! I think he may benefit from an animal behaviourist to show us and the dog the error of our ways but they’re so expensive especially in the approach to Christmas. I’m desperate to know what we can do. We’ve always loved our retrievers but he is so stress inducing.
Have you tried praising and rewarding him when he sits nicely and doesn’t try to snatch anything? I think you have a big problem in that your dog has learned there will be a reward (your food) if he jumps up to benches and tables etc. Can you make a real effort to keep things out of reach from him?
Just out of interest is this a Golden or Labrador Retriever? If it’s the latter you must have had incredibly well behaved ones in the past because they do tend to be foot obsessed. In my experience Goldens are much more laid back.
what about a big bone that only appears at food prep/human meal time?
A behaviourist we consulted about similar issues said that the best solution was to distract away in a routine way, so that they are occupied doing something else rather than reactive behaviour like time out or rewarding for sitting nicely - ie you get the dog to do something positive (bone) long before it even thinks about snatching food or jumping up. She also suggested putting dog on a lead at the times when he is causing trouble keeping him in the same room, with a nice distraction at the same time (chewy toy, lickamat, bone) so it is a way of settling him rather than restraining him ifysim.
Mermaid - he is a Golden Retriever and, as you say, they’re usually so laid back but he is testing everyone’s patience sadly. We’re trying really hard to keep things out of temptation for him but he is like a food seeking missile and nothing or no-one can stand in his way. This is bad enough but the resource guarding is almost too much to cope with.
Nettle - That’s good advice, thanks. He’s been crate trained from a small puppy and following breeder’s advice so we’ve started putting him in his crate which he’s fine with as he’ll often go in there to sleep as we keep the door open in the day. Obviously if he’s in there using your suggestion of a nice distraction of a bone then I’d close the crate door so that he’s not tempted by our food. Did your dog resource guard at all? I find this behaviour so concerning.
My dog is a poodle mix, and doesn't seem to resource guard apart from burying ostrich tendons in the garden and then digging them up and reburying them in the sofa cushions in a very strange obsessive way whimpering and whining even barking sometimes if thwarted. However he was very obsessed by jumping up and nipping to get attention at mealtimes and when food is being prepared, so that wasn't sustainable at all.
I think a behaviourist would probably say you have to work on giving him something if you take something off him, so that he doesn't feel you are threatening his resources but exchanging or adding to his resources. And never let anyone interrupt his meals or approach him when he is eating his normal food or playing with a toy, until this give and take has been established.
But it sounds like seeing a behaviourist might be quite important to prevent a nasty incident. I'm not an expert at all.
Dogs growling is not a good sign. Defo behaviourist before someone gets bitten. He doesn’t seem to respect you at all. Cheeky monkey.
Sounds like you need help from a trainer to deal with the resource guarding. Until then, don't try to take anything from him unless you are exchanging it for something else like a treat or a toy. Your tone of voice needs to be cheerful, rather than cross or firm.
He has obviously learned he can get food by jumping up in the kitchen and as long as there is something there for him to get he will continue. He won't stop because you're annoyed at him but he will stop when there is no reward for the behaviour i.e literally nothing there that he can eat.
A stairgate on the kitchen helps for those times you can't manage to put everything away. Teaching him to go to his bed while you're eating and ignoring him if he does come to the table is also a solution, which again you can do without getting cross with him.
Is he getting too much exercise and being over-stimulated? At his age he should really only have a half hour or so a day.
Positive reinforcement - dogs shouldn't care about us getting cross, they should be doing stuff for positive rewards - praise, treats etc. Perhaps reorientate your training away from getting cross and punishment to positive rewards.
What obedience training are you doing? During the rebellious teen phase you could try reinforcing the basic obedience from puppy age.
He doesn't care if you are cross because the food is more rewarding than your anger is off putting.
I would really recommend reading "In Defense of Dogs" by Jean Donaldson. It explains the theory of dog behaviour so well that it makes it a lot more intuitive to change what is needed and also has loads of practical training exercises. There is an excellent section on resource guarding that you would really benefit from.
I would start putting him in his crate with a frozen kong or special high reward long lasting chew while you prepare and eat each meal.
With regards to resource guarding: I would feed all meals and treats in his crate. Make sure everyone knows not to approach. Teach a solid 'leave' command away from his crate. Always swap rather than take away. Use distract rather than chase or taking things, so if he has something you don't want him to have call him excitedly to you while showing a high value treat and then give it to him.
Teach the children never to approach and back off straight away if he growls. Growling is a good sign as he is warning, never discipline him for growling!
Thanks for everyone’s advice. Are you a dog trainer Martyr? You sound very knowledgeable and I’m going to try your suggestions. This morning we’ve had him pooing on lounge carpet despite being previously house trained and then he’s broken some china where he’s managed to jump up onto a windowsill to get the bowl with dried cat food in it! The result was splinters of china over the floor mixed with tiny pellets of cat food and the dog literally frenzied as he wolfed it down. No commands, no food treats worked to distract him. My DH is calling into our vets today to see if they have any leaflets from dog trainers in our area. We’re desperate as DCs are disabled so life is stressful enough. All of our dogs have always been a source of joy and comfort to us but this dog is a nightmare.
Find a decent, positive reinforcement based behaviourist. If you join the FB group “Dog Training Advice and Support” they’ll be able to recommend one in your area.
If you decide to find one yourself, avoid anyone who talks about dominance, pack leadership, respect, being alpha or showing the dog who is boss.
Some lines of GRs can tend towards resource guarding. It’s not unheard of. It is treatable given time and the right techniques.
Thanks FreeBed for your advice but I’m not on Facebook so I’ll try and google “Positive reinforcement based behaviourist” and see if it provides some contacts. I agree that recommendations can be really helpful so I’m hoping the vet may point us in the right direction.
I wouldn't care about the cost I'd be seeing a good behaviourist asap, it's easier to train him now whilst he's still young. He is in an adolescent stage now so will be pushing his boundaries more however it will get worse if not dealt with now.
He's still only a big puppy really, his training & obedience won't be reliable for a long time.
Don't forget the basics, and don't put temptation in his way.
Persevere and I'm sure he'll grow into a lovely family pet.
www.apbc.org.uk/need-help/ allows you to find APBC members by region.
All APBC trainers will have signed up to a code of conduct that means they only use prositive training methods that have been scientifially proven, in conjuction with vets to ensure there is medical cause.
Do reach out to them because it sounds like you have a fairly typical young dog there who you're fining challenging. They can help channel your training to get the adult dog you want.
Resource guarding against humans has a good prognosis for being able to manage/improve it.
Nicking food off sides = I think you may have just been lucky in the past that your other dogs didn't reaise this was an option. This one has figured it out. One way to look at it is that this dog is smarter and more creative with his behaviour than the rest; more willing to try things to see if they work. This is one of the pillars that great training can be built on rather than the sign of a 'bad' dog. However, with regard to food on sides, preventtion is the key. A good trainer can also work to show you how to reinforce incompaitble behaviours, such as lying in a bad. A dog cannot simultaneously lie in a bed and jump upon a side so one has the opportunity to replace the other.
he simply doesn’t seem to care about making us cross I actually would question whether or not this is true and suggest what you might have, instead, is a dog that cares TOO MUCH about this. A reslient dog can shrug off a telling off or bad atmosphere easily and still be their normal self. A sensitive dog that cannot will be stressed and that stress may maniphest itself in unusual ways. Toileting in the house, for e.g. Or being especially jumpy and boisterous. Or being 'naughty'.
In your shoes I would try looking at this dog in an entirely different light and seeing if that doesn't ring more true. That he is a super clever, sensitive dog that is struggling with minimal instruction or with the wrong type of training for him. All dogs are individuals and so I don't mean to suggest you are doing anything wrong; just maybe not rright for this dog. Again, a good trainer can help you with that.
My speedy typing was more error-filled than usual. Apologies for grammar and spelling mistakes
I have a Goldie, my 4th so I thought I knew the breed, but he was a bit of a nightmare and did a lot of the things yours does. He was especially bad with ds, who was 7/8 at the time.
If you use FB there is a group called Golden Retrievers GB. There are some really helpful people/resources on there with loads of people who know the breed well.
The good news is that my boy is now almost 4 and is lovely, although at 7 months I could have happily given him away. We found that neutering helped (not until 15 months though). Some people don’t think it does and some people are very anti it but just based on our experience it calmed him right down and made him less stroppy. Of course it could have been all the time and £ we spent on him as well but I’m sure there was an effect from the neutering too
Sorry, just seen you aren’t on FB so my advice isn’t very helpful
The other thing I wanted to say, is that sometimes over tiredness and overstimulation (ie my dog went on two fun long walks yesterday but after that didn't settle in the evening around food preparation/comings and goings) can manifest itself as very demanding hyper behaviour. We do just have to put him in a room to have a nap sometimes, it is not time out as such more remembering that he needed a good sleep and hadn't had it for one reason or another.. As far as I am concerned 7 months is still a puppy. Mine is coming up to 11 months and on occasion I forget he is still puppy/adolescent and expect too much of impulse control.
Controversial opinion coming up.
I would not keep a large size, resource guarding dog. Period.
You have young children and what starts out as a growl can quickly develop into a bite one day.
I personally wouldn't feel safe around him again even if he was worked on by a behaviourist and think that, especially when you have children, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to ensure that the dog will never be put in a situation where he feels the need to guard.
He is a big dog and capable of doing severe damage.
I would rehome personally.
I echo pp who said growling is a good thing! It’s great! I’m grateful when my dog growls, as I’d far rather find out he was pissed off that way, than have him snap or bite.
What’s all this about dogs growling being good? It’s a warning. How’s that good? It’s a 7 month old baby dog growling at its family. It’s not a rescue that needs rehabilitated.
The dog should relinquish whatever you take to you without getting pissed off and growling. Certainly shouldn’t be growling around children and while I appreciate the warning is better than a bite I don’t think it should be happening at all.
Cheeky young whippersnapper!
What’s all this about dogs growling being good? It’s a warning. How’s that good? It’s a 7 month old baby dog growling at its family. It’s not a rescue that needs rehabilitated
The dog should relinquish whatever you take to you without getting pissed off and growling. Certainly shouldn’t be growling around children
At the end of the day a growl is a warning before opting to bite.
Is it good that you are getting a warning rather than a bite?
But should you be getting growled at in the first place?
Not in my opinion.
It's an aggressive gesture and can, and often does escalate if not managed properly and with children involved, I'm not even convinced you can safely ensure the dog won't feel sufficiently threatened to aggress again.