For all new members, please check out the thread New to the Forum? What to do and forum guidelines.
Resource Guarding - Attacking Child
  • Ohg_NikkoOhg_Nikko
    Posts: 14
    So here we go.

    We got Nikko 2 years ago. We trained him, and got him neutered around 6 or 7 months old. Literally the day we brought him home after getting fixed, as the anesthesia wore off, he started to show some major aggression issues around his food. This had NEVER ever happened before. He then attacked me and bit me pretty good on my leg.
    That was some time ago, since then we have worked with a couple of trainers and learned to adjust our life and how we feed him, etc to avoid such altercations.
    We have done a ton of research and have found that sometimes when a dog is neutered it can actually cause aggression in the dog, some sort of hormonal imbalance. We pretty much have learned to manage Nikko's aggression. We even got another shiba, and have ZERO issues with aggression with her. (shes the angel)

    So basically I'm writing because Nikko attacked our 10yr old son tonight, and I'm not sure what to do. Nikko had got two new toys (which he usually isn't territorial over at all). My son was trying to play with him and Nikko attacked, pretty hard. I'm out of town at the moment, but when I got the call I immediately got upset and started researching.

    I can't live like this, I dont believe in just giving up on your dog when they have problems. I know Nikko isn't a bad dog, when he does this he immediately puts himself in a timeout or goes to his crate....sometimes he even pees himself. Like he knows its wrong and can't control it.....Anyways, I'm gonna go talk to a former trainer to see if she can help but wanted to see if anyone had any advice or similar situations and how you handled them. This is very upsetting. I love my dog, but I HAVE to protect my child.....

    HELP!


    [mod edit: changed category and title to match post content]
    Post edited by sunyata at 2014-04-30 07:38:47
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
    Two questions:

    1. When was the last time Nikko had a full veterinary checkup, including complete bloodwork? Underlying medical problems, such as hormonal imbalances, can sometimes manifest as temperamental issues. And I would not necessarily ascribe hormonal imbalances to the neuter/spay first, without having discussed other possibilities with your vet.

    2. Can you go into more detail on how your trainers worked with you?
    image
    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.
  • Ohg_NikkoOhg_Nikko
    Posts: 14
    Nikko's been to the Vet multiple times since this all started....they don't know what is causing the aggression. We took him to another vet also, they weren't sure either. I'm not sure if blood work was done but I believe so.

    As for the trainers, the first training was just regular training to learn to follow commands, which oddly enough he will do. (as well as a shiba does).....But then we got another trainer for the problem areas who would have us practice crating Nikko, or feeding him, and when he would become aggressive he would have us take him down to his side until he becomes submissive. We practice with a muzzle, but in reality Nikko doesn't have a muzzle on when these attacks occur. This trainer was really expensive and we didn't notice any improvement so we stopped seeing him. I'm gonna go to my old trainer and talk to her next week to see if she have any ideas.
  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 1087
    This is resource guarding, not aggression. We have a whole section for it, because unfortunately it is common.
    http://www.shibainuforum.org/forum/categories/resource-guarding

    Resource guarding is based on fear, not malice. Hormonal imbalances can also lead a dog to lash out. So do the vet checkup like curlytails suggested. Blood work is imperative, especially thyroid. There are anxiety drugs that can be used alongside behavior modification training with a qualified trainer to work through this. Drugs can help keep the dog below threshold, and give the training an opportunity to sink in.

    When it comes to fear/anxiety modification, you cannot use aversives at all (your expensive trainer was not good). You need to work with a trainer who only does positive training, and has experience with behavior modification. You really need to interview trainers and check their references.

    I'm also interested in what research you found about the neuter thing. Incidentally, we experienced the same thing a week after our boy's neuter.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8253
    Ohg_Nikko said:

    But then we got another trainer for the problem areas who would have us practice crating Nikko, or feeding him, and when he would become aggressive he would have us take him down to his side until he becomes submissive.



    Well, that is most likely part of the problem. Dominance based training and using aversive methods such as an alpha role severely damage a dog's trust in their people and can cause countless psychological issues.

    You will need to work with him with POSITIVE reinforcement methods and a positive behaviourist (NOT a trainer). You will need to learn how to read Nikko's body language and will need to work on his fear (this is resource guarding, which is a fear based behaviour and not aggression just like @zandrame stated).

    I would suggest starting with a vet checkup to include a FULL blood panel, including chemistry and CBC to ensure that he is healthy and that this truly is a behaviour problem versus a medical issue. Dogs with low thyroid function often have a tendency to resource guard or otherwise lash out unexpectedly.

    If the blood work comes back normal and there are no other reasons for the unexplained behaviour (you were not home, you do not know the whole story, it is possible that your child stepped on the dog or otherwise caused pain or fear by accident... When things like this happen, the details are often forgotten), then you will need to look for a positive behaviourist to work with you and Nikko on the behaviour. In the meantime, I would keep Nikko separated from the other dog and your child unless under direct supervision of a responsible adult.

    (I am also going to change the title and category of this thread to coincide with the information contained in it. Even though there are multiple other threads regarding this, I am going to leave this open because I hope you will keep us updated on how things go and the progress that you make with Nikko.)
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4784
    To add, that unless the owners are aware of warning signals and know how to read canine body language, supervision of dog and child interactions can still result in bites. To complicate it, a lot of dominance training involves punishing dogs for "showing aggression" or growling. Growls are their way of telling people (and children) that they are uncomfortable with what's happening.

    http://www.bradanderson.org/blog/2011/08/thank-you-for-growling/

    http://wildewmn.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/why-growling-is-good/
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • This reminds me of another thread (that I can't seem to find) wherein a hooman's shiba attacked him. The shiba had a brain tumor and unfortunatley had to be put down. To that end, even though its been said, the comprehensive vet exam will help you determine the cause (nature or nurture).

  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
    Thanks for filling us in. I'm sorry to read about the previous trainer's methods. Agreed that such practices likely contributed to your Nikko lashing out in fear or stress, not aggression. And though such incidents may never have happened before, we also have lots of anecdotes of how Shibas change as they mature around 2 ~ 3 years old. Constant, on-going vigilance is key, especially with combos of dogs and children. Not only are young dogs capable of changing quite a bit over the years, so does the behavior of young household members, and it's important to manage both dynamic relationships in a positive, mutually productive manner.

    Vet workup isn't going to be a substitute for behavioral help, but it's a necessary start. Yes, it could be hormonal, but don't mislead yourself when you don't have the evidence to back it up. Two/three is a bit young for thyroid issues to manifest, though it has been known to happen.* [Edited to add that you may have to ask your vet to check specifically for thyroid function, as many practices don't include this in "full" blood work for younger dogs unless cued by the owner.] And there could be other things going on, but rather than venture into alarmist territory with internet strangers who cannot diagnose and know nothing of your dog's medical history, please rule out any other possibilities with a trusted vet.

    Lots of threads here on the forum on how to screen trainers. That step is going to be critical, from here on out. I hope your son is okay, and please do keep us posted on any progress.
    image
    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.
    Post edited by curlytails at 2014-04-30 16:21:57
  • So sorry to hear this happened, but I'm glad you're willing to work with him. Everyone has covered most of the important things: that he needs a full health check up, including a full thyroid panel, that you need to work with a good behavioralist (NOT trainer, and absolutely must have someone who uses positive reinforcement), and that for now, he needs to be separated from your son.

    So additional observations based on your posts:

    Ohg_Nikko said:

    So here we go.

    I know Nikko isn't a bad dog, when he does this he immediately puts himself in a timeout or goes to his crate....sometimes he even pees himself. Like he knows its wrong and can't control it.....

    [mod edit: changed category and title to match post content]



    Others have noted that resource guarding comes from fear: fear of having something taken away, whether it is food, or a toy, or whatever. Your post above shows that Nikko has some other fear issues: he goes in his crate (safe place) when he is concerened about be corrected, and the most obvious, he pees himself. This shows that the dog is terrified. He is very afraid of being corrected.

    This has no doubt been exacerbated by the "training" you've done on the advice of a bad trainer, below:

    Ohg_Nikko said:

    or feeding him, and when he would become aggressive he would have us take him down to his side until he becomes submissive. We practice with a muzzle, but in reality Nikko doesn't have a muzzle on when these attacks occur.



    taking him down on his side, the alpha roll, especially when the dog is muzzled, is terrifying for a dog. You already have a fearful dog, and now, when he's demonstrating fear (growling to guard food, etc) and saying he's not comfortable, he's getting corrected for it, in a way he can't control at all, so this makes him MORE fearful, and he's a dog: he has no way to show his fear except for growling and then biting.

    These kind of "training" methods are bad for most dogs, but are a disaster waiting to happen for fearful dogs, and make them more aggressive. This is not your fault: you got very bad advice from someone you paid to help you. But you do have to address it now, and will have to have another person--a behavioralist rather than a trainer--help you to fix this. You absolutely need good professional help at this stage, and it needs to be someone who is used to working with fearful dogs, and will do so in a positive reinforcement based manner--no aversives! No collar jerks, no alpha rolls, no holding the dog down. They will teach you behavior modification methods that can make him more confident and help him to become less fearful.

    He may also have health issues, who knows. It could be low thyroid (aggression is not an uncommon side effect, and while he is young, it first showed up in one of my Shibas at 2). If he is very fearful, you may need anti-anxiety meds, or they can be a bridge to use while behavior modification is being taught.

    But right now, it's critical to stop all aversive training methods, and to find someone who can help you.
  • Ohg_NikkoOhg_Nikko
    Posts: 14
    Thank you all for your comments, I'm going to start with the Vet, and go from there. Where by chance does one find a dog-behaviorist? And how do present positive reinforcement when the dog is attacking? I mean, I guess that is something they will teach us. But with Nikko, there is no warning or barking. He fully on lunges if food is present......and he definitely does it more if he suggests we are scared of him. He rarely attacks me because I am the one who mostly trained him.
  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 1087
    Start with the info in this thread
    http://www.shibainuforum.org/forum/discussion/2046/how-to-find-a-behaviorist/p1

    But the thing is, not all behaviorists are created equal, and there are only a handful in the whole country. In a basic sense, a veterinary behaviorist is a doctor - a phsyciatrist for dogs, who can prescribe psychotropic drugs. They don't necessarily have any training experience, or might even give incorrect training advice. At least that is my experience with the ones in southern California. Ideally you are near a good one, but if not, you will still need a trainer to help design a behavior modification plan with you. Some trainers call themselves "behavior consultants," but it's more important to research what other trainers or schools they are affiliated with, and references from previous clients. Have they worked with resource guarding before? What methods do they use, and what was the outcome?

    Where are you located, BTW?

    The goal with training is to avoid the confrontation completely. If the dog is over threshold, it's too late for training. You work up to high value items beginning with low value ones, teaching him to feel safe and what to expect. And training with one person does not apply universally to all members of the family, each one must work through the stages separately with the dog.

    The reason Nikko lunges without warning is because he was punished for giving warnings in the past. And yes, dogs can sense your emotions and feed off them - if you are anxious, he will be too.

    In the meantime, while you find a behaviorist, Nikko needs to feel secure enough to eat - feed him in his crate or a separate room, and do not interrupt him. You may also want to feed him by hand to work on trust. Pay attention to his body language - is he stiff or staring, yawning or licking his lips, pacing or relaxed? If he seems elevated around specific toys, remove them when he is outside and see if that makes him more relaxed when he returns.
  • And a behavioralist does not have to be a vet behavioralist, though those are ideal. The behavioralist I have seen here in NM is excellent, but she is not a vet. She does, however, have a Phd in anthropology and a degree in ethology. And is a certified behavioralist and a teacher trainer for Karen Pryor clicker classes, etc. (There is also a vet behavioralist here I would not see--he believes in the whole dominance theory).

    So basically, you go about asking a lot of questions (the link above has lots of information), and interviewing them over the phone or via email before you even meet.

    In terms of positive reinforcement for the behavior, you will learn how to do that, but basically what you're doing is teaching a dog how to ramp down stress and anxiety by doing another behavior, other than biting. There are a variety of behavior modification techniques, but they all teach the dog an acceptable behavior. (The book Mine! explains some of this, and would probably be a good read for you so you know what to ask and what you'll be doing, but your situation has gone beyond what you'd be able to handle on your own or with a regular trainer).

    Let us know what region in you're in: maybe someone will have suggestions.

    And good luck, and keep us posted.

    Oh, one other thing. While I think you probably need to have someone to come out to work with you, it's worth noting that you I believe you can do behavior consults via phone with Tufts Vet school. Might be worth checking out too. And do make sure you interview the behavioralists so you don't get a repeat of what you've already done that doesn't work. The first person I called out was a disaster, too, but I didn't know enough to know that. Later, I found out just how bad she was--she told people to let their fighting dogs "work out" their "pack order" themselves, so the younger dogs killed the older one. :( You want to make sure you're going to get someone that understands resource guarding and can work with positive methods of behavior modification.
  • Ohg_NikkoOhg_Nikko
    Posts: 14
    We live in Fresno, CA, so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8253
    @Ohg_Nikko - Check out the Truly Dog Friendly listings. While most of these are trainers, perhaps one in your area may also be a behaviourist or can recommend a good one:
    http://www.trulydogfriendly.com/blog/?page_id=4
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • devonmlewisdevonmlewis
    Posts: 182
    It looks like Nikko is on the right track to getting the help he needs! Keep us posted.

    Yuki acts in a similar way with food! We feed him separately from the other animals (totally separate part of the house). With recommendations from this forum, I'm going to start feeding him in new places, so that he doesn't resource guard his food area. We hand feed him treats, and also have a ball that holds food to make it a fun game. That was in an effort to get him to eat his meals slower, and he loves it.

    When Yuki sees another animal getting food (even the cat) he goes crazy. About once a week we go into the other animals space with the leash on him to help desensitize him. During that time we give him treats and affection, and it's working seemingly well. He didn't have a "meltdown" last time-- he just watched curiously and came up to me for some treats.
  • http://www.animalbehavior.org/ABSAppliedBehavior/caab-directory

    http://www.dacvb.org/resources/find/

    I also found this guide very helpful.

    http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/certifications.aspx

    From the website directly above:

    A Note About Animal Behaviorists: A Note About Animal Behaviorists: Many persons employed in the dog training field use the title "behaviorist" incorrectly. While there is no legal standard, it is generally accepted in the industry that a behaviorist is someone who has a doctorate level graduate degree. A Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist is a behaviorist who is certified through the The Animal Behavior Society.


    Shop around carefully. Unfortunately, a lot of trainers marketing themselves as positive trainers are in fact "balanced" trainers (meaning they use a mix of reward based and aversive training), even those listed on the link that @sunyata provided. Also note that a behaviorist is different than a behavior consultant. The latter does not tend to have higher degrees related to psychology, or other fields ostensibly relevant to animal behavior.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion

Who's Online (3)