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Resource Guarding in a Multiple Dog Household
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8587
    Brad posted this on the NKF, and I thought it would be a great idea to post it here.

    It is a great article on how to prevent dog-dog resource guarding.

    A great quote from the article: "The goal is for all interactions to be positive and educational."
    Words to live by! :)

    [mod edit: re-categorized due to addition of new category]Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
    Post edited by sunyata at 2013-06-06 10:15:36
  • zoezoezoezoe
    Posts: 110
    Just what I needed! Unfortunately had to break up a fight between my two dogs yesterday over a bully stick and being it the first fight I had ever seen I didn't handle it the right way and ended up getting bitten. Man fights are scary!
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8587
    Yeah, arguments and fights can be quite unnerving, especially if you have never witnessed them. Always set your dogs up for success. Separate them any time high value items are given. Then you can use the techniques in the article to work up to them having high value items in close proximity. :)
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • Great article!!
    Heather, Logan, and two Shibas named Miyumi & Yoshiro
  • HamletHamlet
    Posts: 146
    "The first [step] is to teach the guarding dog to feel more relaxed when approached, and the second is to teach the approaching dog not to steal other dogs' belongings."

    I think we mentioned before that Juliet had a bit of resource guarding when it came to food and toys. I can say that these steps are spot on. We first worked on food -- teaching her to relax for meals and not worry if Hamlet might steal her food. We also had to work with Hamlet to teach him that it was NOT okay to snipe kibble. Now our training with food has progressed to the point that Juliet will calmly eat her dinner while Hamlet (who finishes first, typically) lies about a yard away from her, cleaning himself and waiting for her to finish.

    We've been working on toys the past week and it's been going famously. My husband's idea was somewhat reflective of the two steps -- we put out ALL the toys (and I mean all) and just left them available at all hours of the day. This way, she no longer had anxiety that these toys were some sort of amazing, valued resource that she had to protect -- they were just EVERYWHERE. We also stepped in to correct "stealing" behavior - when both Juliet and Hamlet tried to snipe toys. The first day or two we had a few moments of posturing over toys, but now, a week later, Juliet no longer even flinches if Hamlet comes to sit next to her while she's chewing a kong. We actually were able to purchase new toys and give them to the pups on Monday, including bones, with no issues (although Juliet has claimed the white ferret as HERS. She's okay with Hamlet playing with the rabbit, but she keeps the ferret in her bed!)

    It's sorta training both dogs - teaching them the rules of the house, lowering the anxiety of the guarder. I've found that the more we, as humans, asserted that the toys/food/etc belonged to US first and we determined who got what (and showed that we were fair/benevolent), the less the dogs felt they had to "argue" over things since it was our job to sort it out.

    Note - neither of my dogs has ever been aggressive to other dogs or caused injury, even during the most dramatic of their "tiffs". The "tiffs" were mostly just posturing and noise. They both get along very well together so our techniques of working with them together and basically desensitizing them as pack were good for us. Both of them respond well to correction and distraction so we never had any issues stopping a brewing tiff with a clap or a 'KIDS, SHUT UP'. (That's actually our "pack" 'NO' phrase...sorta odd maybe but they know it's directed at BOTH of them. And then we use 'Hamlet, NO; Juliet, NO' for individual corrections.)
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8587
    @Hamlet - Thanks for sharing your experience! It is so great to hear success stories that use positive reinforcement and inventive strategies. :)

    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    When I bring in new dogs (puppies) that I want to fully integrate (not the fosters or boarders), I like to group feed them and group treat and train them. The puppies learn respect for the others things really quickly. It helps having older wiser dogs who are good with giving gentle but stern corrections. So, mine all eat together and have toys strewn all over all the time.

    I start with feeding the new dogs in their pens, while the adults eat nearby. Since the puppies are pigs and walking stomaches, the expen protects them from going right up to an adult who is eating (and they will try), but it also teaches them self control and to share in the same space. After a few months of this, by which time the puppy is 4-5 months old, the pens go away and the dogs enjoy supervised meal times and can interact with toys all over with no issues. A bit of stealing occurs every so often, but thats where the older calmer dogs are valuable in giving a correction to the offending dog in a manner that the offender takes to heart.

    Everything goes away if there is any lip curling or hard stares. Higher value items like bones and bullies usually require a bit more management with certain dogs, so I do seperate them when I can't monitor them.

    Beds, bowls and toys are treated the same way. Everybody has to share from day 1. Bringing in adult dogs and expecting the same level of ease with integration is much more difficult. Things have to be done very slowly and with a much greater level of control, and sometimes they are always penned for meals and treats no matter what since they have the adult equipment to inflict serious damage on my adults. It's not worth risking. However, I find that in general, resource guarding does not become much of an issue when you can deal with it while the dog is a puppy and they learn that food, toys and high value treats are not worth fighting about.
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • HamletHamlet
    Posts: 146
    @lindsayt - yeah, both our dogs are young. Juliet is around 10 months old and Hamlet just turned 2 years. We found that they adjusted very quickly to the expectation of "sharing". Hamlet had never been a resource-guarder at all, so there wasn't much in the way of adjustment for him - it was mostly training on Juliet's part.
  • GinjoGinjo
    Posts: 8
    I had this problem not too long ago. Ive managed to get it down to near never happening with the exception of one or two items. However, I removed them from the equation to avoid that happening again.

    Something that was very helpful, a spray bottle filled with vineger and water. My pup hates the vinegar. If he tried to guard or protect an object or treat, he'd get alittle spray and normally that would be enough to get him into retreat mode.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8587
    I REALLY suggest NOT using aversive methods. Even a spray bottle could cause your dog to not trust you or to create even worse resource guarding. And depending on the dog, it could cause the dog to react badly and seriously injure you or the other dog.

    @Ginjo - I appreciate your input, but not all dogs are the same. If I tried to spray Nola with a water bottle, I would lose every bit of trust that she has for me. If I tried to spray Bella, I have a feeling she would feel that there is every bit of more reason to guard whatever it is that she was guarding.

    The methods in the article are very good and should work without using any type of aversive method. Please take the time to read the article, as it is very well written and has great step by step instructions on the method that they are using.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • I posted this on the Nihon side, but thought it is worthwhile to cross-post it here.

    This is another article on the same subject in the Whole Dog Journal October issue.

    Like what Casey (@sunyata) suggested, I will avoid using aversive (even a water bottle) if there is a non-aversive alternative. I want my dog to make the appropriate choice because he wants to, not because he is afraid of something or someone. An aversive may provide quick results, but it usually has hidden consequences that you may not notice (lost of trust, a new unwanted behavior that is not apparent at first, or not guarding against you because you use the aversive, but guard against others. By making it his choice and changing his state of mind of guarding will you be able to have him not guard against everyone and not just a selected few when using aversive.).
    Post edited by sandrat888 at 2011-11-08 13:39:20
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8587
    Excellent points, Sandra! Thanks for the article, too!
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • AnnaAnna
    Posts: 621
    So I'd previously posted about Hammond in the Food Guarding thread, but think I should pick up on this one because it's starting to spread into general resource guarding. :/

    Some background on the original food guarding issue:
    We've been making really good progress with the issues in that thread. Leave It and Drop It on walks is showing a lot of improvement! :D The neighbors throw bread out regularly for the birds and he'll beeline for it, but a stern LEAVE IT will have him either just sniff it or actually come back to me for a treat. If he does ignore me and picks it up, we're getting much better at DROP IT. I can lure him away from slightly more interesting things pretty regularly as well (yogurt containers, mcDonald's wrappers, etc.)

    For toys and stuff in the house, or even bully sticks, DROP IT is much more effective. Still not 100% if he's particularly rowdy and wants to play tug, but he's getting really good. And his self-control is improving. SIT/WAIT/LET'S GO! is working on the first try much more often for leaving the house (or going back in the house). For meal times I don't even have to command SIT anymore, he immediately runs over and flops down (though he has started barking/howling while he waits) and WAIT/GET IT! works perfectly (though it's still kind of up in the air how LONG he's willing to wait - a simple correcting noise when he tries to jump the gun will return him to a SIT, though).

    The problem I've noticed is that he's getting snappy in other situations:

    1. He won't snap if I touch his food bowl while he eats, but he will do the food guarding "OMG GOBBLE IT ALL REAL FAST" thing if try to move the bowl. He'll let me pet him, touch his belly, touch his feet, touch his head/neck/face, put my fingers near his mouth, put my hands in the bowl and push the kibble around, etc. It's just only if I actually move the bowl (even just pushing it a centimeter sideways).

    2. He's started guarding treats from other dogs. He's an only dog at home, but at training graduation I had much higher value treats than normal (kibbles with wet dog food gravy on them) and he definitely growled/snapped at another puppy. Well, not "snapped", but jerked his open mouth in the puppy's direction as a warning. At my friend's house, too, with dogs he's known since I brought him home, he's started guarding.

    With the friend's dogs it's weird because previously (we go there at LEAST once a week) he would sit politely next to the two dogs and eat his treats. But last night he would get snappy if I gave another dog a treat first, or if he was waiting for a treat he'd try to bark/warn them to go away. If I gave him the treat first he'd be mostly okay, but as soon as he finished chewing it he'd investigate the other dogs by sniffing their mouths or trying to nip them/steal their treat out of their mouth. I wasn't using anything fancy; the same treats he always gets at their house, half of which are the kibbles all three of them eat every day.

    It's hard to pin down, too, because he'd be fine with sitting next to everyone for several treats in a row, then randomly decide "This is not cool" and snap at them. It's not really an aggressive guarding snap, like he didn't try to make contact really, but it's definitely him trying to chase them away. Sometimes I could see the decision happen, where he suddenly realized there was another dog next to him AND realized he didn't like that, and in that case I could normally redirect his attention to me before he acted on it. Other times it would appear like he was just calmly looking around or he'd snap sideways while still maintaining eye contact with me.

    So far he's only done this last night at my friend's house. Out on walks he won't guard treats when I try to calm him while he greets other dogs. He doesn't guard when we go to the park (which legally is on-leash, and Hammond stays on-leash - but I give him the full 30' of leash so he has no reason to feel restrained or get leash reactive, but lots of owners with well-trained dogs let them off-leash).

    3. He snapped at the cat last night when she came over to be pet. He was asleep by my leg when the cat jumped on the couch and as soon as he heard her approaching he sat right up and focused on her. I tried the usual "Hammond, leave her alone", which he's getting better at, but I don't know if she startled him or because he'd been sleeping he'd declared the couch/me as "MINE", but he definitely did a warning, non-playful bark noise (not a bark I've normally heard, but I could definitely tell it was 'not good' bark) and tried to nip at her as soon as she jumped up. Normally when she tries to share the couch he'll pounce and play and mouth her, but this was different. He settled right back down once she left, but he didn't really relax until she was off the couch, out of the room, and out of his sight. Then he went right back to sleep. (I am trying to work on "you're only allowed on the couch if invited", so maybe once that sinks in he'll be less likely to guard it?)

    This is the only situation I've ever seen him guard me as a resource. I can sit on the other couch, the one near the door for putting shoes on, and pet the cat and he'll be okay with it (or if he tries to jump up "Leave her alone" works). I can give them treats next to each other and it's okay. Last week I accidentally fell asleep on the couch and woke up with Hammond asleep on my legs (exactly where he'd been before I fell asleep) and the cat asleep by my chest. So previously he's been okay with it.

    And at the park, in public, at friends' houses he's fine with me petting other dogs. I can hold my friend's dog on my lap and Hammond is fine. So I'm not sure if maybe it was just a sleepiness-induced fluke or if it's actually a sign of something to be concerned about.

    We're going to be signing up for the Reactive Dog class to work on his bitey temper tantrums, so is this guarding something we will get guidance on there? And we're doing Intermediate Manners as well. I think it'd be hard for a behaviorist to work on, too, because it's so hard to witness, since it's so intermittent (and he rarely, rarely displays the problems in public or less familiar areas).

    I don't use any aversive methods, just stern "Leave it/him/her alone" or NO and then try to call him over and/or redirect with treats or toys or petting him. When he got snappy over treats I just stopped passing out treats (and when he kept being obnoxious I picked him up and held him on my lap - which he didn't love but didn't grumble or squirm once he was settled. I had to hold him because if I gave him room he tried to jump down and bother everyone again).

    I read the articles linked earlier, but it's so hard with Hammond because he'll happily do trades and he's improving in other areas, but then seems to intermittently regress in these. (Or he seems to think "Okay, I did what you asked and got my reward, now back to what I was trying to do" rather than "Oh, I'm not supposed to do this")

    So how do you work on guarding-behavior that doesn't display regularly? I try to always be fair, if I give my friend's dog a treat, Hammond gets one (though I seem to unfair in that I'll give Hammond treats, like as a reward for leaving the other dogs alone, then not give the other dogs treats...), if the cat is being pet, I pet Hammond at the same time, etc.

    Omg sorry for the huge wall of text. D:
  • Obviously the dogs are too close when getting snacks, particularly with resource guarding there needs to be distance. You can also teach your dog to ignore bits that go elsewhere and to just focus on you more. I.e. you drop a treat and the dog leaves it and you feed from you hand for leaving it the item that rolled away, eventually while other dogs scramble for it. This can be trained using a biscuit and your foot . But you need to get more focus during high threshold situations and be able to figure out his limits. Have a trainer show you.

    In regard to the food dish I don't know that I would move it around or tap it when he is eating out of it. Using two bowls and having the dog switch between the two is ok but picking up and taking away while eating puts a strain on the situation. Seek help with a trainer or behaviorist that can help hands on.

    As far as the cat. If you are training Hammond that he can not go on the couch only when asked, he is of course going to find the foul in the cat jumping up and not asking. It sounds like he could use some more contact work on a mat or bed so that he does not get so intense about a particular area that surrounds you. Talk with your trainer so that there are not inconsistencies. Inconsistencies are what cause problems to expand.

    Resources guarding can shift and change and dogs will try out what works, so again you will need to get a trainer to observe and help you through the hot spots. Hammond it looks like will always push the boundaries so you have to be one step ahead in expecting certain behaviors and limiting opportunities for them to occur.

    Jean Donaldson's book "Mine" is a good book to read. As is Leslie McDevitt's "Control Unleashed" to get more focus.

    Post edited by StaticNfuzz at 2011-12-20 13:32:08
  • AnnaAnna
    Posts: 621
    @StaticNfuzz Is there a reason why the proximity would suddenly be an issue when it never was before? I mean, they're not sitting close enough to touch, but in past situations they have been and none of them got snappish.

    I don't make a habit of bothering the food bowl while he eats, but after the incidents yesterday I tested it this morning to see if he'd do the guardy gobbling thing. I don't actually pick it up to test it, just shift it slightly (actually I move it way less than he himself does while he's eating, haha). The only time I lift it back up is if he breaks his sit while I'm in the process of putting it down, but in that case he doesn't actually have it yet, so it shouldn't count as "taking it away", should it?

    The cat actually did have permissions/invitation to jump up. She came in the room and looked at me, so I said "Come here Zephyr" and patted the open space on the couch, which is pretty much the same invitation Hammond gets.

    I think limiting opportunities is kind of making things harder for me. Like, it's hard to work on resource guarding with other dogs when so much of his time is spent without any other dogs around, so he's got less opportunity/need to get used to sharing. I mean, he has to share me with the cat, but not toys, food or treats.

    I just added MINE! to my Amazon Christmas shopping order so I can read it while I'm home for the holidays. I'll check out the other one after the new year. :D I'm hoping Agility Foundations class (whenever the new enrollments start, spring at the latest) will also help a lot with focus, but I expect between the two classes we'll get lots of guidance on that as well.

    Thanks for the suggestions! I'll definitely be bringing it up with the trainers in his classes (the reactive dog one starts the first week of January, and Intermediate Manners is the first week of February, so it won't be very long) and in the meantime I'll read Mine! and apply suggestions from that, too.
  • Anna asks: Is there a reason why the proximity would suddenly be an issue when it never was before? I mean, they're not sitting close enough to touch.

    Maturity and expanding personal boundaries.....anyones guess...really they don't need a reason since dogs change things up often, just as we do. Probably he is just being opportunistic. This is where being proactive helps by providing extra distance and working on the focus stuff so he is not looking at his neighbor. He does not necessarily have to like another dog but he should learn to focus better when you are working with him and food.

    About the food bowl, you state "The only time I lift it back up is if he breaks his sit while I'm in the process of putting it down, but in that case he doesn't actually have it yet, so it shouldn't count as "taking it away", should it?"

    This shouldn't be a problem but I can't see what's going on exactly so I really can't say what seems to be the triggers for his behavior. This is where a behaviorist might be of help in the various scenarios.

    As far as the cat, well you invited her and he did not get to, so in his mind he will do whatever it takes to get the attention or run her off if he can. So it's back to doing some contact work away from the couch and allowing shared pat reward for good behavior with of course time outs for not controlling himself.

    If he is the only dog then practicing is going to be difficult and it is more probable that he will be more focused on keeping what is his and taking what is theirs when he is around other animals. As he matures he most likely will be less flexible about it as well so you will need to remain vigilant since the scale is tipping in that direction. It would be smart to keep high value items away when visiting and working him around near others. By keeping him up to snuff on the obedience management, like you plan to do in training will gain you the most benefit. Have you actually had him in day care and able to watch from a sidelines by hiding or through observation window to see his behavior with other dogs without you right there? How has he done with that? You could start with a mini day care session and remain on stand by to see how it goes with maybe some larger pups more compatible with his play style. Talk with your trainer on that since she probably knows his antics, issues and tipping point. Keep plugging... Rome was not built in a day.

  • I would add that yes, resource guarding behavior changes, and the proximity issue becomes more problematic, sometimes, as they get older.

    I'm having to deal with this in my house right now, and what I've noticed is something I've noticed before: it gets worse as dogs mature, if you don't deal with it. I tolerate (ie. manage) a certain amount of resource guarding--none of my dogs want other dogs around when they eat, and that's fine--they all get fed separately, and I expect a bit of snark if another dog were to approach.

    But I've seen that resource guarding can escalate and get really nasty (it was part of the problem between Toby and Bel that ended up in serious injury), so I also know at times you need more than management.

    And we've just hit that again in our house. Oskar, the Akita, is about 1.5 years old now. He's always had a bit of resource guarding with other dogs over food, but as I've said, I've just managed it in the past. But in the past month or so, it's gotten more out of hand, so now I have to work on training (rather than just managing). One day we were thawing out their dinner on the woodstove, and Bel innocently walked by the woodstove and he blocked her and snarled. NOT acceptable behavior! I "corrected" him (which here is just a stern "na na!" sound), and then redirected him with a reward for proper behavior.

    But it's continuing, and escalating: he's shown two incidents of guarding high value items (toys--for him some toys are even more high value than food), and today, he took a squeaky toy upstairs and left it up there (obviously "hiding" it from the other dogs), and then when Bel attempted to go upstairs a couple of hours later, he blocked her and growled.

    So time for some work on this in our house! I've long had "Mine!" on my Amazon wishlist, but guess it's time to get it, and be proactive about this. It's really critical, too, because Bel is known to have serious arousal issues--once she gets aroused she doesn't back down, and Oskar, while pretty mellow, is an Akita, and tends to stand his ground too, and of course he's huge compared to her. There will NOT be any fights in this house about resources--I'm going to make sure of that.

    I do think it's interesting, though, that resource guarding escalates as dogs mature--I've run into problems around 2 years old, and I want to avoid more problems here! and one other thing: the weblink above notes that if resource guarding happens unexpectedly, it's best to redirect without touching the dogs if possible. I find this to really be true: grabbing one by the collar can escalate things, or at least it does in my house.
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2011-12-24 14:10:59
  • Stef777Stef777
    Posts: 246
    So as some of you know Tessie has resource guarding issues with Kendaux (and probably any other dog) I did read the article above and it was really usefull. My only question is this...

    When Tessie notices a human has food and Kendaux is close by she will growl and lung at him if he comes by and smells her. The food isn't anywhere near them and we do not give them scraps of our food so there shouldn't be anything for her to guard.... We now put 1 of them in the crate and the other in a different room if a human is eating. By doing all of the stuff i've read on the forum as well as the article above will this get better? I would hate to have to seperate them when the humans eat for the rest of their lives... obviously if it doesn't get better we will. It would just be nice not to have to.
  • RyanRyan
    Posts: 293
    I found the article in google, then this thread!

    Sounds like I am on track, Bella has recently started coming when I call Suki, dominating him when I first get home, and guarding the food(whilst trying to eat it all).

    I ignore her when she comes when i call him.
    I train and treat them together.
    I ignore them when i get home unless they behave.
    I mix up the feeding routine.

    Hopefully it settles down, she still gets her special play time with me, up until now I was able to feed them from the same bowl!
    Bella (Sherae Aka Akicho) | F | Born 27/1/2012
    Suki (Aust. Ch. Betlin Takaisuki) | M | Born 03/02/2005, adopted 10/09/2012
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
    Saw this on FB so thought I'd post this here.
    Nicole, 5year old Bella(Boxer), and 4year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1589
    Another great post about dog-dog RG:
    "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
  • NikkitineNikkitine
    Posts: 776
    So Tali attacked Pacman pretty aggressively last night. I've been following steps to manage resource guarding pretty heavily since I've gotten her with group training, group treats, and impulse control every night. The dogs also eat separately in different parts of the room. She does great in all of those. However, last night was a shock and very scary.

    I was in the computer room working and all three dogs are usually sleeping at my feet. Pacman has his own little cot underneath my desk and Tali/Nala were right behind me.
    All three were resting after getting some good bully stick time in and I always remove those after they were finished to prevent any stealing. My boyfriend comes in and we starting talking. Pacman decides to get off his bed to go outside, most likely to get a drink of water. Usually, he can pass by both dogs without any problems. However, as he passed by Tali, she literally snaps and attacks him without any warning. I would understand if she was shocked because she was sleeping, but she was fully awake and wasn't directly facing him, more off to the side.

    As the attack is happening, Pacman is trying to run away but she really really wanted at him. It happened so fast and so suddenly with such force, we had to physically pull her off of him and immediately put her in time out. After inspecting Pacman, I was thankful there wasn't major injuries, just some missing fur from his beard.

    I'm still in a state of shock at the moment, and I've been on edge ever since. They're fine now and act like nothing ever happened, but my eyes are completely glued on their interactions and body language. I think most of the shock is from the lack of warning that Tali never gave off. She was in a relaxed state, she didn't growl, snap, or tense up. Just attacked.

    I'm trying to pin down what it was that set her off with different cases.

    - She still thought she had a bully stick to guard
    - She was guarding her space
    - Guarding my boyfriend since he was right next to her (he wasn't giving her any attention though)
    - She just hates him

    Obvious joke on the last one, but those are what I can think of for now. Starting today, looks we'll be adding resource guarding/proximity training to our daily sessions. I just hope she doesn't decide to make him her #1 enemy, because he's extremely passive and really just minds his own business. I apologize for the long rant, but just wanted to get this out there. Thanks!
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8587
    @Nikkitine - Hmm... That does not exactly sound like resource guarding, especially if she has never exibited any signs of ... How old is Tali now?

    In my own experience, unexplained aggression (such as attacking without warning) is usually caused by a medical issue such as seizures or thyroid problems. I also vaguely remember that she was recently spayed? How recent was that?
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • NikkitineNikkitine
    Posts: 776
    @sunyata - She has exhibited signs before at work, when she had hid one of her dental treats in her bed. A dog walked by and she immediately did a growl/bark and stood over where she hid the treat. We have our own corner at work and she's already exhibiting territorial signs with, so we've been working on redirection and focus a lot.

    We worked on the proximity training with a high value bone yesterday with Pacman. We had them both on a leash as she was munching away at the bone. I had my boyfriend walk by a few feet with Pacman and she immediately tensed up and lunged when he was too close. We worked with it a few times to try and gauge how far he could be for her to be comfortable. She was giving him the evil shiba eye the whole time while chewing on the bone if he was in her view, no matter how far he was. If he was far enough, I could tell her to leave it, watch me, and treat. But once he got too close, she would try and chew the bone faster with some lip curl and a low growl. Anything closer than 3 feet and she'd lunge. So we definitely have work cut out for us. She's ok with lower value toys and group training even with high value treats however. They can be right next to each other, even touching, and she'd be okay with me giving him one and then her.

    We're working on her every night so I'll post up a video of it to help with the observation.

    I do worry about whether her early spay had something to do with the onset of aggression. She got spayed at 5 months and she just turned a little over 6.

    Guarding of objects and space has been her only problem so far. Yesterday, I brought her in for a dog park evaluation with a behaviorist and she has already seen the signs of her guarding toys and getting a bit snarky when a dog tried to mount her.

    I know that this will most likely get worse as she ages so I'm doing the best I can to figure out the triggers and work with her before another dog, or god forbid, a person/child gets hurt.

    Post edited by Nikkitine at 2015-05-07 16:15:26
  • alishaarrralishaarrr
    Posts: 9
    It has been really helpful to read articles and posts on here about resource guarding -- thanks to all for those. I think we have a problem in this regard, and I am trying to remove triggers while also training him to reduce the guarding instinct. I could use some reassurance that we're doing the right things:

    The struggle is between Winston (1.5-year-old Shiba) and our cat Maya. He has been generally preoccupied with Maya since he was a puppy, for all the obvious reasons -- he's not aggressive with her, but is a constant pest. She's very tolerant of him, and we established a bedroom as her safe space where Winston is not allowed to go. As he's gotten older he has learned to stay out of her room, and has learned what "No Kitty" means.

    However, his sensitivity to Maya being near his food bowl or the kitchen/dining room has seemed to increase as he gets older. We live in a 1200 square foot apartment, with living room, kitchen, and dining room at one end. While we very rarely feed him people food (and especially not while we're cooking or eating), Winston is on almost constant patrol of that area, especially around his food bowl -- anytime the cat transits between living room, kitchen, and dining room, he follows her incessantly. Again, not aggressive, but just constantly policing where she's going. She's a friendly cat and likes to be around her people, but it seems to be a nuisance to her to have the dog on her heels all the time when she's in the greater part of the house.

    As a first step, I'm going to try only feeding him once a day and doing so in his crate, to remove the issue of a "food zone" in the kitchen. However, I'm concerned that even a water dish is going to trigger the guarding instinct, and wherever it's moved is going to become a problem area. There's also nowhere we can put his water that the cat won't pass by during her regular movements around the apartment.

    Secondly, I thought if we could de-escalate his stress around the cat near his food bowl by learning that cat near food = good things, it might make him less inclined to chase her around. I started trying to simultaneously treat the two of them in that area and, yep, it made him EXTREMELY agitated.

    When we initiate this type of training, he goes completely bananas when I say the cat's name, when I pay her attention, or if I'm not feeding him a steady stream of treats. If he watches her eat a treat, he starts whining, barking, and screaming. He will not stay put for very long even when being treated regularly, and is constantly fighting the urge to get up and pounce on her or try to steal her treats. He's really distressed the entire time, and can really only tolerate it for a minute or two until he loses it and goes after her. I'm wondering if this is actually productive? Do we need to just keep at it, or is this not a healthy approach if he can't be calm? Do we need a trainer to help us?

    While I think these are steps we can take to remove the bigger issues, Winston's general badgering of the cat is a constant annoyance for us and for her. Food/kitchen seem to be the biggest issue, but he's generally preoccupied with her and won't leave her alone unless she's in 'her' room. I've tried to find other posts or resources on this but haven't really come across anything helpful. If anybody has suggestions for getting the dog to leave the cat alone, that would help. He is not always distractible, and even when he's lying down relaxing, will always get up to follow her around the house.

    Any other suggestions or insights would be most welcome. I really want to help Winston feel secure about his food while leaving the cat in peace. Thank you!

  • pyleapylea
    Posts: 235
    @alishaarrr: I have two 5-year-old bengal cats and a 7-month-old shiba in an apartment. My shiba was super fixated on the cats when she was younger. In fact, my BF and I both agreed that there was no way we could leave them unsupervised together as she got bigger. But now they get along very well! Here are some tips based on my experience:

    1. Your cat needs more safe spaces around the apartment, so your shiba can get used to sharing space with her.
    If the bedroom is your cat's only safe space, then she needs WAY more safe spaces. By making the bedroom her safe space, you have made the rest of the apartment your shiba's territory. It makes complete sense that he is protective of his territory (everything minus the bedroom). Make sure your cat has plenty of high countertops, tabletops, empty shelves, etc. that she can safely use to get around EACH room, and from room to room. These high surfaces will also give her a chance to relax and share space with your shiba from a safe height. This will also desensitize your shiba to the cat's presence by allowing them to be near each other without any real potential for conflict. As he gets used to her more, he will pester her less. And any time he does pester her, she will have an immediate vertical escape.

    2. Ditch the food bowl and hand-feed your shiba to reduce resource/food guarding.
    I have been hand-feeding my shiba since day one. She does not even have a food bowl. Specifically, I give her 3-5 kibbles each time she obeys a command--I do this two times a day, for 1/2 cup of kibble per meal. It takes just a few minutes each time, and is great because it (a) reinforces her training, (b) reinforces that she must do what I want to get what she wants (Nothing in Life is Free method), and (c) she doesn't seem to feel ownership over her food, so she doesn't have any guarding issues. Also, every time I do this, my BF's dog and one of my cats are sitting right next to her, lurking for scraps. Maybe start hand-feeding your shiba while your cat is safe behind a closed door, and after he gets used to that, move up to hand-feeding him when the cat is lurking on a high surface? As for the water bowl, you could put that under a high surface, so that the cat can pass through the area without needing to be on the floor.

    3. Do not give in when your dog throws a tantrum.
    What do you do when your dog "goes bananas"? Do you try to placate him right away with treats and comforting words? If so, that needs to stop. It sounds like he knows exactly what to do to get his way, so he has no real incentive to behave. Does he know the commands "leave it," "look at me," and/or "settle"? If not, he should. And he should only get treats for obeying those commands and being able to sustain a period of calmness when around the cat. You could also try putting him in a short time-out (15-30 seconds) in the bathroom when he throws a tantrum. In short, he should absolutely NOT get something he wants out of throwing tantrums or other bad behavior. ONLY treat him for being calm/good. Ignore him or give him a time-out when he is being bad. Over time he will learn what kind of behavior gets him what he wants.

    (It also sounds like you might be giving him too many treats? If he gets treats whenever he throws a fit, then of course he will constantly be throwing a fit.)

    Hope this helps! There are also quite a few threads specifically about shibas and cats, e.g.,
  • alishaarrralishaarrr
    Posts: 9
    @pylea, thanks a lot -- these are really helpful suggestions.

    We don't treat Winston very much -- only when 'working' or to reinforce good behavior, and absolutely not when he's being bratty. During the interactions with treating him and the cat, I only treat him when he is quiet and not causing a ruckus. We do use time-outs when he's clearly disobeying instructions. I've just been surprised and alarmed by how distressed these scenarios have made him.

    I will give different feeding methods a try to eliminate his bowl altogether. He has a treat puzzle that we can start using for meals.
  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 1106
    @alishaarrr, a puzzle toy is the same as a bowl, don't expect anything different with that.

    It's a good idea to practice the hand feeding. Maybe even start outside of the house (while working on training) if he is territorial over so much of it.

    Depending on your house setup, you can create more dog-free zones, like in the kitchen, by using fences that the cat can jump under/over but the dog can't.

    If it comes to the point where you can't tell what might trigger your dog, or the things you try aren't working, don't be afraid to seek professional help.
  • I'm gonna wake this thread up again to get some advice from you guys :)

    So, my 9 weeks old female Shiba, Yuka, displayed her first snappy (not sure if it's aggressive though) resource guarding move in the form of a snarl and a lunge at my 2 year 5 month old female pug, Callie, last night.

    What initiated it was my fault - we had given Callie a frozen kong stuffed with peanut butter while I worked with Yuka on her commands. Our apartment is really small, so we don't have a lot of space and I don't go into the only other room to work with Yuka, because she gets distracted by the bathroom (she loves it!). So the space that I work with Yuka is near the couch, where Callie is on.

    Anyway, Callie finished with the kong and dropped it on the floor, right next to Yuka's pen. Callie ignored it and went to my partner in hopes of more food. That was when Yuka found the kong (I'd stopped working with her then) and started chewing on it.

    Callie saw Yuka with the kong, but Callie is quite a good sister, so she let Yuka have the kong and did not try to snatch it back. Yes, she did go close to Yuka to sniff and investigate the kong, but there was nothing aggressive about it, and she walked away. She came back a second time again next to Yuka, but she didn't snatch it at all. This whole time, Yuka didn't react either - no warning growl, nothing.

    Then, the almost-fight happened. Yuka let go of the kong and it bounced a few cm away. Callie, seeing that Yuka had let go of the kong, went to chew on it. That was when Yuka made a sound I've never heard before and lunged at Callie. She snarled, I'm guessing that's the sound, since when they play, the vocal Yuka is all just growling and puppy sounds and not at all like the sound I heard, then she lunged at Callie's hind leg, I believe with the intention to bite. I got a shock and intervened with a loud "Yuka stop that right now!", but Yuka was having none of it so I gave her a time-out. When Yuka lunged at Callie though, Callie did not fight back, instead tried to back off/run off (I think). Scariest moment for me since the 1 week that we took Yuka home, actually :(

    I've been training them to not resource guard since we got Yuka. I treat both at the same time - both will give me a good sit although Yuka still tends to try to reach for the treat, so I make Yuka give me a down while Callie gives me a sit, wait a while, then treat both at the same time. Callie likes to investigate and sniff at my hand that's feeding Yuka right after she gets her treat, so I try to manage that by luring Callie to sniff at my other hand longer, or give her more kibbles. I'm just concerned that maybe that'll cause Yuka to gobble her treats up, although from what I observe, both finish their treats at the same time and Yuka is just licking my hand thereafter. I also leave all their toys out so they don't feel any toy is of a higher value than the other (higher value are kept out of reach), and when I give affection to Callie, I give it to Yuka immediately after too.

    Callie does not resource guard as much (oh, she used to guard her toys!) in part because she attends daycare once a week and goes for boarding for 2 weeks when we travel once a year, and the dogs there have taken care of that issue. :)

    So now, my thinking is that it's Yuka that I have to work on. How do I intervene when Yuka starts to get defensive (I can't really tell from her body language because she's still just a puppy), and how do I get Yuka to know that it's alright if another dog is around her? She does not seem to get anything that I am doing - be it treating her with another dog around, giving her her toys when another dog is around etc. Oh, I forgot to add that Yuka is more food motivated than toy motivated - she doesn't know/want to play fetch, doesn't want to play with her toys, so redirecting her with toys doesn't work. But then again, she's only 9 weeks old and I've only gotten her for 1 week. Do I need to work on Callie's sniffing at my hand that's giving Yuka the treats too?

    Omg I unknowingly wrote the longest post ever and I am so sorry but any advice would help! :)
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8587
    @themuseofepicpoetry - Stop treating them together. Stop giving high value items (kongs with treats) unless they are in their crates or separate rooms (with doors closed).

    When training one dog, you need to crate the other or put the other in a closed room. This prevents jealousy and distraction.

    Also, your puppy is nine weeks old. She is a baby. You need to set her up for success (which is why you should stop treating them together).

    Yuka has only been in your home for a week. You also have another socially inept dog. Slow down. It takes time to integrate a new dog. You should not expect either one of them to be comfortable with the other in such close proximity yet. Hopefully with proper management, positive interactions, and structure they will learn to love each other's company. But... you also need to be prepared to deal with it if they do not.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
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