Resource guarding

Tricks, obedience, behavior, and more.
User avatar
Red
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 9519
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 4:35 am
Location: SoCal

Resource guarding

Postby Red » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:27 pm

Since there are people dealing with this "problem" constantly, maybe a thread to refer people to, within the forum, would be useful.Hard to cover the whole issue in a post, but at least some very simple guidelines and information can be provided.

Resource guarding is not abnormal behavior, it is adaptive and it does not necessarily make a dog an overly dangerous animal.Posturing, growling, staring, freezing/stiffening, and other ritualized behaviors are the appropriate way for dogs to say "this is mine and I want it, or I want to be by it/on it... you need to back off". In most case, dogs limit their behavior to warnings through vocalization and body language, but if the warnings are not heard they can move to snapping (also a warning) and escalate in a bite if the dog continue to be pushed.

Resource guarding is not limited to food , but I am going to use food guarding, which is very common, as the main example.Food guarding is displayed by an increase in distance (dogs takes bone and runs away), increase speed in the "chewing time" (frantic chewing, swallowing food before it is chewed) , threatening/warning behaviors (growling, freezing, head held low, staring , snarling etc) when the owner or present person is moving closer to the guarded food or into the dog's space.That type of food must have significant value to the dog.It is possible that a dog is not displaying these behaviors when the owner reaches into the bowl of kibble, but the same animal might not be willing to have the owner approaching a marrow bone,kong filled with goodies, raw meat etc.

The worse way to approach this problem, and also unsafe, is to get into some kind of competition with the dog because we want to make it clear that we "own the food" and "Cesar Millan said this is the way he rolls". Chasing, cornering, punishing, forcefully removing food from the dog's mouth, yelling and whatever else ignorant owners do only increase the value of the food. Something to absolutely keep in mind is that punishment is going to create a faster protective response, which means that the a bite can happen earlier in the sequence of threats that we would normally see.


In order to start some behavior modification we need to find a hierarchy of value (high to low value).This means that we are looking for foods that are not going to evoke a certain type of behavior, while making a list of those that do. If the dog is guarding a rawhide but not his/her bowl of food that is what we start with. The idea is to change emotional responses and condition responses in which the dog anticipates something positive when the owners is stepping into the guarded item. Instead of the dog thinking in terms of loss when the owner approaches, we are looking for the dog to want the owner to approach, because there is a specific consequence when those antecedents are in the picture (owner moving closer to the guarded items). We would be using differential reinforcement procedures, with incremental graded exposure, so that the animal is helped to succeed. Here is an example of the beginning work:

1-dog is eating bowl of kibble (dog does not guard kibble).
2-owner walks closer to the bowl (can be close, dog is not guarding).
3-owner drops treats in the bowl (can be same value food, dog is not guarding).
-4- owner walks away.

Using the same value food, raise in criteria:

1-dog is eating bowl of kibble (dog does not guard kibble).
2-owner walks closer and reach for the bowl of food (no need to break it into smaller steps, from the owner's part, dog is not guarding)
3-owners drops more food into the bowl as he reaches for it.
4-owner walks away.

Same value food, raise in criteria:

1-dog is eating bowl of kibble (dog does not guard kibble).
2-owner walks closer and pick up bowl.When he touches the bowl and before picking it up, owner deliver several treats by hand.
3-owner returns bowl to the dog, with more treats in it.
4-owner walks away.

This is beginning work, nothing must happen so fast when a dog is actually guarding the food. This was an example to help understand the process from the beginning, which has to start with low value food (or items), then move to medium value foods, and finally high value foods. When food is guarded, the "exchange game" food needs to be of higher value , or at least of equal value of what the dog is guarding.

With guarded food that had been a problem before we need to lower the criteria, which means that we won't be so close. For some dogs, entering the room they are eating in, is enough to create a situation in which warnings happen. In that case, we would enter the room and throw special food before the dog starts a negative chain of reactions. If there is not time to work on this, at the moment, the dog needs to be left alone. If there are children in the pictures...dog MUST be confined. Children, toddlers especially, have no idea of dog behavior and it is unfair to them and the dog in question to allow both to be in the same area where resource guarding is a problem.

I gave a very brief and "user friendly" introduction to the type of work everyone should be doing, but for a more detailed explanation please buy the book "Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs, by Jean Donaldson. It is very simple and yet breaks things down to where they are helpful.Let's keep in mind...no book is a substitute for someone with experience so if you own a dog who deliver serious bites, please contact a professional.That professional has an education and does not use quick fixes.

Those of you who might have encountered this problem, please pitch with questions so we can help others.I kept it very short, so i hope that a discussion can prompt more information.

User avatar
Celesteandthebullies
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 4622
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 8:40 pm
Location: Anderson, California
Contact:

Re: Resource guarding

Postby Celesteandthebullies » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:57 pm

I vote sticky. :thumbsup:

User avatar
Stormi
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 5078
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:05 am
Location: Seattle
Contact:

Resource guarding

Postby Stormi » Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:03 am

Double thumbs up. One of my favorite shelter dogs was put down for resource guarding (exacerbated by someone claiming they were a trainer that routinely confronted the dog and lashed out at him for guarding). It's such a workable and manageable behavior that no dog should face that fate as a result.

User avatar
GoingPostal
Forum Junky
Posts: 3055
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2007 9:08 pm
Location: MN

Re: Resource guarding

Postby GoingPostal » Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:04 am

I used this method with Nero, who was mildly guarding with kibble (eating faster, hovering, tense) and more so with toys or high value (running away, gulping stuff, etc). He now stops eating, will let me take his food dish away, put goodies in, definitely happy response, looking forward to what I have rather than worried, with toys/treats he still will move around if us or other dog do but he is ok with Jersey moving past him with treats around, will even chew goughnuts (he loves these) fairly close to her now and is much calmer, previously this would have started a fight and they were strictly regulated to separate parts of the house for goodies and not allowed to approach each other. I haven't worked up to trading super high value food yet, haven't really found anything that would last long enough? Maybe bully sticks but can't find them locally anymore and so expensive. I think pushing or forcing the issue with him really would have ended up with someone bitten and don't recommend that for anyone, much less stressful all around to keep it positive and got to teach a solid drop it as well.

User avatar
Celesteandthebullies
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 4622
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 8:40 pm
Location: Anderson, California
Contact:

Re: Resource guarding

Postby Celesteandthebullies » Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:13 am

Stormi wrote:Double thumbs up. One of my favorite shelter dogs was put down for resource guarding (exacerbated by someone claiming they were a trainer that routinely confronted the dog and lashed out at him for guarding). It's such a workable and manageable behavior that no dog should face that fate as a result.

I lost count of how many shelter dogs I adored were euthanized for that reason. One man adopted a dog and the day he brought them home he dumped steak leftovers out for them to eat. They got in a fight and he brought the dog back raging, saying it was extremely vicious and should be killed. He was taken of the "allowed to adopt" list.

I'm going to share this with the trainers at the Humane Society, they're very nice folks and work with the dogs all the time. With the majority of the dogs they consult with the adopters before allowing adoption. (They're clicker trainers) With all the dogs coming through, they're kept busy.

User avatar
laiinkyree
Matured Bully
Posts: 403
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 12:29 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Contact:

Re: Resource guarding

Postby laiinkyree » Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:39 am

I vote sticky as well :)

I have an interesting situation. The new guy that I have taken in has an unique situation. He has mild guarding issues, and some form of separation anxiety. I'm kind of at a loss. As soon as I leave the room, he starts whining. If I'm not back within 5-10 seconds, the whining turns to barking, which turns into wordless (I guess barkless?) screaming/crooning/not sure how else to describe it. It's not howling, it's like a mix of barking/whining/howling all at once.

He'll do it until we come back, whether it's an hour or 6 hours. Our poor roommate sits and listens to it the entire time, (He is not a dog person, and does not want to have the dog in his room to keep him quiet or anything like that.) Doesn't matter if there are dogs or no dogs in the same room with him.

He does it whether he's kenneled or not. I can't even leave the room to go to the bathroom without him starting up. Everyone is telling me that super yummy treats are the way to go, try and get him something to take his attention. But with the mild guarding issues, I've been told NOT to give him the super yummy treats.

He does not guard kibble from me, so I'll start with the step 1 stuff this morning :) Before anyone asks, I have already bought the books Mine! and I'll Be Home Soon. They should be here today so hopefully I can have the weekend to finish them :)

What sorts of advice can you guys give me in this situation?

User avatar
MissKitty
Pit Bull Forum Addict
Posts: 1959
Joined: Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:23 pm
Location: Washington

Re: Resource guarding

Postby MissKitty » Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:12 am

:headbang: I vote sticky too!

User avatar
starrlamia
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 7375
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Resource guarding

Postby starrlamia » Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:07 pm

awesome Val!!!

User avatar
BrokenAquarian
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 11122
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 8:43 pm
Location: 39° 24′ 35″ N, 123° 21′ 20″ W

Re: Resource guarding

Postby BrokenAquarian » Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:31 pm

I'd love to know how to prevent/fix human resource guarding. I'd like to have a small dog one day and I'm not sure how to properly prevent it. Most of the small dogs out there seem to have this problem. I DON'T want to be one of "those" owners. lol

User avatar
Stormi
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 5078
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:05 am
Location: Seattle
Contact:

Resource guarding

Postby Stormi » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:04 pm

BrokenAquarian wrote:I'd love to know how to prevent/fix human resource guarding. I'd like to have a small dog one day and I'm not sure how to properly prevent it. Most of the small dogs out there seem to have this problem. I DON'T want to be one of "those" owners. lol


Lots of positive associations of approach such as those described above, and controlling people's interactions with them. Small dogs are generally susceptible to these giant creatures approaching them and bending directly over them invading their space and picking them up all the time. I've known many small dog's with proximity issues because they've been piñata dog one too many times and they don't like it. Small dogs have 4 legs just like big dogs and they work just fine. Most of them prefer to use their own means to travel rather than being squashed into a boob all day. And many of them quickly make the connection that an approaching human means I may very well be abducted by an alien again. I know the behavior you mean, and it's generally not so much guarding as it is a proximity and spacial thing. Everyone and their toddler wants to pet the cute little dog, and almost all of them do it by trapping the dog and mauling him/her. Compared to their POV, we are huge and intimidating, so really making that association that approaching humans (owner included) are a pleasant thing is vital.

User avatar
BrokenAquarian
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 11122
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 8:43 pm
Location: 39° 24′ 35″ N, 123° 21′ 20″ W

Re: Resource guarding

Postby BrokenAquarian » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:31 pm

Ok, so it has a lot to do with people not reading the body language and forcing "affection" on the dog. Thanks :)

User avatar
Mya&theSiebenDackels
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 5973
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:31 pm
Location: Northern Mississippi

Re: Resource guarding

Postby Mya&theSiebenDackels » Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:06 pm

I have a question about one of our dogs at the Humane Society. JW is a lab mix and he is very possessive of toys. If you try to take his toy away from him(which we have to do because they are not allowed toys inside their kennels when they have a kennelmate) he will try to bite you and has bitten people. The issue we have is that he will not trade anything for the toy. If you try to trade it for a treat(which works with all the other dogs we have that have this issue), he will just grab the treat and try to swallow the treat with the toy still in his mouth. You basically just have to wait until he drops it because he is tired of holding it and walk(more like run!) away from the toy as fast as you can or catch him without a toy. So what do you do with a dog like this?

User avatar
Stormi
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 5078
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:05 am
Location: Seattle
Contact:

Re: Resource guarding

Postby Stormi » Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:37 pm

Mya&theSiebenDackels wrote: So what do you do with a dog like this?


Use much smaller steps, and or management. For a known resource guarder, especially one who has proven he will bite, going straight for the trade game is like asking a kindergartener to ace a college exam- you're missing a whole bunch of foundational work in between. If training sessions are possible, I would follow the guidelines Red has posted starting waay back with simply walking near the dog when he has a toy and dropping bait. If this time consuming process isn't possible, I would manage the issue and not allow this dog toys if there's even the slightest chance that it may need to be taken from him.

User avatar
Mya&theSiebenDackels
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 5973
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:31 pm
Location: Northern Mississippi

Re: Resource guarding

Postby Mya&theSiebenDackels » Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:56 pm

Thank you Stormi! That makes a lot of sense and will pass this along to the other people at the Humane Society as I would like to work with him on this behavior as it is not a good behavior to have whenever he is adopted(as that is common behavior dogs are returned for).

User avatar
Red
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 9519
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 4:35 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Resource guarding

Postby Red » Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:05 am

Thought to make this more interactive with videos, so that people can see body language, hear vocalization, and discuss what they think they are seeing.
Is this dog resource guarding? She is growling and moving away as the person approaches her when she has a fresh bone.



Return to “Training and Behavior”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests