• Michael D’Abruzzo

    January 6, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Greta was a great dog! That is the thing with resource guarding, it is definitely partially genetic and most dogs do have it to a certain degree, some more than others. It is all nature vs nurture. At this age the more you make it a POSITIVE experience the better. I do go over a specific exercise in the class, but the idea is simple: when people and kids approach the bowl – good things happen.

    When I was growing up I watched my father give our German Shepherd a meaty bone and mess with her until she growled. He then whacked her. The only thing he accomplished was to make her scared of him when she ate a bone and she would stop eating and cower away when he approached. That didn’t do anything to teach her not to show aggression toward people she thought she could “take on”. It actually reinforced the fact that she should worry when people approached. I know that was not what you were doing , but it is kind of an extreme example.

    Through the years of training I have noticed trends with dogs with certain problems. One huge trend that I saw was with dogs that suddenly became aggressive near their bowl once they matured. Almost always they had owners that made it a point of having family members take away their food when they were eating and giving it back and such. Eventually, they would get fed up and start challenging or driving away people who came near them while they were eating (or only let the people they were “scared of” approach). Obviously not all dogs will develop this problem because resource guarding is partially genetic, but a lot of these dogs were otherwise great dogs and would have been fine if they saw the humans as fair and respectful to them while they ate.

    I have one of the worse resource guarders I ever came across at the kennel now that desperately needs the right home. But, I never ever see the aggression from him and can call him away from his bowl, pick it up, etc and stand right next to him while he eats because he has enough experience with me that he knows I am fair to him and will even protect him from other dogs and people coming near him while he eats so he doesn’t have to worry about himself. Other people have to earn that trust with him.

    I would suggest letting the pup get used to eating with the kids in the room and teach them to respect her like they respect each other when they eat, and maybe have them toss “dessert” to her when she is finished and then eventually while she is eating to counter-condition her to the experiences that they may be coming to interfere with the meal.

    With children it is important to teach them to respect the family dog as if she is more of a risk than she really is. Because you have to remember how they learn to act around the family dog they will default to when interacting with their friends’ dogs who may be less tolerant of the actions of those outside the family. So along with teaching respect while the dog is eating, chewing bones, etc.. I also teach the kids not to hug the dogs, grab them by the face and kiss them, etc…

    Unfortunately, we only have the puppy class on Saturdays at 10 am right now. Even if you have a family member or friend bring her by to let her play and socialize it will be great. Once the adult teeth come in we have to phase them out of that class so take advantage while you can! See you when you can make it!