Resource Guarding - Hungarian Vizsla Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 11:10 PM Thread Starter
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Resource Guarding

Again I look to ya'll for wisdom. We are first time dog owners and have run into a little resource guarding issue. At about 6-7 months we noticed tail tucking and back arching when he was eating his food. It quickly moved to any special treat he had. For example a bone with meat, or kong with hamburger in it. There was no known trigger for this. We have been doing a few things to try and fix it, but it has been almost a month and a half, and we aren't seeing any improvement. My question is: Is this normal for puppies of this age, and will just pass in time, or is there something that we need to be doing about it?

Thanks for the help!
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 10:02 AM
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It's not always normal, but does raise its ugly head in some pups. It can either be genetic, or brought on unknowingly by us.
Most of the time it doesn't just go away on its own. We have to change what we were doing that brought it on, or work with the genetically predisposed pup in a different manner. It sometimes does show up a little more when hormones kick in.
What have you been doing to try and correct the problem?
I will tell you, I don't believe in alpha rolling a dog. While some will submit, others believe they are in a fight for their life. I don't like to put myself in a dog fight, if there is another option available. Plus you stand a high chance of breaking the dogs trust.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasred View Post
It's not always normal, but does raise its ugly head in some pups. It can either be genetic, or brought on unknowingly by us.
Most of the time it doesn't just go away on its own. We have to change what we were doing that brought it on, or work with the genetically predisposed pup in a different manner. It sometimes does show up a little more when hormones kick in.
What have you been doing to try and correct the problem?
I will tell you, I don't believe in alpha rolling a dog. While some will submit, others believe they are in a fight for their life. I don't like to put myself in a dog fight, if there is another option available. Plus you stand a high chance of breaking the dogs trust.
Thanks Texasred. Warning long post ahead.
We read a ton of advice and tried to weed out the good from the bad. And this is what we have tried so far:
1. Very first, we will NOT allow the kids anywhere near when he is eating.
2. We don't give many. "High value" treats anymore, like meat drippings on his kibble
3. We switched food bowls and we try not to ever feed him in the same spot, in case something had been associated with the norm.
4. We have found that the problem usually is not there if we hold the bowl, pet him, and put a little in it at a time until he gets his full 2 cups for the meal. It will instantly appear though if the bowl ever is set down on the ground or drops below our knees. Even if we put it down and leave the room, when glancing in the room, he is guarding the bowl. So we know it isn't just because we are near.
5. When he is eating a meal or treat and we can see his body language start to change we give him the leave it command. Never reaching in to take it until he backs off. My wife made that mistake one time when it started and she was bit. After he leaves it we grab it, jump around like fools until his tail is wagging with delight. And then be put the bowl lower and tell him it is okay to eat it again. Sometimes we never have to do it. Sometimes one time and the problem doesnt come back the rest of the meal, sometimes we have to do this 4 times in 1 meal.
6. When it first started we were told to roll him as you talked about, and though, this stopped him from growling at me, it did not fix the problem. He still looked upset while eating, like a time bomb. And it didn't help at all when my wife tried it. We did that for one day, and knew it wasn't the answer for him. So for the last two months we have tried the above, but it doesn't seem to be getting better. Not worse either however.

Things we have thought of, but not tried are:
1. Feeding only in kennel. We didn't do this for a couple reasons. First, he still struggles a little with bladder control, so we keep his kennel partitioned for now (he has made huge improvement on this in the last month though). Second, we feel it might make the problem go away during meals, but it might be like a bandaide. If it is still there, and he transfers it to toys or some other unexpected time when the kids are the closest "threat" it could be a very difficult situation. We want to fix it, not put off the problem.
2. We have not tried a raised bowl, so that his head is not lowered, looking down when he eats. Again we thought this might function as a bandaide.
But as it turns out, we don't know if we are doing it right, or if we should try something else.
We live in a fairly rural community, and there aren't any behavior specialists in the area. His hunt trainers are awesome, but this is not their area of expertise.

Thanks for making it all the way through, and any words would be very appreciated.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 03:03 PM
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I have plans with my family today. Time constraints would keep me from fully answering what has helped me.
Keep in mind, I am not a behaviorist, or even a pro dog trainer. Getting a dog here, and there past the problem, does not make me a expert in the field. Nor does learning to live with a dog that has a possessive temperament.
I will ask that you either call, or email you breeder. Let them know what your going though.
I promise I will get back to this post tomorrow. In the mean time look at some of the things put out by Micheal Ellis. Not all are designed to work with a Vizsla, but some of the techniques suit them very well.

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Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-14-2017, 11:43 AM
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One of the harder things to figure out, is whether we caused the pup to feel the need to guard food/prized possession.
Not uncommon for pups to get into things. Its very easy to get in the habit of sternly telling them No, then grabbing things out of their mouth. What we get is a pup that thinks they need to run off, or guard high value things. It can also lead to a lack of confidence in a dog/puppy.

We also have to watch out letting a puppy have to much free reign, with little rules. It can lead to them treating us more like a litter mate. Its perfectly fine a dog to give a growl to another dog. It lets the other dog know, they are unwilling to share. I find this perfectly fine in dog on dog encounters. They chose what they are willing to share with other dogs. But just to lash out, and go after another dog is different. Imagine you just set down to eat dinner. A perfect stranger walks up, and just starts eating off your plate. I believe you would be upset. In a different scenario your child wants something off your plate, you find that perfectly okay. You are choosing what, and with who you are sharing, because you have that right. Your pup may also feel he has that right with your family, but you are not another dog, and he doesn't.

One of the last things we can do is have our corrections be to harsh. It leads to a dog not trusting our actions. If they don't trust us to be consistence, and fair. It leads to a number of problems.

The one thing we didn't have control over, is the pups genetic predisposition. And we have to look at all the above to try, and figure out if it was caused. You need to know, and the breeder needs to know. When its genetic, it can be harder to fix. Sometimes we just learn to deal/live with it. It does not mean that the dog gets to live without rules, when it comes to food. It just means we also have to follow certain rules too.

I will normally start back to square one with a dog. You are not just changing his thoughts around food, but its overall outlook on your relationship, and training. It took some of us with hunting dogs, a long time to realize the of role treat training. And that it can be combined with traditional training for a better outcome. They relearn everything, from being able to touch any part of their body, to standing still until released. I do it with treats, and whatever word you want to use. Some use Good, or Okay, and the word doesn't really matter. What matters is the word is consistent, and followed by a treat as soon as the dog preforms the correct task. We do it a few times, and then release the dog to play. When the dog has it down, the word always stays the same, but the treat might only come at the end of the session, or intermittently. You can use praise also at this point, on the times you are not using a treat. The training is kept upbeat, and dogs start looking forward to it. You get to a point where dog knows exactly what task is being asked, and has to preform it. While we don't manhandle them, we will make sure the dog knows its not a option to refuse the task. We still want to stay calm while training, and always let the dog know when they have done a good job. Treats can be random, but praise is for life.
I carry the same training over for recall, down, place, heel, kennel. Every command has to be followed though once learned, when issued. If you have no way to make the dog follow a command, don't give him one. You don't want a dog that can be aggressive to think he has a choice. Even if it means he's dragging a short rope around the house. You are building a strong bond, and working relationship with the dog.
I also work on hold, and give. That ways there are known rules in place, if he has something you would rather him not have. That way you are not going up to him, trying to get something from his mouth. He is coming to you, and releasing it in a manner he was taught to.

By working on the whole working relationship with a dog, I feel it gives me a better chance of working with them around the known triggers.
Figuring out what puts the dog over the thresh hold, and working right outside of it. Keep closing the distance, as you have been trying to do. I'm not against corrections, if a dog knows what the correct response should be when asked for it.
When I've done the other training, and me standing near the food gets a correct response. Have a second person call him Here. Give him a high value treat, and release to go back to his food. If its a growl, a side ways tug with a pinch collar from the second person can be the correction. You can use a short check cord for the exercise.

I know this is long, and I still probably forgot to add something.
Maybe we have a member or two, that has found other ways that has helped them.

Not all those who wander are lost.

Life is just a leap of faith.
Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.

Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-14-2017, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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ThanksTR. I spoke to the breeder and he said the grandpa was a very "typical" Vizsla. Miko's Father however, is not. He said that his father runs big in the field. Well suited for open hunting. Can run indefinitely without ever feeling the need to "check in". The breeder also said that his dad growls with food. He said he eats sloppily, spills his food, and the other dogs come to clean it up. When they do, he growls at them. They completely ignore him, take the food anyway, and he has never even come close to biting at them or a person.

He did say to start with the basic commands again and work up. That once the dog is conditioned to just obey without thinking about it, we should be able to just give him a sit or leave it, and the guarding will move to the background to the obedience.

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