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milacon

Suddenly Being Possessive Of Items

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milacon   

My 9.5 month old has suddenly become possessive of his items, such as his bone and his favourite toy. Generally it only happens when he is lying down or sleeping and when I move to get off the chair/sofa/floor (or even move a leg, literally), he'll bolt up barking and slightly growling and run to grab his bone/toy or stand over it guarding it. When I yell no (to the barking/growling), he'll continue to bark/growl. If I put my hand down to take the item away, he'll put his mouth over my hand, but doesn't actually bite down on it.

Previously there haven't been any issues and I could easily just take a bone away from him without him even making a noise. The only major thing I can think of that has changed recently is that we are now eating our dinner before we give him his dinner.

Does anyone have any advice on how to combat this behaviour?

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What breed is he?

Sounds like resource guarding to me but I don't really have any specific advice, sorry. If its bad I'd probably speak to a behaviourist about it, you don't want to risk him biting.

You could try NILIF with him in the meantime, it's good for pretty much anything! Just search in the forum there are a few threads on it.

Good luck with it.

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milacon   

He's a Samoyed.

It only started about a week ago and it hasn't gotten too bad in terms of actual biting or anything, but I'll definitely speak to a professional if it gets worse.

I've tried ignoring him and just walking right past the toy/bone to show him that I'm not interested in it.. not sure if that helps?

Edited by milacon

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megan_   

I'd see a professional. Resource girding isn't something to be trifled with. Where are you based?

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Don't give him any bones at the moment and put the toys away until you can get some help. He can have toys but they are on your terms, get him one to play with, play fetch or make another game of it with him and then put them away again.

He can't resource guard over what he doesn't have and the behaviour can't escalate.

You control the resources such as food and toys

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Nekhbet   

I agree with Wreckit at the moment, remove sources of conflict until you get proper professional help

When I yell no (to the barking/growling), he'll continue to bark/growl. If I put my hand down to take the item away, he'll put his mouth over my hand, but doesn't actually bite down on it.

He's escalating because you're creating a stressful situation and the prospect of a stressful loss of resource he sees himself entitled too. He's also a male dog coming up to maturity so previous stress he had over loss is now manifesting itself in a more serious way.

The only major thing I can think of that has changed recently is that we are now eating our dinner before we give him his dinner.

That won't make a difference unless you are literally teasing him with resources. I think you're just now seeing the byproduct of a long term lack of structure and understanding over the resources. Don't look at internet advice get yourself a session with someone that has experience with resource guarding issues and can assess how you can change it without creating more confrontation.

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Tassie   

Good professional advice would probably be a good idea - not just over this particular issue, but as Nekhbet suggests, in relation to providing a clearer and more consistent structure for this dog.

In the meantime, can I suggest that you don't "yell no". That is only going to ramp up his level of anxiety. If you have to say something - a quiet, low toned "I don't think so" or something like that would be better. You do not want to remove the growl from a dog - it is an essential and valuable warning tool. You do want to make sure it's not used inappropriately.

On the positive side, the fact that he doesn't bite on your hand is a good thing - suggests that the situation will be able to be dealt with.

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My puppy started growling while chewing on a bone a few weeks ago (when previously she had no issues with us taking her food away or sitting next to her). We started standing next to her with a treat and speaking softly, distracted her with the treat then took the bone away. Then we'll make her sit, and give her the bone back. We did it a few times a day until she stopped growling. Now we always make sure to pat her, talk to her whilst she's eating just to make sure the habit doesn't start again.

Not sure how good it would be in your situation, just a suggestion. :D Btw, we have a food-obsessed akita if that makes a difference.

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Jumabaar   

I think removing the resources and not challenging him for any until you see a specialist- you dont want to make the situation worse. I have distracted dogs that have resource guarded ie by getting out the lead or doing a recall away from an item that they suddenly start guarding so that i can then remove it without confronting them until better management solutions can be given.

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My puppy started growling while chewing on a bone a few weeks ago (when previously she had no issues with us taking her food away or sitting next to her). We started standing next to her with a treat and speaking softly, distracted her with the treat then took the bone away. Then we'll make her sit, and give her the bone back. We did it a few times a day until she stopped growling. Now we always make sure to pat her, talk to her whilst she's eating just to make sure the habit doesn't start again.

Not sure how good it would be in your situation, just a suggestion. :D Btw, we have a food-obsessed akita if that makes a difference.

It's not a suggestion I'd follow before seeking professional advice.

Sadly, you don't "cure" resource guarding by increasing a dog's anxiety about keeping what it values. Interfering with food while the dog is eating can do that. There's also the possiblity that by extinguishing the growling, you've removed the dog's first warning that it's not comfortable with what's going on. What that can mean is that the dog goes straight to aggression when provoked without warning.

Where potential aggression is involved, it is always best to seek qualified professional guidance.

My personal recommendation while awaiting professional advice is to leave the dog alone while eating and crate it for meals if at all possible. Just because a dog might relax enough to allow owners to handle its food doesn't mean it will feel the same way about others. Visitors in a home during a dog's meal times are possible and its best for both dog and visitor safety to prevent issues over resources. Ditto goes for crating the dog while meals or snacks are served people in the home. It goes without saying that any dog that resource guards needs double the level of care around children.

Edited by Haredown Whippets

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Hi

Please don't wait for it to get worse.

That will be a bite , and possibly an awareness by the dog that he can indeed successfully protect what he sees as his.

Google NILIF. And as said do not pose a threat to dog when he has something . Move his bed if it is near where you need to be.

Get someone on DOL to recommend a trusted professional in your area

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milacon   

Thanks for the advice everyone. I do have a reputable behaviorist recommended through DOL that I have dealt with in the past so I will let them know of the issue.

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