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Resource Guarding in otherwise very friendly dog

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Jaedyn Dombrowski, May 19, 2020.

  1. Jaedyn Dombrowski

    Jaedyn Dombrowski PetForums Newbie

    May 19, 2020
    Likes Received:
    My dog is a 10month old German Shepard/golden retriever/lab, he is male and not currently fixed. He has always been slightly aggressive with things such as toys and food. He often will go up to my parents dog and steal the toy that the other dog has. And if a dog comes up to him while he has a toy, he will growl.
    He does not do this with humans, and I can easily take his toys away or touch his food.
    He loves other dogs and loves to play, but as soon as something as small as a stick becomes part of it, he becomes aggressive. He recently got in a pretty aggressive fight with two different dogs, one new one(an 8 week old puppy) and one older dog who he is very familiar with. It seemed to be territorial/resource guarding.
    It is very hard to manage because it comes out of no where and very quickly, I try my best to keep all toys out of play time but sometimes it still happens.
    I just want to know what could be causing this behaviour and how to fix it, as he is the only dog in the household so I cannot practice regularly. Could it be because he is not fixed?
    I am aware resource guarding is a natural instinct but he is not only growling or even warning the other dog, it instantly becomes a fight and he lunges.
    Thank you and all suggestions are helpful.
  2. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

    May 8, 2014
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    In my experience some dogs do have a tendency to resource guard their items from other dogs - it is natural and generally just a growl or some stand off body language is enough to prevent the other dog approaching. Taking it to the next level would suggest that your dog is getting a little anxious about situations though.

    I would start to teach your dog how lovely it is to play and walk with you and start to wean him off from playing with random dogs. At 10 months of age it may be that he is going a bit over threshold and isn't always as confident in these play situations as you think he is. And obviously, no toys or throw games when he is out. Neutering is unlikely to make any difference as this is about him not his hormones.

    When with your parents dog you will need to keep him away from any toys or on a line/lead.

    The bottom line is, if he can't manage to play without having the potential to loose it over a 'toy/stick' ( even with an 8 week old puppy) then there will be no option but to keep him away from other dogs for a while. I would concentrate on training to get his focus on you (and not other dogs) and wait until he grows up a bit. I would also improve his 'drop' command (rewarded) so that of you see him with a toy or stick you can ensure he drops it immediately.

    niamh123, O2.0, Lurcherlad and 2 others like this.
  3. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

    Jan 5, 2013
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    Sometimes the taking of toys and touching their food by owners in the early days in an effort to teach them not to guard them, actually backfires and makes them guard in case they are taken.

    The outcome sometimes just depends on the dog and it’s temperament. I remember as a child our family dog being trained in this way and she never guarded a thing in her life, nor had a cross word with man nor beast.

    It’s usually best to swap for a higher value item or ignore until they leave it (assuming it’s nothing that could harm them) and retrieve it later.

    If other dogs are bearing the brunt of his grumpiness over this issue there may be no connection, but I would agree that avoiding most other dogs and definitely no toys on walks is the way to go.
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