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Vet says guarding Golden retriever can't be be made safe

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Roshi, Aug 23, 2013.


?

can resource guarding be solved?

Poll closed Sep 22, 2013.
  1. yes

    18 vote(s)
    100.0%
  2. no

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Roshi

    Roshi PetForums Newbie

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    We are really desperate for advice.
    Our vet has just scared me. Our 14month old golden retriever has had been guarding his bone, or the hole he has just dug since 4 months. He growls and snarl but never bitten. It was improving with object exchange and talking to him gently. However he is currently suffering from Camplobacter colitis and started guarding my neighbours dog bowl.

    The vet said male golden retrievers can have dominance issues and this behaviour is unpredictable and makes him always dangerous. He didn't feel an animal behavioralist could help much and we must make precautions for him. The dog is unneutered so he said this could help with male aggression.
    The dog is not very dominant and is otherwise of very good temperament mostly not possessive of other things.

    Please help
     
  2. BoredomBusters

    BoredomBusters PetForums VIP

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    I haven't voted but I recently did a day long workshop on this subject, and Goldies did come up a couple of times. Is your dog lighter coated? Theory was in breeding for good hips the colours of the dogs got lighter but at the same time lost the desire to share with humans (ie completely lost the retrive instinct).

    Consensus was in most cases it can be a learned behaviour, but having seen puppies as young as 4/5 weeks guarding food and one seriously aggressive 10 week old Goldie puppy opinion is that there could be a gentic component, which could be made worse by the environment such as if the mother is a resource guarder so the puppy learns by observation, the breeder feeds out of one or two bowls rather than one per puppy so the puppy learns competition from other puppies, owners do things like remove food bowls while the dogs are eating so the puppy learns the owner is a thief and they need to protect their food.

    So there is no easy answer, but I would definitely seek professional help from a good local behaviourist because even if your dog does have a genetic problem that can't be cured, the situation can be managed. That your dog has not bitten is a very good sign, so get him looked at so you can put measures into place to ensure that doesn't happen. Any good behaviourist will not put you into conflict with your dog, nor will they have you hand feeding around a dog bowl so if you get this recommendation then you need to find someone else.
     
  3. paddyjulie

    paddyjulie PetForums VIP

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    #3 paddyjulie, Aug 23, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  4. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

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    Resource guarding is nothing to do with a dog being dominant, it's about the dog being afraid of losing a valued resource. Nor is it something neutering is likely to help with imo. It is a normal dog behaviour to some extent, it's just not one we find acceptable when directed at us and some dogs do seem to take it to extremes.

    Resource guarding can generally be lessened if not stopped completely with the right approach. To do so though avoid any advice to show the dog who's boss, put him in his place, punish him for it etc as that will only make the problem worse and likely cause him to escalate from growling to biting. Teaching him to trade and finding ways to show him that humans near him when he has a valued resource are a good thing is the way I'd go about it personally.

    Mine! by Jean Donaldson is supposed to be an excellent book on dealing with resource guarding.
     
  5. smokeybear

    smokeybear PetForums VIP

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    A good vet will refer you to a reputable behaviourist who will show you techniques to alter resource guarding which is a very common problem, particularly among Goldies and Spaniels, of course it may be, unknown to us, that you have other environmental issues that might make putting this into practice very difficult.

    However, although time consuming, RG is easy enough to cure.Neutering is unlikely to affect RG however it will certainly not make it worse.
     
  6. Owned By A Yellow Lab

    Owned By A Yellow Lab PetForums VIP

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    Your vet is a twit.

    Find a new one. Also read up all you can about resource guarding, there is a lot of info online. As others have said, a good behaviourist will be able to help you - DO MAKE SURE you ONLY use someone who employs positive methods. Run like mad from anyone who mentions 'dominance'!
     
  7. smokeybear

    smokeybear PetForums VIP

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    Vets will only refer to reputable behaviourists.

    As for employing positive methods, yes, positive punishment is very useful................... :rolleyes:
     
  8. sezeelson

    sezeelson PetForums VIP

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    Having dealt with a very bad case of resource guarding I can unanimously say yes! Resource guarding can be managed to make a dog safe in most cases. My dog was so bad he would even guard the smell of food that was there previously & bitten me badly or more then one occasion.

    It's hard work and you really have to think about what you are doing and the way dogs think to make progress. It took me three months to really start making changes to his behaviour.

    It's absolutely nothing to do with dominance... A confident/dominant dog isn't going to feel the need to guard things. It's all to do with fear & mistrust.

    You may never 'cure' resource guarding and is unlikely ever to feel comfortable sharing food with other dogs or not react to you coming over when he has something. But you can help them relax and to trust in that they are not going to lose their possession and of they do, it's not so bad.

    Patients and calm are the absolute most important things when it comes to modifying this behaviour. You can't shout, storm in, grab stuff etc. and if you ever do you may trigger that same guarding thought process regardless of how far you have come. It's a learned behaviour which works very well in getting what they want.

    I can tell you what I did with my boy to help change his behaviour but I highly recommend you seek help from a professional. They must use positive techniques as any punishment or aversive methods are not going to do this dog any good at all.
     
    #8 sezeelson, Aug 23, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  9. ouesi

    ouesi Guest

    How on earth is resource guarding unpredictable? What an odd thing to say. This is the sort of very predictable aggression that is not only much easier to manage, also very responsive to appropriate behavior modification.

    As already mentioned, "Mine" by Jean Donaldson is a very good read, and worth picking up. Short little booklet, chock full of helpful information.

    Also as already mentioned, this is something we're seeing more and more in goldens, though that yours has not bitten is a great sign. The really insane, OTT RG that you sometimes see in goldens would most likely have resulted in a bite at this point.

    Neutering will not help, will not hurt. It's neutral (tee hee at the little pun there :))

    You really need to have a professional come out and watch you, your family, and your dog interacting. Sometimes humans get some weird notions about how to handle dogs, and it could be that while well-intended, some of the human behaviors around this dog are exacerbating these tendencies. Either way though, resource guarding is a *very* treatable issue.
     
  10. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    Resource Guarding especially things of high value like bones isn't that uncommon. As you have said there was improvements with things like object exchange too, and its only in a couple of very identifiable areas/triggers, then I wouldn't be ready to write him off instantly.

    Personally I would get in a Behaviourist, to do a proper full assessment both general allround temperament wise and assessment of his issues, and take it from there, often unless the dog has serious temperament problems then its something that can usually be cured. If he is suffering from campylobacter and colitis and collitls if bad can sometimes cause discomfort, illness and discomfort can also sometimes make a dog more reactive.

    Only other thoughts and there is a high incidence in golden retrievers, is Hypo thyroid, low thyroid hormones, the auto immune version which has genetic/hereditary links can be seen in very young dogs, it can manifest in different ways, and behaviour is one of them. More details below. That is a simple blood test for a thyroid profile including the thyroglobulin auto antibodies and easy to treat with daily thyroid hormone replacement.

    Are your dogs seizures caused by Canine Epilepsy or Autoimmune Thyroiditis?

    Behavioral changes associated with thyroid dysfunction in dogs.

    Ignore the mention of seizures which it can actually cause too in some dogs, both articles are about how it can affect behaviour too.

    Personally if he was mine a good behaviourist would be the first port of call, it could likely be just resource guarding, but if she/he did think there may be other behavioural issues especially then a thyroid test is worth doing to check that out.
     
  11. Roshi

    Roshi PetForums Newbie

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    Many thanks for all the positive and constructive replies

    I have obtained the book Mine on RG and will gladly spend the time to deal with this treatable behavioural pattern.
    Useful to know about the lack of connection with neutering and dominance. Thanks for the heads up on links with the thyroid.
    I am speaking to a Guide dog trainer who deals with dog behaviour modification including resource guarding.
    In hindsight I don't think the vet has much idea about RG however these vets are good in other ways and they have sent me list of animal behaviourists on a national level.
    Let the work begin :)
     
  12. ouesi

    ouesi Guest

    Hi Roshi, glad you're feeling more hopeful.
    Just wanted to point out one thing - it's not that there is no connection between neutering and dominance, it's that resource guarding is not a dominance issue, therefore there will be no connection between neutering and resource guarding.
     
  13. paddyjulie

    paddyjulie PetForums VIP

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    The book really helped me understand why Chester would resource guard, and once I understood why, it sort of made it easier for me to manage ...if that makes sense.

    Good luck x
     
  14. Roshi

    Roshi PetForums Newbie

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    to Ouesi
    re: taken note that resource guarding and need to neuter do note correlate.

    Think have had so much useful information. Good thing is Darwin doesn't guard his own food with us except his bones. He used to guard his kongs but we trained him out that with object exchange. Now that he has recovered from his colitis and has put his lost weight back on he is no longer guarding outside the house. We are left with his bones and hole digging.

    Interesting that he had colitis for 2 weeks as a puppy at 8-10 weeks too and we think his period of severely reduced eating has triggered this behaviour to get worse both times which does seem logical and natural.

    I am rather upset with the vet , who is very good at putting animals right on a physical level and but am a bit disturbed that this is the advice he is giving on RG. I will speak to him eventually as don't want to leave the practice otherwise.
    Darwin says thanks! X
     

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  15. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

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    Lots of vets give the same sort of advice sadly. I think that's partly why it's so difficult to dispel some of the incorrect thoughts about certain things. My vet is great when it comes to medical stuff, wouldn't listen to a word he says on behavioural stuff.
     
  16. leashedForLife

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    How does the dog reach the NEIGHBOR's dog's food bowl?

    The vet needs to stick to medical issues; a vet BEHAVIORIST would be a good second opinion.

    Specific to RG / resource guarding, yes, it's a well-documented specific, heritable issue in Goldens.
    It's been around for decades, most breeders will never allude to it - RG is the nasty secret they pretend does
    not exist, in their "born trained, loving & affectionate" breed. :rolleyes:

    However, it's also manageable, & can be moderated - not eliminated, but reduced.
    FIRST & FOREMOST - he needs to be strictly managed, & get him the &#$@! away from the neighbor's property,
    the neighbors themselves, AND most especially, the neighbor's dog's bowl, food, toys, & space.

    He can't be threatening other dog's access to what is, after all, their food, bone, toy, yard, ___ .
    .
    .
     
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