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Dog aggression: any pointers? Books? Suggestions?
Sat, 17 Sep 2016 03:23:28 GMT

I have a Beardie-Hunterway cross who is 3 years old. When she was about 6 months old some pretty bad "food aggression" /resource guarding behaviours developed. I got a trainer in and he gave me some advice and training on how to work wit Cuba. It has been good up until now. This week she has had a go at me 4 times, and my flatmate. She doesn't actually bite but it is coming very close to it, and I had a near miss yesterday. She has had a lot of disruption over the last 2 months including two stints in the kennel in quick succession. I am trying to go back over what has been going on to see if I can pin point something in particular - but would be great if anyone has any ideas of suggestions.

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 12:16:15 GMT

I would recommend you seek help from a behaviourist (See APBC website as a starting point) as this is a potentially dangerous situation and you really need to know how to address it safely for all concerned. There may also be underlying medical issues - which a good behaviourist will work with your vet to rule out. Good luck for you and Cuba.
Mon, 19 Sep 2016 04:12:33 GMT

Thanks. I will check out the website. We have had issues with her when she was a puppy and at at 7 months and 9kg she was pretty dangerous then, so not wanting to escalate it. Trying to rule out a few things, and am going to take her to the vet next week if it doesn't settle. It's at the "warning" stage at the moment, she has always had a "nipping/mouthing" habit which was settling. I am afraid because of her food issues that the actual training might have, in conjunction with a number of other things, combined to create a situation. I have stayed away from treats while training, and kept them at a minimum, now with diminishing her food and trying to spread it out a bit I think it has triggered some behaviours. She's very smart, so she has learnt that when she nudges something or touches it, she will get food ... so I think she now sees me as a mega food dispenser, hence some ramming with her snout occuring ... so I'm trying to peel off the layers and take her bac k to her normal routine ... I will get in touch with a couple of the trainers I have worked with before and see if they can suggest anything ...

Donna C
Tue, 20 Sep 2016 04:08:30 GMT

I've never had a food guarding issue but Dexter did look to me as a human treat dispenser when he was younger which became a nuisance in doors for a while. I got a Treat&train which helped,, I used to use it for rewarding him when teaching him to go to his 'place', staying there or coming when called, doing behaviours and then going back on cue. Sort of mixing it up with treats from me and treats from the dispenser. You would need to sort your dogs guarding first though as at some point you do need to be able to safely pick up or refill the machine. I've also done a lot and still do from time to time, adding food of same or higher value to his bowl as he was eating. I wouldn't suggest you doing this close up to your dog at the moment but you could start tossing a high value treat from a safe distance and build up proximity, once you have consulted a trainer and vet.
Wed, 21 Sep 2016 22:28:14 GMT

Thanks. That's interesting. I am heading in that direction, mixing it up and minimising the food as rewards, and some of her favourite toys as rewards, which is what we had before. So trying to find a way to use some of the activities we've learnt with a different kind of rewards system rather than food. Back on normal breakfast/dinner food regime, so she doesn't get anxious about seeking out food in other ways, and giving her a biscuit, before we go on our walk in the morning so she's not searching out food on her walk. When she was a puppy we had a trainer who is a police dog handler come and help with the issue. Cuba loved him and responded really well and he was very clear at the time about food guarding issues never going away - but needing to be managed. In the couple of days we've gone back to oringinal regime, she's already started to be less anxious. But the games have led her to make connections between me, being touched in some form, and food being rele ased ... at least now it's a paw and not being rammed at aggressively with her snout, or glared and snapped at ... so thanks for the suggestions, I will mix it up a bit more.

Donna C
Fri, 23 Sep 2016 22:03:38 GMT

Dexter gets 80g of food (it weighs light) for breakfast and dinner, that leaves me with 140g for rewards and super. My husband can't go to work without giving him his breakfast, lol. This regime works for us. I also use other food rewards and toys depending on what we are doing. If it's a day that I'm not about so much, my husband gives him a small lunch out of his daily food allowance. He does work for his food bowl, he doesn't guard it though. I think if you can build up your dogs trust that when you approach, it means you'll be adding food of greater value, not taking his food away, which is what he may for whatever reason have in his head. You will get there but it will take time and patience and keeping safe. When we met Dexter for the first time, one of his brothers came over and took the bone he was chewing on off of him. Do you know your dogs history before you got him? Was he the one that others took away from? Have you tried games where you hide the tr eat and send him or go with him to find it? Sorry just realised I keep writing he/him and Cuba is a girl. Sorry Cuba.

Anna Lawrie
Mon, 31 Oct 2016 21:33:08 GMT

Tom has done a talk on resource guarding. I think access to that is through academy membership if you are a member of that. He might be able to help if you contact him.
Tue, 01 Nov 2016 00:49:56 GMT

Thanks Anna, do you know where it is located withing the course/academy? I would be interested to see what he has to say around resoure guarding. She is highly sensitive to me, and picks up on all sorts of "stuff" that I am just not aware of. She has settled a LOT since the thread started and is almost back to her usual self. Took it back to basics and even stopped doing some of the training activities - I think the combination of a lot of elements had created a lot of confusion, including thinking that if she "rammed" me she might get some kind of a "treat", but because she resource guards, she just has to be watched very carefully around food and balls - her favourite object.
Tue, 01 Nov 2016 01:03:12 GMT

Hi Donna, I have had Cuba since SHE ;-) was a 9 week old puppy. Cuba is my first dog, not the best choice for a total novice to get a Hunterway/Bearded Collie cross (with probably a dash of Kelpie/and or Terrier in the mix) - super smart, SUPER SMART! If I teach her something correctly the first time, it sticks - I've learnt that she watches every single inch of my body, so now we use our heads to talk to each other ... yup, if I want her to do something I signal with my head, not always my hands, and she does the same with me - if I can't find the ball she'll point it out to me ... anyway. If I teach her something incorrectly, and she likes that, it sticks too. She is the runt in a littler of 11, from a Hunterway/Bearded Collie cross farm dog who had her first litter when she was 5 years old. I know puppies get taken away from their mums at that age, but I think this little puppy needed a little more time with her mum. Everything was going okay, until after a few weeks she stopped eating her food. Someone suggested, if she doesn't eat, just take it away - probably abo ut the worst advice people can give someone, and that's when some of the issues started to show. However, there were signs before that - she kept going under the house, and when I tried to look at what she was up to, she had a go at me. She was about 3 months old then. It just increased from there, really badly. Found a good trainer, and he helped me sort it, by that stage she was about 6 months old. I have learnt a lot since this adventure started, and one of the things is - be very careful who you get to look after your precious dog - weather it be "minders" or "kennels" or even at times friends - especially when they are puppies. We are getting there, I know what she needs now, so watch her hunger and weight carefully - and I don't let her get over stimulated, but keep her busy ... we still have a long way to go ...

Donna C
Tue, 01 Nov 2016 08:56:35 GMT

I know what you mean about being careful who you get to look after your dog, I've only used daycare once. It was a highly recommended one where we live. All I can say is, Dexter never went to it again. It sounds like you know your dog well and I'm sure you'll get there.

Anna Lawrie
Tue, 01 Nov 2016 10:16:26 GMT

Leave it with me. I'll see if it's on there
Wed, 02 Nov 2016 00:40:43 GMT

Glad Dexter never went back to day care ... you saved yourselves both a lot of strife ... it took 3 turns at one kennel before I identified that the woman was sedating Cuba, and that is after I bough her home and she seemed out of it, and her rear legs went from under her ... yup big lessons learned over the last couple of years, I think part of the issue is fixing what some other people have done to Cuba when she was under their care ... anyway, we'll get there.
Wed, 02 Nov 2016 00:40:59 GMT

Thanks Anna, really appreciate that.