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Some call it resource guarding, and others call it aggression...I don't know what's going on with our 9 mo GSD. and our 14 yr old daughter. Overall, Steelers is a good dog and has never shown any aggression with anyone but our daughter. They generally play well together and most of the time he gets along great with her. But whenever he's eating, or has a good bone...he shows signs of aggression whenever she walks by him. She doesn't even have to come near him for this behavior to happen.

He started this behavior back at about 6 mo old whenever we gave him pigs ears. We worked with him extensively on it and this behavior with the pigs ears doesn't seem to be a problem anymore

He's also been really good with small children and infants that he's been around, but I'm concerned that he has the potential to become this way with them in the future.

I guess I don't know how to solve this with Steeler being that it seems to be isolated to her. I'm speculating here, but I personally think that the reason is a combination of her lack of understanding alpha dog behavior and her being a less dominant person in general.

Often I'll find that our daughter does things that she doesn't realize is taunting the dog...which, we of course correct on the spot. I know she corrects her behavior after we talk to her about how he views her actions, but sometimes we don't notice that she does something until he responds.

An example would be him nipping at her hand after she consistently put something in front of him and took it away. She saw me doing something similar outside by letting him chase a toy I held while outside playing in the yard, and I guess she didn't understand that he was running and having fun when I was playing keep away.....and I wasn't taunting him, and he always eventually got it. I hope that made sense. Plus it wasn't food, or bones, it was a toy.

I think her past taunting has made him skeptical of her when she approaches...and this coupled with her less dominant personality could become an issue. Of course, her behavior we can correct, but her personality is what it is...she can be timid at times...and dog's don't always respond well to timidness.

Are there any excercises we can do to help him not respond when she comes near? I keep telling our daughter to be stern with him...if you want to pet him, pet him...but don't come in slow and hesitant when you're questioning his intentions. Am I giving bad advice?
 

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Your daughter is only a kid and is not going to be alpha to your dog. You need to be stepping in for her whenever he displays this behavior. He is resource guarding to your daughter because he can get away with it.
 

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The fact that your daughter has been taunting him will not make the relationship they have healthy unless things change quickly.
I would take both of them to training and show her she needs to be a FAIR leader.
When she shows confidence it will give Steeler a chance to show her respect. Does the family practice NILIF with Steeler? Maybe your daughter could read this link, so she'll feel more confident around him. http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm
I really do not blame Steeler at all for his actions, even though they are unacceptable.
Neutering him is not going to solve this problem.
Your daughter needs to treat the dog respectfully and firmly. If she isn't on board with this then you'll continue to see problems with their relationship...and it will just get worse as Steeler matures.
 

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Does she practice any obedience training with him? Maybe if she was working with him on commands he already knows and giving him treats that might start to put her in a better light with him.

I would also consider having her feed him by hand. At 14 she should be tall enough to stand with his bowl on the counter and hand him down his food...one mouthful at a time. I would expect that if she feeds him like this for awhile he may mellow out to her. You should be there in the beginning just in case he decides to rampage over and just take his dinner. Do you practice trading games with him? I would work on that with you so he has a foundation for it and then when he's doing well eating his meals from her, and working well with her in obedience I would start including her in the trading games too.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the link, I'll check that out shortly.

I do think some of this is lack of spending time with him...I've tried to explain to her that GSDs are extremely loyal to those who treat them well, discipline them, and work with them often.

I've noticed that I can't be around whenever she does try to make him do anything...it's like I'm his boss and nobody else at times. If I"m not around, then he'll listen to her pretty well though. I have to say, with me, he's pretty obedient...especially considering his age of 9 mo.

She certainly doesn't taunt him anymore, unless as I said, we don't see it ...but she generally responds well when we discuss things like that with her. We can try the feeding by hand thing, but trading is something we haven't done being that our daughter doesn't try to reach in for his bone anymore. Often Steeler will growl at her when all she did was merely walk within 10 feet of him on her way to her bedroom, even when she's showed no interest in him at all.

With regards to him rampaging over her for food, we've taught steeler not to go for his bowl until we give him permission...mainly because I don't want him bowling me over with his water bowls. But he'll sit and stay as long as reasonably necessary for me to pet him before he goes for it, and he does the same with her too.

I guess that's the weird part to me is that in some ways, he's sooo great with her...in others, he's testy.
 

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I've noticed that I can't be around whenever she does try to make him do anything...it's like I'm his boss and nobody else at times. If I"m not around, then he'll listen to her pretty well though.
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What does that mean? Sounds like he might be resource guarding you a bit if he's blatently ignoring other family members when you're around.

I think the best way to fix this is them establishing some kind of relationship. She needs to do training with him, feed him, give him water. She needs to be viewed as a resource as well...not another "kid" in the house on his same level.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
After reading the link on the NILIF training...I didn't realize it, but I do that without knowing that I do. I'll admit that there is some lack of consistency on my part, which I'll have to break myself of those habits. Our daughter has less patience with forcing him to do something....such as sitting before we open the door. If he goes out before she lets him, she accepts it...whereas, I'll pull him back in and we start over again from scratch.

He does have to earn everything with me, and I refuse to give him attention unless I call him to me. I think it's a matter of her being more firm with him...and doing more things with him.

The difficult part is that with winter here and shorter days, I don't want her out at night with him....even if it's just in the yard. Last week I spotten ten coyotes when I had him out for an evening walk, and that's not a problem she can handle obviously.
 

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What does that mean? Sounds like he might be resource guarding you a bit if he's blatently ignoring other family members when you're around.

I think the best way to fix this is them establishing some kind of relationship. She needs to do training with him, feed him, give him water. She needs to be viewed as a resource as well...not another "kid" in the house on his same level.
Agreed. She needs to make a connection with him. You need to correct him immediately when he 'misbehaves' because he respects you.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
When I said that when I was around, that he doesn't listen to anyone but me...I meant, his excitement seems to overwhelm him and he doesn't listen. Here's a simple example.

If I ask our daughter to take him out while I'm in the living room watching tv....once she goes to put her coat and shoes on, he gets all excited. She'll tell him to sit, which he eventually will after about 10-15 seconds, while she puts his leash on. Then she'll walk him to the door, tell him to sit, while she opens the door. He'll stay there until she opens the screen door....then he tries to bolt. She'll stop him and shut the screen door...and tries to get him to respond...which he eventually does. This may go on several times over, but most of the time he gets the best of her and she gives in. Sometimes she succeeds, sometimes she doesn't. But she succeeds most of the time when I'm not there...from what steelers mom says.

He listens well to steelers mom, although she doesn't work with him outside now that winter is here. She plays alot of games with him, and gives him treats from time to time. She'll also discipline when she has to, although that's not too often. He pretty much just relaxes on days where it's just mom and I with him all day.

A few mentioned that I should step in when he is in his resource guarding mood. What would be a good course of action for me to take?
 

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As for the resources and your daughter, I would suggest being proactive rather than reactive. And what I mean by this is to keep any resources that he views 'valuable' out of his reach so that he doesn't have the opportunity to guard them. When you want to give him a treat or toy, have yourself or your daughter hold it up above Steeler and make him sit or do a trick to earn the toy. When handing it to him, be sure he doesn't jump and grab it. If he lunges for it, pull it away from him and try again. Don't release when he's being grabby, only when he's being gentle.
If he does have incidents with guarding, I would give a firm NO and take the toy away.
 

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She is 14 not a little child, what do you mean she doesn't know she is taunting him??? She should sign up for obedience classes immediately, for herself!!!! She is old enough to properly treat him and to leaarn to properly handle him, I'm sure most people have younger children who know how to behave to prevent this situation. Before this ends tragically with a scarred face and dead dog, insist she start doing everything with/for this dog and to attend classes, preferably several sets so advanced work. Get at this NOW, 8 months this has been going on adn it will get worse as this dog is also a teenager now, so he will start pushing his limits.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
With regards to Ellie's comments, we do that very same thing...we never give him anything unless he works for it, whether it be sitting and staying, or shaking hands, or other similar obedience commands. Honestly, he doesn't lunge for anything...we stopped that a long time ago. He won't even reach for something thats in your hand while you're talking to someone and appear distracted from him. He'll sit and wait patiently.

Regarding her taunting him, I should probably explain that a little better. This is the first dog our daughter has ever had, she truly doesn't know dogs at all other than the occasional petting of the neighbors dogs. Her biological father has an affinity for cats, and she grew up having many cats. Playing keep away with kittens is much different than a GSD.

But as I previously mentioned, she doesn't taunt him anymore....we definitely correct that behavior on the spot, and she does listen to us.

His behavior with her confuses me very much because I don't see any reason behind it. He's not testy with anyone at all, other than her. And she's never been mean to him, hurt him, or anything even close to that sort of behavior.

I hope I'm not portraying our dog as this viscous animal that's completely out of control, because that's certainly not the case. I see this as an isolated behavior that we need to correct, but I'm just not sure as to how to do it. People have mentioned stepping in, saying no, to correct that behavior. We do that, trust me, we don't let it go.

I guess I'm confused how to correct it, because stepping in and saying no just isn't working. I have put steeler on his side and held him down at times when this happens, which that doesn't seem to work either. I mean, it works at the time, but I don't view that as the long term answer either.

We have an EC, and I guess I could try that...but I'd prefer not to if I don't have to. I don't use it when he's in any sort of aggressive mode, I've heard that can be more negative than positive when used in that way.

I'm just at a loss with this, I wish I could understand why or what it is that's causing him to react with her. It's not like she's even reaching for anything he has, often it's simply when she comes into the living room. And it's almost like he recognizes his own behavior....because, after we say no or correct him...he almost avoids the object and backs away and then sits near it, by her, allowing her to pet him.
 
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