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Discussion Starter #1
Background: a 7 month old duck Toller female, unspayed, has not come into season yet. Have had since 8 weeks old, boyfriend and I live together.

She has done resource guarding of high value items like Chewies or a cat toy. We work on this by approaching with treats, working on drop, take, drop, etc. I do a lot of holding the chew. Is better, but I would never just take something from her. She did break my skin once, when this first started, but not since we've been doing the training. I have read several books, including "mine".

Now the past two weeks boyfriend has been on a trip, so it's been just us. He got home Monday night. Tonight, three times she snarled, snapped and came after him aggressively. Once when she was licking something in the dishwasher, he put his hand down, thinking nothing of it ( I wouldn't have either). She snapped at him and jumped at him showing big teeth. Scared the crap out of us.

Second time she was chewing a chew, and he came towards her, looking at her, but not motioning to take it. He was probably 4 feet away... She suddenly tensed up, snarled, jumped snapping at him.

After this we did some training with him and her, treats and drop, with the chew, etc.

Then awhile later, she was sprawled out out on the couch, and I wa approaching to move her off. Boyfriend came into room, and went over to pet her. I think he was actually, then all of a Sudden she snapped snarling and coming at him again!!

I am freaking out. So is he...he's not really a dog person to begin with so very scary for him. I am attributing this to him being gone and now maybe she is looking at him as a threat or something? Guarding the couch? He lays there....

Any tips appreciated. I am contacting our trainer ASAP.
 

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That would definitely be a good start,it's scary when a dog reacts that way even if we are dog people are not... Hope you get this situation under control...
 

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Our golden was a resource guarder though he never showed aggression to people. It sounds like maybe she doesn't have enough boundaries and rules? One major way we broke our golden of guarding was doing NILIF with him... Nothing in life is free, Nothing in Life is Free. That web page gives a lot of valuable information! I also think for now that it might be a good idea to not leave her toys laying around where she can have access to them whenever she wants and when she's eating or has a chew that she goes in her crate... That will help reduce a lot of these incidents from occurring until you can get a better handle on it.

There are probably more here better suited to give advice and hopefully they'll chime in soon but this would be my first step along with getting in contact with a trainer or behaviorist.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks...Being my first puppy I am worried about everything and this is certainly freaking me out a lot. I spend HOURS every day on forums reading everything I can and have read many books on behavior training, etc. We do NILF, though perhaps I have let up on it in the past month or 2 as she is becoming more settled. So I will be certain I am doing that again.

As far as chewing in her crate, here is my issue with that: she is crated from 9:30 at night until about 5-5:30 in the morning. Then we get up, do our thing.... I like to have her chew something for 15 or so minutes so that I can eat breakfast in peace: otherwise I have to be on her constantly to leave the cat alone. I feel bad about putting her in her crate to chew because she has only been out for maybe 30 minutes or less. Am I being too sensitive?

Same issue at night with chew, really... though could probably crate her while we eat dinner but I like her to be out as much as possible as I do work 8-5 (home for hour lunch), and so I like to devote as much time in the evening to her as possible with as little crate as we can.

I will be talking to a trainer tonight to see what ideas she has.

Any further suggestions and help is greatly appreciated. I know I dont have a GSD, but I relate a lot to the people on this forum, and appreciate how nobody is afraid to really tell you what you REALLY need to know, even if said person might not want to hear it! :)
 

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no furniture privileges at all anymore since the one instance she snapped at the bf while she was on the couch.. start strict NILIF immediately so she EARNS everything including food... i would start hand feeding her her kibble and incorporating her training with NILIF (nothing in life is free the link was posted in another post above) i would also leash her in the house this way should you need to move her you and the bf dont have to reach for her collar and get bit.
has she been this way since a puppy when you got her with the resource guarding?

remove ALL her toys/chews and put them in a box where she cant get them. she wants a chew /toy she must EARN it.. no more freedom.. she has to earn that too..

if you feel bad about crating her during the day then you can put a tether in the wall or floor and she can be out but tethered so that she isnt crated...

i would also up her exercise 100% and do more obedience and teach her new skills like opening doors, shut lights, etc to exercise her mind , as mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise.


i used all the above on my one previous dog and a bunch of foster dogs and it all worked fine as long as you have patience... do not use physical force!! that only makes the resource guarding worse... use only positive training..
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you Maryellen for the great tips! I would say I surely dont do NILIF to that extent, but will start that now.

Last night we saw our trainer, and she informed me (and showed me) that I should no longer be "Trading" treats for chews with my pup. Instead it is just that the chew is MINE, and she can have it when I say, and I give it back to me when I say. Period. I of course was wondering how in the world to do this as I didnt want to get my hand taken off trying to take it from me!

By the time we were done, about 15 minutes later - Em would sit with me putting the chew right in her face, and NOT take it until I said "ok". Then I could also take the chew at anytime. Now I have to have my boyfriend do this, too, and us both work on this every day with Em.

Also, the couch is 100% OFF LIMITS to her, unless she is sitting calmly, being petted, after being invited.

And then my boyfriend is going to take over some feeding duties - making her sit & wait until he says OK - and putting her in her crate at night, etc.

Hopefully with all this and the tips from you guys, we will fix this problem before it gets too out of hand.

Maryellen - Initial resource guarding started at about 16 weeks old, and has only been very sporadic since. Once a month maybe - although we have been swapping for treats this entire time mostly - up until about last week or so I have been now having her drop and come to my side, then I will pick up the chew and give it back in a moment or 2. So I thought it was getting better, but then this issue with my boyfriend came up.

She sure is a stinker! I never thought having a puppy would be so much work and so stressful. I am learning a lot though and I do love her dearly. She is a great dog!
 

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Super update! Keep up the good work :)
 

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thats great. just be careful with your bf with how the trainer said to get the item back.. i prefer the trade game and then work my way up to no item to trade (for me its just safer) but every trainer does it differently.. hopefully your bf will be fine with doing it.

did you get her at 16 weeks? its possible it is from her being with her littermates fighting for food, most pups who show this had to fight their littermates for food
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Maryellen, I got her at 8 weeks. She hasnt had issues with food, its only been with chew or a high value toy (like a cat toy she isnt supposed to have!). This thing with my BF is out of no where and I dont know if it is coincidence he just came home from being gone 2 weeks or what.

I agree about being careful with the boy & the chew trading. It is scary enough for me, but I am going to do it a bunch first to get her more used to the idea, and have him watch so he is comfortable. We can trade treats with her with no problem. In fact we did that a bunch after the 2nd incident the other night.... Then 30 minutes later she snapped at him while she was on the couch with no toy or treat in sight!
 

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Second Fear period? I had a situation where my puppy (7.5 months) reacted to me! it was short lived but I knew it was fear and nothing more, or less. It was actually quite fascinating and my trainer gave me some info on the Second Fear Period. It all made sense.
 

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no more couch at all ever for now.. no couches, no beds no furniture at all .... she gets no couch/furniture privileges as right now she is being a snot . she has to EARN the right, and right now she cant ... my last gsd was really bad, i had to keep a 3 foot leash on her as she would bite if you tried to get her off the couch, so a leash was put on and she had ZERO free roam until she stopped being a snot.. it took a year for her to earn couch privileges.

yeah, high value items will bring on resource guarding in some dogs. usually the ones that are not confident i have seen.

i would up her exercise and training, and no furniture at all for a few months.. buckle down and enforce the rules of no furniture and practice NILIF ..
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks again! Going good. I did some work last night with a chew, giving it it her and taking back with no treat. A little scary for me, because she did get nasty, but no biting. I a, beginning to see right now it is all show really - not biting.,.but we don't want it to get to that point. We had good work.

She also reacted to my bf again, but he didn't back down this time and stood his ground. It worked as well.

She is learning no couch for her! She used to try to stay up, this morning I just told her and she got off.

I have put toys away... Only toy she gets is if one of us gives it to her. And I am enforcing strict sit, waits at the door, before eating, etc.
 

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she should not be able to get on the couch. can you block the couch with an Xpen or a gate? this way she isnt able to even get on the couch.. or keep her leashed and tied to either you or your bf so that she has NO freedom at all and has to go where you both go.. i used a double plastic xpen to block my couch from my gsd so that she couldnt get on the couch at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks again Maryellen, I sure appreciate your help and advice.

We are trying to block her from the couch with a table - it is helping. And hey, it is nice to have our "foot table" back! I have been keeping her on a leash all the time now inside and instructed BF to always go for the leash first, and NOT bend down over her. She snapped at him downstairs the other night -- I was not around, nor were there toys or treats - but downstairs I suspect she was thinking was "hers" as well. He did NOT back down, and had to grab her front and scruff her. He received a bit of a bite for his good work unfortunately, but just a small puncture. So this is when I went for the leash at all times - I should have done that before.

I think I "care" for her too much and worry about her not having freedom, etc... I need to stop that. She is fine, on a leash! She is not being tortured. In fact, the other night, she seemed more calm. Lots of time she moves from one spot to the other in the evening when she is napping and it is later. But when she was leashed and I wasnt letting her further than the leash would go - she plunked down and slept happily in one spot.

She also tried to snap at him when we were outside on the deck yesterday - but we are getting better at seeing it come, and he quickly grabbed her and put a stop to it.

I tried a bit of work giving her a chew, and then taking it away. I put heavy leather gloves on first though. Good thing, as she went for me but I didnt back down.

It is frustrating though and how long will this take? I am so upset that she has gotten like this... why? Puppies are supposed to be fun, not make life more difficult.

Thankfully she is only 7.5 months old I guess. Young enough I hope to put an end to this, but it makes you afraid. :-(
 

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If you are afraid of her, she is going to sense that and take advantage of you and your boyfriend. She knows that her actions are causing you to back off. If my dog ever snapped at me he would be on a major lock down with no privileges what so ever. I think your puppy thinks she runs the place.

I am not sure that working on giving and taking the toy back n' fourth is the only thing you should be doing. Does she know "drop it"? She needs to know to drop it, and needs to obey that. You shouldn't have to negotiate with her. She is the dog and she needs to listen to you. She is treating you as if you are another dog and challenging you both.

Like others have suggested, she needs to earn everything. I would start by hand feeding her. Let her know that your hands bring 'goodies'. I would not be allowing her to have a chew toy at all at this point. That will only give her the opportunity to continue snapping. Do the hand feeding for a few weeks, and then try offering a chew while you are holding it. I wouldn't let go of it. After a few minutes, command her to drop it and go do something else that's fun. I would also say you probably need to work on your presence around her. I understand that her snapping at you may be scary, but when she snaps and you quietly back off, she is getting exactly what she wants in terms of a response from you (backing off). To me it seems like she's walking around the house with her chest all puffed up, personally, I would work on breaking that down. You obviously want a confident dog, but she's overly confident in herself and needs clear, firm rules, and you need to make sure you are coming across firmly in delivering those rules.

I am not a trainer, but I have never had any problems with any of my dogs and resource guarding. I am firm in the house rules, have a firm presence with the dogs, and they earn their stuff from very early on and have accepted that human hands are a positive part of getting their treats, toys, etc.

I think there is a very good chance that she will become a 'normal dog'. She is very young yet, and considering her breed, she can't be very big. Just be glad she's not a full grown 90 lb. GSD! Don't let your dog intimidate you.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you Laura, I really value your input!

She knows drop it very well. If we are playing, I say drop it, she lets go - except for chews. SOMETIMES when I Say drop it works, others not so well.

I make her sit & wait at the door to come in or out until I say it is OK. When we are fetching outside, she has to sit and wait at my side to go get it until I say OK. We are doing training classes twice a week. She has to sit & wait for her food. I hand fed her for the first month I had her. My BF is hand feeding her dinner now, we will do this for a few weeks.

Last night I had a chew for her but I held it the entire time, and took it away whenever I wanted. Worked well.

I do my very best to "PUFF UP" my chest and move towards her with purpose, and I need to instill his in my BF... he is likely afraid now so it is more difficult. He is a cat person and likes to "baby talk" to her like he does the cats.... Ugh. He needs to stop this - he doesnt understand dogs at all so it is a big learning process for him, especially now. He is being a lot more open about doing what is right now though. In fact I am trying to get him to just completely ignore her except for feeding, taking out, going in crate and doing training. No more fun talking petting etc etc. All business. This is how I was with her from the start (and now as well, though not as much). I had him let her out of her crate last night after we got home from dinner - this is how he was, "Oh hi emme, how are you, do you want to come out ok here we go"... I told him no, dont say anything to her, dont look at her. Walk over, open the door, and snap on her leash and collar and go outside. NO talking until she pee's, then "Good potty" and a little romp.

Thank you all again. I will continue to update.
 

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Well it sounds like you are doing good things in regards to getting her on the right track. Yes, your boyfriend definitely needs to stand his ground. I think if you continue with what you are doing you will begin to see results. She is very young yet and I remember when my dog was around her age, he got very testy. He tested every single boundry we had accomplished. There were days- and even up to a week- where I hardly spoke to/loved on him, just all 'business'. It was a tough time, but we got through it and he turned out great. We had a lot of fearfulness (he has weaker nerves, not horrible, but not great either) and defiance with him. And this stage they go through might be part of why she is acting out. And they go through a fear stage at this time as well. This doesn't sound like fear to me, but just be aware of this. She is learning that she is bigger, can test you, and get certain things if she acts a certain way. I would keep working on the drop it command. If she already knows it, that's great! Now you have to figure out how to make her respond no matter what she is carrying. Just continue to stand your ground, give her zero privileges until she shows improvements, she must earn EVERYTHING (which it sounds like you are doing). Keep up on the training of both her and your boyfriend (LOL!). She will turn out fine, I'm sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you that means a lot. I need some light at the end of the tunnel!

Here are the "Cliff Notes" I am preparing for my BF (he asked for cliff notes... hehe)...

Be calm, yet aloof and assertive, top dog! You are in charge.
• Don’t baby talk her - the only talking to she needs is direction "go potty", sit, down, etc. Be firm and clear. 1 direction. Praise only when does something good, and then make it high praise "GOOD GIRL!!!!"

No bending over her head to reach down to her

Only pet her if she comes and sits nicely in front of you - can give treat then, or just praise.

Make her sit & wait until you say OK to go outside, inside, or eat something.
• She ALWAYS has to do something before she gets a treat or petting.

Sit, down, anything. NOTHING IN LIFE IS FREE for her.

Advise hand feeding a meal once a day for a couple weeks

Continue to practice training: sit, down, stay, leave it, DROP, etc

ALWAYS TAKE LEASH FIRST to remove from furniture or away from situation. She will always be on a leash in the house until she earns back the right.

If she starts getting mouthy, remove yourself. Do not encourage mouthiness - some of this can be seen as dominant behavior.

If she gets overexcited (Like at the beach...) - grab leash tight, tell her calmly and firmly "STOP", and walk with her. So close so she cant move away at all. Then do sit, down, stay. Wait for calm.

TOY PLAY: Toys are only given by you or me, not lying about for anytime play. "DROP" means she drops it, NOW. Throw toy, take back, etc.... Toy goes away when you are done.

All chews are either in her crate shut, or if you are holding it.
I will work with taking chews away from time to time with gloves

Not allowed on furniture, period.
 

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scruffing is going to make it worse. that is not positive training.. get a new trainer.

find a positive trainer.

get the book MINE by Jean Donaldson

this takes time and patience , it wont be solved over night, and by not usin treats to trade up and just taking her toys etc is making her worse..
 

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Dogs recognize adrenaline as a smell. Your boyfriend, even if he doesn't reveal it in any way, is scared of dogs and your puppy can smell it. She is playing with his fear being driven by jealosy. She wants to be number one for you and she doesn't want him to be in your bed, she doesn't like him going into the fridge and she hates seing him kissing you. She simply doesn't accept him, or, better to say - she stopped accepting him because she has grown older and can express her feelings more bravely than before. Don't push her away, or chastise her for being agressive, just ignore her. When she knows that she doesn't impress anybody with her snapping she will stop it. Don't allow your bf to escalate the conflict, he must ignore your dog's presence first of all.
 
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