Sorry this happened! Glad you're getting such good advice. I had this article bookmarked so I'm sharing it. I know you'll get ahead of this and help Sammi work things out. Deep cleansing breath, and everyone row together here! Please keep us updated on how things are going. 01 Resource Guarding - VeterinaryPartner.com - a VIN company!
This is an excellent article. Thanks for posting.
Good luck with Sam. Take a deep breath and do contact a trainer. They often offer classes just for this "resource guarding" issue.
Hugs to you and your son. I'm sure he's pretty upset also.
I hope that your husband and son can move past the hurt and anger. Dogs are not people so they communicate in different ways, and biting is one of them. We have to teach them how to live in our world and vice versa. I believe with the proper training, you guys can move past this! Please hang in there!
It sounds like you are already taking some good measures to help both your son and your dog. They are both lucky to have you!
One suggestion would be to have your son actively participate in training Sammi. The objective would be to reset the relationship so that Sammi looks to your son as the giver of treats and other good things rather than as a littermate. Here's a fun exercise that I learned when I took Cammie to doggie school. I think it is well suited to a 12 year old and a poodle because it produces quick and fun results.
If Sammi has been trained to sit, have her sit in front of your son. If not, you can do this with both of them sitting on the couch or anywhere. Your son should have a handful of treats and a clicker in his left hand. (If you haven't done any clicker training at all, you would have to teach Sammi to associate a click with a treat before proceeding with this.) Your son holds his hand next to Sammi's face and waits until Sammi touches his hand. Then click immediately--the second that nose touches hand--and take a treat with right hand and give it to the dog. Keep at this game for a little while and you'll see the lightbulb that goes off in the poodle head when she realizes the connection between touching your son's hand with her nose and getting the click/treat. Keep giving a lot of positive reinforcement and slowly make Sammi reach a bit farther to touch your son's hand and get the click/treat. Once a dog knows this trick of following the hand, it can be used to position the dog. But for now, it is just a fun exercise. Cammie loves this game. I'm not sure if 12 year old boys have the patience for the repetition that any training involves, but this exercise does produce some pretty quick results, so maybe it would be fun for both of them.
Anyway, that's just one idea. Another thought is to teach your son to be a master observer of poodle communication and behavior. Usually dogs give warning signs before biting. So the more he observes and understands, the better.
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I think you have gotten lots of good advice here. I really don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said, except that you are not alone...resource guarding (particularly with food) is not uncommon and needs to be trained out. If you don't have success with the approaches you read on this site, find a trainer and work on this, it is totally solvable. It just takes a little persistence and good communication.
Thanks so much for this great advice. I've just been reading everything here and trying to make a plan. I like the idea of tethering her to Jonathan for short periods. For the past few months she had been in this stubborn adolescence phase, and has been slipping on all of her past training, including house training. So I have been crating her and tethering her with me again for the past few weeks, like when she was a little pup.
She knows "no bite", as we worked hard with her when she was little. For the most part she doesn't put her mouth on us anymore--except for Jonathan (the 12 year old). She still tries it on him in play but we always correct her. She is also becoming pushy and demanding for petting and play (especially with the kids--DH and I don't tolerate it). More all-around training is definitely needed. She isn't a "hard" dog at all, and has been very submissive (clumsy, goofy and playful, sometimes a pain, but always submissive) until recently.
I will definitely pull Jonathan into the training along with hand-feeding and using the treats like you suggested. Thank you again...will keep you posted.
A Very Good Dog
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I would even recommend that your son have the very best treats and he is the ONLY one that can give those treats. So if Sammi's favorite thing is tiny cut up hot dogs only your son can give her the hot dogs.
We had a Kerry Blue Terrier, Duncan, that was a very bad resource guarder and he had 6 bites in one year. :( He had been very ill as a young puppy with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and almost starved to death. Consequently he became a serious resource guarder. We enlisted the help of a trainer and, while he got better, we weren't able to break him of it. At the time we had infant twins and a 4 year old and couldn't risk it so he was rehomed through KBT rescue group to an adult only home where he is doing wonderfully. (We have an open adoption of sorts and regularly get emails and photos.) I DO think we could have eventually trained it out of him but with such young children in the home we didn't have the luxury of time to help him the way he deserved.
I was very nervous about getting another dog as it was and still is so heartbreaking that we had to rehome our Duncan. So when we got our spoo (now just 10 weeks) I contacted our trainer right away and she said to make sure that lots of people give him treats but that small children give the BEST treats.
I am late to this thread since we lost power for a while in the storm on Saturday and then i had obedience trials yesterday. I am sorry you had this event happen, but I think you are taking the right steps and have gotten lots of great suggestions already. The only thing I would add to the idea of the "drop it" command is "leave it" which is for leaving the desired thing on the floor after they have dropped it. This prevents you from having to reach in super fast to try to steal the coveted object away. That is a scenario that surely could provoke another bite. Here is how I taught leave it to Lily who loves to eat tissues, napkins and paper towels and will still them all off of tables, counters and out of waste bins.
Put a clean crumpled napkin (or whatever they most covet) on the floor and let the dog find it. As she goes towards it say leave it and look. When the dog looks praise and give a treat. Repeat as needed until the dog ignores the desired object. Lily is ball crazy (to the point of guarding) and I have used leave it to get her to lower her level of possessiveness for balls as well. I now can play tug with a rope with a ball on it and tell her drop it and get an instant release. If she tries to grab it back I tell her leave it.
The advise about having your son be very responsible in her training and daily care is important. The more she sees him as a source of things she needs (food and water) and wants (attention when well deserved) the better they will be together. Don't get too wrapped up in who outranks whom though. All relationships human/human, dog/dog, human/dog are dynamic and ever changing. I don't think it is so much about rank as respect.
Keep us up to date on your progress. I wish you nothing but success.
Lily AKC: CGC CD HIT CDX, RN RA RE RAE RAE2 RAE3 RAE4 RAE5 Multiple Rally High Combined, NA NAJ; APDT: RL-1; CPE: CL1-R, CL1-H, CL1-F, CL1-S, CL1
Peeves AKC: CGC BN RN RA
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I am so sorry that you are dealing with this issue and I do think that the advise has been great.
I do have one thing to add that might have a little bit of insight. When my mom was about 12 they had a dobie and she was the only one that would have issues with the dog. They finally found out that it was that my mom was going through puberty and so was the dog. Two teenagers butting heads...
I know that she did finally convince the dobie that she was higher in status that the dog and they had a truce. I just wondered if your twelve year old smelled differently after a week away. Maybe new hormones? I just thought that I would throw that into the mix. As it might make a difference in the way you deal with it. I do love the tether idea though, I have used it to good affect.
Sending positive vibes your way for you to fine the best answers for all.