I am so upset right now, and need your help for this. My 12-year-old has been away on a five-day field trip for school...just came back today, so Sammi hasn't seen him for a while. Apparently he saw her chewing on some food in a baggie. He told her, "no" and tried to take the baggie from out of her mouth. She barked aggressively and bit him on the finger, breaking the skin. Right now he is washing it and we are applying peroxide and antibiotic ointment
I had a talk with my son to find out exactly what happened, and to tell him that he should never have attempted to take the food from her. I have been monitoring and working with the two of them since she came, as Sammi tends to treat him as a littermate and show disrespect towards him, and he also does not know how to communicate properly with her. THey both are learning. But she has never bitten anyone before.
She is learning the "drop it", but is not reliable with it yet. We've been working on that. But what should I/we do so that this won't happen again. My DH is pretty angry right now.
Ack, sorry to hear about that. I have no experience with that type of thing, so others can surely give better suggestions. But the two ideas that come to mind are: Have you son work on "trading up" with Sammi. That is, give Sammi something she wants but doesnt love (like a bowl of kibble) and then have your son trade Sammi a treat that Sammi loves more in exchange for the kibble. Hopefully that would teach Sammi that giving up the food gets her something better, and of course the main thing is she would no longer bite over having food taken.
The other idea would be some "tethering" in the house. Let you son keep Sammi on a leash in the house for long stretches. Where your son goes, Sammi has to go. That teaches Sammi that your son is the boss.
Hopefully others will chime in as to whether these are good suggestions or not.
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Hi there, I got a note from another member directing me to your thread. I wrote extensively about my mpoo's resource guarding in this thread. I urge you to have a look at it--and PM me with questions. Also, work on drop it/leave it/exchange training ASAP and hire a trainer--do NOT wait. I'm happy to help any way I can. This is a problem you can manage. In the meantime, yes, train your sons/husband NOT to take anything from sammi right now. Always trade for a cookie/treat for now. do not let this incident repeat. I don't want to scare you but your dog's life can be at risk once they start biting.
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I know how you feel because we have the same situation here...Indy thinks she's the boss and the kids are like her littermates who can be made to bend to her wishes. She hasn't bitten them but she has shown a little resource guarding tendencies with a loud bark when a kid goes by as she's chewing something she really loves. She does the same to Maddy when she happens to stroll by when Indy has something she really values. So what I have been doing, not sure how this rates with the trainers on this forum, but I've been dealing with it as though he who doles out the treats has the power. So I've been getting the kids to do all the basic training (sit, stay, heel, come, back-up, down) with the dogs and using treats as rewards (not bribes! I read the other threads and took them to heart!) on a sporadic basis. Not really sure how it's working because we haven't had any resource guarding incidents for a while and any consistent, positive-reinforcement training practice is good, so the dogs are benefiting for sure. Plus the dogs love it and the kids love it, so there's that.
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Something that would be invaluable is getting your son and Sammi into a class where he handles her. Just reinforcement of the basics in obediance and listing to him, rather than an adult, can make a huge difference, both in her behavior and his confidence with her.
If you have a 4-H in your area they usually have a great dog handling program.
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It's a resource guarding thing. She needs to be taught to give and take items, ideally you could get the the point where you can give and take ANYTHING from her, including food. It is easier to do it while she is young, so I would try contacting a trainer in your area so you have some extra guidance. For my dogs I teach them by giving them something they want, then saying "give" and I take it away, while replacing the item with something else cool, and I say "take it", and repeat, repeat, repeat. The idea is that they get to trade up for something cool, and I'm never truly a threat and taking away their highly desired item.
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One thing no one has mentioned is bite inhibition. Did you work with Sammi when she was a pup on decreasing the force of her bites before you had her stop biting entirely? Do you play tug with her or clean her teeth regularly so she knows how hard is too hard when she chomps down? When you go to the trainer, I would ask how to safely work on that aspect too. Any dog can be provoked to bite, but if possible you want a dog who snaps, bares its teeth, and gives plenty of warning before breaking the skin.
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Another thing you might do is work on "give." I find that to be a LOT easier to teach than "drop it" (you know how they say possession is nine-tenths of the law? It's like that.). I do it every time we play tug. Put a container of tasty treats near by. They should be good, but not so good as to completely distract your dog. Let your dog tug to her heart's content. When she is really into it, grab one end of the toy, say "give" and hold the treat under her nose. She will eventually release her grip to get the treat (if she doesn't, you need better treats). Give her the treat you are holding along with a few more, then go back to playing with her, so she realizes that obeying means she can have her cake and eat it too. She gets treats but she can also go back to playing. And she doesn't get treats or more play time UNTIL and UNLESS she obeys.
Of course, this only works if she likes tug, and you shouldn't do it if there's a risk she will bite hard. But barring those things, you should be able to eventually phase out treats and just integrate "give" and other commands into play. Hope that helps!
Last edited by LegalEagle; 02-09-2013 at 05:22 AM.
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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!
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