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Discussion Starter #1
Sisko has been doing so well, but just a little bit ago I gave him a beef knuckle bones and when my mom came to check on him, he let out a nasty growl and my mom yelled NO! And made him go in his kennel. My mom has never tolerated growling from dogs.
 

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Thank you, Click-N-Treat. This is also upsetting/frustrating because my mom wants to give him back to his breeder if it happens again. I suggested we see and work with a trainer to help with this, and will look for someone to help us.
 

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People tend to freak out over a dog growling over a bone, but food aggression is a natural instinct for all animals, including humans. If you were eating a sandwich, and someone tried to take it from you, you'd say, "Hey! That's mine!" That's exactly what your dog did. Your dog had something worth keeping and said, "Hey, that's mine!" It's startling and scary when a dog growls, especially for the first time. Poodles are sensitive dogs. It's possible that being yelled at and kenneled left an impression. Don't do that again!

However, you learned something about your dog. Knuckle bones are too high value for your dog to have unsupervised. I've never given my dogs a bone like that. If my dogs are going to chew on a meat bone, I'll hold onto it and let them lick and nibble. But, they wouldn't actually get to run off with it. That's going to provoke a fight and ratchet their, "Hey, that's mine!" far too high.

Treats have a value scale that ranges from meh to worth fighting for. You discovered, the hard way, that meat bones are worth fighting for. So here's a simple rule for you. Those don't come in the house anymore. Pigs ears are banned from our house for the exact same reason. The treat value is far too high. The dogs will fight to keep them. Nope, not coming in the house.

Noelle, at about eight months or so, went through a period where she guarded her food and toys. She suddenly became aware that she had stuff worth keeping. The first thing I did was changed how she got her treats. I didn't leave her alone with her goodies. I also made her earn them as rewards. But, I clearly was in charge of them. I also traded up.

I think finding a trainer to help you is an excellent idea. One thing bad trainers will tell you to do is to take away things from your dog and give them back. This is terrible advice and can sometimes make the problem worse. Would you feel less aggressive if a stranger took your piece of pizza, gave it back, took it again, and then gave it back? Or would that make you angry? If that would make you angry--and you have the rational thought processes of a human being--how do you think your dog would feel? A human can conceptualize an end point. A dog cannot. The dog would have no idea the treat would be given back eventually. The way to help food aggression isn't through subtraction. It's by addition.

A good trainer will teach you to trade up in value. Dog is chewing on a Nylabone, trade up with a rawhide chew. Wait for the dog to chew the rawhide, quietly take away the Nylabone. If the dog is chewing a rawhide chew, offer a bully stick. Offer something better than what the dog already has, and give them space to change their mind. A good trainer will show you how to do this in such a way that the dog is happily switching and not guarding.

Think of treats as dog money. We guard our money. But, if someone offered to trade your one dollar bill for a five, you'd switch happily. If they offered a ten for your five, you'd switch again. And you'd feel happy about the switch. We do this with our dogs when we trade up with treats. You like that thing you have? Check out this amazing thing I've got for you. Wow! However, that means making sure you can trade up. If the dog already has a knuckle bone, you're screwed. There isn't an up from there. That's why pigs ears and knuckle bones don't enter my house.

Avoid super high value treats right now. Meet with a trainer. If they tell you to take things away, give them back... run away and choose a different trainer. You want to learn how to trade up and how to time it to help the dog learn. And remember, food aggression is natural. You've felt it. I've felt it. We didn't label it, food aggression, but that's exactly what it is when you want that last slice of cake and someone else snatches it. Or if a waiter tries to take your plate before you're done eating. That rise in emotion is food aggression.

Don't panic and do something rash. This is a fixable problem. Find a good trainer. If you need help finding one, send me a private message by clicking Click-N-Treat under my picture. You're not alone in this. You also have the PF community to help you, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yeah, Sisko has done this before with a Himalayan yak cheese chew and the PF community gave me some advice, so I know to handle it differentely. My mom has a very hard time with dogs growling at her. I'm already scared that this has made a bad impression and could escalate and I could see Sisko bitting and my mom hitting him, she wouldn't mean to, she's been through a lot, but I don't think I could forgive her if something happened to him.

Okay, thank you. That makes a lot of sense. I started doing the same thing with his HYCC and he got to the point where I could just hold it and take it from away from him, and now knuckle bones are banned.

Oh, no! So she was like ''MIME?'' I'm glad you worked with her and were still in charged.

Okay, thank you, I'll run if anyone gives me that advice! I wouldn't be any less aggressive if that happened to me, and I'd probably take my pizza and walk away. So, Sisko had to feel like that knuckle bone was the best thing that he ever chewed on. Okay

That's so true! I like the way you put it.

Okay, so would it be alright to ask them how they would solve it/do they take it away then give it back? Yeah.

Okay, thank you, so much Click-N-Treats. I really appreciate it!
 

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Click already gave you good advise so I have nothing to add, lol. It sounds to me that you are doing very well with Sisko. I had a GSD at one time, who I trained with the help of a GSD club. He was excellent at obedience however it did take us about 3 or 4 classes as I remember. He was very smart and got bored easily. One morning I had him locked up on our back porch off our kitchen, we were renovating this porch to add it on to the kitchen space, well he chewed up some studs. I said to him what did you do and he came at me growling to bite, I don't treat my dogs this way however I had a natural reaction and basically shoved my fist into his mouth and he backed off. (*Note I had been bitten my a prior GSD where I ended up with several stitches in my arm as he treated it like a rag doll).) Probably why I had such a reaction to him...in any case he never ever tried to bite or growl again. He was my best trained dog I ever had but he also was before kids etc. Life gets busy and at times in the way. Renn hasn't growled but I've never rally given him high value treats unless I am holding them. I'm a bit of a control freak at times.
 

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Everything Click said, plus don't allow Sisko to have such high value treats unless you are with him to supervise. Train him to give the special goodies to you in exchange for something even better. e.g. Here is a piece of fresh chicken in exchange for that yak cheese. Also remember to randomize and fade the swap reward, including sometimes giving the treasured treat right back to him.

As to finding a good private trainer I suggest finding one through either the CCPDT (Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers) or APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers). Their websites are below.


 

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It sounds like your mom handled it just fine. You growl at me, I bark at you AND fire you back in your cage. Negative reinforcement... but pretty mild and might help to make the 'no growling allowed' point.
 

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But Frank I don't think it is wise to extinguish growling. If one trains away growling and the dog is upset about something (which was understandable in this situation IMO) then the only recourse left to the dog is to bite. A growl is the warning that "I am really stressed out right now and if you insist on making things worse, I will bite you." Frankly I think mom needs some lessons.
 

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I can't remember if you already read it yourself, but can you get your mom to read the book "Mine!" by Jean Donaldson?
Working with a trainer would probably be helpful to you and Sisko for more than just resource guarding, but if your mom is not on the same page as you, you may still have issues. Hopefully if she reads the book she can understand that while resource guarding is not ok, there are better ways to handle it.
 

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But Frank I don't think it is wise to extinguish growling. If one trains away growling and the dog is upset about something (which was understandable in this situation IMO) then the only recourse left to the dog is to bite. A growl is the warning that "I am really stressed out right now and if you insist on making things worse, I will bite you." Frankly I think mom needs some lessons.
Ahhhh.... maybe I'm more sympathetic to moms. lol

Dog on dog growls??? I ignore them... the dogs will sort it out.

I had a few spells of that when the Shi Tzus started coming downstairs.

But no, not at humans. That's not allowed...

Tonka growls at Raccoons. :)
 

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I think we may have to disagree on that last point...Of course the humans need to understand what the dog is saying and have an idea on how to de-escalate the situation.
 

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Agreed, so here is the basis of my thinking. I want a dog to tell me if it is stressed, worried or fearful and have the opportunity to then learn what is upsetting them and then be able to take meaningful steps to correct the situation and give the dog a way to feel more confident and for them to understand what is happening. Hopefully then they develop better coping skills and the feeling that growling is appropriate can be conditioned away. I also don't want to make the dog believe that a bite is a first response, but rather a last resort.

You are up!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you, everyone! I can not even express fully how much I appreciate this and you guys! I'm making some phone calls right now with some trainers from the links you guys posted. I have to say this is so frustrating because I had plans when Sisko was still a Landshark, and I tried to get everyone on board and they just didn't want to and left me to take care of him, and I got ill and we got majorly derailed. Only me and my youngest brother really like Sisko. Everyone else just tolerates him, but my mom has been trying to get closer to him lately.
 

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When you get set with a trainer invite your mom to participate so that she can make a bond with Sisko that includes his understanding that she has to be listened to and I am sure things will get better. For that matter include others who don't seem to have good relations with him. They don't have to walk or feed him, but at least they shouldn't be at odds with each other.
 

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I’m so sorry your family is at odds with Sisko, that must make it very hard for you. Click and Lily gave you great advice, and I agree that while not desirable, growling over a bone is within the range of normal dog behavior.

I will say the trading up works like a charm. My Lily was deemed unadoptable by the shelter because of her food aggression. This was not just an occasional growl over a high value treat but an all out tirade whenever dog or human approached her when eating. I was amazed at how well the training worked. A good part of what we did was trading up treats, as described. I also would give her back the original treat after she willingly gave it up in the “trade up.” Within a few months, she was eating side by side with Max and willingly giving up any treat. Never bit me, or anyone else. And the training stuck. I can take a raw marrow bone out of her mouth and she will give it willingly, it’s now nine years later.

Poodles learn quick, people sometimes not so much! Good luck with your family and come here for moral support.
 
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