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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
That's really good to hear - and especially that something so positive has come out of the pandemic. If good Behaviourists become adept at working remotely it will be a boon for many people.
Agreed. The dynamic of a Zoom call is so different from in-person. Definitely requires some deft communication skills.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
Really appreciate your posts. Lots of issues I have never encountered and I learn about new behaviors.

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I’m glad you’re learning something from my experience. I hope others are, too.

Not saying this is the case with Charlie, but almost all dogs will show signs of resource guarding at some point. It’s extremely normal. It can be as subtle as a turned shoulder or even “funny” like faster chewing. It can also quickly turn into a medical emergency, like when they decide gulping found items is the best way to hold onto them.

As I learned from yesterday’s session with the behaviourist, I’ve been remiss in claiming my last girl never resource guarded. She absolutely did. But it never escalated beyond early warning signals, possibly because she never had anything snatched from her during those impressionable first months like Peggy did. In fact, I can recall forcibly taking something from her only once—a chicken wing she found at the beach. But by then she was approaching her senior years. We knew each other pretty well. :)
 

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You are right! While Charlie allows our 2 1/2 year old grandson to climb all over him, take food and toys right out of his mouth, there have been other problems. Charlie gulped down a J Cloth that I demanded he surrender, a sponge and a couple of other awful items.


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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
This was a fun one today. :rolleyes:

I was sitting on the toilet—Peggy keeping me company as she does for most bathroom visits—when she noticed a brand new tube of toothpaste, still in the box, sitting on the bathroom counter. I have no idea what she was thinking, but she grabbed it, brought it over, and dropped it at my feet. I assumed she wanted me to take it, so I wasn’t especially concerned as I leaned forward, but then I saw her stiffen: No growl, but clearly defensive posture.

So what was the “fun” part? With Peggy and her precious toothpaste between me and the door, I was trapped in the bathroom!

We’re supposed to be doing everything we can to prevent escalation while we work through the behaviourist’s RG protocol. But the bathroom is only four feet wide. How was I supposed to get out of there without making her think I wanted her treasure?

I had to CALL MY HUSBAND FOR HELP. Yep. I literally shouted for him, because my darn POODLE was blocking me with a tube of toothpaste.

Sigh.

He came running (good to know I can count on him in an emergency), and as soon as he opened the door, I said, “Call Peggy out NOW.” But of course she was already happily trotting after him, toothpaste forgotten.

Now I’m wondering if she was even guarding it at all or if my caution is tipping over into paranoia.
 

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I think better safe than sorry - if she was not thinking of guarding then no harm done, if she was then situation avoided.

I know many people who yell to be rescued from spiders between them and the door, but you are the first to need o be rescued from toothpaste!
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
I think better safe than sorry - if she was not thinking of guarding then no harm done, if she was then situation avoided.

I know many people who yell to be rescued from spiders between them and the door, but you are the first to need o be rescued from toothpaste!
Haha! I’m also one of those folks who must regularly be rescued from spiders. Luckily, Peggy takes hunting them quite seriously. I’m just a little worried one day she’ll proudly deposit one on my knee.
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
I spent the night dreaming of three poodle puppies. Even when I’d wake up, I’d go right back to my poodle dream. I was trying to choose one of the three for myself. My sister was being given second choice. My husband ended up with the third.

I am feeling positively tortured today by this dream. It won’t let me go.

I really believe we should be getting on a waitlist for a puppy, but I’m worried that it’s a bad idea with a dog who already resource guards. It might be perfectly manageable or....my poodle dream could quickly become a nightmare. :(
 

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I’m glad you like the behaviorist you found. I wonder what she’ll think of the toothpaste episode ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
I’m glad you like the behaviorist you found. I wonder what she’ll think of the toothpaste episode ?
She’ll likely say what @fjm said: Better safe than sorry.

But the more I think about it, the fact that she instantly lost interest in the toothpaste when my husband opened the door suggests to me she wasn’t actually guarding it. If she was, I think being cornered by his sudden presence in the doorway would’ve surged her adrenaline even higher.

I probably need to chill out a bit. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
Just here to vent a little, as I find this whole resource guarding thing exhausting. Note: I hope no one feels like they actually have to read all this.

Tonight the toy at the end of Peggy’s flirt pole suddenly split open and a plastic piece went flying out. Peggy did her automatic leave-it, which was great. I rewarded her with some yummy treats and then examined the toy, trying to figure out why the heck it had something so dangerous inside. As I’m doing that—argh—a second plastic piece falls out. This time Peggy couldn’t control her curiosity and reached for it. I knew it was potentially dangerous and so quickly grabbed it away, practically out of her mouth.

(Yes, this is very unfortunate, but...life happens. In those moments you have to weigh the risks.)

I initiated play by animating and then tossing some treats, and she seemed to forget all about the toy, but I knew she was now a ticking time bomb. Sure enough, I dropped a dirty sock while doing laundry (which, thankfully, already had a hole in it) and she snatched it before I even realized she was watching.

So here’s where things get exhausting: I have no idea if she was guarding the sock or just playing with it/enjoying carrying it around. As I’ve mentioned, during this counter-conditioning process, to avoid triggering guarding, we’re not supposed to step towards her if she has a high-value item or try to take it from her (unless it’s dangerous, of course). But if we avoid triggering her guarding behaviour, we don’t actually know if she is guarding the item! Does that make sense? Makes my brain twist into a big ol’ pretzel.

So all night she had the stupid sock. She’d toss it around a bit, chew it on her bed, bring it over to the couch and abandon it right next to me. And the whole time I had to pretend I didn’t care that apparently my dog now controls whatever item she wishes. <—Yes, that’s my ego speaking.

I’m so glad we are working with a behaviourist, as otherwise I would be tempted to just throw everything I know out the window and make the whole thing worse by showing force/snatching these sorts of things away.

On that note, if you’ve read this far, please don’t listen to anyone who tells you to take things from your dog because you “should” be able to and that your dog “should” be okay with that. I treated Peggy like my previous dogs, assuming she’d respond like my previous dogs. And she did....at first.....until she didn’t. You may get lucky with ten dogs in a row, and—like me—be tempted to believe it’s because of your superior leadership skills (lol), but then the 11th dog comes along with that guarding seed buried way down deep, and now you’re obliviously dumping fertilizer on it.

Let’s just say I’d love to go back in time to that very first scrunchie theft and handle it completely differently. Live and learn.

RIP cozy brown sock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 · (Edited)
I‘ve been doing the behaviourist’s resource guarding protocol for a couple of weeks now. It’s been going well, but in the back of my mind I knew that eventually a real-life guarding episode would happen and could potentially set us back. Well, that real-life episode happened tonight when a piece of a stuffed toy suddenly ripped off during play and Peggy got that gleam in her eye.

I knew I had to play it cool so she wouldn’t swallow it. I walked to the kitchen, chatting about rotisserie chicken, and she followed me in, carrying the toy. That she followed me was a good sign.

Still babbling about chicken, I grabbed a piece, turned back towards her, and as soon as she saw the chicken in my hand, she frantically gulped the toy down.

Note: This toy is attached to a flirt pole. It’s one I’ve used for the past year as part of our drop-it and leave-it practise. She’s never guarded it from me. She’s never even tried playing keep-away. If I take too long to ask for it back, she pushes it into my hand so I’ll make it “fly” again.

The problem was the abrupt shift in energy that occurred when it ripped. There is literally no way I can hide my desperation from her in those moments. She can feel the mood change. She can see right past my faux calm. I have no idea how to fix that.

So now she’s got a big hunk of fabric working its way through her digestive system. If we’re lucky, she’ll poop it out or at least vomit it up. If not....well, I’m not letting myself think about that right now.

Just two hours ago, we were walking past the loud, smelly automotive department at Costco. There were people rattling massive carts past us. Children skipped by. Cars pulled in and out of the lot. Dirty masks and other tantalizing treasures littered the ground. She was, in every way, a perfect dog. I could feel eyes on us. I’m sure more than a few people wondered, “How do I get my dog to behave like that?” And then we come home to this.

Resource guarding is so uniquely dispiriting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
Oh, and afterwards my husband said, “We need a better solution. We can’t just let her swallow things.”

No offence to him, but I inwardly screamed. That’s exactly why we’re working with a behaviourist—so we can get things back that might pose a danger to her, without using force and risking our own safety.
 

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I‘ve been doing the behaviourist’s resource guarding protocol for a couple of weeks now. It’s been going well, but in the back of my mind I knew that eventually a real-life guarding episode would happen and could potentially set us back. Well, that real-life episode happened tonight when a piece of a stuffed toy suddenly ripped off during play and Peggy got that gleam in her eye.

I knew I had to play it cool so she wouldn’t swallow it. I walked to the kitchen, chatting about rotisserie chicken, and she followed me in, carrying the toy. That she followed me was a good sign.

Still babbling about chicken, I grabbed a piece, turned back towards her, and as soon as she saw the chicken in my hand, she frantically gulped the toy down.

Note: This toy is attached to a flirt pole. It’s one I’ve used for the past year as part of our drop-it and leave-it practise. She’s never guarded it from me. She’s never even tried playing keep-away. If I take too long to ask for it back, she pushes it into my hand so I’ll make it “fly” again.

The problem was the abrupt shift in energy that occurred when it ripped. There is literally no way I can hide my desperation from her in those moments. She can feel the mood change. She can see right past my faux calm. I have no idea how to fix that.

So now she’s got a big hunk of fabric working its way through her digestive system. If we’re lucky, she’ll poop it out or at least vomit it up. If not....well, I’m not letting myself think about that right now.

Just two hours ago, we were walking past the loud, smelly automotive department at Costco. There were people rattling massive carts past us. Children skipped by. Cars pulled in and out of the lot. Dirty masks and other tantalizing treasures littered the ground. She was, in every way, a perfect dog. I could feel eyes on us. I’m sure more than a few people wondered, “How do I get my dog to behave like that?” And then we come home to this.

Resource guarding is so uniquely dispiriting.
Oh no! I hope she's going to be OK. Just fabric, no sharp anything I hope!
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
Oh no! I hope she's going to be OK. Just fabric, no sharp anything I hope!
No sharp anything, thankfully. Not even any stuffing. Just a fluffy scrap of fabric.
 

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A fluffy scrap sounds reasonably safe - nothing sharp, no long threads to tangle and contract. Here's hoping it goes through quickly.

I wonder if singing would help? There is something about chanting that keeps voice and breathing steady - perhaps add a silly song about swapping stuf for chicken into your practice sessions, until it becomes second nature? I have been amazed at how the Flappy Flappy Bang Bang song calms the dogs when the window cleaner visits, and am now trying out a Tickle Toes chant with the aim of eventually being able to trim Sophy's nails without a screaming fit.
 

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Urgh I feel your pain with resource guarding. Years ago I adopted a 10 week old border collie mix puppy and she came with so many problems. One of them was resource guarding. I was a dog trainer at the time and knew how to go about training positively so she didn't do it anymore. But it was quite the experience to have your new puppy growl and snap when trying to take something away (especially when you are quite aware how abnormal it is for such a young puppy to do that behavior). I was like "Welp we've got a lot of work to do pup"

Keep up the good work... There is going to be set backs. But you'll get there... Baby steps and one day you'll realize that you haven't had a guarding instance in months and you'll be in aw of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
A fluffy scrap sounds reasonably safe - nothing sharp, no long threads to tangle and contract. Here's hoping it goes through quickly.

I wonder if singing would help? There is something about chanting that keeps voice and breathing steady - perhaps add a silly song about swapping stuf for chicken into your practice sessions, until it becomes second nature? I have been amazed at how the Flappy Flappy Bang Bang song calms the dogs when the window cleaner visits, and am now trying out a Tickle Toes chant with the aim of eventually being able to trim Sophy's nails without a screaming fit.
That’s a really good idea! Your “Flappy” song already inspired a song of mine, actually, which I used when Peggy was a puppy and the landscapers were working outside the windows. It was very effective, possibly because I am a terrible singer and she wanted to know what was wrong with the poor, obviously ailing human.

I did realize last night that almost every time I’ve needed to get something from her, I follow the same routine—the abrupt walk to the fridge, etc. She knows what’s about to happen and she has mixed feelings about it. So I guess you could say that routine has been poisoned?

I’ll start working on a new routine that she will come to associate with nothing but joy.
 

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Sophy actually asked for a Tickle Toes session this evening! We are still a long way from nail trimming, but from screaming "Don't touch my toes!" to asking for more neck and toe rubs feels like major progress in just a few days. The difficult part is making myself go slowly - I know it works, I know forcing the pace is completely counterproductive, but I feel an overlong nail and think how much more comfortable she would be if it were a few millimetres shorter...

New routines that mean nothing but joy - that is a truly excellent aim.
 

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Discussion Starter · #59 ·
Sophy actually asked for a Tickle Toes session this evening! We are still a long way from nail trimming, but from screaming "Don't touch my toes!" to asking for more neck and toe rubs feels like major progress in just a few days. The difficult part is making myself go slowly - I know it works, I know forcing the pace is completely counterproductive, but I feel an overlong nail and think how much more comfortable she would be if it were a few millimetres shorter...

New routines that mean nothing but joy - that is a truly excellent aim.
That is great news! And I know what you mean about how hard it can be to go slowly. I’ve found it helpful to track my methods and progress on paper, writing little updates after each session.
 

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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
Urgh I feel your pain with resource guarding. Years ago I adopted a 10 week old border collie mix puppy and she came with so many problems. One of them was resource guarding. I was a dog trainer at the time and knew how to go about training positively so she didn't do it anymore. But it was quite the experience to have your new puppy growl and snap when trying to take something away (especially when you are quite aware how abnormal it is for such a young puppy to do that behavior). I was like "Welp we've got a lot of work to do pup"

Keep up the good work... There is going to be set backs. But you'll get there... Baby steps and one day you'll realize that you haven't had a guarding instance in months and you'll be in aw of it.
Thank you! And good for you for sticking with that puppy. Sounds like she landed in the right home. :)

Peggy’s first episode didn’t occur until adolescence, which makes me think it was mostly our fault. But there’s really no way to know.

Her episodes are so infrequent, I’m not sure we’ll know when celebration is warranted. I’m hoping the very methodical exercises we’re doing, under our behaviourist’s guidance, will eventually show us that we are in fact making progress.
 
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