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Winnie is just over 8 months now and today I gave her a chicken foot for being a good girl at the groomers. When I went near her bed while she was eating it she growled and snarled at me bearing her teeth. It was quite frightening which is obviously the point but it took me by surprise as she has never done this before with anything. I can normally take things out of her mouth (which I give straight back unless they are bad for her) and she doesn't make a fuss of any kind. She didn't do it when my husband came near her but only with me. He took it out and gave it back to her and then I tried it myself and she let me take it in the usual way and then I gave it back to her. Is this part of adolescence? Why would she have done it to me and not my husband?
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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As our trainer explained it to us, yes, some dogs will “try on” resource guarding in adolescence—possibly because their anxiety around certain items has increased due to perceived value or a history of having them taken away, possibly due to hormonal fluctuations which can cause nesting behaviours, possibly because they’re “testing boundaries,” as adolescents tend to do.

In all the research I’ve been forced to do thanks to Peggy, I’ve come to see this as a decidedly insecure behaviour.

You mention taking things from Winnie’s mouth and then giving them back. Do you also reward her for this? Because the act of taking something from a dog breaks all sorts of unspoken doggy rules. I’ve been observing Peggy in play a lot, and this is one thing only very rude dogs do.

I know we’re not dogs, and our dogs don’t think we’re dogs, but I call it “watering the seeds of resource guarding” when we repeatedly take items from our poodles. They are so smart and sensitive, and their memories are long. Eventually some might say, “Nope! No more!” and growling is a first line of defense.

On that note, don’t ever punish for growling. That’s when you end up with a dog who goes straight for a bite.

Has Winnie ever had a chicken foot after the groomer’s before? A chicken foot is an extremely high value item, which can create stress. Being groomed is also extremely stressful; it’s also tiring. All combined, this means a significantly lowered threshold. Research “trigger stacking” if you’ve not already.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
As our trainer explained it to us, yes, some dogs will “try on” resource guarding in adolescence—possibly because their anxiety around certain items has increased due to perceived value or a history of having them taken away, possibly due to hormonal fluctuations which can cause nesting behaviours, possibly because they’re “testing boundaries,” as adolescents tend to do.

In all the research I’ve been forced to do thanks to Peggy, I’ve come to see this as a decidedly insecure behaviour.

You mention taking things from Winnie’s mouth and then giving them back. Do you also reward her for this? Because the act of taking something from a dog breaks all sorts of unspoken doggy rules. I’ve been observing Peggy in play a lot, and this is one thing only very rude dogs do.

I know we’re not dogs, and our dogs don’t think we’re dogs, but I call it “watering the seeds of resource guarding” when we repeatedly take items from our poodles. They are so smart and sensitive, and their memories are long. Eventually some might say, “Nope! No more!” and growling is a first line of defense.

On that note, don’t ever punish for growling. That’s when you end up with a dog who goes straight for a bite.

Has Winnie ever had a chicken foot after the groomer’s before? A chicken foot is an extremely high value item, which can create stress. Being groomed is also extremely stressful; it’s also tiring. All combined, this means a significantly lowered threshold. Research “trigger stacking” if you’ve not already.
She has had chicken feet before but not after a groom. I did let her sleep when she came back from the groomer as she was tired so I thought she was rested when I gave it to her. I like to be able to take things out of her mouth to check if its still safe to continue chewing. If it's ok she gets it straight back. If not I'll swap it. I don't do it every time as some things I know how they wear down so don't need to. I wasn't actually going to take her chicken foot, I just got a bit close and she must have thought I was going for it. Why would she have done this to me but not my husband?
 

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Why would she have done this to me but not my husband?
I like to be able to take things out of her mouth to check if its still safe to continue chewing. If it's ok she gets it straight back. If not I'll swap it.
Are you perhaps doing more safety checks than your husband, so she thinks you are a potential treat thief and he isn't?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Are you perhaps doing more safety checks than your husband, so she thinks you are a potential treat thief and he isn't?
Yes, that would explain it. He has opened her mouth to pull out things that she shouldn't have eaten but she is so much better at 'leave it' and 'drop it' now that he hasn't needed to do it anymore, whereas I will monitor her chews.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Definitely read through my resource guarding thread if you haven’t already. Even just the last couple of pages. You’ll see that Peggy happily traded a found toy/treasure for a treat from our friend, in a situation where she likely would have guarded it from my husband or me. That person has never “stolen” anything from her before, whereas we have.
 
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