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Hi all,

My little 7 month pup is a pretty good girl, she doesn’t really growl, snarl and has never bitten. She often goes quiet and hides which usually means she’s got something she shouldn’t.

I just found her under my bed with a slipper (common event) so I reached under to take it and tell her ‘leave it’ (also common event). Usually she drops it, today she growled at me and cowered over it and snapped my hand, I was really shocked. So my housemate tried to get it and the same thing happened.

I didn’t handle it as well as I could have because I was really surprised. I picked her up, told her no quite loudly, tapped her bum and put her in her pen. She’s been there ever since (an hour) but now I have the guilt.

I never tap her to discipline her, or really raise my voice. Usually ignore or remove her from the situation. But this really caught me of guard.

What is the best way to deal with growling or snapping? As I know my response wasn’t the right one. Appreciate your advice and input.
 

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The search term you are looking for is "resource guarding" and 7 months old is a normal time for a puppy to try it out :)

I am not an expert, but it sounds like Bow values slippers. You probably take them away regularly, and now Bow feels threatened in his ownership of the OH So Awesome Slippers. He may have given you body language signs that you ignored(whale eye etc) , maybe he didnt.

But- he gave you a clear warning today that he values the slippers. This is, believe it or not, something you dont want to extinguish. You want him to growl before he bites. You just want to prevent growling from happening again, and figure out his body language before he growls. Maybe check out some youtube videos if you arent familiar with how dogs show discomfort with a situation in their body language.

The tricky question js how do you stop this from escalating?

How did you teach leave it? How do your slipper retrievals normally occur? Do you trade for them or just take them away or..? Have you chased him when he has slippers (or other puppy stolen things)?

First - hide slipper, put them away for now. Bring them out again in a week or two, maybe.

Then - go read some articles by authors who are way better this than me :)
Heres one

And here is a book i have seen recommended but never resd:
 

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Ah ha! Found it... here is a collection of a ton of good articles and prevention strategies


Hopefully someone here with more experience with resource guarding, rather than preventing resource guarding, will chime in.
 

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I've struggled with this on and off with Peggy. I thought we were past it, and then...


(See my last reply on page 2 where I describe what happened last night. The trigger—a puffed cheese chew—was new. But the behaviour wasn't. It'll at least help you to know you're not alone.)

Ian Dunbar has some good ideas on this topic:


And I've read that Patricia McConnell link from For Want of Poodle more times than I can count.

While it's not necessarily an easy fix, and some dogs like Peggy may remain a work in progress, the bottom line is that you want to a) keep slippers out of reach for the next six months, no exceptions, b) pick your battles, and c) improve Bow's confidence around treasured items that are safe for her to have: You're not going to rip them away from her. You may occasionally trade upwards if absolutely necessary, but your hand approaching should generally mean you're going to add even MORE good stuff, not take anything away.

In the meantime, if Bow does get a slipper again (it happens - do a Poodle Forum search for "scrunchie"), give yourself a little kick and then start tossing yummy treats. Make it a game. Defuse the situation. Lure her away from the slipper with such good things, she forgets the slipper even exists. And then double down on keeping your slippers out of reach.

Have you ever tried offering Bow a slipper? If it's not stolen, does it have the same effect? Because while she's never growled over one (or at least not yet), Peggy does have a real thing for socks. I've managed this addiction by doing lots of trades. I tell her to "take it" and then "drop it." Yummy treat!!! We play this game for a while in a lighthearted way until she's very much over the sock and very much just into the yummy things.

You can also practise trading her toys as a game, always making the toy you've got seem like THE MOST FUN EVER—playing with it, making it move around, acting like you're having the time of your life, just you and the toy. When Bow drops the one she's got, you cheerfully say "drop it!" while handing her your toy. Then start playing again. If you're engaging enough, this game can go on a while.

Just remember the "drop it" is being said to reinforce what she's already doing willingly, not as a command. Eventually it will have such positive connotations, she'll be likely to drop just about anything. This is much better than always wielding it in a punishing tone, as so many of us tend to do in the heat of the moment.

P.S. I recommend not using Bow's pen as a punishment. You want it to be a safe, relaxing place for her, right? If you put her in there after a stressful event, think of it more as a soothing timeout—a place for her to catch her breath while the adrenaline recedes.

By actively punishing her after she's relinquished the slipper (the no, the tap, etc.), all she's learned is to double down on her efforts to keep it, otherwise she gets in trouble! From Bow's perspective, she now associates the punishment with letting the slipper go. You can bet that the next time she gets her mouth on one, the adrenaline is going to be pumping more than ever, priming her for escalated growling, snapping, etc. So that's what you want to work on, preventing that visceral response.
 

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Ah yes, resource guarding. It can be an older puppy's way of testing boundaries. Lily was the same way about certain varieties of nylabones at that age (complete with growling and wanting to bite to protect them). I traded up for one when it started to be a pettern (had happened more than twice) and never gave it back to her since I decided it wasn't worth bickering with her about it. Obviously you won't throw your slippers away which is what I did with the nylabone, but you do need to put them out of her reach until you train through this behavior. I think the best way to deal with taking treasured and forbidden objects (shoes, socks, underwear, etc.) is trading up for it. And use a different order than leave it. If a dog is holding onto something I don't want them to have I use drop it rather than leave it. Pay well for a good drop it followed by a successful leave it so you can collect the object.

BTW I would not discourage growling it is a dog's way of telling you they are really upset and stressed out. You can assess why the growling happened and deal with that. If you train away growling and therefore miss the body language signals of that distress (whale eye, tension in jaw, ear posture issues and the like) then the only option that dog will feel is left to it is to bite. You can safely de-escalate a situation where there has been a growl but once there is biting you are in a whole new more stressful space. My dogs growl at each other during the course of their interactions and that tells me I need to check out what they are doing. If I hear Javvy growl near the gate it usually means Peeves is staring at him and I need to tell Peeves to move along and/or back Javelin away from the gate. The two poodles sometimes growl at each other when they are trying for prime spots on the bed with me. One of them will often purposefully lie down on top of the other to make the bottom dog move. Well I'm sorry dog on top the other one of you was here first and you should move not the one who claimed the spot first. Growling is really important language by dogs to other dogs and by dogs to people.
 

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Hi all,

My little 7 month pup is a pretty good girl, she doesn’t really growl, snarl and has never bitten. She often goes quiet and hides which usually means she’s got something she shouldn’t.

I just found her under my bed with a slipper (common event) so I reached under to take it and tell her ‘leave it’ (also common event). Usually she drops it, today she growled at me and cowered over it and snapped my hand, I was really shocked. So my housemate tried to get it and the same thing happened.

I didn’t handle it as well as I could have because I was really surprised. I picked her up, told her no quite loudly, tapped her bum and put her in her pen. She’s been there ever since (an hour) but now I have the guilt.

I never tap her to discipline her, or really raise my voice. Usually ignore or remove her from the situation. But this really caught me of guard.

What is the best way to deal with growling or snapping? As I know my response wasn’t the right one. Appreciate your advice and input.
A puppy should NEVER be hit or tapped. NEVER use the pen as a punishment. NEVER yell at a puppy. NEVER leave a puppy in a pen for so long unless you need to (shopping, short hike, etc). It will only make her more scared, which leads to more and sometimes worse aggresion.
 

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A puppy should NEVER be hit or tapped. NEVER use the pen as a punishment. NEVER yell at a puppy. NEVER leave a puppy in a pen for so long unless you need to (shopping, short hike, ect).
Let's keep it kind and constructive. :) Bow's mama has already said she's not happy with how she handled this very new, very stressful situation. She's learning and I'm sure others reading this are learning, too. Myself included!
 

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I don't have any other advice to what's already been given, but I'm sorry you are going through this. There's somethings I don't let Sisko have because of it.
 

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I don't have any other advice to what's already been given, but I'm sorry you are going through this. There's somethings I don't let Sisko have because of it.
It's funny because I've spoken with people who've never heard the term "resource guarding" and when I explain it, they're like, "Oh yeah. My dog does that." And to them it's no big deal, just a dog thing. They say that's how they know what their dog's "favourite" treat or toy is.

We all have different expectations, I think. And also different understandings of what's normal.

Poodle Forum, for example, really helped me understand how important growling is, that it's not something to be punished or discouraged.
 

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The only thing I really have to add is that the crate is usually only effective as a timeout space for maybe 10 seconds (that is, in my experience). I’ve used it to chill Fluffy out after he gets a little too, ahem, ‘friendly’ with Misty, and sometimes have to repeat it a few times before he gets the message. I have also had to ban certain things from the house because the dogs don’t get along when they’re present (nothing too bad. Just thievery from each other, which leads to tattling and high-pitched barking).
 

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I like the advice you have already received about keeping high value items away from her.

I also like the advice you got about trading up and making giving a game. Pogo actually used to play giving games with Galen. Pogo would give Galen a tennis ball, take it away, tease him with it, give it back, over and over for hours. I've continued building on that foundation. Sometimes I ask him to give me a his tennis ball. I give him a treat and then return the tennis ball. Other times I take his ball away, give him another ball, and continue playing with him..
 
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