Ask an Expert - Resource guarding

Ask an Expert - Resource guarding


Q: My Yorkie, Angel, is a tiny terror. From the time he was a baby, he’d growl if we picked him up from out of his bed. This behaviour has escalated into growling and the occasional nip should anyone try to touch him while he’s in his bed. I’ve been through two trainers who have labeled him a “resource guarder” but no tips have straightened him out. Please help! — Anxious About Angel in Arlington

A:Since the behaviour is triggered when Angel is on his bed, begin the following touch and handling exercises when he is in a non-reactive location. What does he absolutely love? A particular treat? Playing with a special throw toy? We want to associate this reward with his being approached and, eventually, being picked up. We’re also going to pair a phrase with the action.

Approach Angel while he’s lying on the carpet. In a happy voice say, “Party time!” and immediately present the reward (the treat or chew toy). Gradually work into using the phrase, touching him, and then rewarding. Eventually, the touch will turn into picking him up, putting him down, then rewarding. Even if he shows no negative reaction, keep it up—the idea is to get a look of happy anticipation when you say, “Party time!”

The next step is to move to his bed but, for now, substitute a new bed for the one he guards. Start with the phrase, approach, and reward. Always work under his threshold. If you see growling or other signs of reactivity or discomfort, you’ve pushed too far too fast. Go back to where you had success and start from there. Over time, you should be able to approach and pick Angel up when he’s on the bed, with him being happy about it. Just be sure the consequence is always something wonderful.

Now use his original bed but place it in a different location; once that situation is successful, do the routine with him on the original bed in the original location. Eventually, the happy phrase can be faded out, as he will have come to associate your approach and being picked up with wonderful things.

Reactive behaviour is best treated with professional supervision, so I suggest you find another trainer to help implement this program.

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Comments (1)

i don't know if i am in the right place to ask a new question. i have looked and looked for the right place and this is the best i can find. i have a 12 week old japanese chin. i have had many chins through the years as well as other dogs. for the first time ever i am having 2 issues that i have never had before. the first one is when i take her out, we spend at a minimun of an hour outside together. she will not under any circumstances pee or poop outside no matter what i do. when she is in the house, 90% of the time she will poop on the puppy pad. she has been very good at that. however, she rarely pee's on the puppy pad. she will just pee on the floor. i never catch her tho because it is in another room. a couple times she has done it in front of me and of course i startle her and correct her. thing is, whenn she does pee in the other room its not like she knows it is wrong and is hiding like alot of other dogs do. she does it like its ok to do. i am hoping you have another idea besides the crate because this pup is the most hyper pup i have ever owned. i know now what people mean when they say "bouncing off the walls" she never stops 20 hours a day. at this point, it is very hard to try to teach her anything at all because she is 4 pounds of fire. i am not a dummy when it comes to dogs. i have trained dogs to ring the doorbell to come in, carry groceries from the car (bigger breed dogs mind you)taught them when i go "bang" they fall over and do hurt dog where they are crawling to me on their belly's. and on and on. i have never used a crate on a dog. i am at a loss. please help me
Mon, 04/13/2015 - 08:07

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