Sunday, June 24, 2012

Needing a Little Help from My Friends

I have a question for all you rescue pawrents out there.  Have any of you had to deal with a dog that is toy/chew bone or food possessive?  Louie has given us some major lip trying to retrieve toys or chew bones from him.  We don't know if this is just an issue with rescues or an aggressive problem on his part, we are thinking it might be just an issue because he is a rescue.  He also had a major issue with the vet.  We are thinking this might just be a rescue/insecurity thing as he has shown no other signs of aggression to people or other dogs.

We are mapping out a plan to break this, and have been reading about the trade up method, trade them for something better than their toy then give to toy back to them, etc.  Any other ideas or methods that worked you?

Any ideas about the vet?  We took him again with Saturday when we went to pick up Lily's remains.  We wanted to show him the vet can be fun.  This one is tough for us because ALL of dogs have LOVED going to the vet.

It has only been 6 days since Louie moved in, and while he seems to have adjusted I'm sure he is still apprehensive about things and that some things will take time.  He is such a good boy we just want to make sure we do things right.

Thanks for any insight you can provide.


  1. The first time I took Ruby (a rescue) to the vet she had to be sedated to have her ear checked. Last week, two,years later, she had acupuncture and loved it!, it was gradual. The "resource guarding" is something that Cesar Millan has done several segments on - they're probably on YouTube. I have done the trade up method, but I'm not sure it's ideal. Patience, of course is the most important element. But you already know that.

  2. Trade up is a good approach and it is early days for Louie and being a rescue you don't know his past? As for the vet , Gggggrrr!
    Best wishes Molly

  3. Resource guarding is very common (not just with rescues) and quite serious. I would start by controlling toys and chews by not leaving them out and about. Bring them out as special treats, then just let him enjoy. At the same time, get right on top of some clicker training and basic obedience. The skills aren't important, but learning about the clicker and paying attention is.

    He needs to learn that (a) you control resources and (b) just because you take something doesn't mean you won't give it back. Believe it or not, Dexter is, without constant training, a resource guarder. We started right off with his dinner bowl. Required a sit before giving it to him and worked on clicker training to take it away and put it back while he was eating. Just a couple of weeks ago I had to do an emergency training session when Dex growled at me as I approached him when he had a bone.

    Whatever approach you take, remember to keep yourself safe. Even with my boys, I never pick up a bone with my hand when their heads are close, but always kick it aside with my foot.

    As for the vet, it sounds like your "just for fun" visits are a good start. Some dogs adjust and some don't. Hopefully he won't have any health issues in the short term so you can have tons of happy time visits before he actually needs to get poked and prodded. Here again, some clicker training handling exercises at home might help. He's a clever dog and is just scared and not trained. He'll learn, but it will take time and patience.

    Mango Momma

    1. Yes, we do employ all these methods already. I guess we just need patience. We have raised 6 Rotties from pups. None were perfect but we always knew WE could take anything from them, so it came as a surprise to us. I am sure with training and patience he will trust us more.

  4. P.S. I don't always follow my own advice, but I have discovered that working in tiny baby steps and being patient is more successful. At the vet, is there any way to have a vet or a tech come out into the parking lot and give him treats? What a victory it would be if he did the happy dance when he saw he was in the vet parking lot. Then ideally, add approach to the door, look inside reward, slowly, slowly. Some people have had luck with hand feeding their dogs who are resource hounds. Start with the bowl up out of his reach and hand feed his supper. Slowly, slowly, move the bowl down (maybe on the counter this week, a chair next week, the floor the following week). Don't push things (as I have often done). One setback takes forever to correct.

  5. I agree with Mango Mama. Gizmo (not a rescue but a big pushy boy) was a resource guarder with it came to his food bowl, too. I'd forgotten. As MM did, I asked Gizmo to sit before giving him his food. Everyone has to sit now, even my husband! It works well. It has taken Ruby a long time to trust -- even though she was affectionate from the start -- even with the boys to show her that we were OK. But the wait has been so worthwhile.

  6. If you look on youTube, it's Season 1, episode 24, "Lucy and Lizzy". Watch the Lizzie part - the Dalmatian. She's severe, but you get a sense of what he does.

  7. Howdy All, when we first got Rory, (we had had Stella for two months on her own before this), she was bad with her food when Rory was near and would rush over and try and grab his. He just let her push him aside. Well that happened once and then I would stand guard while they ate. She did learn to leave him alone and she was allowed to lick his bowl when he had finished. I always pick up the bowls when they are done and put them away.

    She was bad too when they had a chewy bone. She couldn't even chew hers without trying to snatch his. I did get cross and bossy with her and would sit between them while they chewed and sometimes hold her to stop her getting his chewy. Now after 12 months they eat together and don't bother each other, they chew bones next to each other and it is a peaceful household, but it just took time and consistency. I know this isn't quite the same but it did get resolved and she doesn't growl anymore, it just took some time.

    All Mango Mommas advice and Bart and Ruby is great. Small steps. The sitting before being fed is good. Maybe if you want to practice taking his bowl away before he has finished, see if he will sit again for a biscuit (or some treat he likes), take the bowl, then place it back again, while he is still sitting. Don't know if this will work cause I haven't tried it, but its another idea maybe.

    Its early days, he's obviously found a family who love him and are willing to help him. Good luck. Louie is a very lucky boy to have you! NO worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)