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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19756
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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I have a question about a dog that has recently become a

Customer Question

Hi I have a question about a dog that has recently become a resource guarder. The behavior over the last 5 weeks has escalated from certain toys to all toys to sleeping on the bed to at times walking near her when she's asleep. She is a cavachon and will be 1 at the end of the month.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She has not bitten anyone however she growls snarls and at times has shown teeth. The latest episode happened tonight whereas my husband was playing with her and all was good. He stopped went and cut the grass came into the yard and she acted as if she didn't know him growling at him. He backed her down by telling her to leave it and she finally backed down after about a minute though was inches away from biting him. We are desperate and distraught and help would be appreciated
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.

Hi JaCustomer,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

What you are seeing is very common especially with small dogs. She needs the obedience training. I see you are 3 weeks into training but let me give you a site that is helpful at teaching owners how to train their dogs. You need to be the one who is training your dog even if under the eyes of a trainer.

The following site is helpful in helping owners train their dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

Secondly, she has to get off the furniture. Dogs that are allowed on furniture (even if put on the furniture) tend to feel that since they are elevated to your level or higher if on your lap, they mentally feel elevated as well in the pack order and thus are the boss. Keeping them on the floor can help lower them mentally back to a submissive position in the pack. So the first thing is to not allow her higher that the humans or even on the same level. Attach a leash and use it to remove her from the furniture. Give a correction in the form of a quick tug and firm "NO" when she attempts to get on and a treat when she starts not trying to get on the furniture. Thus you are providing negative reinforcement for the getting on the furniture and positive reinforcement for the desired behavior (not attempting to get on the furniture).

The leash can always be used to reprimand her if she growls or shows any aggression toward anyone. I know it seems like the answer is just too simple, but that is what stops this type of behavior.

If she knows the leave it command, then you can use that for the resource guarding, but while it is resource guarding, it also is a case of her thinking she owns everything instead of you owning everything. Once she sees you and your husband as the boss, you will own everything and she should not reprimand anyone which helps the resource guarding.

The following sites go over this in great detail. The last site give many different ideas and techniques to help resolve resource guarding.

If you practice the leave it command over and over with her being sure to give nice tasty treats like hot dog slices when she complies, she will be giving things up easily in no time at all.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply. It seems as if now if she's in the yard she gets into the same possessive's her yard no one can approach her. I know she is little but it's scary when you have kids. Is their any kind of medical issues that could be going on that would contribute to this? Would anxiety medication help her???? My husband has her with 1 foot out the door already afraid she is going to snap. I've called 2 other behaviorists last night and left messages for additional help
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.


It really doesn't sound medical but there are medical causes for sudden aggression such as hypothyroidism and neurological issues. You could get her tested and have imaging done but it does sound behavioral rather than medical in nature.

She has learned that if she growls and snaps, she can control what the humans do. Let me give you an example. My mother in law had a tiny poodle who wouild not let her groom her, or move her off the couch or take her toy away from her. My mother in law was scared that she would bite her so as soon as the dog bared her teeth, my mother in law would back off. I was asked to watch her. I left her leash on and the minute she tried to get on the furniture, I removed her using the leash even though she was not happy about it. I slipped the leash under my foot so she couldn't just jump back up. After a few tries she laid down on the floor and I rewarded her with hot dog slivers and calm praise. She saw that I was not going to let her control me and after that I could take her toys, cut her nails, bathe her and order her off furniture without her trying to snap. When she went back home she quickly reverted to her other behavior, however, I could still order her off the furniture there, take her food and toys without her reacting. Her owner could not because she didn't do any training with her and still was scared of the dog.

So you need to be confident around her as she can tell if you are worried that she will bite. If that takes wearing thick pants and thick gloves so you don't need to worry about a bite when working with her or put a muzzle on her, then do so. She has to learn that you won't let her control you. Training is best because then she sees you as the boss and only the boss gets to reprimand, so that will stop her lashing out at you as a reprimand. She will also want to please you and obey to get your praise or treats and your approval.