Chip fixates on an item or bit of rubbish and guards itFour-year-old Springer Spaniel Chip has been in his new home for one month now.

He came from a working background where he was roughly trained to go beating, and when not working he was left to himself. The problems the gentleman is having with Chip are almost certainly due to previous harsh discipline.

Chip bites. He has lovely days with two long walks and a perfect new home and is really the model dog, but in the evening, when his gentleman owner would like to settle down, Chip starts his antics. He focuses on something – it may be anything, a piece of paper, it may be his blanket or a tea towel he has stolen – and then he guards it. He may hoard things and guard the pile. If the man moves in his direction Chip flies at him, and if he tries to take something away from Chip he gets bitten. His injured hand has the evidence to show for this.

It’s like Chip is setting the man up and challenging him. The man has risen to the bait, and may be inadvertently rewarding the behaviour by giving a lot of attention to it. It is very likely that Chip sees him as weak and is goading him. In the past he has probably been taught respect for a male owner through fear, and lack of cooperation would end in punishment. Now he is with a man who is gentle, who wants to spoil and cuddle him, and is constantly bribing and treating him with food. His boundaries have vanished. Chip must be very confused indeed by all the attention lavished on him. Interestingly, he does none of these things with the lady who pays him much less attention.

Confrontation is not the way to deal with this. Reinforcement drives behaviour, and the hoarding and guarding is being reinforced. There are ways to outwit Chip and get him to cooperate through choice. The gentleman needs to behave with Chip in a way that wins his trust and respect.

The gentleman is very committed to helping his lovely dog.

They started off very well, but gradually the gentleman relaxed, broke all the rules, resulting in a nasty bite that need hospital treatment. He himself admits it took this for him to take it really seriously. After that he stuck strictly to our plan. Chip has not growled at the gentleman, let alone bite him, for about a month now. He is a much more relaxed and happy dog now.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.