Resource Guarding Puppy. Puppy Love. Puppy Parenting.

puppy loveI walked in through the door to be met by the most adorable 13-week-old Sprocker puppy in the man’s arms. Instant puppy love!

Oscar!

Oscar does all the typical puppy things which we discussed how to address one at a time.

He was jumping up as soon as I sat down. They would prefer him not to jump up so immediately I got my clicker out.

In no time at all he had caught on. ‘So feet on the floor is what you want, is it? Why didn’t you say!’ Randomly telling the puppy to get down is just more human spam to his ears.

Clicker is quite considerable brain work for a young puppy and soon Oscar had fallen asleep on the floor beside us. He stretched out. He lay on his back with his little bare tummy showing. Puppy love!

Evening mischief

At this time in the evening he would usually be pestering for attention and looking for forbidden things to chew.

Just after I arrived he had a session of puppy zoomies, tearing through the house and down the garden, back and forth! I wonder why puppies usually do this in the evening. Possibly energy rush after their tea. Possibly accumulated arousal from the day. Very likely it coincides with owners wanting a bit of peace and quiet and the puppy has different ideas!

Evening mischief can easily be solved with a bit of effort. The humans should at regular intervals initiate a short activity. It can be standing outside watching the world go by. They could have a game of tuggy. Some food could be sprinkled over the grass. They could have a short clicker training session. Best of all to my mind is a cardboard carton food of recycle rubbish with some kibble dropped and hidden in things. This is so much more exciting than chewing wires and what a glorious mess he can make!

Resource guarding

The concerning thing is Oscar is showing signs of ‘aggression’.

This is when he picks up an item that they don’t want him to have. I gave Oscar a present of a piece of Yak chew (a wonderful thing for puppies). When someone walked past him he acted like he thought they might take it from him.

Removing things from a puppy in the wrong way actually creates resource guarding behaviour.

So, whenever Oscar has anything he values like the Yak chew, if they walk past they should drop something small and tasty as they go – without stopping. They ADD; they don’t take away. Givers, not takers.

Firstly and fairly obviously, they need to keep checking the environment. This isn’t so easy when they take him to someone else’s house and where some of the incidents have happened.

Once he has something there are questions. The first thing is, how valuable is it to you? If a sock or tissue, then it’s your fault for leaving it accessible! Neither will kill him, so ignore it. Make sure there are plenty of chew-able and allowed things left about.

If it’s something that will harm him or something of value, it’s a problem. For puppy love sake this could be an emergency. At present all they can do is scatter lots of very tasty bits all around the place so he’s unable to grab all the food and get back to the resource at the same time. It could well be that nothing will lure him away from a particularly valuable prize.

Chasing and cornering

This is when the trouble starts. He is chased and cornered. He becomes intimidated whilst at the same time determined to hang onto his treasure. The large human will then grab him and force the item out of his mouth.

It’s little wonder that the puppy has now learned to growl when approached while he has one of his ‘finds’ in his mouth.

Before things can get any worse, Oscar needs to be given some intensive fun sessions of give and take. This must always be an exchange session. Each time he gives, he gets something in return that is of higher value (to him) than what he had. He can also get the original item back.

With my puppies and some older dogs, when they have something in their mouths, anything, I say Give. I do an exchange for perhaps a bit of food. I then admire, sniff and talk to the item, increasing its desirability, before returning it to the dog!

Tug of war can also be a very good lesson in give and take.

Once the puppy is inadvertently taught to be on the defensive by us humans, it makes other things difficult. Oscar had a bit of stick painfully trapped in his mouth and really fought against having it removed by the man.

Here is a famous example of a dog being virtually forced into resource guarding aggression.

More puppy love

I am so looking forward to my next dose of puppy love with Oscar. We will see how the give and take is going, work a bit more on walks and do some more clicker training.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’. Listening to ‘other people’ or finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. Early and comprehensive puppy parenting advice which is much more extensive than puppy classes is invaluable. Click here for help.