Won’t Give. Guards Resource. Growls Warning. Now Bitten.
Beagle Alfie’s guarding behaviour has been simmering for a good year and still isn’t extreme.
It was brought to a head the other day while a dog sitter was looking after him.
The person had left food in a bag. Alfie had grabbed the bag and they had then tried to overpower him and force the bag off him.
This person had done something the couple, Alfie’s owners, had fortunately never done. As many other people would have done in the circumstances when a dog won’t give, this person looking after Alfie would have none of it and used force.
The fact that Alfie won’t give things up has remained no real problem so far, mainly because the couple manage the situation well by keeping tempting items out of his reach.
They have a toddler and are expecting another baby which is a further reason to do something about the issue. Now the little child is on the move, it is hard to keep his toys away from Alfie. Alfie is particularly fond of dismembering soft toys. If he gets one he won’t give it up.
When he won’t give
The good thing is that they happen to have have chosen the best way of dealing with a dog that won’t give things up. That is to heed the growling and not to confront, force or try to dominate him.
Many people would have responded with force, with bad consequences. If they had done this, I’m sure the guarding would have erupted into biting long ago.
Hindsight is a great thing, but had they taught Alfie to give and exchange from a very young age in such a way that he never thought something he had picked up (‘finders keepers’) might just be ‘stolen’ from him, the resource guarding situation could well have been avoided.
We will work on tactics like exchange and give, adding something when he is ‘possessing’ an item and ways of getting something from him if it’s dangerous or important and he won’t give it up.
Willing and motivated
This isn’t enough however. If he has a more willing attitude generally, he will be more inclined to give something up. They will work on motivation.
In addition, the more relaxed and easy-going his state of mind is, the better. A laid-back dog is less likely to worry about guarding things.
For this reason, stress and excitement levels should be watched. Most especially, they can help his mental state by removing the frustration he must feel on walks. At the moment he has two nice walks a day, spoiled by the discomfort of a head halter and short lead. Trapped beside the man, when out in the fields he doesn’t have the freedom to investigate. He’s surrounded by things his instincts are telling him to go sniff and explore and he can’t.
Imagine the frustration.
They will get him a harness and a long line.
However much they feel after all their work that he won’t react aggressively in the future, they shouldn’t rely upon it. They will teach their little boy never to take anything from Alfie or from any dog – even if it’s one of their own toys.
They will keep managing the situation by not letting the dog have access to soft toys in particular.
I suggest they get a dog gate or a barrier so that at times Alfie can be put somewhere safe whilst given things to do and chew, away from the toddler as he gets bigger. He will be out of reach but not banished out of sight. One should never completely trust any dog around children, most particularly a dog that sometimes won’t give.
I never saw this side of him. Alfie really is a gorgeous dog. Soft, friendly and funny.