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5 Month Old – Husky Puppy – Resource Guarding Food
MemberMarch 24, 2021 at 9:46 AM
Our 5.5mo F2 Pomsky (temperament is mostly husky) puppy Mofu is maturing really well.
His behavior has improved steadily over time and we have been careful to socialise him extensively. He is confident by nature and plays well with other dogs.
His recall is about 75% accurate, which we think is not bad for a teenage husky puppy but we are still doing 15 mins of recall training daily to improve that.
Our main issue at the moment is his impulsiveness around food (and other high-value objects). If given a chew he will not let us take it away from him (if he is into it). He has been like this since a puppy (on his first ever walk he was resource guarding objects like leaves, which was probably made worse the few times we had to forcibly remove something from his mouth) and we thought we had the behaviour under control but recently we tried to see what would happen if we pushed past the growling while he was chewing on a yak cheese chew. When we pushed the chew away from his mouth with one of his other chew toys he straight-up snapped at the object. If that was a human hand it would have caused some serious damage.
He can be called-off high-value chews (if we have something like boiled chicken) but for something like kibble (or trash he is able to get to on the floor) he will continue until it’s finished, and then become responsive again.
His ‘drop it’ is good with non-high value things like balls and tug toys, but really bad if he’s enjoying the thing.
So far we have tried:
* We spent 4 weeks while he was a puppy hand feeding him, taking his bowl (safely) away from him while eating (and immediately giving it back), and adding extra kibble to his bowl with our hand while he was eating from the bowl. He still got tense every time we were near his bowl. We stopped this and started feeding him in his crate (to reinforce the crate) with the caveat that he still had to work for his food before he could touch the bowl.
* He has to work for anything. Want to go through a door? He has to sit pretty. Want to eat that bowl of food. You have to wait for the release word ‘break’ until you’re allowed to have it.
* Training Leave it / Drop It. It works for non-high-value things, not for something he is really enjoying.
He is really uncomfortable about leaving his chews unattended. If we create a lure path of chicken away from his favourite chew, he will keep looking back to his chew before going for the next piece of chicken along the path.
Any advice on what we can do to help improve his confidence around food, and to trust us more to not take food away from him?
Dominic and Vy
MemberMarch 31, 2021 at 11:21 AM
These are great questions. I am a few months out from getting a husky and have attempted to find some resources addressing these questions. This video offers a different perspective than the majority of content I’ve found on this topic.
MemberApril 3, 2021 at 3:04 PM
This was an interesting video. A good reminder that not all dogs are the same. Mofu is nowhere near as bad as the dog in the video (he will only nip when you actually grip the thing he wants so I don’t think we got him this bad). I agree 100% with the video that it’s a trust issue between us and Mofu (confidence that we won’t actually take things away from him, without paying him with something better in return) and that’s exactly what we’re looking to improve.
I had no idea it could be related to genetics.
MemberMarch 31, 2021 at 1:38 PM
Ryan, I watched that video about the resourse guarding, but he didn’t really go into how to correct it. What I got out of the video was simply “leave the dogs stuff alone” I have a 5 month old German Shepherd that bites me if I try and remove a chew that he is eating. I have always understood that you need to be able to remove anything your dog has. I have done the really physical thing in, but don’t enjoy doing that. Is there any advice out there for me? I don’t know how this all works and don’t see where to ask this to Robert. It is a real concern for me as he is getting older and much larger.
MemberMarch 31, 2021 at 10:30 PM
How sure are we that we need be able to remove anything at any time from your dog’s possession? I’ve heard the same thing. You are saying that you want to be able to remove any item from your dog’s possession, not matter his level of fixation, by reaching in with your hand without warning and not having your dog respond aggressively.
So if your dog does not know what “leave it” or “drop it” means, and they do not leave or drop something when commanded, that is not because of resource guarding but due to not being educated.
If your dog does know “leave it” or “drop it”, and does it with low value items, but then deliberately disobeys the command with high value items then what do you do?
I don’t see much practical reason to need to be able to reach in with your hands and remove something from the dog. Once the dog knows leave it, you can deliver the command and take the item, rather than just reaching in when they are super fixated without warning, which seems to be stressing Mofu out. I understand that ideally your dog does not resource guard and you can happily remove any item at any time without a negative response. But since your dog does exhibit strong resource guarding behavior, is there merit to not stressing him out by trying to take away his item?
MemberApril 3, 2021 at 3:08 PM
> I don’t see much practical reason to need to be able to reach in with your hands and remove something from the dog.
I’m mostly concerned about him nipping at uneducated kids/adults/animals who ignore his warning signs. It’s a far-off concern but if I can do anything to not have to worry about it in the future, especially since he loves people so much at the moment.
MemberApril 4, 2021 at 8:10 AM
My pup went through a phase were she would snap if anyone gets near her when she’s chewing on something of high value. She even bit my youngest daughter once, trying to guard a no hide chew. That was it for me, I worked on swapping the chew with a different one and have her chew bones while i’m holding onto them. She got better with time, but when the kids are around I never let her have any chews of high value outside her pen (only elk antlers, and kongs) Now all the kids know the warning signs and how to avoid conflict with her. Chloe is 10 months old now.
MemberMarch 31, 2021 at 1:52 PM
Dominic, I’m having the same type of Resource Guarding with my 5 month old German Shepherd. Would truely like some practical advice on what to do about this!
OrganizerApril 1, 2021 at 5:59 AM
I spoke to Robert yesterday and pushed for a member lesson on Resource Guarding. I also think it’s an important topic for Robert to address in a specific video as it seems he has not done so yet. He has answered it a few times in member Q&A’s before but a dedicated video is needed.
Just wanted to let you know and I’ll use your post as material for him to look through in making sure he is covering different aspects of resource guarding.
MemberApril 3, 2021 at 2:52 PM
That’s super appreciated.
We have continued with hand-feeding for the past two weeks with Mofu and we can now take the food bowl away (to refill) without protest. In retrospect, the mistake we made is that we got to this stage before and we stopped hand feeding. We’ll continue for several more months now to make sure the behaviour is deep inside him.
In terms of chews, all chews are shared with him at the moment. He can chew on them (with permission) in our laps and we’re frequently asking for his ‘look-at-me/eyes’ while he’s chewing. If he ignores the command we temporarily remove the treat and let him continue once he’s looked at us. The goal is to be able to take his attention away from anything mid-chewing. We’re also re-training ‘out’ to improve it (started from basics) to help with the chews.
MemberOctober 6, 2021 at 5:19 AM
I had a similar problem with my GSD puppy around food, but disclaimer, as said earlier, each dog is different. It seems to be a consensus in the community that this is in part due to genetics.
My dog would guard around the food bowl and right after feeding (tail high); also bones and anything food-related.
For the food: If I have to get near the food bowl, I only do so with food of equal or higher value to offer, showing her that I am not interested to take it away from her. She is also eating most of her food during training (either formal or informal/common good manners). Now it is much better and it is *manageable*: I don’t think this goes away fully (due to the genetic component, it seems that the dog is still in a strange mental space in that particular situation) and you have to keep this in mind and avoid the triggers, particularly if other people handle your dog at some point.
One other thing that seemed to help to calm her down with food is to include tracking in her training routine. The dog needs to focus and use its nose, helping her relax around food. You could do this also with simple article indication at home.
With objects, I never had the issue, but I have to say that we tug daily and the play relationship is highly engrained in her, which might be helping with objects.
MemberOctober 6, 2021 at 5:59 PM
I wonder how much a set schedule may influence resource guarding. Probably the majority of ppl considers a set schedule part of structure. We don’t. Sometimes I feed my dogs as soon as I wake up. Sometimes before they do their obedience session, sometimes at 1:00 pm. The same with all their activities. I wonder if a set schedule gets the dog to be entitled or that things just are. With my dogs they never know what is going to happen when. We did not plan to be different, it just happen to be that way.