Resource Guarding – “Mine!”, Says the Shiba Inu

Many Shiba Inu owners will tell you that “mine” is the first and most favorite Shiba word.

Shibas think that everything, including food, toys, the house, the neighborhood, and even their supposed owners, belong to them.

If not properly handled, many Shiba Inus, and indeed dogs in general can get aggressive about guarding their resources. Shibas are bred to be guard dogs so they have a strong guard instinct.

Dogs often guard objects from people because they associate people coming near them with their objects being taken away.

When my Shiba was a puppy, he used to pick up all these dirty items from the street including tissues, pieces of plastic, etc. I did not want him eating the stuff, so I would always take them away from him. Ultimately, he started guarding his toys because he thought I would take them away from him as well.

I did not know it at the time, but I was teaching him that …

People coming near him = Loss of resources

When dogs show aggression and we back away, they also learn that …

Aggression = People backing away = Get to keep resources

What helped my Shiba most in breaking this resource guarding cycle is to help him re-associate people coming near him to be something positive rather than something he should guard against. In essence you want to retrain your dog so that he associates …

People coming near = More resources

In this way, your dog will seek out people rather than try to get them to back away with aggression.

Here are some food aggression and resource guarding techniques that helped with my Shiba Inu.

The key is to set your dog up for success and not expose him to situations where he feels he has to resort to aggression. The less he practices that aggression, the less it will become a habit.

Therefore, it is also important to take away all high priority items (such as bones and rawhide) and not give your dog anything to guard. Only give him very low priority items. Cut food up into small pieces and give those to him one at a time so he has nothing to guard.

Make sure that you always remain safe during the training process. Use leashes, baby-gates, or muzzles as necessary. My Shiba still wears a drag lead (with a flat collar) around the house so that I can more easily control him when I need to.

To stop resource guarding issues, it is also good practice to follow the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program. This just means that your dog has to do something for you, before he gets anything in return including food, toys, going into the backyard, or coming into the house.

In this way, your dog learns that you are the source of all his resources, and he has to work for you to get what he wants.

If your dog is already aggressive and causing bite wounds as a result of resource guarding, contact a professional trainer.

Never try to take items away from an unknown dog. Even seemingly easy-going dogs may sometimes try to protect a high-priority item.

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Comments

  1. A.T. lawson says

    I need help with my dog. people are telling me give up. ” that dog is aggressive toward other dogs”. I cant walk my dog with out her barking and lunging at other dogs. please I am out of options and will be forced to get rid of her soon….

    • shibashake says

      How long have you had your dog? Has she always been reactive to other dogs? What things have you tried?

      My Shiba Inu (Sephy) was also reactive to other dogs when he was young. It took some time and management to retrain him, but he is now the best behaved during walks of my three dogs.
      Here are some of the things I did with Sephy.

  2. Lisa says

    I just read a few of your blog posts and I have to say, you explain resource guarding and how to control/eliminate it better than any book or website I’ve seen. You break it down so simply, and offer help without using punishment or violence towards your dog. Thank you for doing the right thing, and for sharing it with us!

  3. Denise Borowske says

    I inherited a Shiba from my daughter who could not train the dog to not be aggressive towards males. She had purchased him from a rescue organization who told her that he was probably a breeder farm dog. This dog had so many issues I cannot list them all here. I also already had 3 cats and a poodle I had rescued living in my home. Other than trying to dominate the cats, he was o.k. However, his food aggression was out of control. I started with placing a couple of pieces of food on the floor and told him to sit when finished, then I would place a couple more and so on and so forth. Eventually, we got to a dish that I would not place on the floor until he sat (I never used my hands to remove anything…I used a broom at first so I wouldn’t get bit). In time, I progressed to commanding him to sit and removing the dish and then returning it to him when he sat. He was never allowed to eat in the same area as the other pets. It has been almost a year and he now sits without my command, I praise him and then give him his dish. I can even remove it with my hands (after he sits) and can touch him when he is eating, but I have to say I trained with itty bitty steps to get to this stage. I also worked on giving him lots of treats for everything he did so that he knew if he was good and listened to me he got more food. Basically, I found out that this dog would do anything for food! I also gave him what I called hug therapy because he didn’t know what affection was. He is now a great, affectionate dog BUT I know his limitations and do not force him to do anything that upsets him. I think of him as an abused animal whose trust was broken and use tons of patience and love to win him over. He is my Shiba success story.

  4. Noni says

    Thankyou! Your blog has been a big help in understanding our new pup, who’s part Shiba and part Alaskan Klee Kai. We’ve had a purebred AKK before, and he never had ANY resource guarding behaviors to the point of…well, he wouldn’t survive in the wild lol.

    Our new pup, on the other hand, guards high value chews (bully sticks) and from inside her crate at night against the cats. No problem with people, just the other animals in the house. I’m wondering if you have any advice on how to curtail that behavior? I’ve started covering her crate…

    Do you have any experience with dogs guarding against cats, and have any advice?

  5. says

    I first want to thank you for all your tips on Shibas. It helped my husband and I before and after we got our Shiba.

    Our Shiba has more of a possessiveness of toys towards other dogs than humans and it doesn’t matter if the toys are hers or not.

    Do you have any tips on how to break her of that or teach her to share?

    Thanks!

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs I have a “no steal” policy. When Sephy lies down and starts chewing, it is an indication that he wants to just work on the toy and does not want to play anymore. I make sure that the other dogs do not bother him when he does that. In this way, the dogs know that I will enforce the “no steal” policy and they do not have to do it themselves. Each dog usually has his own “sign(s)” as to when he no longer wants to be bothered.

      I also teach my dogs that I am the one that hands out resources, and I am the one that resolves resource conflicts. Here is more on what I do at home to keep the peace between my dogs-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog

      Hugs to your Shiba! :D

  6. Colleen says

    Hello! Hope Sephy and Shania are doing wonderful. Reptar is trying to stay cool in this summer humidity and of course not at all trying to stay out of trouble.

    I’ve noticed in a few of your posts and comments, you have mentioned that “drop it” or “leave it” if originally trained in the house, don’t apply outside. That makes a lot of sense. I am able to take anything from Reptar in the house with little threat of a chase game to follow, unless he gets a sock then I have to be a bit more clever.

    Outside on the other hand, if he has anything in his mouth whether it’s a ball, a pine cone, a stone, or another toy, if I need or want to take it away, chase game ensues 100% of the time. He’s onto my bribery and trading of items, so he ignores me. For example, the other night all was well until I heard very upset bird noises in the backyard. Reptar who comes when called always like a good boy, comes busting out of the bushes with a baby bird. He was very proud of himself for such the big accomplishment and just wanted to play however he would not trade me for another toy, treats or any games I had to offer. It wasn’t until I got a pigs ear that he dropped the bird and came running in to m.

    He certainly has me trained and it’s no good. How can I rectify this situation we have going on in the yard? any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    PS, see his “I just played with a bird face” here. It’s priceless. http://colleenrcallahan.com/photos/bird.jpg

    • shibashake says

      Hahaha – that is indeed a priceless expression! That is the thing with Shibas – they have such a large range of moves, moods, and expressions. Also, they can be such clowns – but very dignified clowns ;)

      As for the bird, that is a very high priority item so it is not surprising that Reptar decided not to exchange it for anything less than a pig’s ear. Gotta love that Shiba independent spirit :D

      Sephy also doesn’t want to give up bones and such that he finds on the sidewalk. Usually I don’t use force to take things away from him, but if it is something dangerous like a chicken bone, then I hold onto the bone and tell him to leave-it firmly. He will do so, after a little bit because he knows I mean it. But I only do this very rarely.

      In terms of playing chase outside – Sephy is the same way because he knows that I pretty much have no chance catching him outside – lol. But Shania is great at catching him and then rolling him on the ground. I usually get her help when I need to nab myself a Shiba.

      Another thing that may help is to put a long line on Reptar when he is in the backyard. That way he gets his freedom, but you can easily get him if you need to. But Reptar is already such a good boy and so great with recalls, that I don’t think something like this is necessary. The bird thing is a rare occurrence, and super high priority. I think Reptar already did really well because he ultimately came in on his own.

      LOL – love that picture. Looks like Reptar has grown a whole bunch. How big is he now?

  7. Sarah says

    Hey there. So I figured I would give you an update.

    I feel I have reached this stagnant point with my little pup. His is barely progressing. Feeding him from a bowl is just out of the question. I tried this a few times by placing his empty bowl just off to the side. Then I would give a command, praise him, and put a small handful into his bowl. Right before he emptied the bowl completely, I would place another small handful in and this time, I would brush my hand down his side as I pulled away .. and I would do that each time he needed a new handful .. to see if I could get him to associate the touches with more food. It worked a little bit, until he figured out that he could just point his body completely away from me and he’d be out of my reach and no more touches. And I was not going to reach over him to do this either.

    I have concluded that walks are prohibited before mealtime. Doing so makes him more anxious = super aggressive. Today about an hour before his dinner, we took a nice long walk in the park and a few sprints here and there. When it came time for dinner, he was angry x10. After getting in a couple handfuls via his chin rubs and good behavior, the growling started. Movement commands became useless. And when I gave it one last shot, my goal of just ONE chin rub, he growled and snapped and actually came AT ME with his snapping.

    In the 8 weeks prior to him being under my ownership, I have no idea what went on where he was, but I am at the point now where I just need someone here seeing our behavior first hand. What I’m doing wrong / right vs his aggression. I just dont know what to do anymore. Any thoughts?? Do I need to just keep pressing forward on my own?? Would it be wise to have a professional observe to see what the heck I am doing wrong / right?? And more importantly, how and WHERE do I find a professional that actually knows the breed??

    I love my little Roush, I just hate seeing him angry over food any time its present, whether its his or not. :[

    • shibashake says

      Hello Sarah,

      Thanks for the update. I think you have already made some great progress on your own and at this point, having a professional evaluate Roush could be very helpful.

      I went to many trainers with Sephy. It was helpful to get different points of view from different people about his many problematic behaviors :) Here is the process I went through while looking for Shiba trainers –
      http://www.shibashake.com/dog/finding-a-dog-trainer

      Make sure to prepare a list of questions to ask them over the phone so you can decide whether they know what they are talking about. For example tell them about Roush and ask them how they would deal with food aggression issues. They will likely say – “Need to see it in real-life blah-blah-blah”, but push them and ask them what food aggression cases they have dealt with, what they did, and what the result was.

      With the desensitization exercise, you only want to do it when he is receptive to training. If you note that he is stressed and otherwise in a bad state of mind – I would delay it and do it at a later time. My Shiba sometimes gets into a mood (I call it his black-moods) and I usually leave him alone when he is in that state. Sometimes I get that way too :)

      If the walk is interesting and exciting, it may be best to wait for a bit until he calms down and has moved on to his restful stage before doing any training. Once a Shiba gets into a heightened state of mind – it is difficult to teach him anything until he calms down.

      This training exercise may help –
      Have two bowls – one on each side of the room. First have one bowl in hand with a handful of food in it. Make him do some ‘Touch’ commands (i.e. have him come touch your hand with his nose instead of you approaching and touching him). Once he does this, praise and let him eat from the bowl. Do not touch him while he is eating.

      Instead, pick up the other bowl, put a handful in it and call him to you *after* he is done eating. Repeat with some touch commands and so on. Then once he is totally comfortable, you can call him to you, get him to Touch you, briefly touch him back on the chest, and then give him the bowl.

      It is important not to move forward too quickly because the goal is to get him comfortable with the process without having him resort to any aggression. As soon as you notice that he is getting tired, stressed, or uncomfortable – end the session and pick it up another time.

      Also consider feeding him from different bowls/containers so that you start fresh and make sure that he does not have any negative associations with the bowls themselves.

      Another thing I used to do with my Shiba is really short handling exercises. Briefly touch chest (no stroking – just a light extremely short touch) – some kibble – briefly touch body – some kibble – etc. Dogs are more sensitive on certain parts of their body – e.g. paws, butt area, muzzle, face, so start where Roush is less sensitive. Different dogs may be more sensitive on different areas.

      Once he is totally comfortable with this you can slowly lengthen the time of touches. First only do this without the bowl then you can slowly reintroduce the bowl – e.g. place the bowl a far distance away, and do the same exercise. Then if he is totally comfortable, move the bowl (no food in it) an inch closer – and so on.

      Hope this helps. Many hugs to Roush.

    • shibashake says

      Btw. although it may not look like it, I think Roush did really well in the scenario you mentioned. First of all he moved away – which is a total 0-aggression way of dealing with his discomfort, then he only used verbal (a growl), then at the end he air snapped.

      This is a very nice and gradual escalation of body language – compared to resorting to aggression right away.

      It usually works well for me to stop as soon as I notice the first signs of discomfort from Sephy. For example, when it is time to brush his teeth I will come over with the toothbrush and ask him to go on his side. Sometimes he is not ready for that type of handling so he will choose not to do it. At which point I will brush my Siberian’s teeth instead, then I will try Sephy again. If he still refuses, then I leave – together with all my yummy cheese.

      At a later time I will try again. Usually Sephy will comply then because he really does like his cheese :)

    • Sarah says

      Thanks for the link to finding a dog trainer! I will browse it in just a moment. :] The black-moods are a great way of describing it bc when I compare his state of mine to mine when I am tired or irritable, we are quite a like ((except I dont bare my teeth :] )).

      So yesterday, we had spent a good 4 hours at the beach yesterday. Lots of water, squirrels, birds to chase .. there was a lot of running and a lot of resting ((for me too!)). Maybe that was too much for him?? Between the exercise and his meal time, there was a 2.5 hour period where he just napped and relaxed. So I figured he would have been calm by the time he ate. I suppose I should have written that to begin with. Is too much exercise possible??

      Though it was a long day and he was in a “black mood” by night, I figured come morning, he would be alright. But breakfast this morning was a no-go. He shows almost no effort to do movement commands ((his eyes stay plastered on my hand)) and if I try to execute a recall, well he just follows me anyway. And from there its back to the beginning. So I tried to start out slow with him ((or so I thought)) and after a couple failed attempts at movement commands, I tried to just give him a small touch on his chest and before I knew it ((no warning and DEFINITELY right away)). he was coming at me with his snapping and this time, he bore down right on my foot and it was a good 2 seconds with his teeth in me before he let go. That upset me, brought some tears, but I called it quits and he got about half his meal this morning.

      Normally, his “warnings” to me are curling the lips, ears go down almost to the side of his head, and he tilts his chin upward in a completely tense state. There was none of this. Ears up right, lips were taut, chin was down and eyes were focused on my eyes and his bowl.

      I guess I was hoping that maybe he was just so tired from yesterday when it happened last night, that this morning would be okay, but he wasnt quite ready for that little touch. Dinner time tonight was good, tense but good. And certainly better than his past two meal times. And I DID take it a lot slower so I am sure that helped. But I think for the time being we will take a few steps back and do the short-handling exercises.

      What would be some good basic questions to ask a professional?? I know it is not feasible to gather ALL the information I need in just a phone call, but as much as I can get out of them is my goal before I decide to introduce the situation to someone in person.

    • shibashake says

      For now, I would consider going back and doing the exercises without the bowl.

      He shows almost no effort to do movement commands ((his eyes stay plastered on my hand)) and if I try to execute a recall, well he just follows me anyway.

      That actually sounds fine. As long as he is following you around that’s a good thing. Just move a few steps away, ask for his attention (eye-contact), and feed him some, and then just keep going. At this point, I would hold off on the touching.

      It may be best to do this until we are back to steady state and then you can slowly increase the challenge. Only change one thing at a time and only do it in incremental and gradual steps. For example, once he is ok with the no touch, then teach him the touch command (where he approaches you and touches your hand with his muzzle). Then you can teach him shake/paw where he offers you his paw, etc. Start with asking him to do the touching rather than you doing it. After he is 100% comfortable with that, then consider slowly moving forward with other challenges. Only do it very slowly, so that you don’t lose any of the progress you have made.

      Re trainer questions –
      Three areas are probably key for Roush:
      1. Identify whether the trainer uses reward or aversive based techniques. In my experience, reward training gets much better results especially for a Shiba, but you can also get more opinions from other Shiba owners.
      http://www.shibainuforum.org/forum/

      2. Ask about food aggression cases they have dealt with and what methods they used that were effective.

      3. Ask about other Shibas that they have dealt with, what their issues were, and what methods they used on the Shibas. You can also ask them how Shibas compare to other breeds, and what about Shibas they think are most challenging.

      >>> HUGS < << Things will get better :)

    • Sarah says

      We have taken a few steps back and we’re doing just commands with no touching and no bowl. He’s a good kid, so I know we’ll make it through. I am still trying to learn what works for him and what doesnt .. though I admit it can be very difficult when one week he shows progression and the next week he shows aggression, haha.

      I may have also concluded that it is not the bowl that makes him feel aggressive, its just simply close movement ((or when he feels he may be touched)) WHILE he’s eating that makes him angry inside.

      And thanks for the hugs! :]

  8. Sarah says

    Happy Holidays to you! I figured I should put this onto its proper page. :]

    For the first two months we had little Roush, I left him in peace while he ate, not knowing of course that this would later become a mistake on my part. So you are absolutely right about that and I admit the mistake of not knowing any better. And never having a dog that bared teeth before, it for sure made me back down bc I wasnt sure how to handle it or what would happen next. NOW, if my little man breaks skin, I stay calm and I make sure he knows his behavior is not going to get him his food .. I walk away, put his food up, and give him time to calm himself down.

    He DOES show aggression with food toys, so for now I have eliminated his food toys altogether. Is that a bad idea?? I guess in my mind, I feel that if I just work on his meal-time aggression now and then when he shows progress, I can slowly bring his food toys back into the picture and work with that .. I want to reduce the amount of times he gets frustrated throughout his day, so right now its just twice a day at his meal-times. Since I am still learning the boundaries of my little Shiba, I dont want him to feel overwhelmed. When he feels overwhelmed and frustrated, he runs and hides or backs himself into a corner, refuses to come out, and remains aggressive .. and we make no progress.

    The “routine” I am now trying with my Shiba for his meal-times is this : I’ll put his food into his bowl; give him the “sit” command and when he sits, I sit down on the floor so that he is close to eye level with me; and I place the food bowl beside me. He NEVER immediately goes for his food bowl, it seems as if he has fabulous “work ethic” ((haha)) and stays sitting, anxiously awaiting for my next commands. He always gets two, maybe “down” ((lay down)) and then “touch” ((touch his nose to my hand)) and I mix them up with each meal time so that he knows automatically doing something without command does not count ((sometimes he will sit and then lay down all on his own without me ever saying a word!, haha)). After his first two commands, I will put some food in my hand and he gets to eat it. When he’s finished, he calmly awaits the next hand of food, so I proceed by gently rubbing his chin 3 times ((if I can make it to 3 before he shows aggression)). If he curls his lips or growls, I immediately say “no,” pull away, put the food back into the bowl, turn my head up and away from him, and completely ignore him for a minute or two. He’ll try to sneak his way over to his bowl bc he thinks I cant see him ((but I’m peeking!, haha)) so I say “no” again and he’ll sit back down in front of me. And I repeat the chin rub.. When/If he does NOT show any aggression after I rub his little chin 3 times, then he gets a hand of food. Each time he finishes whats in my hand, I repeat the chin rub, advancing each time to 4 times, 5 times, etc etc .. until his meal is finished. I do not push his limits, so if rubbing his chin 5 times is too much, I go back to just 3 times. If at any point he snaps or breaks skin, I give him a stern “no,” walk away, and put his food up .. hoping that he will learn he went too far and snapping/biting = no food at all.

    I hope thats not confusing, but is there anything I could/should not be doing with that little routine?? I do not know if that seems or will be effective, but I am absolutely learning from it none the less and I hope that Roush is learning something too. I have plans to have a professional trainer come to my home, but around here they’re few and far, even using the site you posted to search for trainers .. so I am still researching my options. :]

    • shibashake says

      Hi Sarah,

      I made a whole lot of mistakes with Sephy in the first 6 months – so I think you are way ahead of me.

      The steps you listed sound really good …

      Has Roush’s food aggression behavior not changed at all since the start of training? (e.g. at the beginning was he ok with 3 chin scratches? – and now has that number changed?). Has he gotten more aggressive? less aggressive? or no change at all?

      One thing that may help is to do these food exercises after Roush’s morning and evening walk. Sephy is usually on his best behavior after his walk – so I usually do training exercises with him then as he is most receptive.

      Another thing that may help is to do movement commands with Roush between each mouthful. Moving around is usually a good way to distract Sephy and keep him focused on something positive. Recalls would be a good one to do – e.g. feed him a bit, walk a bunch away, call him to you, praise, feed, and repeat. This way he has to follow people around to get food rather than try to keep them away from food.

      You could also try doing Spins or Weaves later on.

      Does Roush get aggressive only when you hand feed? Or is it just the touching? Or does he get aggressive with just proximity?

      When Roush snaps and you stop feeding him – how long do you wait before trying again?

      He DOES show aggression with food toys, so for now I have eliminated his food toys altogether. Is that a bad idea?

      No I think you are doing the right thing. Does Roush also guard regular toys? What about chew toys?

      Since I am still learning the boundaries of my little Shiba, I dont want him to feel overwhelmed.

      Little Roush is a really lucky Shiba!

      When Sephy was young, I pushed him too much because I didn’t know any better and lost a lot of his trust. Now I am slowly earning it back … one day at a time.

      I will continue to think about this … let me know how things go.

    • Sarah says

      I have no doubt I have lost some trust from my little Shiba and it breaks my heart. So I am determined to make this work! :]

      For a while he was aggressive in every manner when food was present; when you walk by, get too close, touch him, try to touch him, anything. You name it, he was ready to bite. NOW, he is only aggressive when you try to touch him. I started out working on his proximity aggression and like you said in one article, I would drop a few pieces of super yummy treats for him as I walked by or approached him. He learned real quick. NOW if you approach him, he’ll curl a lip for just a second, but he will not growl, even if you just stand there and never move away. I am guessing its bc for that second, he’s not sure what the heck you’re trying to do, but it had better not be touching!, haha.

      Otherwise .. his food aggression has progressed ever so slightly. I can usually get in about 3 little chin scratches, sometimes more, but usually any more than that and he growls. To change things up, I will scratch his chest also. The second I touch his chest, he lets out this little half growl half grunt kind of sound, haha. None the less, I can sense the anger and I will give him an extremely calm “no” and continue. But again, too much and he’s ready to tear a limb.

      I have tried to walk him before each meal, but I only stuck to it for about 4 days. :[ The walk made him even more anxious to eat and I have noticed that when my pup is super anxious, he gets super aggressive. Like after the walks or feeding him later than normal ((sometimes I work evenings)).

      When he snaps, I usually wait around 10 minutes before I try again. With regular toys, he shows ZERO aggression. With chew toys, he just tries to bury them in various corners of our house and on every occasion, he has “lost” them and he never recovers them ((I do of course)) .. so I just stick to his regular toys and food toys.

  9. Jonathan says

    Is there any way to solve the food aggression between 2 shibas. I had one female and just got a male, both from the previous owner who had them together. She told me they would always do that during food time and had to feed them separately.

    I saw it for the first time today I had to set them straight. They stopped, took one upstairs where he ate and she ate down here, brought them back and they both are cuddling by my sofa now.

    I’d just want to make them comfortable with eating around each other.

    • shibashake says

      It would depend on which one got aggressive, how aggressive they get, and whether they redirect that aggression onto you.

      My Shiba would often come over to steal my Siberians food, so when she is working on food toys, I am always there to supervise and make sure my Shiba doesn’t come over to mooch stuff off her. This way she doesn’t have to keep him away herself and I teach her that I am the one to keep the peace. If anybody shows any aggression they get to go to time-out.

      I am only able to do this because neither of them are truly aggressive and I stop them before they escalate. For dogs that are truly aggressive with food (causing bite wounds), they may redirect that aggression onto the human, so you would want to start slower with desensitization exercises and use leashes, or barriers, etc. to keep things safe.

      Another thing that helped with my two dogs is that I often feed them by hand together. I also do that to practice bite inhibition training. When I do this I have one on each side of me, and get them to do some commands. One of them does a command, then I feed them both and so on.

      This way they learn to work together and they learn that being together and working with me means they both get good rewards.

      They are not allowed to get into one another’s space or try to steal the other’s food. Any kind of aggression results in a time-out which means no more food and no more fun.

      In this way they also learn that the best way to get the food that they want is to do what I ask of them, and to not steal or show aggression.

      However, only try this if you are sure they will not redirect any aggression onto you.

    • Jonathan says

      The last few times we have fed them by hand along with their different plates, the girl instigates him and growls at him (he’s only 3yrs old and acts like a pup licking everything) we have given them time-outs before without them attempting to bite us. It seems they just fight over the food.

    • shibashake says

      The last few times we have fed them by hand along with their different plates, the girl instigates him and growls at him

      Does he move into the girl’s space? Or does the girl just do that to him right off? What do you do when that happens?

      Since they have been doing this for a while in their old home, it is has probably become more of a habit with them so it will take some time to train them to have exhibit alternate behaviors.

      One thing that you could try is to give her an alternate command when she does the growling. When I do this with my dogs I have them both in a Down position. Then if one growls, non-mark (No) and give her something else to do – e.g. lie down at the side. If she complies then praise and reward her and also continue rewarding him for staying calm.

      Both has to always stay in a Down position. If they get up and leave, I let them but they no longer get the food. And they are not allowed to then move into the space of the other dog – or I just body block.

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