What Should I Do When My Dog Does Not Let Me Take Something They Have Stolen and Snaps or Tries to Bite Me?

Dog resource guarding a bone

Dogs have evolved to be excellent opportunistic scavengers. If they smell, see, or hear something that they believe may be helpful to their survival, they will often grab it with their mouths. If we or anyone or anything tries to take away what the dog has acquired, the dog may growl and be willing to fight and bite to keep possession of that item. This behavior is called resource guarding, and while undesirable, it is a normal behavior for a dog. The video above illustrates a dog guarding a bone.

This article is meant to teach you what to do when this behavior occurs and how to prevent this behavior from happening in the future. The safety of you, others in your household, the community at large, and your dog must ALWAYS be your first concern. Dogs that bite to keep something that they have may be classified as dangerous dogs.

If you have not had this problem with your dog, you will still benefit from learning how to prevent the behavior. The best place to get that advice is from a certified professional dog trainer or certified dog behavior consultant. Because the potential for getting bitten is a real possibility when a dog guards a resource, I recommend that you see the advice of a professional. In my 20+ years of experience working with people and their dogs, I do not believe that dealing with this type of behavior can be learned from the internet, a book, or a video.

FMI – How to Choose a Dog Trainer –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

What to do when your dog steals and protects something

If your dog has something they are not supposed to have, do NOT:

  • get mad at your dog,
  • be embarrassed,
  • or punish your dog.

None of those actions will be helpful. Any type of punishment is very likely to make your dog even more defensive and will substantially increase the odds of your being bitten. Dog bites are very damaging to the relationship we have with our dog. Both you and the dog will lose trust in one another, and it may take weeks and months for this trust to be restored, if at all.

If your dog has something they are not supposed to have, calmly assess the situation. Dogs steal things. I find that these items tend to fall into one of the following three categories:

  1. things that may cause your harm if they ingest them, such as a bottle of medicine, a sock, or pair of nylons,
  2. things that could harm your dog and/or cause you great expense such as a cell phone, or a remote control, and
  3. something we would rather our dog not have, but will not cause them any harm. The latter could be a napkin or a paper towel.

In the first two cases, you want to get the items back from your dog as easily as possible without you or the dog becoming injured or traumatized. The best way to do this is to offer a trade with a high-value piece of food such as a piece of deli meat or cheese. Yes, technically, this is rewarding a behavior you do not want; however, it is the easiest way to retrieve the object without you getting bitten.

If the dog has something in category three and you do not feel that you can safely get it away from the dog by trading them for something better, I would just let them keep what they have. Consuming a napkin or paper towel will not be harmful.

After you have possession of the object, you should start planning on how to prevent this type of behavior in the future.

Signs of guarding behavior include those shown in the video above, as well as:

  1. Freezing and staring at you while maintaining possession of the object,
  2. consuming the object as quickly as possible,
  3. running away with the object and trying to hide,
  4. growling,
  5. snapping and biting at the air,
  6. and biting you if you get too close. This may either be an inhibited bite, with little or no injury or a bite that punctures the skin.

Because resource guarding is a behavior that can result in a dog bite, and because a dog bite can cause irreparable damage to both you and the dog, I recommend that you meet with a reward-based certified professional dog trainer or certified dog behavior consultant as soon as possible. You are unlikely to resolve this problem on your own. In my 20+ years of experience working with people and their dogs, I do not believe that dealing with this type of behavior can be learned from the internet, a book, or a video.

FMI – How to Choose a Dog Trainer –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

FMI – What Should I Do When My Dog Growls? – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/18/canine-behavior-what-should-i-do-when-my-dog-growls/

FMI – Reward Based Training versus Aversives – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/25/dog-training-reward-based-training-versus-aversives/

 

Why do dogs steal and guard things?

Most dogs have strong instincts to survive and thus may growl to protect resources that they believe are essential to their continued existence. Canine behavior specialists and dog trainers typically describe this behavior as resource guarding. Put another way; it is the dog’s fear of losing something that the dog believes is essential to life. The item most frequently guarded is food, but resources can also include; toys, spaces, trash, inanimate objects, particular people, basically anything the dog believes is worth protecting because of the value it offers to them; sustenance, comfort, attention, and affection. It is important for us to understand that the dog decides the value of something, not us. We may see an object as being totally without value to our dog, but if they believe it has value, they may choose to protect it.

Resource guarding has nothing to do with your dog trying to dominate you. In fact, science tells us that dominance has little or nothing to do with our relationship with our dogs. Trying to intimidate a dog into doing what we want is more likely to cause our dog to distrust us and is less likely to get the dog to work for us than reward based training.

FMI – Dominance: Reality or Myth – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

FMI – Reward Based Training versus Aversives – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/25/dog-training-reward-based-training-versus-aversives/

 

What Will A Canine Professional Recommend?

The first thing that a qualified dog training professional will discuss is the importance of managing the dog’s environment to prevent resource guarding from occurring. That means that you need to make sure that things your dog may want to steal are kept someplace where the dog cannot get to them. Socks and shoes are put away in a room that the dog cannot access, or better yet in a dresser. Trash is kept in a container in a closet or pantry or a trash can that the dog cannot open. If your dog always guards a specific treat like a rawhide, then the trainer may recommend that you no longer give your dog this type of treat. Managing the dog’s environment is about us using our more powerful human brains to outsmart the dog.

If your dog is guarding their food at meal time, a professional will advise you to, first of all, leave your dog alone while they are eating. How would you like it if someone kept stealing your food off your plate while you were eating? While we want a dog to be safe when eating in our home, the best way to do that is to teach them good things happen when we are near them while they eat. A trainer can show you how to do that safely.

Lastly, a trainer will teach you how to train your dog to respond to a behavior like “Give” and “Leave It.” We discuss both of these behaviors in our Basic Manners class. “Give” is used when we want the dog to relinquish something they have in their mouths and “Leave It” is used when we want the dog to choose to focus on us, rather than trying to get something they find tempting. Keep in mind that your dog will not learn either of these behaviors quickly. They will take more time and effort on your part than teaching a behavior like “Sit”, because in the case of “Give” or “Leave It” we are asking the dog to do something that is against their instincts. A dog may find it unnatural to relinquish a sandwich they scarfed off the table, just like us find it difficult to drive past a donut shop.

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

 

How to Choose a Dog Trainer –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

What Should I Do When My Dog Growls? – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/18/canine-behavior-what-should-i-do-when-my-dog-growls/

Reward Based Training versus Aversives – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/25/dog-training-reward-based-training-versus-aversives/

Dominance: Reality or Myth – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

 

How to Choose a Dog Trainer –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

Dominance: Reality or Myth – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

©20-Aug-17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Pet Nutrition – The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton

dr-patton

On April 28th of 2016, Green Acres Kennel Shop hosted animal nutritionist Dr. Richard Patton for an educational seminar entitled The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition. This presentation is now available as a video.

<Click to watch video>

You will want to watch this video if your pet:

  • Has food allergies and intolerances
  • Has digestive difficulties
  • Is overweight or obese
  • Suffers from chronic diseases such as kidney disease or diabetes
  • If you want to be sure you are doing the best for your pet nutritionally

Dr. Patton has over forty years of experience as a consultant on animal nutrition working in 22 different countries with everything from livestock and zoo animals to companion pets. He was an adjunct professor at Pennsylvania State University for 15 years and is the author of Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack, the Paradox of Pet Nutrition, a book which discusses pet nutrition and the pet obesity crisis. Not beholden to any one company, Dr. Patton is an independent nutritional consultant; his main concern is the health of our pets.

Last fall Paula and I had the opportunity to attend one of Dr. Patton’s seminars. We were not only impressed by his passion and breadth of knowledge on pet nutrition but were equally impressed by Dr. Patton’s ability to take technical concepts about nutrition and explain them from a common sense perspective. Dr. Patton discusses the following topics; the essential ingredients for optimal nutrition, wet food versus dry food, the drawback, and benefits of raw and natural diets, the role of behavior in nutrition; both the pets and the owners, an insider’s view of the pet food industry, and the pet obesity epidemic. He also answers several questions from the audience.

I want to thank Vital Essentials (http://www.vitalessentialsraw.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/VitalEssentialsRaw/) for helping to make this seminar and video possible.

<Click to watch video>

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

What do you feed your dog?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/05/31/pet-nutrition-what-do-you-feed-your-dog/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Pet Food and Nutrition – part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/23/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-changes-in-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-1/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Pet Food and Nutrition – part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/12/15/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-2/

Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Pattonhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/16/book-review-ruined-by-excess-perfected-by-lack-the-paradox-of-pet-nutrition-by-richard-patton/

Pet Nutrition –Vital Essentials® Pet Foodhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/14/pet-nutrition-vital-essentials-pet-food/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

What do you feed your pets?http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow2016-06-04-What_do_you_feed_your_pets.mp3

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/03/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-dr-richard-patton/

Podcast – Raw Diets and the Carnivore Meat Company-Vital Essentials-Dee Ferranti and Jodi Langellottihttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/17/podcast-raw-diets-and-the-carnivore-meat-company-vital-essentials-dee-ferranti-and-jodi-langellotti/

Podcast – The Rationale for Feeding Pets Raw Foods with Bette Schubert from Bravo Pet Foodshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/03/podcast-the-rationale-for-feeding-pets-raw-foods-with-bette-schubert-from-bravo-pet-foods/

Podcast – Bravo’s Raw Pets Food, Treats, Chewables and Bones with Bette Shuberthttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/10/podcast-bravos-raw-pets-food-treats-chewables-and-bones-with-bette-shubert/

Podcast – Feeding Your Pet A Raw Diet with Gary Bursell of Steve’s Real Food for Petshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/03/16/podcast-feeding-your-pet-a-raw-diet-with-gary-bursell-of-steves-real-food-for-pets/

Podcast – Feeding Your Pet A Raw Diet with Nicole Lindsley of Steve’s Real Food for Petshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/03/23/podcast-feeding-your-pet-a-raw-diet-with-nicole-lindsley-of-steves-real-food-for-pets/

Books

Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – Dr. Richard Patton

 

©10-Sep-16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>