Friday, November 30, 2012

Finished Book: "Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs"

Jean Donaldson's book, Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs, should be on the shelf of every dog trainer. In the perfect world, I would even say that it should be on the coffee table of every new puppy owner too.

Resource guarding is a behavior problem that I'm starting to hear more of the more I get into private consultations. More often than not I'm getting word of the owner's dog - who usually happens to be just around the cusp of adolescence - starting to exhibit aggression when the owner(s) go to remove a bone/chewie/pig ear/(insert other valuable item here) or move them from a certain spot on the bed/couch, etc. In preparation for some inevitable behavior modification I will be doing with a current client of mine, I purchased Jean's book and got reading.

Jean's book is a fantastic resource with step-by-step instructions to help one identify what type(s) of resource guarding their dog has and explains very thoroughly how to "fix" the problem with hierarchies that encourage the owner to break down the training into small, incremental steps. Jean explains typical areas where you may see regression and how you need to handle situations where you may have pushed your dog too much, too soon.

Having finished reading Jean's book, I patted myself on the back and gave myself some credit for instilling good sharing habits in Oscar from the moment he came through my door at 8-weeks of age. Doing the "I'll trade you this for that" games and doing "drive-by treat parties" when he was eating have paid off ten fold.  Like clockwork, when you walk toward him while he is chewing on a bone or rawhide he eagerly begins wagging his tail hoping that you might just hop down on the floor and join him in the fun. We usually do and then continue moving on...sometimes giving him a quick butt scratch, other times getting right in there and holding the bone for him (which he LOVES) and other times dropping him some delicious liver treats.  The only remedial resource guarding I had to do with him was a few months back when I gave him something he had never had before - a raw beef knuckle. He did just a bit of freezing as I approached him to take it away. Enough where I noticed that he was a little uncomfortable and immediately went and got some string cheese to do some "super tasty drive-by's." Problem averted.

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