Saturday, March 7, 2009

Possession Guarding

Possession guarding in dogs is a serious issue. This is even more serious when the dog that practices it is exposed to strangers on a regular basis or to children. In both of these cases the dog exhibiting the behavior is most likely approached by people who do not know of this issue or how to behave around a dog with this issue.
Solving this problem takes time. You are not going to be able to make your dog give you any object you want whenever you want it in a single day or even two. Depending on the degree of the possessiveness it may take weeks or months to fix this problem. Don't give up. It can still be done. Before you reach the point when you can take anything from your dog you want it is a good idea to remove toys and other objects your dog guards from its access. Put toys away so that you have to give them to your dog for your dog to play with them. Then when you do decide to give your dog a toy keep treats at your disposal to toss to your dog in order to make him give up the toy, even if it is only long enough to pick up the treat and swallow it. This is the way it has to start. This begins the connection for you dog between you and all good things. The idea is that from this point you will be able to progress ever so slowly to the point when your dog will take the treat out of your hand and then to the point when you can trade a treat for the toy and then to the point when you will be able to tell your dog to drop the toy and he will allow you to take it.
Again, this is not something that is fixed over night, it takes time and patience. Other important factors can include other areas of your life with your dog and how your dog perceives your interactions with each other. In some instances this can be the result of allowing your dog, or making your dog take the position of leader. If this is the case you will need to establish yourself first as your dog's leader and then proceed to work on other issues after that. If your dog does not look at you in a leadership position he will not respect your wishes or your commands. If you have not already established yourself as your dog's leader a structured walk is the best way to do this in my opinion which Cesar Millan supports. This includes boundaries like where your dog must walk in relation to you, and making your dog become calm before you take him out and making him follow you out the door and possibly for the entire walk (I like to keep dogs with their heads parallel to my thigh with everything from their shoulders back behind me).

Friday, March 6, 2009


Last night Abby went back home to my brother and his wife. This means that I no longer have a dog to work with for the next week until I go back to New Ulm, MN on the 15th. There are still a few things for me to write about before I go back to New Ulm so I encourage you to visit a few times before the 15th. At least one of those posts coming up will be about possession guarding/aggression. This is one of the issues Abby has which I started to work on with her and I am hoping my brother continues to work on it with her. Right now the basic idea is that whenever she is given a rawhide bone she will be given very small treats to encourage her to give up the rawhide bone. It starts with only getting her to drop the rawhide in order to pick up the treat and then go back to the rawhide but with time and patience the result should be that she will allow anyone to take anything away from her without any negative responses.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dog Walking, Abby 2

Today I spent a full hour and a half working with Abby on walking. She already does well in a heal position as I stated in my last post but needs work on not pulling when she is allowed more freedom.
When I walk dogs I like to keep them in a heal position for most of the walk but I use the freedom of a longer leash to give rewards along the way by giving them more space and the opportunity to roam a little and sniff about more. Obviously if this is my general practice when walking dogs it is going to be the same when I walk Abby. Since I know that she does not always do so well with the limits of the reward time I started out by requiring her to stay in a heal position for a greater period of time. After establishing the rules of the heal position to a greater extent it was much easier to carry over the limits of the leash to the reward times. All I needed to do in the reward periods was give a small flick of my hand on my end of the leash and Abby would relax and release the tension on the leash. Another important part of this is that while I allow her the freedom of a longer leash the boundaries or clearly defined. As soon as the leash became taunt I flicked my hand because that was too far. I want a loose leash and that was as far away from me as Abby was allowed.
In addition to this the length of the reward period is important. As suggested by Cesar Millan, I only give five minutes of reward time roughly every fifteen minutes. This limits the chance that Abby will start to view the reward time as time when she is in charge and not me.
When I got done working with Abby today I gave her a rawhide bone as a reward for doing such a good job. This is when I discovered a problem in her behavior. Abby is very possessive of her rawhide bones. Since the bone I gave her was a large bone I took it away when she had eaten half of it. To my dismay she clenched it in her teeth, growled, and raised her hackles. I was able to take it when she settled down to start chewing on it again and set it down for a second but this is an issue that needs to be addressed differently from now on or it will most likely become worse.

Once again thank you too my readers and feel free to comment.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dog Walking, Abby

Abby is my brother's dog. Since he is on vacation I get to take care of her for the week. This means that I become her leader. She has already become a model walker for me...when I keep the leash short and want her at my side. She takes corrections at my side very well and learns to walk with a loose leash in a heal position very well but as soon as I want to reward her by giving her the full length of the leash she is pulling once again. I am confident that this problem can be fixed by investing more time in the walk with Abby.
In addition to being a good walker in a heal position she does well while walking with more than one person at a time. She does not get confused as to who her leader is but I think part of this is due to the fact that my fiancee and I took turns holding the leash and making the corrections to make it clear to Abby that we both were her leaders.
After today it is clear to me that she needs work in two areas for sure. The first area is that of walking on a long leash. The second is running on a leash, or it might just be running with a person. I'm not sure at this point but tomorrow I should be able to determine the second area more specifically.

At this point I would like to thank all of my readers and invite you to leave comments whether they be positive or negative. That way I will be able to reach my readers more effectively. Thank you.