Fetch With Rules- Resource Guarding

So glad that I started to lay some ground rules with Vito's fetching when Gracie was here.  At that time the rule that each dog must only go after their own separate balls was put in place to prevent Gracie from slamming Vito.  The Labrador loved plowing her body into him and found that way more fun than trying to get the ball itself.  Gracie was sad about the new rule, but she learned it quickly.  Vito was much, much harder as he only cares about BALL and now I had two.  But he was starting to get the concept and was progressing so that I didn't have to hold his collar if I wanted to throw Gracie's ball first.

Now Zumi is showing that implementing rules while playing with the other dogs might be necessary.  Zumi has shown some mild resource guarding issues since she's gotten here.  It's always hard to tell with dogs how much is too much and what's appropriate.  For the most part I let my dogs growl and lift their lip at the others if they're chewing on a bone or toy, and of course they tell off another if they're being rude in general with their personal space, even if they don't have an item to guard.
The dogs' rule has always been:
Talk all you want, but you better not escalate. Basically if push comes to shove there better not be anything more than a small scratch on the nose at most.

It's rare I have to step in with Lance, Vito, and the puppies I've raised to tell them that guarding/growling was inappropriate.  Vito gets the most lectures with the new puppies as while most of his angry faces are fine, sometimes he gets a little too grumpy with a puppy who's not even looking at him!  I'm lucky that my dogs are fairly easy going and responsive.

So Zumi has taken me a bit by surprise in how assertive she is starting by 8wks of age.  Nothing I'm worried about yet, but I'm certainly keeping a close eye on her and have worked with her a bit on it.  Being a good boy, Vito will back down from her if she tries to claim a toy we're playing with!

Outside fetch play isn't high enough value yet for Zumi to really attempt any guarding.  If I throw a ball for Vito she prefers to keep her own ball in her mouth and do her own thing.  In the beginning she will run after the other 2 dogs in excitement, but doesn't let go of her ball.  And since Vito only really cares about a ball that's moving he doesn't bother her at all as long as he can bring me one to throw.

Sometimes she forgets her ball, but just naughty playfulness in trying to grab the ball from Vito as he returns.

When Vito's a bit more tired I try and work on his fetch rules so that it is more in place for when Zumi needs it.  Trying to get Zumi to drop the ball outside is a bit difficult, but then I do a tiny toss for her while saying her name and reminding Vito not to get it.  Sometimes Vito needs an extra verbal reminder if he starts off after it.  And then Vito gets his own ball thrown in the other direction on his name cue.

Naughty Vito only somewhat listened for this throw of Zumi's.

We will see how the next several weeks develop as Zumi starts to place higher value on fetching!

Note: None of my dogs have shown actual aggression issues.  If your dog is resource guarding, please don't punish the growl and seek professional help.  There is also a lovely blog series on resource guarding between dogs here.

achieve1dream  – ( January 11, 2015 at 7:59 PM )  

It sounds like you are on the ball! It's smart to pay attention to early warning signs. I have no doubt they will all work things out and get along fine with you there guiding them. :D

Lauren Miller  – ( January 12, 2015 at 12:50 AM )  

They are so cute!! I also have rules for fetch and flirt pole! My one dog is a mild resource guarder and my other dog gets way too hyped up about the game.

How Sam Sees It  – ( January 12, 2015 at 8:17 AM )  

I've never really had that with our Golden's - our great Danes were another matter. ...and those were dogs we didn't want to have fighting. We had one Golden that was mildly possessive about food, but only to the other dogs. I could put my hand in her dish while she was eating.

Monty and Harlow

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