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dog guards toys, blanket, food

May 19th, 2005, 12:31 PM
This is my first post so please be patient with me. I live alone (50 something, woman) and have 2 dogs. The oldest is Molly, a dominant dalmatian and the second is Hogan, a sweet, good natured blue heeler/lab cross who is 5 years old. The problem is actually with Hogan. He is gentle, social with people and dogs but has a big problem with guarding possessions. Both dogs have blankets (yes, very pampered) and he will guard it, growl, even wrinkle his lips and show teeth. He has never bitten but works himself up into a frenzy over it if Molly or I come near it. He even did it a few times with his meal. He guarded it for hours and didn't eat it. Finally I took it away. He seems to have a lot of "animal instinct" for lack of a better term. He will howl with other dogs. He is a very nice, gentle dog in every other aspect. Does more training help? Is he trying to take over being the dominant one? (He totally reverts back to being a good boy, almost apologetic, when the item he is guarding is removed.) Any suggestions? HELP!

May 19th, 2005, 12:41 PM
Sounds like he thinks he is the dominant one. It's very important that you are the alpha, and right now he thinks he is. you have to teach him that the stuff is yours and not his, your leting him have it. I'm not sure what to do about the blanket, i'm sure someone else will be able to help you with that. As far as the food agression you need to start showing him it's your food, your alpha and you eat first. When you go to feed him before you give him his food stand where he is watching you and pretend to eat his food out of his bowl, just make it look like you are eating it. Then make sure he has to do something to earn his food, like make him sit, lay down, sit again, then stay or something like that, and don't allow him to touch the food until you say so. It would also porbably be a good idea to feed the dogs in seperate rooms right now until he gets less protective. Otherwise a fight may break out. Good luck, and we love pics if you would want to post some.

Lucky Rescue
May 19th, 2005, 02:24 PM
(He totally reverts back to being a good boy, almost apologetic, when the item he is guarding is removed.)

This makes me think that this dog is not dominant, but insecure and nervous about his position. Is it possible that no one else is a leader in your home? If not, SOMEONE has to be the leader, and so this dog will try and take that job, but it sounds like he is not suited for it, which causes the nervous aggression. Truly dominant dogs don't put on big displays of aggression, because they are so confident in their position they don't have to.

Now you are going to have to be the ruler in your home. Find out how to do this with the following article:
Alpha Boot Camp (

Here's a few words of wisdom from Ian Dunbar:

"Practice taking away bones, toys and other objects from a dog before the inevitable incident with that essential floppy disk or aromic (sic) TV dinner. Offer the dog a boring toy, something not a favorite. Once the dog has grudgingly accepted the toy, say, "Thank you," offer a tasty treat with one hand and take the toy with the other. Once the dog has eaten the treat, give back the toy, saying "Take it."

Repeat this with more valued objects, such as balls, squeakies, and Kongs, moving up to very valued objects, bones. When working with more highly valued objects, the attractiveness of the treats must increase accordingly, so that no matter how valuable the object the dog has in its jaws, you always have more valuable and tastier treats in you paws. A dog must develop the confidence that giving up a valued toy of bone does not necessarily mean i's the last of it he ever sees. On the contrary, the dog learns, "Thank you," means the owner wants to look after the dog's toy (how considerate!) while the dog eats the tasty treat (how generous!) and then, the owner wants to return the dog's toy (how honorable!)

Dr. Dunbar is a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and dog trainer
(1) Beach, F.A., Buehler, M.G., and Dunbar, I.F. 1982. "Competitive Behavior in Male, Female, and Pseudo hermaphroditic Female Dogs." Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology. Volume 96, Number 6, pp. 855-874.

May 19th, 2005, 06:30 PM
This boy needs to work for everything in his life and start asking permission (eye contact) when he wants something.
Giving a dog a blanket is not spoiling him. He should have a blanket - it the attitude he needs to get rid of. He is simply mirroring that there is some question as to who is in charge of your home.
He is trying to claim possession of the food/blanket as his property/territory (attempts to challenge for leadership) - and it has worked so he keeps doing it. If he can't have manners then he doesn't get his special blanket, so he gets his blanket taken away - no more territory to protect. You can ease him back into his blanket as you see an attitude change happening.
The food should only be down for 10 minutes - if he shows any snarly attitude then it goes too. You will feed him tomorrow and I bet he'll be wiser and hungrier so he will eat quickly and with less attitude.
A great way to become a leader is to attach yourself to him with the leash in the house as much as you can. Where ever you go he follows and you are ready to engage him, to correct his bad choices and reward the good ones.
LR's advice is good - the boot camp outlines ways he should be earning the things in his life and how you need to start behaving like leader.

May 19th, 2005, 08:14 PM
Thanks to all for the advice ... I do agree that I don't think he is suited for the roll of the dominant dog. This is the same dog that will not enter the computer room without sitting at the door and looking at me. He has never just walked in while I'm on the computer ... he waits to be invited in. (very sweet guy!!!). When going for a walk on leash, he also lays down if he sees another dog approaching on either side of the street. I think this is submissive or maybe a blue heeler herding thing??? Anyway, I will try to make him work for everything and take away whatever he decides to guard. Also, Molly (1o years old and a dalmatian) is starting to let him take over a bit. She is still alpha but she will sleep and leave it to him to watch out the window for anything that deserves a good bark. Ohhhh, dog life is soooo complicated.

May 20th, 2005, 07:03 AM
I don't know if you have ever read anything by Jean Donaldson,specializes in this type of behavior,she writes for Dogs in Canada monthly if you are interested I think I have her e-mail.I have a client who teaches and used to do agression seminars with her I could also put you in touch with her.