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Is this aggression? What should I do?

March 8th, 2010, 06:14 PM

I have a 10 month old morkie and has been living with us for 8 months now. Usually, he's pretty well behaved but lately, he's been quite aggressive whenever we take away something that he's not supposed to chew on (i.e. slippers). He doesn't act this way all the time. But whenever he does, he'll let out a very angry growl and get all feisty and even try to bite our hands! We've tried distracting him with his bones but it doesn't work. Also, he was neutered 2 months ago.

What should I do?


March 8th, 2010, 06:20 PM
Does he growl and attempt to guard the item viciously? Or does he just get really hyperactive and run around and growl a lot when you try to take it? If it's the latter he may just be trying to play. If it's the former then that is indeed an aggressive behavior.

You could try teaching him to drop the item. Tell him "drop it" and give him a treat when he does. You should never try to reach down and just grab an item from a dog that is guarding it, you WILL get bitten. Either way he needs to be given a treat when he drops it so he doesn't feel like he's just having items taken away and being punished. This could cause him to guard it worse.
The other thing is you need to keep those items away from him. Don't just leave slippers or shoes laying on the floor. Your house should be puppy proofed so there's little chance he'll get a hold of something he's not supposed to have.
Whatever you do, do NOT yell and punish him for the behavior. If you do that then if he finds something dangerous that he could swallow he will gulp it so you can't take it away. Punishing will also make the guarding behavior worse since he feels every time you find him chewing on something he will be punished and it will be taken away.

What I do with puppies is if they have an item they shouldn't have, I call them to me really friendly. I give them the "drop it" command and then praise and treat. This tends to make them more likely to bring items they shouldn't have TO ME and actually give them to me rather than running off with them to hide and chew on them. I have an 8 month old greater swiss mountain dog and they are very large. She could definitely gulp large items and choke herself, so I have to make sure NOT to punish her when she has something. They need to be encouraged to bring the item to you, drop it, and then the chewing can be directed towards something positive like a dog toy.

March 8th, 2010, 06:35 PM
if he has a rawhide or toy that you want to take from him, step right up to it....shuffle your feet in close (wear slippers if you think he'll bite) don't back may take up to 15 minutes, but ignore his growling and keep going till your feet are on both sides of the rawhide or toy...he will back down, just wait him out.......when he does, pick it up...look at it then give it back...wait a few minutes and do it all over again....this was on an episode of the dog whisperer and I tried it last week with my sisters terrier who's been toy/food aggressive for over 5 yrs....we can now reach down and she backs off. I'm sure others who know more will be around to give you more ways to deal with it.

I don't mean to be rude, but this is TERRIBLE advice.
This is one method that I hate seeing on the dog whisperer.
I'm glad that it worked on your sisters dog, but this will not work on all dogs and you will get unlucky one day if you try it on random dogs.

A dog that is truly set on guarding what they have WILL bite your feet. I have a picture of blood all over my foot from my minpin if you'd like to see it. He will lunge and bite if he gets a hold of something he doesn't want to give him just if you walk near him, much less trying to shuffle your feet at him. He was taught to do this by the previous owners who didn't train and raise him properly.
Many dogs will see the feet as a threat and bite. Have you ever seen shows where the shelter is assessing food aggression? They stick the little hand thing in the bowl and dogs with issues will aggressively attack it? This will happen to your feet if you try to shuffle toward a dog with true aggression issues when guarding something...

March 8th, 2010, 06:39 PM
And also, doing that can make the dog aggressive toward feet, so when people walk past they just automatically lunge out at feet and bite so their toy isn't taken away (this is the case with my minpin and why I got my foot bitten).

March 8th, 2010, 06:40 PM
I'll remove my advice then.............

March 8th, 2010, 06:43 PM

(don't click if you have issues with blood)

The dark part is blood pooled in my sandle. I walked past him without realizing he'd gotten a hold of something and he lunged out and attacked.
If you try to solve guarding behavior by getting close with your feet and making them give the stuff up, the behavior can be elevated to THIS. They'll see feet as a threat and guard what they have against them without much warning.

So yeah, I would advise against doing that.

March 8th, 2010, 06:44 PM
I'll remove my advice then.............

Sorry, I wish you hadn't done that :( .

It gives people a good idea of what not to do and why they shouldn't simply try things they see on Cesar Milans show. I wasn't trying to make anyone feel bad. Lots of people have misconceptions about the things they see him doing on tv.

(n/m I realized the quote's in my post anyway)

March 8th, 2010, 06:49 PM
I mainly just hate to see people get hurt. Even little dogs can cause a lot of pain and an infection.

I worry that people will see that type of thing and try it on a bigger dog which can cause a ton of damage....I've seen some nasty dog bites just from people making simple mistakes.

March 8th, 2010, 08:53 PM
Until you've taught your pup the "drop it" or "leave it" cues, I recommend you put all your valuables, including slippers, out of his reach ;).

Here's a great video teaching the "drop it" cue through playing tug. If you don't have a clicker, you can mark the desired behavior using the verbal "yes."

March 10th, 2010, 03:59 PM
Resource guarding is a learned behavior - from the original post, I'd have to think that the dog guards what he gets hold of because he has learned that it will be taken away, never to be returned. While it is a form of aggression, I think you are assuming the dog itself is aggressive and showing the signs of that when it seems to me that perhaps he's showing the result of the lessons he has learned so far. How do you react when he does have something he is not supposed to?

The advice to keep anything that he isn't allowed to chew on put away is good. You should also teach the drop it command - but at the same time, you need to teach your dog that having you take something from him does not mean it will never be returned. I can take anything out of my dogs mouth - even a raw bone. They know that they will either get the item I took back, or I will give them some other yummy or fun thing to replace it. In their minds it isn't a bad thing that I want whatever they have.

March 10th, 2010, 09:00 PM
hi everyone!
thank you all of ur advice! you've been really helpful!