Bone Guarding

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by Dlilly, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. Dlilly Honored Member

    Sadly, I found out a few days ago that chance guards bones. :( I was petting him while he was chewing, and I've taken food and toys away from him, so I didn't think this would be a problem. I noticed he would stop chewing when I would pet him. That wasn't a good sign. Later, I took a stick and poked his bone, and he growled. :(

    So, how can I SAFELY teach him that me taking his bones away is okay? I do NOT want to rush things. The last thing he needs is a history of biting…. I've never had to deal with this before, so I'm not sure how to handle this. :unsure:

  2. tigerlily46514 Honored Member


    does your dog yet know the cue "drop it" or "let go" or "thank you" or whatever you call it, when a dog releases an item into your hand on cue?

    if not, maybe maybe maybe, (stand by for better ideas,lol)
    maybe you could begin teaching that cue, with items he is okay to give to you???

    and get Chance to also get great at giving you other items on cue.

    and maybe overtime, after he is Mr Best-Ever-At-Drop-it, try it with the bone?
    (not sure if this best thing to do for this, stand by for smarter ppl)
  3. Amateur Experienced Member

    Parts of this is probably the wrong way .. but when our newly adopted 3.5 year old dog who never had many toys or rawhide growled when I tried to take his first rawhide away, I just said in a firm voice " Oh no you don't." and took it anyways ( thats probably the stupid part. Then I gave it back to him 5 sec later. Then took it again after 30 sec ... then repeated this 4 or 5 times. Once he knew I was serious and he would get it again he had no problems after that.
  4. Amateur Experienced Member

    I've heard "trading up" is also a good way to teach him to give up things.
    i.e. offer him something better
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  5. Anneke Honored Member

    I would trade. Give him another bone or treat and praise him for letting you take it the one he is guarding.
    Make sure you give this new bone/treat away from the bone he is guarding(his head turned away) Then trade it back again.

    Now I don't think it is a good idea to pet a dog, while he is chewing a bone or when he is eating. Those are times to leave a dog alone. When I'm eating something I really like, you shouldn't bother me either:D DON"T TOUCH MY CHOCOLAT|!!:ROFLMAO:
    I do understand that it needs to adressed, because he is up for adoption.
    Dlilly likes this.
  6. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Trading is probably the best approach - and when starting out, trade for something of really high value, like maybe a great big piece of hot dog or chicken, then give the bone right back. And practice, practice, practice. Start with lesser value items tho (something the dog doesn't care that much about, that you know he'll give up), because again, practice makes perfect. Let Chance realize that ok, I give/trade stuff up, and I can trust that I get it back too. Dogs have to learn to trust that we won't just grab stuff out of their mouths. If nothing else, it's disrespectful, and it's bullying. I can take anything from my two, but I won't. And they know that. I'll always ask them to bring something to me, and pay them for whatever they give me (that I want).

    Kinda like Anneke says above - DON'T TOUCH MY CHOCOLATE!! :LOL: If you ask me, I might give you a piece (well, not the dogs), but don't you dare try to wrangle a piece out of my mouth. I will bite, and I won't growl first!! :ROFLMAO: But maybe if you offered to trade my plain piece of chocolate for a brownie, yep, I'll trade - and then, holy cow, I ate the brownie and then you gave me my chocolate back!!! SCORE!!! :p It's all about trust and respect.

    And again, altho I can, I also don't pet my dogs while they're eating. What's the point? When I'm eating or relaxing and enjoying a snack, I like to do it 'alone' (meaning, I don't need other fingers near my plate or on me). Dogs can enjoy our company from afar and enjoy food/snacks/chews at the same time. Same as they can enjoy each others' company and chew bones near each other (some dogs) but not too close. It's all about respect.
    Dlilly and tigerlily46514 like this.
  7. running_dog Honored Member

    I had to find a cue for "drop it" that the kids wouldn't wear out with Gus, I kind of liked "trade" and "swap" (in the end I used "swap") as these cues reminded ME (and everyone else) that I mustn't steal from the dog just because I'm bigger and bossier and I can. As Jackienmutts says it is about trust and respect...


    There are times I've just dived on a swallowing dog and prized it's mouth open to extract the disappearing pike head and fish hooks or what ever... I guess I have quite a lot of trust in the dogs I walk. I doubt the best treats in the world would compensate a dog for losing a stinky 3 day old pike head... yummy!
  8. johnny1609 Active Member

    see im starting to think i may be on the wrong forum here as i wouldnt swap or teach it a cue as what if a child went to take the bone? im afraid id just simply take it off him, growled id tell him no and im afraid if he did it again hed get a clip. i would return the toy/bone but would do it without a swap as id want to feel safe that a child or adult that didnt know to cue/trade could take something of the dog
  9. Anneke Honored Member

    Ofcourse you don't keep doing this the rest of your dogs life. Just like when you teach a trick, you start to fade the reward. That is how you do it with the trading. Once your dog is used to the fact that you take away his bone, you can start fading the trade.

    BUT I strongly believe that parents and dog owners should teach children to stay away from an eating dog!!!! A child does not see the warning signs.
    And I feel, very strongly, that a child should be taught the right way to handle a dog.
    Most of us make our dogs go to their mat/bench/place, when we eat, so the dog doesn't bother us during breakfast, lunch, diner, snacktime. I don't see why we, humans, can't return the favor. No bothering the dog when he/she is eating!
    Children should be taught how to handle a dog. You really can't expect a dog to just take anything from anyone.
    So I teach my dog, that I can take away his bone, but I don't expect him to accept anyone else to do so.
    Children that come to my house get instructions on how to pet my dogs, how to play with them, how to give them a treat and not to go near them when they are eating a bone or when they are on their mats.
    The mat is the only place, my dog can retreat to when he has had enough of the children. It is his safe-place.
    So protect the children from the dog, but also protect your dog from children!!!
    Dlilly and tigerlily46514 like this.
  10. running_dog Honored Member

    No you're not on the wrong forum... you're just seeing a different way of doing things, you don't have to agree. I held out for years but in the end I found that this way IS better for my dog.

    The swap cue is interim, I'm working towards safety with children, in fact Gus'll now drop a toy for no swap. If you snatch a toy/bone you just make him possessive not generous.

    I have learned never to correct a growl. If you clip the dog for giving a warning growl, there is a good chance it is still mad but it knows you don't like it growling, next time it might skip the growl and bite (a child) with no warning...
    Dlilly, tigerlily46514 and Anneke like this.
  11. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Yeah, Johnny, i agree with Runningdog and others above.
    Rdog is right, no matter what else one does with their dog, last thing you want to do is "correct" a growl, or punish a growl.
    Punishing a growl, does not make your dog "nice"
    it only makes your dog "silent"
    then, like Rdog says, you are left with a dog who HAS learned to skip his warning
    and go straight for a bite.

    These are the owners who post stuff like, "there is no way to know when Fido will bite someone, one minute he is minute, BAM! He's bitten someone."
    ..........cuz somewhere along the way, Fido was taught "do not growl".

    If your concern is about the safety of children, which IS most admirable and i so agree with you on that one, Johnny, we do need to watch over children and protect them,
    well, if you want to help make a dog safer around children, then teaching a dog to skip his growl is a bad idea. Punishing the dog's warning growl does not change the dog's inner attitude, he just learns to never give an audible warning anymore.

    Even people who do not know your dog, even strangers, even most children, EASILY understand a dog's growl, and will usually back up.-----and maybe a bite or attack has been avoided then.:)
    TRUE, you don't want your dog to feel the need to growl, i so agree, but you DO want him to growl rather than bite, is what i'm trying to say. That growl is a good thing, compared to a bite.
    This is something we owners (learning to not correct a growl)
    that some of us do not get a lot of chance to "get right".

    But i LIKE that my dog WILL give a warning,-------- so even if i was not paying attention, :rolleyes: once he growls i can immediately become aware, "oh my! my dog is losing it!" and get over there to intervene to prevent a bite or problem. If he did not growl when he is getting upset, and i was chatting around not looking at my dog, i could miss it all.

    But do stick around Johnny, you are not in the "wrong forum". Not all of us agree on every thing, and we all learn from each other, dawg knows, i've learned so much from others here, things i had not considered til i heard them say it, etc.
    Dlilly likes this.
  12. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //"Children should be taught how to handle a dog. You really can't expect a dog to just take anything from anyone."//

    I so so agree with Anneke!
    Dlilly likes this.
  13. johnny1609 Active Member

    thats as youve said down to interpretation but the dogs ive been around all my life this sort of attitude wouldnt work im afraid. especially as the dogs are normally a year or more when i get them.
  14. running_dog Honored Member

    LOL most of us ARE working with full grown dogs (of all shapes sizes and temperaments).
    To me puppies are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much harder to explain things to! Give me a hard headed adult any day :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:.

    If you are happy with the way you train that's fine but don't be like me and waste years assuming a "positive" attitude won't work with the dogs you train until you try it. Most of us HAVE used the methods you use, we ended up here because for whatever reason they didn't work for our dogs or because we finally figured there must be a better way to explain things to the dog.
    Dlilly and tigerlily46514 like this.
  15. Dlilly Honored Member

    If I just grabbed a bone from him, I'd probably get bit….

    By taking the bone and giving a treat, the dog is learning that the bone being taken away is GREAT! They then get better treats! By just taking a dog's bone and not giving it back, the dog learns that when you take the bone, it is gone….. So, they won't want you to take the bone.

    I give my dogs bones away from other dogs and people. I'd suggest to his adopters to do the same. Even with my dogs who are fine with me taking their bones, I still wouldn't let anyone, let alone a child, mess with them while they are eating a bone. I like to set them up for success, and to prevent unsafe situations.
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  16. Dlilly Honored Member

    I never thought about the petting part. I usually leave my dogs alone while they eat their bones. I just wanted to see how Chance would react….. I will definitely remember that!!
    Anneke likes this.
  17. Dlilly Honored Member

    Please read this…. I made it as short as I could! I really hope it makes you investigate using all positive methods. It really does work, and I can prove it with both of my dogs, and my foster dogs!!

    My current foster dog, Chance, is a Beagle x Treeing Walker Coonhound mix. When he came to me 2 months ago, he ate poop, he jumped on everyone and attack them with love, he pulled on the leash, he really didn't pay any attention to me, and he was obsessed with getting food off the table. I feel bad writing this; the first week I had him, I really wanted him to get adopted because he was just crazy!

    By using positive reinforcement, and a clicker, he is now a Novice Trick Dog and knows 24 tricks, he doesn't pull on the leash, he doesn't jump up on anyone, he isn't obsessed with the food on the table, and he loves me! He doesn't eat dog poop anymore, he has found that turkey poop taste much better! He is starting to ignore the turkey poop now though. :) By being calm, positive, and fun, I've turned this crazy little boy into a fantastic family dog who might even get adopted this week!

    I train my 2 large adult shelter mutts, and my foster Beagles, by using ONLY Positive Reinforcement Training. I NEVER correct, yell, or bully them in any way. (By bullying, I mean pushing them on their back to "show" them I'm the "alpha pack leader".) My dog absolutely love training! If I did anything negative to them, like correct them for a bad behavior, they would become very confused and worried!

    I highly suggest you read the book The Dog Whisper by Paul Owens. The author used to use the same training methods you dog!
    Zsu-Zsu likes this.
  18. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Dilly, marvelous work on your latest foster, WOW, that is just awesome!! KUDOS to you!! YESSSSssssssss!!
    loved your post, made me happy to read of your progress.
    and wow, the book that you link to, "The Dog Whisperer" what an unfortunate name.......if YOU were not the one linking it, if i had just seen that book on a shelf, i would think,
    by that title, "oh no, not another Caesar Milan fan.." but i read some reviews on it and realize, it is not at all about Milan's ways.

    odd that the author would choose THAT name for his book, and the cover does not seem to disspell the impression it's about Milan's ways, either. Hope it sells, or maybe he is sneakily trying to target Milan fans? who knows. lol.

    sorry for derail. anyway, just had to say, i remember when you first got that foster, he had a lot of problems and wow, HATS OFF to you, Dilly, on the work you have done with that foster you have right now, Dilly!!
  19. charmedwolf Moderator

    Let me hop of this thread for a quick min. Bone guarding is dangerous and like Dlilly I have to test my dogs to see what would especially if I might be adopting them out to someone else. That is an unknown factor that I'd rather find out now and risk myself then have someone find out latter and not respect the dog.

    Usually if it is a situation where I need to get a bone away quick, I'll toss a high value item across the room so that I have time to swoop it up. Trading up is always to way to go. If their threshold was further away treats rain from the sky everytime I go by. Til finally I can walk by and toss some treats and grab the bone.
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  20. sara Moderator

    Here's an example I was given:

    If I were to give you a $50 bill. then a few minutes later, snatch it out of your hands, what would you do the next time I gave you a $50 bill? get far away? tell me to go away? hide it? Say I manage to steal it again? what would happen next? you would tell me to get away? maybe body block? maybe slap at my hands if I tried to take it again?

    What if instead of just taking a $50 I gave you $100 and asked for the $50 back? you'd shove that $50 in my hands so fast! and you'd look forward to me coming to take your $50 dollar bills!

    I would NEVER NEVER NEVER hit a dog for growling!!! Growling is an important warning, and if you kill the growl, you will have a dog that escalated to a snap or a bite! You know all those "unprovoked" bites that happens to kids from their family pet? THOSE are because the warning has been trained out.
    Dogster likes this.

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