Thursday, November 10, 2011

Resource Guarding: The Store Is Where It's At

Over the past few weeks, we've been testing Hurley out to see where and when he reacts to other dogs and what relation that has to potential resource guarding.  There was lots of good and some not so good.

The good is that Hurley was great at non-pet stores.  He patiently walked back and forth down the Home Depot aisles as I gathered everything I needed.  We saw two other dogs while we were there, one in the distance and one walking right past us.  Though he noticed both, he had no reaction to either. 

But our trip to Petco didn't go so hot.  In the presence of the familiar-smelling bags & bags of dog food, he pulled & sniffed and then barked at the one dog we did see as we left the store.  So... food-rich environments being one of his triggers - Confirmed! 

"I'm about to chase you!" aka making friends at the dog park

We've had many successful outings to the dog park and other than an occasional bark at Stella the Great Dane, he does well.  For the first time the other day, he did not come when I called him.  Now, in general this is not a good thing.  But in this particular instance, it showed me that he is starting to see the company of other dogs as higher value than returning to me.  While this is a positive step in terms of canine socialization, we also need to start cracking down on our recall!  I shouldn't have to ask him to come twice, right?  (Ha - we've never had fail-proof recalls with any of our dogs so take that with a humongous grain of salt.  There was that one time Maggie & Sadie decided chasing a Whippet out of the dog park and down the busy street was the funnest game ever.  Good times.) 

Hurley will never be known for his speed.  Look at how hard he is trying to catch up with his new buddy!

Hurley's also been doing well encountering other dogs on walks.  He doesn't bark or react and though he gets a little excited sometimes about the prospect of meeting the other dog, I am working on calm behavior and teaching him to ignore the other dog in favor of earning a piece of kibble. 

And then there's been a few training classes.  Hurley & I went to a clicker training session last weekend and while his behavior wasn't perfect, he did pretty darn awesome.  There was only one other dog there with a similar energy as his and they reacted to each other once.  The second time?  He turned away to come back to me and the trainer for a treat.  Progress! 

Last night was his first training class at his 5 week Basic Manners-type course.  He was extremely vocal due to a variety of factors:

1) The class is held in a pet store/doggie daycare (his food-rich environment trigger)
2) Most of the dogs there had similiar energy/reactivity levels and behavior challenges.  They all were setting each other off, at least at the beginning of class.  I didn't think Hurley would let the German Shepherd win the most persistent vocalization award but he did finally settle down.  
3) Most of the class was intro dog trainer lecture type stuff.  This is REALLY BORING for Hurley.

I feel we've made a tremendous amount of progress recently by consciously testing him in both familiar and new environments to identify what resources he feels the need to guard.  And we found what I thought we would find - while his issues aren't solely related to my shop, they are limited to closely similar environments plus a healthy dose of "you react at me, I'll react back" type of behavior.  As we've explored our training options & discussed his behavior, underlying causes and triggers, what is growing more obvious is that this is a somewhat common adolescent male puppy behavior.  Right now, he is all teenager and he's just a normal dog.  He doesn't have a severe behavior issue that we do not have the know how to deal with.  And with all of our dogs, guarding my shop is another behavior that I'll have under my belt in the "been there, done that" category.

1 comment:

  1. Not bad! It's great that you've been so proactive about this- it seems like he's already improved quite a bit!