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Resource guarding anyone else have this issue ?


Hi to all - I have a 9 year old tri cav boy a 17 month Blenheim boy and 6 month tri baby girl who I'm having big issues with , I thought she was just food aggressive but since we have had her spayed a last week she has gotten much worse . She's super mean to the boys at feeding time she acts like pit bull glaring At them and going after our 17 month old , he growls back at her but she seems to win . I love her but do not want her to be mean to the others it's not fair that dinner time is a drama . I have read about feeding them and sitting between them putting your hand in the bowl adding treats etc and it just doesn't work with the others dogs around . She will get mad at me if I get in the middle of it. She also can be grouchy if you move her when she's sleeping occasional . I even had a trainer come over today to observe and she said that my girl puppy has resource guarding issues and that when you add 3 dogs especially a girl this can happen . In the past I have only has 2 cavs at a time . It's shocking to see how mad/ fearful she gets especially in a cavalier. Has anyone had theses issue ? If so do you feed separately so they can't see each other as well as free feed ? Any advice would be helpful. I plan to take her to classes to get more control over her I'm very guilty of letting my dogs have free rein but in the past all of my dogs have been easy. Let me end on saying she's the sweetest cuddliest baby like King Charles I have ever had but she has a scary bossy side to her !
Oh dear, this is turning into a serious issue for you, but you are moving on it at just the right time, when she is young and easy to train away from this.

I hope the trainer was not suggesting using punishment based approaches but instead, training your puppy -- and ALL puppies need such training as early as possible! -- to allow for food to be taken away and swapped for something else of equally high value, then swapped back, etc. But this shouldn't be done with the other dogs there! That's like putting her into an already tense situation and adding extra unexpected stress where she's supposed to be OK with worrying not just about the dogs but about you taking her food. And I'd not even work with her food bowl immediately, but with treats between meals.

But let's start from the beginning. If you have more than one dog, it really is never a good idea to feed them all together, in reach of each other. That goes for ALL dogs, and it is nothing to do with age, number of additional dogs, or gender, though the more dogs you add, the more likely problems are going to occur of all sorts as whole relationships and habits between dogs have to be rearranged.

Cavaliers are no different from any other breed, large or small, and I have seen cavaliers with lots of resource guarding problems ranging from mild to dangerous. The outside package may look cute but they are dogs, with every potential dog issue.

So: you are at the point where responsible management is need on some things, and on others, training. No amount of training will prevent dogs potentially fighting over food. This is a good opportunity to feed in crates. Or in separate rooms.Or a pen for one. Or keep your existing two well apart in one room and the pup in another room. Never feed them -- especially her -- where other dogs' food could be a temptation. Good trainers know that any dog, any age, can become food aggressive in this type of situation. Given what you are experiencing, it is also a good idea never to offer high value treats to all dogs out in the open. Put them in crates to eat them, or put her in a puppy pen; whatever. You do NOT want aggressive dog fights.

I have two half brothers who adore each other BUT in certain situations will guard high value food related items and this can end up in very alarming fights (and I have been bitten breaking them up). So it doesn't matter how nice the dogs are normally. Some are more prone to guarding a treasured item and the way to manage this best is not to give them the opportunity to end up in a fight.

Sitting between them sounds, frankly, pretty useless as a suggestion. Life is too short to have to sit amongst eating dogs every mealtime! Separating them by barriers of some sort -- your choice -- is the right approach.

Guarding on the couch is a different issue but also dealt with in a positive way. Rather than grabbing and moving a sleeping dog, instead train her to a cue to get off. Don't use 'down' if you also use down to mean lie down. Use 'off' or whatever you want. But lure her off with a little bit of cheese or valued treat and then praise. Eeventually you link the spoken command to the action.

You can learn how to do this if you download Dr Ian Dunbar's free book After You Get Your Puppy on www.dogstardaily.com. If you register (free) you can do this and see other video and written resources on all these issues. :)

At 6 months your puppy is definitely ripe to get into a good positive approach class. I am not sure where you are based but I'd look for one with an APDT or CPDT or Stilwell Positively certified trainer. Too many clueless people are out there who will advise managing dogs in ways that make many problems worse.

If you check the Training section of the site there are many training site resources pinned to the top of the section and I'd also recommend reading the 'things every owner should read' post, which has tips for managing problems to resolve them more easily. :)
One other thing I forgot to mention -- my trainer friends would always advise having any puppy or dog that is guarding and in particular, snapping when someone tries to move it or pick it up, to have it carefully checked by the vet for any pain. Pain can be a cause for reactivity and it is good to make sure this isn't the base issue. :thmbsup:
Hi Karlin- Henry and the puppy are half brother and sister also and enjoy playing together often thru out the day. Weirdly enough I have no issue with treats they all run in different directions with them ,it's meal time when I go to feed them is the major problem . I have always been a free feeder with my other dogs and never had a issue , I loved the freedom and never had a weight issue but looks like those days r over for me.
I have read so many articles from different trainers I love Ian Dunbar the best ,but havent found any info on multiple dog issue with this problem , maybe I'm looking in the wrong places .
I'm so glad to hear that you have had some kind of problem with food issues ,I'm feeling kinda desperate . Since she's a cavalier and they are know to be easy your comment about packaging makes sense . I am hoping that I've gotten it early enuff and can change this behavior . Like I said I have owned 5 cavs and never had any issue except for my beloved lily who was obsessed with food but she never would have acted lean she was just obsessive , loved to eat !! I know she's id doggy heaven eating 24/7!
As far as her being sick she's in perfect healthy but did get spayed a week ago and has been worse since than, maybe she's uncomfortable and grouchy but I still think she needs help.
It seems to me that she needs boundaries she just wants things when she's wants it . I'm hoping training classes will help me be a better owner and her not be so insecure and bossy.
I can't tell you how much I appreciate your feedback
I feed Bosco (my CKC) in a separate room from my 2 Japanese Chin. He eats very fast and would go to the Chins bowls upon completing his food. The Chins would just back off and give up their food. No aggression shown, but it was not a good situation.

Since your dogs don't fight over treats, and the aggression is shown only at feeding time, maybe separating the female at feeding times may be an easy fix.

My three go in different directions with treats too. Bosco will at times try to steal a treat, but a yap from one of the chins will make him back off.