Sunday, January 15, 2012

Resource Guarding and Crate Loving

Today was a snow day! We went herding with Goose and had a great time. He is so much more confident and could probably trial if we put enough time into his training. It's difficult because of the price for training and the driving distance. Perhaps we will get our own sheep when we move to New England. We're just doing basic outruns, but he is very confident and honest. I enjoy going because of the pretty drive and the experience of being on the farm. Since Goose is our only herding dog, we took Indigo, Pax and Georgia (Amy's dog) to the field for a run after herding. Amy took this amazing photo of Indigo. It's one of the best I've ever seen of her.

With a break from dog sport competing. We've had time to work on basic manners training and problems. Pax has a few issues. He doesn't like to be left alone without other dogs to cuddle with and he has been doing some resource guarding. We are working on him being left alone by doing Susan Garretts crate games and just generally rewarding him whenever he chooses to go in his open crate. The plan is to slowly wean him from being near us while he is in the crate. We will start to do that once we know he loves the crate. First we will keep him in the crate, but near us while we are home and then we will move the crate downstairs into the dog room. I know it's been working because for the past few nights I've invited him on the bed to cuddle and he instead chose to go into his crate! We keep a container of stinky salmon treats and drop them in anytime he goes in. Crate games is a great place to start working with dogs that don't like to be left alone.

The resource guarding was created by us and our lack of attention to a building problem. We have always fed the dogs all together outside when they eat raw food. They each get a bowl and it's never been a problem for them to all eat their own food. We noticed a few times that Goose started stealing Pax's food and apparently it happened a lot more and we didn't notice. At some point, Pax started getting annoyed, which is understandable. He started barking and defending his food. We let the problem go even longer, which was not smart of us. A few months ago we realized it's a problem and it affected the relationship between Goose and Pax negatively. Now they can't eat near each other at all (other than treats) and Pax has started guarding people and beds from Goose as well. 100% our fault. Anyway, now Pax eats inside and the border collies eat outside. Pax reacts to Goose through the glass door when Goose comes running toward the glass for his next piece of meat out of his bowl.

We have been working hard to fix this problem using classical conditioning.  Here are some instructions. Resource Guarding with Other Dogs We personalized it. Every time the dogs eat we stand near the back door with Pax. He watches Goose (who is outside) take his first piece of meat, which is fine with Pax and doesn't cause a reaction at all. Then as Goose is coming back for another piece and we see the initial signs of Pax getting stressed we immediately surprise Pax with a delicious treat. We are now at the point that when Goose comes running toward us, Pax looks up for a treat. We still haven't worked on the guarding of people or beds, that is next.

We also need to work on jumping up on people and "stay" for all dogs and lunging at roller blades for Goose. There is always something to work on. Despite that, I really want a puppy. I don't need a puppy, but I want one!

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