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  1. #1
    Puppy (New Member) Beni's Avatar

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    Default Let's Nip This In The TAIL!

    Hello all, I am the proud owner of a 1yr 4mth old female pry named Nakita and a nearly 7yr old female shih tuz named Morgan.

    Morgan has always been a princess so it took warming up initially but now the two of them are pals. Morgan plays less often being an older lap dog but does indulge Nakita with play often which is wonderful to see. They also will be caught laying side by side daily or Morgan will even try to burrow into Nakita's chest playfully. I share all this to give the context of their relationship as it is most often positive or nutural towards one another (I say nutrual only because Morgan can be independent or stand-offish at times when she'd rather nap alone in another room rather than join the family or Nakita).

    Anyhow, my concern is with some intermittent food guarding behaviors from both them. This began initially after puppy Nakita came home and began sterling Morgan's food. Morgan had no prior food guarding but after Nakita took her food she started to stay close to her food to ensure it wouldn't be taken. So since then we have kept Morgan's food under a chair where it is hard for Nakita to get at-- in my head allowing Morgan to feel her food is safe (because before she wouldn't leave her food) and also it physically made it hard for Nakita to get at which discouraged her. This tactic worked and Nakita only gets at Morgan's food once in a blue moon.

    Then Nakita began guarding raw hide treats and a hollow ram horn, even when they both got one... This was such a pain in the butt that we didn't get the raw hides anymore and threw the horn out.

    Well these days Nakita does well most days with her food and even deer antlers... No food guarding 90-96% of the time. But it seems that at certain times there still are some events that are likely to lead to Nakita having guarding behavior-- something like: if her bowl had been empty and we refilled it and she is very hungry, if we fill her bowl but move the bowl maybe because we need her to eat but are in another room, or if we fill her bowl but she is not hungry so there is a full bowl of food -- just as a few examples.

    Here are some facts: Nakita has a raised feeder so Morgan cannot actually reach her bowl, 70% of the time Nakita will have at least a little food left in her food, Morgan leaves her food alone actually and if anything only smells towards it, Nakita strongly prefers we all be home or whomever is home be seated in the room with her as she eats, we give her a scoop in the am and 2-3 scoops in the pm. Morgan has 2 small bowels and they all filled less often (because they need to be filled less often) and Morgan will at times try to guard her food as its being filled.

    Guarding for Nakita = grawling at Morgan, has snipped towards her once (no harm came of this but it wasn't a desired behavior, which is why I'm posting)
    Guarding for Morgan = laying in her bed by her food, or running towards Nakita to bark and warn her away

    My intervention for guarding is normally to separate the two with the 'aggressor' (or both if the other was insitgating) getting "time out". Then after "time out" is done... They will check on each other and seem just fine...?

    Am I doing ok? Should I change something?
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  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    The very first thing I would do is stop free-feeding them. Get them used to eating two regularly-timed meals per day, and feed them separately. If they are both crate trained, I would get them used to the idea of getting all meals and long-lasting treats (bones, antlers, etc) in their crate. If they aren't, I would feed them in separate rooms until you get them crate trained.

    The second thing I would do is start teaching them Nothing In Life Is Free, or NILIF for short. With NILIF, you teach them that as a human, you are the benevolent leader who controls the resources. It's pretty simple, but is a wonderful tool for reinforcing polite behavior by teaching them that bratty behavior does not get them what they want. There is a ton of information about NILIF (also known as Say Please and Learn to Earn) on the internet if you google it.

    Once they have gotten the hang of sitting for treats, I would start doing exercises where they take turns sitting for treats. Arm yourself with quite a few treats and gather up the dogs. Have Morgan sit and give her a treat. Then have Nakita sit and giver her a treat. Then have Morgan sit for a treat, then Nakita. Morgan, Nakita, Morgan, Nakita.

    Finally, if Nakita is showing signs of food aggression towards humans, I would seek professional help from a qualified Behaviorist whose methods are based not just on positive reinforcement but also on science. Dominance theory, also known as "Dog Psychology", is NOT based on science, and runs a pretty good risk of making things at your house much worse.
    Sebastian is on Facebook!
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  3. #3
    Puppy (New Member) Beni's Avatar

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    They do sit for their treats already and there is no guarding or food aggression with people. Both have been crate trained, although only Nakita is crated while we are not home.

    Thanks for the idea of set feeding times, we will consider this in the solution.

  4. #4
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) nick's spirit's Avatar

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    Welcome Beni, Nakita & Morgan.....

    16 months old...Nakita is starting to feel her maturity coming on....and depending on how dominant Morgan is....this is going to be a testing period.

    As Sebastian's Mom says...eating what is put in front of them in a timely manner, then picking up what ever is left over until next feeding time would help...as well as different rooms or even a crate...whatever works for you & them. But separating them now would be a good call.

    I stopped giving my Pyr's any type of rawhide...they just don't seem to know how to share....and become a different being....not worth the anxiety as far as I was concerned.

    You intervention remark got to me thinking...how do you know who the "aggressor" is? What is each of their body languages saying? Sometimes just having a trained behaviorist in to see that interaction will help you know how do approach the situation.

    and lastly....you have 2 females in the house....when Nakita was a puppy, I'm sure she gave way to Morgan's maturity...now Nakita is changing, becoming more of the independent guarding dog that she is. Not all Pyr's have a personality change, but it seems when they do it hits around 18 months old

    Please keep us informed on how the "girls" get along!

    Nancy & Rudy

  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    I have to agree with SM and Nancy. The right way to modify behavior is to work on not allowing the dog to get so riled up that they engage in the undesirable behavior. Every single time you let the dog engage in that behavior, it reinforces the behavior. If you have to correct it after it already happened, you are already playing catchup.

    Resource guarding is a particularly nasty behavior to modify. There is no definitive answer as to why it happens. Many people have the erroneous belief that free feeding a dog by leaving plenty of food around is the trick. Well, as you can see, it led to the opposite result in your household. On the other hand, I don't think you created the problem by leaving food available, but the reality is BOTH of your dogs have this issue and given your pyr's age and size (as she's not done growing yet), you have to take this VERY seriously as it can escalate.

    The fact that your dogs are resource guarding against each other makes it important that you remove the trigger altogether so that you ensure the safety of your little dog. It doesn't matter they get along 96% of the time. It only takes one bite landing in the wrong place for your little one to be severely injured. It happened to my friends. The bite from the bigger dog wasn't worse than previous minor skirmishes; it simply landed on the wrong place and severed the little one's artery. They watched their little one bleed out in the car as they frantically rushed her to the vet.

  6. #6
    Puppy (New Member) Beni's Avatar

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    Well we began this morning with a set feeding time in separate rooms. Morgan was pretty confused and Nakita, who normally eats more in the evening, was uninterested. I will try my best to stick to morning/evening feeding times near the same times each day but that will be in general as it will be hard to fit in the busy schedule of a family of four.

    Thanks for the feedback! Any other ideas, let me know

  7. #7
    Puppy (New Member) Beni's Avatar

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    We have seen improvement with feeding Nakita in her kennel at different times during the day and Morgan in the guest bathroom. Of course Nakita will whine like a big huge baby and refuse to eat if someone isn't in the same room as her but that is a different story.
    Also we have been making them sit on either side of me and will take turns giving treats with Nakita getting the first and last treat. Right when treats are over I will dismiss them telling them we are all done so they don't linger. All these interventions have been successful thus far and helpful, thank you!

  8. #8
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Tessy's Avatar

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    I am wondering, did you adopt Nakita or did you get her from a breeder? I am not positive, but the whining to have someone in the room with her while she eats, sounds like it might be from a past owner. But Nakita is young so hopefully this is solved soon. Good luck!

  9. #9
    Puppy (New Member) Beni's Avatar

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    We got her as a pup from a breeder. The whining is because she is in the kennel but not leaving the house. She will pout about being in her kennel while we are home but doesn't mind if we are away. But she has always preferred earring while we ate even when we free fed her.

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