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Boyden challenged me and I need help


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#1 Miztiki

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 07:17 PM

What am I doing wrong???

Boyden had a little food guarding thing going on before Fynne. I hand fed him from day one, did (and do) the NILIF thing, and have been a strong leader (I thought).

He had a big store bone months back and went after the cat when he walked by. He showed unreasonable aggression at that stray pup months back when the pup was in a crate with a bone. He had shown mild and normal guarding towards Fynne ("smile" and that's about all it took) until very recently. Knowing he had a food guarding issue, I took care to work with him on it when Fynne got here.

Several days ago I had Fynne outside eating. A while later I let Boy out with me and he went straight to her food and scared her off just by going to it. I immediately put him back in the house and in a down-stay for a while.

The other day (was that yesterday?) I had Fynne in her crate eating and Boy jumped against the crate snarling and all, trying to get the food. Totally surprised me and ticked me off. He was put in a down-stay in the tub (and away from me) for at least half an hour, then taken outside on leash for the rest of his trips outside that night, and I had him heel instead of walk regular. I also ran him through all of his commands and refused to play with him.

See this dog?

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This is EXACTLY what Boyden did to me a short while ago. He didn't snarl quite as big but he did "smile" at me (mouth closed clearly showing front teeth) just like he does to Fynne, and his eyes were EXACTLY the same as in this picture. His ears went up and forward.

Here's how it happened:

Boy and I had just gotten home from a fun outing. Fynne was just finishing up her share of a pork shoulder roast in her crate when we came in. I took the roast from Fynne (because she had eaten her share) and gave it to Boy. After a few minutes I called Fynne over and sat between Boy and Fynne, with about 4 feet between them. This has been fine to him in the past as long as I am there.

I put Fynne in a down and grabbed the edge of the towel that the meat was on. I pulled it towards me and Fynne an inch or so. I had planned to tell Boy what a good boy he is for not protesting and have Fynne leave.

Instead he "smiled" at her. I said (not yelled) "hey" and that son of a bitch looked at me with his head down and glared at me exactly like in that picture and smiled. I stared back at him and he took a step towards me without blinking.

I'm not totally stupid. I averted my gaze, took a step back, cheerfully said something about going outside and both dogs went out while I put the meat in the fridge.

Now here I am asking for help.

I know Boy is a dominant dog by nature. You all know I love him but I am very strict with him for this reason, not in a mean way by any means, but I don't let him get away with much at all.

Up until just a week or so ago I was able to take any great food right out of his mouth and he didn't care at all, just perked his ears up expectantly like when I have a treat for him. I could restrain him and position him and he'd be fine with that. I could make him move when he was sleeping, get off the couch with nothing but a wave of my hand...

In case you didn't see the thread, he bit me on two seperate occasions. Both times I was reaching for his collar when he had done something wrong. Apparently his previous owners grabbed him by the collar when he was in trouble and did who knows what to him so that he felt the need to defend himself. Each instance he bit me twice, for a total of 4 bites. None hurt and none left the slightest mark. His expression was totally different those times than it was tonight. I've been grabbing his collar while in a rough voice telling him what a good boy he is and giving him treats and he's showing much less apprehension when I do.

I already contacted a behaviorist for this problem but I'd like to hear what you all might have to say since you "know" me and Boy.

Why did he challenge me tonight? Why didn't he do something more "normal" like other dogs when they are guarding their food? I wouldn't have done that with Fynne nearby if I hadn't had them near eachother many times before. He never showed any guarding when I was by him while he was eating and Fynne happened to come by me. He knows Fynne wouldn't dare try to take something from him and he knows that I wouldn't let her anyway. When I pulled the towel towards us a bit and he protested, should I have kept my mouth shut and just held still until he was ok and called it good for the day? Was it the "hey" spoken quietly in a low voice that caused him to behave like that? It's the same tone of "hey" that I use when I tell him to sit and he doesn't. It's not a "you're in big trouble" hey.

Help me please. He could have hurt me really bad tonight and to be quite honest, I was very afraid.

#2 Joe Anne

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 07:53 PM

WOW! Miztiki, I am so sorry Boy is being a little brat. Hmmm, What was going on the times he bit you? Sounds like it was just a "warning" bite, but still not good. It also sounds like things may be escalating. If Fynne was eating and you took it from her to give to Boy, maybe he thought you were taking it from him to give back to her. NOT, that, that's an excuse. I 'm not sure you looking away was the thing to do. That is a challange he was issuing you, and is ment to show dominance. Whomever looks away first is submitting. How does everyone else in your home handle his attitude? Does he do this with your husband as well? It's important that at least all the adults handle his attitude in the same way, otherwise the dog gets even more confused...mommy let's me and daddy dosen't or vice versa, sorta thing.
I agree that maybe a behaviorist is in order. I train for obedience, but I know my limits and it is real hard to say what you should do without actually seeing Boy, Fynne and you reacting together.
If it's any consolation (NOT! I'm sure), but Phoenix is going through a bully stage right now, and I don't like it either, (I hope it's a stage). He is literally terrorizing my 2 girls, one of which is 90 lbs and could cream his little 40 lb butt if she ever decided to. He is getting real posessive of treats, his and theirs. We have been giving each dog their treat in their own place forever, and Phoenix goes right in his crate, finishes his and Sitka is real slow, so he comes out and sorta lurks around her hoping to steal a crumb I guess, and over the last couple of days they have gotten into it, seriously. So far a very loud HEY and a spray bottle breaks it up, but I can see it getting more serious each time it happens!
Anyway, sorry to ramble, I know I haven't helped but I wish I could.
Hope someone else can come up with something new for you to try.
I know when ever one of my babies have ever snapped or bit at me, I think it hurts my feeling more than it does physically.
Good Luck
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#3 donna frankland (uk)

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 11:35 PM

hi miz!

i dont know if this will be any help, but when i had the 2 dogs, i always gave them their own lump of rmb. even if it was too big for one sitting, that way when it was taken away, both dogs food was taken at the same time, and each dog got their own piece back the following meal. molly for one certainly knew which was the piece that was hers the previous meal! that said, neither dog gave any hassle with food guarding exept tikki will give a low growl if the cats try stealing his food, so i keep the cats away. i have also taught ANY dog i have had with me the command 'DEAD', this signals to the dog whatever you have you step away from it RIGHT NOW. i use 'dead' instead of 'leave it', as i dont want any confusion, i dont want them to think its a game, and it is used only in the circumstance of relinquishing food or with tikki, leaving the hedgehog the hell alone. this way i dont have to take food from a dog, the dog will step away from the food, i can also shout 'dead' if it looks like one of my nieces is going too close to a dog who is eating. it buys me a few seconds to grab said child and tell them to move away from the dog, preventing any heat of the moment situation arising with the kids. again not that i have had any trouble, but better safe than sorry! also handy if a dog picks up something unknown on a walk.
perhaps you can teach boy something similar and hav him give up his food voluntarily, without you needing to take it from him?
hope this helps a little!
love
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#4 kelpiegirl

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 01:30 AM

hi miz:
What comes to my mind first and foremost, is that you should not give him anything he can "own" or be posessive over. I know you feed raw, so that makes it hard, but perhaps buy some prepared raw? What I am getting at is that he is not to have anything he can get a grip on and prevent others from having it.
I would get the commercial raw patties (some has ground bone in it) Oma's pride I know does, and feed him by hand, and feed him his meal in stages, after he has done something for you- down, heel, sit, roll over, whatever (except for bark). He needs to learn he does not own anything in this world- nlif isn't strict enough for him. One thing I wanted to add is that dogs don't get that they are being punished for something, unless that punishment occurs exactly at the moment he did the wrong. So, since grabbing for the meat could cause a bad bite, don't give him anything to grab, and I think that is the way it should stay.

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#5 ErinKate

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 01:54 AM

On one hand I agree with Julie in saying don't give him anything to grab, hence you needing to take away, but it really doesn't solve your problem. Heck, one day you may need to take away a sock, or something from him that he doesn't want to give up.

I averted my gaze, took a step back, cheerfully said something about going outside and both dogs went out while I put the meat in the fridge.

You averted your gaze = submiting to HIM
took a step back = submiting to him
cheerfully said... = reward

Sorry Miz, IMO this was the last thing Boyden needed. I know it was scary, and your first fright, but after him biting, aauuugghhh!!! If he was mine, he would have eaten every tooth he showed me. If you can do it without scarying Fynne, yell in a big booming voice, "are you kidding me!!!" (kiss of death for my boys) Then tell him to drop it, back up, get out, load up, whatever gets him away from what he was guarding. Maybe for a bit you should send him out to pick up his bones. I think he is totally bulldozing you. He knows you won't do anything. The day you do, he will totally change his tune.

#6 kelpiegirl

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 02:00 AM

Hi Erin:
I agree with you, but I also see that there could indeed be a bite given to Miztiki, and a bad one, so that is why I suggested that she not give anything her could own. I also would respond like you, in that if my dog challenged me, I would respond by telling them that I am the boss applesauce, and they would probably not try that again! I think though, the safest thing for Boy's mom is to not allow him to get the upper hand, and make him work for every piddly little thing he gets.

Julie
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#7 Carson Crazies

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 02:05 AM

Miz, email me when you're up and I'll call you.
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#8 Jordi44

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 02:07 AM

Hi,
I know how you feel - not sure I can help, but I've been there. My first BC, Jack, was very dominant, and he could scare the daylights out of me. But don't back down. I realize, sometimes they catch you by surprise, or you aren't in a position to defend yourself if necessary, but if at all possible, don't let him win. I used to literally knock Jack over, roll him, grab his muzzle with one hand and his throat with the other. His response was usually something in the form of "Do you want something?". Point is, it may have been overkill, but if in doubt, try to get a hand (prefer 2) around his muzzle so that he can't snap at you. I know how scary it can be - and BC's are so quick and powerful. Hopefully, he's as "afraid" as you are and hoping like all heck you don't push back, but don't count on that. If you're going to do something that might cause a similar situation to happen, have a blanket or large towel at hand. That way, if necessary, you can always toss that over his head to get a hold of him.

When feeding, I would give each one their own share in their own bowl - and no one gets the others. On the 4th of July, we came home to find that one of our dogs (I suspect Blaze, my BC) had killed one of my Himi kittens. It was near the dogs' food, and my guess is that it was a "get out of my food" thing. Since then, the dogs eat outside, no food left down for them inside (previously it was a self-feed, food available all the time situation). They spend pretty much as much time as they want outside, so they have plenty of chance to eat. This has eliminated a lot of potential problems that way. I have also put out water bowls in two different places. It sounds like you've been trying to do all the right things - which takes dedication and time and I wish I were as good with mine - keep at it, consult a behaviorist, and hang in there. I don't know if any of my ramblings help, just wanted to let you know that I feel for you - been there many times before, and it is VERY SCARY. Blaze has developed some attitude, also lately - he's 3-1/2 - and he scares me once in a while, but isn't anything like Jack used to be.

#9 2 Devils

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 02:13 AM

I am not sure if it is possible but it may be time to feed both dogs in crates at the same time or in separate rooms. The other should not be allowed to go near the other until they are both finished.

It seems that Boy may be taken out his aggression on you when he is pissed or annoyed etc... with Fynne.

I am not sure how to fix it but these incidents always seem to start with something and then he turns on you.
Kim
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#10 Carson Crazies

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 02:19 AM

While showing him who's boss is important here guys, its also important to read and understand his body language, and consider the context. Given the fact that she has no history on this dog past his time with her, and the fact that his behavior seems to be escalating, I think I would be VERY hesitant to invite him (at this point) to bite or attack her by keeping eye contact with him right now. JMHO though. Miz, I would get with that behaviorist and see what they think about his actions towards you. Inter-dog aggression does not scare me nearly as bad as when they turn it on their human. Until you get to a behaviorist here is what I would do:

Feed Boy or Fynne one in the crate, and the other one outside. Do not allow them to be around each other while eating. For now. Put a stop to the *testing* of the resource guarding thing - he needs to feel safe while he's eating.

No wrestling or rough play with Boy (from you).

For something you would normally down-stay him out of your sight, I would down-stay him within your sight, and then proceed to pretend like he doesn't exist. I would not play with him, nothing but his very immediate needs. Matter of fact, it wouldn't hurt to starting right now and for the next 12-24 hours I would pretend like he doesn't exist (except for his immediate needs). No loves, no attention, NO PETS. After that I would begin a much stronger NILIF program. No pets unless he does something for it. No gratuitous petting (ie sitting on the couch and stroking, etc). This one is tough, and I stink at it.

Anyway, like I said email me (or you can call if you want, on my cell) and I'll call you back.

Hang in there. You're going to get through ALL of this. You are probably ALL sensitive and jumpy right now.
Laura Carson
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#11 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 02:38 AM

Boyden would also wear a leash 24/7 until you can get more help. You need to be able to hanlde him without messing with his collar.

I agree that you "gave up" when things escalated and may have invited future problems, but I also believe that even if you didn't give up then, he would have pushed it to some point where you HAD to give up.

In other words, right now he feels like he's still the rightful owner of control, at least in certain things, and he's just "letting" you get by with it. He shouldn't be "letting" you - it should be the other way around.

Boyden is a BIG DOG, and he knows his size (unlike some pussycats of big dogs like my Maremmas). You'll definitely want some assistance getting that notion out of his head. You've read the Patricia O'Connell books, right? I'm really fond of her description of the status-seeking dog and the benevolent leader - you're definitely not going to convince Boyden that you actually are capable of winning a contest of brute force, so he'll need to be convinced that being content with a more appropriate status is HIS idea.
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#12 Rave

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 02:39 AM

Just curious, is this the same dog who's currently on or has recently been on steroids? If so, it might explain his escalating aggression over food. Either way, playing games with a very limited resource is not a good idea. Making the dogs lie in close proximity to each other while one has the limited resource is also not a good idea. You're inviting trouble. Give each dog the same thing, both in their crates. Stop creating stress over the food. If someone came in and was playing games with my food when I was hungry, I'd probably slap them. :rolleyes:

However, the resource guarding is just one problem. The other problem is it sounds like (just based on reading your posts) you're scared of being bitten. Through your previous actions, Boy realizes he can get you to back off. You're not acting like a confident alpha leader, and Boy picks up on this. A true leader doesn't hesitate when taking something and doesn't back down. That said, you don't need to get bitten either, but I think you do need hands on help to set up situations where you can be comfortable and not in danger of being bitten. A behaviorist can tell you more and help you work on your relationship issues too.

#13 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 02:40 AM

Oh, and ask Laura C about "two steps forward one step back" - this may actually be a sign you are getting into his head. I also agree with feeding seperately in crates.
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#14 Rave

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 02:45 AM

Another thing, the dogs need to get used to eating together. Both in crates about 15-20' apart where they can see each other. Both given the same food. You about 20' from both crates observing (but not staring at either dog - read a book). If there are any growls, don't yell or correct, just move the crates further apart until you find that comfort zone where they can eat "together".

#15 Carson Crazies

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 03:13 AM

Yes, the two steps forward, one step back. A very wise woman told me not too long ago that we need to think like the dog. The dog takes each situation as it comes, and we need to also. He may test you in all kinds of different situations. Sometimes these things flare up over new and different situations. It doesn't mean that progress isn't being made, its just a new situation (which seems to us to be a step back).

I couldn't remember if you said that Fynne now uses Boy's crate, or if he has a seperate one... But it might not be a bad idea to have a seperate one that you can utilize for him for now, and for future needs.
Laura Carson
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#16 ErinKate

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 03:55 AM

I think I would be VERY hesitant to invite him (at this point) to bite or attack her by keeping eye contact with him right now.

Oh NO! Please don't think I meant get in a staring match! At this point that is a good way to lose your face. I just meant by cowering away, he won. A better approach would have been standing, staying out of strike range, and commanding him out, or off in a big powerful, no ifs ands or butts voice.
I also agree, probably not the best idea with a dog with known food aggression to be sitting with him and his bone, with another dog close by. Then trying to take it away. The first warning he gave you went ignored. You just gave him a weak verbal. I know he is your baby, but be careful about being so close while he has food. If things went bad, how quickly could you have gotten up? We all would hate to see you get hurt.
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#17 Annette Carter & the Borderbratz

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 04:00 AM

Miz,

I don't think you need to be flipped out over this. It is natural for even betas to guard their food from alphas and this is respected- it doesn't change the betas position as to when he gets to eat, what duties he has to the pack, etc but by gum when he's allowed to have his hunk, nobody is taking it- this is part of the very diverse nature or pack order, it can sometimes be confusing. I think he needs to be safe with you around food but there is absolutely no reason for him to have to tolerate another animal around his food.

I do think it was wise of you not to push the issue and I do not think it has jeopardized your pack status at all. I do think that you should do some trading up with him- taking his dinner away for a trade of something else like offal or fish and then giving the dinner back to him- just building trust. By forcing Fynne on him at feeding time, you are purposely threatening him and have broken trust some. Now you have to go about rebuilding it. I'm not saying that a visit with a good behaviorist isn't ever a good idea but that I think this is a safe place to start. It is a fairly new concept that dogs should have to tolerate others around their food, nobody did this 30 years ago- it was "the dog's eating, leave him alone" not it's "the baby should be able to play in the dogs mouth at dinner time and not get hurt". The dog, is still very much the same critter now as then.

My dogs eat side by side in plastic crates, they can't really see each other and so arguments are avoided. I can take food from them but I will regularly trade up with them now and again just to reinforce the trust between us.

I think that you are doing a great job with both of them and if Boy won't tolerate animals around his food and that is the worst of it then count yourself lucky. I know Fynne, runs off when confronted by Boy in regards to food and some dogs will run off. In my house there is not any dog that will back off of food from any other. I would not force the issue either.

ALSO (just waking up more here- it's 6:46am)

You tentatively touched the towel and pulled just a bit toward you and Fynne. If I have the picture right... here goes. #1 if you were doing that to my dog I'd say "Hey Miz (oops almost typed your name), please don't tease my dog" #2 If I were your dog, I'd say, jeez mom is acting really tentatively, rather spooky I'd say, not normal at all, she usually just walks up with her confident mommy self and takes the stuff away, now she's crouched and trying to SNEAK my stuff away like a beta would from an alpha, so she must be retireing from Alpha for a while, ok I'm up to the job" It took me way longer to type this but I could think the basic concepts in the sec he decided to smile at you. So if I have that picture right of what happened, you were not behaving normally and your outward signals were of beta regardless of what you had in your head as far as intentions. I bet that if you had (instead of testing him with Fynne) stood up and took the bone away from him with confidence that he wouldn't have said (or done) a thing.

Let me know and I'll call to explain better if you like.

#18 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 04:08 AM

That's a really good point about the sneaky bit.

Hey Laura S:

read a book

Are you RECOMMMENDING SOMEONE READ A BOOK!?!?!?!?!?

Just kidding, I know what you mean - I just had to get that in. :rolleyes: :D :D
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#19 Rave

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 04:12 AM

Funny Becca! You know, an agility mag recently published handling moves broken down very technically, and I thought that would be perfect for someone who learns like you. I tried to read it but got bored, so just looked at the pictures. :rolleyes:

#20 Carson Crazies

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 04:35 AM

Oh NO! Please don't think I meant get in a staring match! At this point that is a good way to lose your face.

:D I was hoping that wasn't what anyone was meaning, but felt it should be re-iterated. You're an OK gal ErinKate. :rolleyes:

Becca is right, he is a big dog who knows his own size and power, and I think Miztiki probably will need to help him to decide that she is in charge and he is OK with that (and that it was somehow HIS idea). Thing is I don't think he's this snarly lungy cujo type dog really. I think Annette is onto something, that he decided that the opportunity for him to be in charge was there, so he was taking it. If you control the resources, Miz, you also control keeping Fynne away and out of his food. :D

I can not let up my position even for a few minutes at my house or I see backlash. It's usually pretty proportionate, but if I fall down on the job a little, I start seeing the ugly stuff with the girls again. I let one sit in my lap?? I'm breaking up dog fights later. It may be a case of "you can never let up" or that you have to be careful to make sure he stays confident that you can handle whatever comes up.

Here is what I did when things got a little hairy at my house. Self talk. "Self: It's going to be OOOOOOKKKKKKKK. I'm a tough girl. The world should fear me. ARrrarararar. I can handle big enormous stallion horses who attack and bite me and are psycho... I can handle three wee dogs. I will be OOOOOOOKKKKKKKK. I can handle this. I will be in charge. I will be fair and consistent. It will be OOOOOKKKKKK." Rinse and repeat as needed. Chocolate helps too.
Laura Carson
Nick, Linc, June, Pia, and Ginger
RIP Zippy (Jan 11, 1994 - April 9, 2012)


Crooks and Crazies



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