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 Possession/Aggression?

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simplify
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PostSubject: Possession/Aggression?   Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:17 pm

Hello. wave

As some of you know I am looking into getting a second dog in the next couple of years.

I am worried about Mishka. He is very dominant, has some resource guarding issues, and is possessive over me. I know I need to get a trainer involved but it's kind of hard when he's the only dog at the moment. He is only this way with other dogs. I can feed him / give him treats and take them away no problem, same with toys.

Just this Sunday at the dog park I was drinking some water and went to give him some when a dog that he plays really amazingly with came up and wanted some too. Mishka got the ugly snarly face over the water bottle. Same thing yesterday afternoon walking him in our neighborhood. We met a new aussie puppy and the puppy got too close to me/the water bottle I bring with me and Mishka started to raise hackles.

And toys! Oh lord don't even get started with toys or chews. At the dog park he will start a fight over a tennis ball sometimes and it's not that he *wants* whatever it is. He just doesn't want the other dog to have it.

I just don't even know how to start to work on this issue! I want to put him back into basic obedience and also go into advanced. We're also learning barn hunt soon. I just want him to be okay with other dogs in more of a normal, daily way instead of just dog park play. :/

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AnyaLuv
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PostSubject: Re: Possession/Aggression?   Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:39 pm

While basic obedience is always good, that wont really address the issue here.

How do you handle it when he shows possessive behavior? at the dog park for instance? How's he corrected (is he corrected?)

Many trainers will bring a dog to work on these exact issues at play, or will go with you to the dog park to work on it.
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PostSubject: Re: Possession/Aggression?   Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:02 pm

Oh I know obedience won't help with these issues! They will just be situations he will be put in where his possessive nature can come into play, imo.

At the dog park, I will usually give a stern no or ah ah noise and remove him from the "area" we are in and make him sit down and wait until I feel he has gotten over his momentarily lapse of asshole and then release him.

It is also not constant during the time we are there or even every time. It might the specific item or the specific dog he feels the need to challenge (I hate these words but it's all I can think of to explain).

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PostSubject: Re: Possession/Aggression?   Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:04 pm

Kat, that's somewhat true, but consider that true obedience is not just sitting when told to Sit, for example. True obedience is a state of mind and involves deference to the human and surrender/avoidance of objects when told.

So if the dog really understands No, then the dog would avoid a tennis ball when told. If he doesn't, then he's got a more fundamental impulse problem and too much free agency.

If Mishka, i.e., could be called off a ball or the water and spent more time deferring to his human, the resource nastyness would go away.

I would have him heeling always, spending more time at home in command on Place or in Down, showing bomb proof patience and release for all food or toys, and getting a lot less affection from his human, who he guards.

Obedience can address the fundamental state of mind that lies at the foundation of resource guarding and possessiveness.

And yes, I too would be correcting those behaviors, very heavily.
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PostSubject: Re: Possession/Aggression?   Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:24 pm

^We're definitely coming from the same place and I think saying the same thing (even if I'm expressing myself very poorly). I just meant there needs to be more than obedience classes-this needs to be addressed every minute of Mishka's life!

Ashleigh, if I were you, I'd start at ground zero with Mishka. I would start (if you don't already) the Nothing in Life Is Free approach to get that deference to you back. Mishka needs to see you as responsible for all of the fun things, and you have the say who gets them (even another dog!), not him.

I would also stop going to the dog park until significant progress is made, and work up to it, since consistency is key. Dog parks get dogs into such a heightened excited state, it will be harder to break through, especially if a fight breaks out and you're 20 feet away. It would be better to start corrections while on walks and deliberate interactions where you can correct quickly with the leash (and ideally a prong collar).
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PostSubject: Re: Possession/Aggression?   Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:33 pm

Very true. Dog parks are bad news if a dog can't be called off objects or properly defer to humans.
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PostSubject: Re: Possession/Aggression?   Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:22 pm

We do work with a prong and do incorporate NILF training. I admit I have been slacking with keeping up with training so that I know is something *I* need to work on.

At the dog park he is never far from me, I do follow him (I am not one of those release dog and go sit down / play on phone types). Avoiding it will be difficult since I am the admin for a local husky group.

But I will definitely work with him and see about getting back into obedience. I just am the one that does everything for/with him. My husband does not do anything with Mishka unless I specifically ask him to (which is like pulling teeth).

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PostSubject: Re: Possession/Aggression?   Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:26 pm

Honestly, unless it is a balanced obedience class (that allows corrections), it will do nothing to address the guarding behavior. Most obedience classes are entirely treat/excitement based and can often just make things worse because they increase arousal toward you and your food. I think structured walks while heeling would be way better for him and are free!
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PostSubject: Re: Possession/Aggression?   Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:34 pm

Well I also just got a slip lead today (for quick outings and for when we do barn hunt) so I planned on working with him on that so starting back with heeling will be something I will be doing this afternoon with him.

I would probably have to speak with the trainer about that. I just can't afford her $65/h right now for private training. The good thing if I want to go back to her basic obedience class, I don't have to pay anything. I just would have to pay again if we wanted to go into advanced.

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PostSubject: Re: Possession/Aggression?   Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:36 pm

Ashleigh, I think you're gonna be great at tackling this issue once you get moving on it and considering your knowledge, your relationship with Mishka, and your willingness to learn and try new things with him, you're gonna get great results.

NILF based training is great for when you are asking your dog to work for something. So , for example, if you want to feed your dog you make him sit and wait. Great stuff.

But, with the problems your're having with Mishka and the guarding and the possessiveness, you are going to have to ask him NOT to do something. In other words, you need him to stop reacting the way he is now and choose another way of being around other dogs. It's very common that dogs who are always excited and amped up to have reactivity issues around dogs and desired objects like toys or food. The excitement creates arousal, as Jen said above, and that arousal creates amped up energy and amped up reactions.

NILF training can be perfectly executed in excited, aroused states because all it is really asking a dog to do is trade a desired behavior for a reward. Great stuff, but this type of training won't really crack away at reactivity or guarding issues with other dogs, especially off leash in dog parks.

I hope it helps for you to frame it a bit differently in your mind: you're not wanting Mishka to do something, you are wanting him not to do something. At the core of his issues, granted they sound pretty minor and that all around he's a well behaved guy, is excitement and arousal causing impulse issues. When the energy goes up and he gets amped and the context he's in is dynamic with dogs and water and toys and mom and treats...that's a lot on his plate. For him to make better, more calm, level choices and give you some awesome stuff, he needs to be slowed down a bit, mentally, in terms of stimulation and arousal and there's going to need to be some accountability for obedience commands and for making wrong, undesirable choices.

Obedience training, the Balanced calming kind anyway, would frame the issues you're seeing as symptoms, not problems. The problems have to do with issues of agency, impulse, excitement, affection, free roaming time, and the other stuff that we refer to as Foundation.

These are the core issues being tackled with basic obedience like Sit, Down, Heel, Recall, etc. but also with foundation stuff like Place command, threshold patience, waiting for food, being Released after every command and having accountability for breaking command, etc.

This stuff, if you can get Mishka rocking it, will eliminate the guarding and possessiveness and the tension/anxiety around dogs.

Jen and I talk about Narrowing a Dog's world view a lot, and that's what this is all about.

By the way, since he's already prong collar trained and I think E-collar too...No?...you are well on your way and you can do all this stuff for free by watching videos on Youtube.

If you start this Foundation stuff and up the ante for accountability and corrections, he'll be a different dog in no time.

He's already so handsome, he may as well be an ambassador for good Husky behavior too

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