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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Resource Guarding Training by Andy Bensing

An interesting post from Andy Bensing, who is an owner of Peacock Bridge Kennels, boarding and training facilities in Reading, PA. 

Aryl is a six-year-old wirehaired dachshund that recently had been returned to me because he no longer "fit in" to the owner's lifestyle. I originally sold him as a puppy to a tracking home in the mid-west. During his first few years he received quite a bit of tracking training and opportunities to take natural lines. Some of his finds were quite challenging. He also had some pretty nice obedience training done including the use of the e-collar.

When I got the call that Aryl needed a new home I of course agreed to take him back and thought it would be relatively easy to place him in a new tracking home. The only problem reported was that he did not particularly like kids or women as he growled and sometimes snapped if picked up by either. He reportedly had never actually bitten anyone. When I got him home and checked out his tracking ability it was great, but unfortunately it turned out that his aggression problems were much worse than reported. It makes finding him a new tracking home very difficult unless they could be reduced.

Here is a video of the work my wife and I are doing to work on one of those problems, Resource Guarding. I wish I had videoed him when we first started. You will see him quite aggressive on this video but it was much, much worse 2 months ago.

We will continue to work on all his issues with the hopes that he will become manageable enough that we can place him with a tracker that has enough dog experience to handle him and value his tracking ability enough to override the extra responsibility of owning a dog like this.


Lindsjö taxar said...

Never heard that dachshunds are aggressive...
Hope he will be understood so he can work as a tracking dog in a new family.
Looks really good.

Jolanta Jeanneney said...

What a good looking dog he is! What a shame about his temperament. Thanks for sharing the excellent video.

Brady said...

Do you ever physically submit this dog to make him understand his place in the pecking order? I like the idea of having the dog give up his resource to you to help him understand his place, but I would have to pin a dog like this repeatedly until he realized his aggression would always be met with immediate overwhelming strength. In my experience with larger dominant dog breeds I have found this to be the only method by which I ever moved a dog from aggressive tendencies to a point where I felt comfortable with them. I am sure it is somewhat difference with smaller breeds as your health is unlikely to be in jeopardy, but I don't want to be bitten by any dog, and consequently don't tolerate even growling at me or any other person.

Andy Bensing said...

The video is just one of a myriad of the things we have been doing with the dog to make progress. We physically make him submit regularly using the alpha roll. That has been gradually getting better and better at it and the roll has been helping with the resource guarding as well. The other day he actually relinquished the rawhide on my first approach and rolled over on his side as I approached. I would like to have caught that one on video for comparison.

To me resource guarding is one of the toughest things to manage in a dog. I do not believe it can actually be cured but only managed. I am able to help lots of people in my training business solve the issue between their dog and themselves but rarely does the problem go away completely with non-household members.

Brady said...

Thanks for the response. I have noted that many of the German hunting breeds have a "grittier" disposition than the average dog. My own wachtelhund is no exception. Between 1 and 2 yrs old he exhibited "resource guarding" on 4 separate occasions, growling when I went to remove an object he didn't want me to have. This occurred despite consistent obedience and "pack role" training. Each time I responded by forcibly pinning him and creating an "uncomfortable" environment until his tongue was hanging out and he was desperately trying to roll over. I had the other members of my household submit him accordingly at the slightest hint of objection. It has been nearly a year now since the last episode, and he freely relinquishes anything to me and to others despite him being in his reproductive prime. I have had similar results with other large breeds of dogs, though it seems the longer they are allowed to assert their dominance and aggression, the more difficult it becomes to reverse the behavior. Sadly, I took on a litter mate of my dog that had severe dominance issues and had bitten a household member of the previous owner. Despite great gains in obedience and submission in controlled situations over the course of a few weeks, the dog remained erratic and unpredictable during unstructured times and had to be put down.
Certainly, a part of a dog's disposition is an inherited trait, and the trade off for some of the hard-driving hunting breeds is a stubborn streak. Another part of disposition is learned, which is why I think that it is so important for owners of these breeds to understand the role of training their dogs to realize and accept their (the dogs) role in the "pack." A dog who knows that he is subservient to all the humans in the "pack" is a happier and more biddable companion.

Andy Bensing said...

Very well said Brady. I agree with your above comments completely. If this were a larger dog like your wachtelhunds, the decision to put the dog down would already be made. Being a smaller dog, only 17lbs, aggression is much easier to deal with than a 70 or 80 lb. dog. I used to raise German bred Rottweilers and when new owners let those dog rule the roost there was little hope for placement in a new home. I am hoping to get this guy under control enough that I can find a hunter with enough dog experience to handle the dog properly and keep him in his place and then benefit and enjoy his tracking abilities but the jury is still out as to if that will happen.

Brady said...

I wish you and Aryl the best! He is fortunate to have a capable trainer like you giving him another chance.

Stan said...

I am very interested in your progress, as Rilla has this also, but to a lesser degree. She is a WONDERFUL dog in all other aspects, but this trait has been somewhat frustrating.

Claire said...

Verrrrry interesting. You are a master at your craft, Andy.

My question is: how does resource guarding start? You say dogs who "rule the roost" have this, and once it is learned, very difficult to unlearn.

Also, what would be your views on heritability of this trait?

Thanks in advance,


Andy Bensing said...

I did not mean to imply that resource guarding is created by how a dog is raised. I believe a dog is born with it or he isn't born with it. Some dogs have it and some don't and different dogs have different degrees of it. How a dog is raised will determine to what degree the problem is expressed. If raised in a manner to allow the dog to express the problem to a large degree (rule the roost) then the problem can get quite out of hand and is difficult or impossible to repair. I make these statements in the context of what most average dog owners can and will do out in the real world. Given enough, time, energy, and money, many if not all of the worst temperament issues can be corrected but since very few people will extend those types of efforts and resources, essentially those problems are not solvable.

As to heritability, as with many behavioral traits, I believe there is a connection albeit complex.

Vince Crawford said...

How has this dog came along for you now Andy?

Andy Bensing said...

I am happy to report that Aryl has come a very long way since we started with him. He actually going to a new home this week. The new home is a good fit with people who understand dogs and don't have any small children in the home who might inadvertently do something to trigger the aggression issues that still remain.All in all I would say he is 90% better than when we started and the remaining problems can be managed by understanding his quirks.

Claire said...

I would like a follow up report on Aryl. How is this dog doing one year later?