Crate guarding

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Postby amalie79 » August 13th, 2010, 2:59 pm

Well, kinda, sorta...

Here's the deal. Robin is the only dog in the house that's crated. Simon has a bed and box fan at the side of our bed. River has commandeered an armchair, and sometimes shares the couch with Robin. Robin has her crate; when we're gone, she's crated and at night she's either in the crate or in our bed. We tried to get a bed for River, but the cats peed on it within 45 minutes. :cuss: At any rate, Simon and River stay out of trouble, so they're fine loose. But lately when we're home, everyone's in everyone's grill around here; Robin gets in River's chair pretty frequently, and everyone is crowding Simon right now because it's 105 degrees and the AC can only cool so much, plus we have a shortage of fans.

Now, when Robin is crated during the day, she will eat her bedding or sheet if she doesn't have a kong. So when we're in a hurry, I slap a little peanut butter into one and toss it in with her. River doesn't always get one, and in hindsight this is part of the problem. River's EXTREMELY food motivated. When we get home and go to let Robin out of her crate, River follows us and gets Robin's abandoned kong and takes it to her chair. Usually, they pass each other in the crate doorway no problem and there hasn't been even a hint of an issue; Robin gets what she can get and then loses interest in the kong. Again, in hindsight, I'm seeing how stupid this is. :oops:

Today, Robin decided it wasn't ok and went after River. Robin is true to her terrier roots and just goes and goes when she's mad. I've seen her resource guard a little before-- we've since discovered that the majority of her growling is play, but I still trade for high value contraband. The only other times I've seen her go after one of the other dogs was when Simon sniffed the opening of her crate where she had been chewing a bone (everyone guarded their stupid bones that day and I haven't bought more since :crazy2: ) and when Simon was in "her" space at the end of our bed. The first time we got rid of the bones, the second time, we put some limits on Robin's access to the bed/window area. Usually we have to keep Robin from annoying River, so this was a little bit of a surprise.

My issue is multi-fold: first, I am going to maintain tighter control over the kongs-- no more kong theft. However, if her issue is space, I'm wondering how I teach the other dogs to respect each other's space. Is it as simple as vigilantly not allowing them in/around it and treating for leaving it? Or is there something else I need to focus on? Also, if she's going to be a space guarder, how do I keep her from guarding her crate EVEN MORE? While I want it to be her safe place, I want to be sure that I can get things out of it no problem and that she doesn't get cranky if the others get too close to it when they all follow me like a caravan into that room... :| We're getting more fans, and I'm hoping the temps will go down so we can all get more exercise-- there's a lot of energy that's got no place to go right now.

Thankfully everyone's ok-- they went outside right after the "discussion" and while Robin walked up against River a little (I assume to drive home the point she was making inside), they were ok. It's amazing how they just don't hang on to grudges. However, I don't want these things to escalate or become more numerous/frequent. :neutral:
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Postby furever_pit » August 13th, 2010, 7:56 pm

It doesn't sound to me like she is guarding the crate itself. She's got some object/food possession going on and she is being territorial over the bed, but the bed is another high value item for some dogs.

The simple solution would be a baby gate to keep the others away from her crate. I would at least do that while you are not home to supervise so that there are not confrontations while you are away and so it doesn't cause escalation. You can also try using a go away command for the dogs for when you are home. This way you can tell the others to leave the room when you are letting Robin out of her crate (which will allow you to take the kong or bone or whatever so that none of the other dogs can take them and be self-rewarded for their behavior). You can use this with the dogs when they are out too, if Robin is all up in River's grill just tell her to go away or to go lie down in her bed.

All in all, it sounds to me like your dogs need to learn that nothing is really theirs, it's YOURS. You just let them play with it, chew on it, lay on it, etc. I also don't believe in trading for high value items with my own dogs. I think in the end it rewards the possessive behavior towards the handler because you are essentially saying, "you are right Fido, you are big and bad and I'm going to give you a cookie for your efforts." :| With my dogs, if they display overt possessiveness toward me they are corrected; a dog that tries to bring it to me is gonna find out real quick just how stupid that was.

Are you using NILIF? If not, I would start it with every dog in the house.
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Postby amalie79 » August 13th, 2010, 9:36 pm

Thanks. The room that Robin's crate is in is closed when we're not home; honestly, it's not hard for the dogs to get that door open (it doesn't close well), but it's always still closed when I come home. This is the first incident with River-- River gets growly with Robin when Robin won't leave her alone, but we step in pretty quickly. Robin never responds to River's "corrections," and the only time an aggressive loose dog has rushed her, she slipped her collar and took off running. She's not generally looking to fight, and neither is River. I think it was a very particular circumstance, but I do want to be cautious.

And yes, I'm starting to think it's more item-related than crate-related. We were in there earlier and River was lying on the floor with her head near Robin's crate (it's in my husband's office) and Robin was unperturbed. She just went into her crate, got a toy and brought it to me to play. No big deal.

River's sit/stay commands are pretty solid, so it'll be easy to manage. I think we are going to work on our "off" and go away commands with both girls so that I can reinforce them going away from/getting off of the others' spaces.

I'm very careful with resource guarding and, well, any kind of aggression at all. I've had some experience with a fear aggressive dog (Simon, and he had some resource guarding issues, too) and so I err on the side of caution with those issues. My parents' dog when I was growing up was trained with traditional more corrective methods, and he was a very well-adjusted, obedient, stable dog. When we got Simon, we used the same methods. He was a more high-strung dog, less confident, more cautious, and I think we ended up making those things worse. Getting something he wasn't supposed to have meant I took it from him; if he growled, he was corrected-- granted, it took about 12 years before he EVER growled at me, but he growled at my parents before that. Eventually, he learned not to bother growling at all, and snapping instead. Barking at a scary stranger on a walk-- he got corrected, and that behavior was suppressed, but he eventually started to lash out more severely if strangers tried to pet him.

I'm not saying this wasn't handler error-- I DO understand how a correction collar works, but since Simon, I have never felt comfortable enough in my ability to give effective and humane correction to risk doing it badly. I also think that it depends on the baseline personality of a dog-- some can bounce right back and others can't. I don't want to find out which one I have AFTER I've done some correcting that will be hard to reverse. Robin lets me take most things from her, but last night she got the wrapper from a summer-sausage and growled a little. So I went into the kitchen, where her treats are, called her to come and asked her to drop it. Then she got a treat. I try to remove the treat from the immediate event of me trying to forcibly take something. :|

We do practice NILIF, but occasionally we get lax with it, and she definitely reminds us. So we'll kick that back into gear, manage the resources a little closer than we were, and continue working on everyone's obedience. That seems to be the best solution for most things, anyway! :)
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Postby furever_pit » August 13th, 2010, 10:44 pm

amalie79 wrote:I'm not saying this wasn't handler error-- I DO understand how a correction collar works, but since Simon, I have never felt comfortable enough in my ability to give effective and humane correction to risk doing it badly. I also think that it depends on the baseline personality of a dog-- some can bounce right back and others can't. I don't want to find out which one I have AFTER I've done some correcting that will be hard to reverse. Robin lets me take most things from her, but last night she got the wrapper from a summer-sausage and growled a little. So I went into the kitchen, where her treats are, called her to come and asked her to drop it. Then she got a treat. I try to remove the treat from the immediate event of me trying to forcibly take something. :|


Sorry, I misunderstood your original post. I thought you meant that you took the treat to Robin and traded her for whatever was in her possession, I have seen some people do this and that is what I was disagreeing with. I think using commands to break up a dog's possessive behavior is a good approach and use it with dogs that display small signs of possession, but if my dog attempts to come after me then I use corrective methods tailored to that specific dog. A "come to Jesus" meeting for Dog A might be a low-level correction with dominating body language while Dog B might need to more to realize that he picked a battle he will not win. I'm certainly not suggesting that you use these methods if it is not what you are comfortable with.

Good luck with your crew.
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Postby TheRedQueen » August 13th, 2010, 11:59 pm

I think you already have a pretty good idea of how to work on this...;) Work on managing them so they're not all crowded together anywhere; work on keeping them out of Robin's crate/area; work on having multiple kongs ready to go when you leave-so everyone has a fresh, stuffed kong...which are picked up immediately when you get home. :D

and it goes without saying that I don't advocate fighting aggression with aggression...;) Corrections for aggression equal suppressed behavior, which equals trouble down the road...imho.
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Postby mnp13 » August 14th, 2010, 8:12 am

The first thing that stood out to me honestly was that one dog is crated and the other two roam the house together when you're not home... Freaks me out.

But personally, I feel that crates are "private" space (from other dogs,not you) and if she doesn't want them in there then they shouldn't be.

And erin's advice is good- if everone has the same kongs you have less of a chance of them arguing over them.
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Postby amalie79 » August 14th, 2010, 8:42 am

mnp13 wrote:The first thing that stood out to me honestly was that one dog is crated and the other two roam the house together when you're not home... Freaks me out.

But personally, I feel that crates are "private" space (from other dogs,not you) and if she doesn't want them in there then they shouldn't be.

And erin's advice is good- if everone has the same kongs you have less of a chance of them arguing over them.


Honestly, as it was happening my brain started thinking "Stupid stupid stupid stupid!! :doh: :doh: :doh: "

I think they should be private, too, but I don't want her to move to guarding the area around it. At any rate, that's why I want to teach the others to go away. And when we know we'll be gone, like for work, everyone does get a kong; it's when we decide last minute to go out to dinner or something and don't have one on hand. Robin's the only one that NEEDS it, so lazy me... :oops: No more.

For the other 2...I just haven't had a need to crate them, and in some cases it's impractical for us. Simon, now 15+, spent much of his time outside until a few years ago (weather pending), and was an only dog for large portions of his life. He doesn't chew or get into anything he shouldn't (except for food, and that's my fault if it's out) and now mostly sleeps. He's got doggie alzheimers, and is mostly deaf, as well as losing his sight. Crate training him even a couple of years ago just wasn't necessary or practical; he also has storm anxiety and any time we confined him, he hurt himself trying to escape; now he can't really hear the storms, so it's much better :neutral: . River was crate trained, but showed a lot of anxiety in the crate. I know we can work on that, but she also never gets into trouble when we're gone, so we never saw a need to confine her if she both hated it and didn't need it and Simon sleeps so they don't even interact much. Still, she can be crated if necessary. Robin still gets into trouble on a daily basis :rolleyes2: . She gets into EVERYTHING she shouldn't, bothers the cats, and tries to play with everything that moves, even if it doesn't want it. Too much potential for fights, stressed and hurt kitties, and ingesting something bad. :| She loves her crate, loves going to it, sleeping in it. Loves it. The situation works for us.

Thanks for the advice-- I think it all boils down to stupid human error. :rolleyes2:
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Postby TheRedQueen » August 14th, 2010, 9:08 am

I don't crate all of my pack...Fig still gets crated as he's young and tears stuff up if he's unsupervised, and small boarding and/or foster dogs get crated upstairs in the same room as Fig. Larger fosters/boarding dogs crate downstairs. But the rest of the pack stays loose...and some boarding dogs do too. I don't personally have an issue with some crated, some not crated. :|

Here's a great idea for stuffing Kongs quickly. :)

http://hubpages.com/hub/A-Simple-Way-to ... y-for-Dogs

I'd have some frozen and ready to in the freezer, each morning, and have them ready at all times...just make up big batches at a time...have six Kongs so there are always fresh ones.
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Postby amalie79 » August 14th, 2010, 9:30 am

TheRedQueen wrote:I don't crate all of my pack...Fig still gets crated as he's young and tears stuff up if he's unsupervised, and small boarding and/or foster dogs get crated upstairs in the same room as Fig. Larger fosters/boarding dogs crate downstairs. But the rest of the pack stays loose...and some boarding dogs do too. I don't personally have an issue with some crated, some not crated. :|

Here's a great idea for stuffing Kongs quickly. :)

http://hubpages.com/hub/A-Simple-Way-to ... y-for-Dogs

I'd have some frozen and ready to in the freezer, each morning, and have them ready at all times...just make up big batches at a time...have six Kongs so there are always fresh ones.


Thanks Erin!!

That ice cube idea is genius! For their regular morning, weekday, going-to-work kong, they get 1/4 c of their regular kibble, a tablespoon or so of peanut butter, a couple of tablespoons of yogurt, and a few squirts of salmon oil-- all frozen in the kong. For the quickie kong, it's usully just peanut butter and maybe some kibble-- but those ice cubes things will make life sooooo much easier! I can make impromptu kongs in no time!! :dance: :dance:

We already have 2 red kongs, a black one, a dogzilla, and a dental kong stick-- Simon is missing some teeth and just isn't as motivated to work as hard or as long as the others; he gets the peanut butter, salmon oil and yogurt smeared and frozen into the grooves of the dental stick kongs. Now I almost wish that I'd used our last pet store coupon on another kong instead of a new Go Dog toy...River would disagree :wink:

Seriously, I think my whole world just opened up! Some days I just feel chained to the kongs.
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Postby TheRedQueen » August 14th, 2010, 9:43 am

You'll just have to buy this shirt next (funny enough, I'm wearing mine right now...lol)

http://www.teddythedog.com/Stuff_It_Tee_p/siss.htm

I absolutely love the ice cube idea too...I just ran across it earlier in the week!
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Postby amalie79 » August 14th, 2010, 9:56 am

rofl

perfect!!
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Postby amazincc » August 14th, 2010, 6:21 pm

Oooh, I LOVE that shirt! :giggle;

All mine have their own crates, and it's one of the few rules I enforce around here... crates are private property and not to be messed with. Neither are the contents, like a personal favorite blanket or toy. :wink:
Everyone gets crated when I'm not home, except for Daisy... but she's as old as Moses and doesn't get into anything. :)
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Postby amalie79 » August 14th, 2010, 6:38 pm

except for Daisy... but she's as old as Moses and doesn't get into anything. :)


That's Simon for ya! There's a lot that he can't physically get into, but I think he usually just sleeps all day. :)
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Postby TheRedQueen » August 14th, 2010, 8:51 pm

How odd...it's my oldest that I most worry about getting into things! lol
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Postby mnp13 » August 14th, 2010, 11:11 pm

Separation doesn't have to be crates. It can be rooms or sections of the house. And it's not just for pit bulls or bull breeds. Any breed of dog can scuffle with each other or get into mischef when you're not home.
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Postby mnp13 » August 15th, 2010, 11:56 pm

TheRedQueen wrote:and it goes without saying that I don't advocate fighting aggression with aggression...;) Corrections for aggression equal suppressed behavior


Not always.

Meeting aggression with aggression can also get you escalation, as in 1+1=3. And the one with the fur and the teeth might come out ahead in that one.

It is not a good idea to meet aggression with aggression for a number of reasons. Suppression is one reason, escalation is another, flat out unpredictability is probably the most important reason of all.
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Postby TheRedQueen » August 16th, 2010, 12:33 am

mnp13 wrote:
TheRedQueen wrote:and it goes without saying that I don't advocate fighting aggression with aggression...;) Corrections for aggression equal suppressed behavior


Not always.

Meeting aggression with aggression can also get you escalation, as in 1+1=3. And the one with the fur and the teeth might come out ahead in that one.

It is not a good idea to meet aggression with aggression for a number of reasons. Suppression is one reason, escalation is another, flat out unpredictability is probably the most important reason of all.


Good...thanks for adding that...:) I've got scars to prove that one. ;)
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Postby Tubular Toby » August 16th, 2010, 10:29 pm

Oh, I love the foodsicle idea!! I am trying it out for Toby for fun and for my roommates dog that barks incessantly when she is left in her crate. Haha
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