Hi my name is Amanda. I am new to the forum and am looking for some advice. I have a 5 mo old siberian husky. She is normally a very loving pet. But recently she has started getting aggressive when we try to take my 10 month old sons toys away from her. It's not that we don't want her to play, we just don't want her to get hurt or sick from them if she eats them. The last time I took one away she growled and nipped at me. I know we have to be patient with her but I am worried that she might try to bite one of us sometime. I have e-mailed several breeders and rescue shelters to try to get some advice with no response. I don't want to get rid of her. She is a mama's girl. I am very attached to her. Please help me with some advice.
I had the same trouble with me Boston Terrier female for a while. It is all pretty mucha dominance issue, I found that making her have a time out until she settled down and did what I wanted her to worked best for me. Scolding or pyshical punishment just added to her aggression towards me. Many other peole on this forum recommend using a water bottle to spray her with every time she become aggressive towards you, this is a safer way of reprimanding her since you can sand away from her and she will still get punished. Hope you get it figured out! By the way welcome to the forum!
This is referred to as "possession aggression". Many dogs that have this also have food aggression, meaning they will growl or nip if you try to get near their food. It can be a dominance issue, but not always! Many dogs have this problem but are normally SUBMISSIVE to their owners. In controlled experiments on captive wolves, submissive wolves were seen guarding food against normally dominant wolves. Dogs, like wolves, will sometimes guard food against their alphas. Your dog wants to keep his toys, so he growls and nips to let you know to keep back. This issue needs to be dealt with NOW, before he gets any bigger and potentially more dangerous. There are many ways to help a dog get over possession aggression. Here is an excerpt from a webpage dealing with how to fix possession and food aggression:
"For many dogs, the main (or even only) trigger is food or possessions. A dominant dog will often be found resource guarding. :-/ Some food aggression tips: The earlier the better, when it comes to getting your dog used to having people's hands in his food!! There are many things you'll want to do from the very beginning. Feed him in a high traffic area, like in the middle of the kitchen when everyone is home. (Setting a bowl of food out in the yard and then going away and leaving the dog to his dinner, is a sure way to start off on the wrong foot...it may be convenient for you, but it will cause problems with a dog who was already inclined to be food-aggressive.) Don't make any special accommodations for him, mostly just ignore him but BE PRESENT while he eats. He is doing two things: associating you with something good--dinner--and also learning that you are not a threat to his food supply. I know it seems like common sense to us: "I just gave it to you, why would you think you have to snarl so I don't take it away??" but a dog doesn't see it that way. Once the food is down on the floor & your hand is off the dish, life just began anew...and who's that lurking nearby? What do they want...??...they must want to steal *my food*! After all, in the dog's eyes his dinner is the most valuable thing in the house! I also like to eat dinner in front of my dogs--it's a great exercise in self-control for them! If he won't wait patiently for the leftovers, into the crate he goes. Walk past him frequently, stopping every once in awhile to drop something tasty in his bowl. The only exception here is children--never let young children disturb a dog who is eating (!) unless you are positive that he would not bite them. Dogs tend to view children as equals or playmates, and he may protect his food from the kids even though he would never dream of doing that to you.Better yet, hand feed him...and have the kids hand feed him too. Tell him "gentle" as he takes food from you...if he tends to grab things roughly and run off with them, try offering the food or treat in a closed hand, letting him sniff for a second, then slowly opening your hand to reveal the treat. Never jerk your hand back nervously at the last instant--that's why he's being so grabby in the first place; he's afraid the food is going to get away! Another method that helps grabby eaters is to offer the food on a fork. (They'll usually only chomp hard into a fork, ONCE. ;) After that, they are alot more careful of what their teeth are snapping down on.) As always, the dog must SIT before he gets any food from anyone. (Personally, I am strongly opposed to "free feeding", especially for dogs with dominance confusion. If the dog doesn't need you for food, the playing field is tilted heavily in his favor!)
Consider feeding more often--never let the dog get to the point where he is ravenously hungry (unless you are in no-free-lunch boot camp, and the dog refused to sit or lie down in order to get his food...in that event, you are using his excessive hunger as a motivator to get him to co-operate with you). A dog who frequently goes hungry feels he has good reason to protect his food: his survival instinct kicks in- "If I don't drive off these threats to my food, I will starve to death!!" In addition, a really hungry dog has a much lower self-control factor...he will be desperate to get the food at any cost, and won't be able to force himself to be patient and calm. Some breeds are born naturally protective of their food, so all the more reason to do everything right from the start! With very young pups, ones that are just being weaned, it's best to ignore their ferocious little puppy growls...after all, they still fall under the leniency of the "puppy license" in another dog's eyes. Just laugh, tell them you don't want their yucky chicken, toss a few more tasty bits in the bowl, and walk off. They soon learn not to bother protecting it, and that your presence at their bowl is a good thing because it means more is on the way! Once the pup gets older, you may want to correct for any snarling over dinner--Dogs who snarl at the humans don't eat at MY house! Say "Acck! NO, bad puppy", pick the pup up by the scruff, and remove to his crate (without whatever he was he was snarling over). If picking up the animal and putting him in his crate--or taking the object or dish away from him--is too dangerous or difficult to be an option, keep a leash on him at all times. (If he is a chewer, make the leash out of airline cable.) This way, you can take up the end of the leash, give it a sharp jerk, pull him off the object and lead him to his crate or yard...in safety. This also works for possessions that are being defended. Again, depending on you, the dog, & the situation...you may want to stick to ignoring when he growls, and praising when he allows you to stand near, and later handle, his food or toys. If the dog is already being a problem at dinnertime, there are still ways to turn that around. One eye-opener for a really pushy dog, is to make him sit for his dinner...then set down an empty dish! (Keep a camera handy for this one ;) The look on his face will probably be priceless.) Then, pick the dish back up--odds are, he won't try to defend it if it's empty--and add a small portion of his chow. Have him sit again, and set it back down. Let him eat that bit, take the dish back up, and add another small part of his dinner. This is a very quick way to give him an incentive to have you touch his dish!! Work up to being able to take his dish with food still in it...add an especially yummy treat...and set it back down. (Alternately, you can start by just dropping the treat in his dish while he's eating from it, and work your way up from there.) I like to run my hand through the food in their bowl while they eat, with a treat cupped inside...then release the treat as my hand is on the way out of the bowl. Save that maneuver for a time when you are confident he won't bite you, though...or, once again, it is a fantastic thing to get him accustomed to in early puppyhood. For a dog who likes to defend kibble, scattering it across the floor one handful at a time will make him stop and think--there's no way he can defend it all, when it's going in so many directions! I also eat in front of my dogs, even if they must be tethered or crated to accomplish this! "Trading" is another good way to desensitize a dog to your taking food and possessions from him. Start out by walking up to him while he has a valuable (in his eyes) object...approach in a non-threatening manner: eyes averted or looking partially away from him, smiling and happy, moving slowly and in a slight curving arc towards him. Hold out a treat in front of you, and offer it to him while talking to him in a happy voice. Ignore any growls, or gently discourage them by saying "noooo, you don't need to growl, silly puppy". Praise him when he takes it, and walk away. The first few times you do this, he will be confused...he was probably expecting you to try to take his prized possession. Soon he will be looking forward to you approaching with treat in hand, no matter what he's got. Then you can move on to the next step--trading up. Figure out your dog's value system: the order in which he ranks things. Give him something of relatively low value, perhaps a squeaky toy. Then, obtain something of greater value to him--say, a dog cookie. Approach the dog in a non-threatening way, and say "trade me?" Offer him the cookie. When he drops the squeaky toy, give him the cookie, and while he's eating it pick up the toy...and praise-praise-praise! He just gave you something without a fight...granted, you had to bribe him, but that's only done in the early stages. You'll wean him off this gradually. Then, look the toy over, squeak it once or twice, and give it right back to him. Do this sort of thing repeatedly, until he will gladly drop his toy for the cookie. Graduate to picking up the toy first, then giving the cookie. Work your way up to more and more valuable objects--for example, to get his bone, you may have to offer a pig's ear chew. Start hiding the goodie before he trades you (but still give it afterwards of course). This way, he is always expecting something better, and one day when he has something ~really~ important, and there is no more valuable object (or you have none with you), odds are he will automatically give you what he's got regardless. If this happens, make sure you praise him generously the instant he gives it up, "wow, Gooooood boy!!! Thank you!!" and reward him later (as soon as possible) with treats. You don't have to reward every time, as you get further along...in fact, a random system of rewards will play into the "gambler" in him (yep, this applies to dogs, too) and make him even more reliable. Keep him guessing...you want it to always be in the back of his mind that even though he really wants what he's got right now, it is in his best interests to give it up when you ask for it."
***Edited By: seijun on 12/19/2004 5:16:10 PM*** Reason: spelling
joce Thanks. I was hoping that someone with a husky would have some advice. We got Sierra when she was 9 weeks old. We think she may have been abused before we got her. I know this another issue we need to deal with. It's been slow going but she is getting better with strangers. Our trainer told us to use rewards to get stuff away from her. Being the wise dog she is she realized that if she grabbed something she wasn't supposed to have she would get a treat. So we had to stop bribery. She isn't food possessive at all. I often hand feed her so her and I have some quality time together. Yes she is very spoiled. But I love her.