this evening i gave otis a bone. I realized i needed to feed him and when he droped the bone to eat, i bent down to pet him and he grabbed the bone and started growling at me and peeing at the same time. he has groweled at me before, as he was very protective of himself when i adopted him and bit (nipped) alot. I have put him through multiple rounds of obedience where he is so smart and learns so fast, the trainer loves him. my neighbor lets him out when I'm not able to get home and says he is a doll. I just don't get it. my husband wants me to get rid of him. I know that if he went to a shelter he would get euthanized. he is so hyper and i have this feeling no one would adopt him (or at least keep him) as he was in 4 foster homes in less than a month because no one could handle him. I feel he has made so much progress, but the way he growled at me tonight was like he was going to attack me. i really got scarred, maybe thats why he peed. I just don't know what to do! any advice?
Otis was afraid you'd take away his bone. The growling was a defensive act to get you to back off, and the peeing was a submissive, fearful act. In short, Otis was afraid, confused, and conflicted. Lots of people will tell you that Otis is dominant or alpha, but resourse guarding isn't about dominance or alpha. When a low ranking dog already has a resource, he will often protect it from a higher ranking dog. Resource guarding is about fear of loss. And given that Otis went through four foster homes in a month, he was probably never taught that he didn't really have to worry about losing things that are important to dogs (like bones).
The good news is that resource guarder can be rehabbed. A few years ago, I adopted a dog with some resource issues, and she's a very different dog now. The goal is to teach the dog that the opposite of what he thinks is true: that not guarding leads to gain, not loss. You teach the dog to trade up.
Start when Otis has an object he doesn't care much about, and offer to trade him something really good (like a piece of chicken) for that object. Take the object from him while handing him the chicken, and then give the object right back. By doing so, Otis doesn't lose the original object ('cause you give it right back) and he gains chicken. That's a good deal for a dog.
When he gets really good at trading for low-value objects, start getting him to trade for higher value objects and, eventually, bones. After he gets good at trading for high-value objects, go back to trading for low-value objects, but don't show him the treat first. Once he gives up the low-value object, produce a treat from your pocket. Again, once he's good at trading for low-value objects without seeing the treat first, then move to higher-value objects. And after that, move to giving him treats sometimes but not always.
Aggression is a serious problem. Human aggression is the worst kind! If something isn't done it can turn into more. When it comes to aggression you need to call a profession, and humane, dog trainer. Human aggression is not a normal or acceptable behavior.
thanks for the replies, i do remember once a while back i gave jasper a bone (the nicest dog in the world) and went to straighten out a blanket next to him and he groweled the same way. I guess the way otis growled at me scared me a little. I really dont know what he has been through but i will keep working with him, as i have been doing