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Canine Behavior/bedroon resource guarding


Hello, my wife and I adopted a shi-poo approx. 13 weeks ago.  6 yrs old, male, neutered. he was living with a single man who had to move and couldn't take him to his new home.  the last few weeks he began guarding his toys from me, thinking I was going to take them away.  we have made progress with this but now he is getting very upset at night when my wife is on our bed and I come into the room.  he begins to growl, show teeth and lunge at me, protecting her and the bedroom.  when I enter the room with cheese, it calms him down but still this is unacceptable behavior. we have a dog bed and blanket on my wife's side of the bed but as soon as he hears me coming into the room he goes into a slight rage.  
how do you think we should handle this?

It's far too soon for this dog to be sleeping in your bed, if at all given his present behavior.

Give him a soft bed and nightlight and use a gate to confine him to the kitchen (if possible).  Randomly throughout the day (if you or your wife are able), when he is already IN the kitchen (do not call him there, you will lose any recall you might have), drop a high value treat (piece of string cheese), leave the room, close the gate.  You can purchase plastic or wooden gates that open like doors (not spring loaded) at Walmart or other such stores in the "baby" department, less expensive than those sold for dogs.  If he barks or carries on, ignore him totally until he has stopped; these little "visits" to the kitchen (with reward) help to habituate him to this area as rewarding.  The first few attempts should be short in duration; if he is vocalizing, turn your back, wait for him to stop, then open the gate and say and do nothing.  

Giving cheese or any treat to a dog that is "guarding" a "resource" is rewarding his behavior: good dog, growling and snapping, very good dog.  Don't do it.  He is not protecting your wife, he is protecting his self perceived position in social hierarchy: this has to change, slowly.  His resource guarding of his toys is also a problem that he did NOT acquire while with you.  You are now seeing the real reason his owner dumped him.

I suggest you put this dog on a modified NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free).  This means, he must earn everything: being fed, going in/out, coming back into the house, being petted, being interacted with, for the next month.  Both you and your wife must do this.  This will help the dog to understand his position in social hierarchy in your home.  He will "work" this NILIF by a cue/command to "sit".  This "sit" must be trained using positive reinforcement ONLY.  Use another word, something unique, since his "sit" is most likely poorly trained and may already have been confused by negative events. See this:

A useful discussion about adopting an adult dog is here:

As for the toys: I have no idea how you have managed this resource guarding.  If you have done it by letting the dog "win", it explains his escalating bedroom aggression.  I suggest you remove the toys and offer one at a time, with you supervising, while working on take it/leave it, which allows the dog to learn that the removal of a toy is rewarding, not punishing.  See this:

This is a six year old dog who has had plenty of time to develop techniques that get him what HE wants.  It will most likely take several months for him to relax, begin to trust, and understand his "place" in your home.  Until then, he should not have free run of the house when you are not at home, should not be allowed INTO your bedroom, and should begin a slow, calm training regimen as seen here:

Read as much info as you can on the link above to get an idea of how to proceed; follow instructions from other links.  In the next two weeks, with NLIF in place, use followup feature to report back.  Let's see if the dog's demeanor has begun to change.

PS:  It is now March 26; the questioner appears not to have even bothered to read the answer.  The dog is in need of expert assistance; apparently, the owner is not.  Why waste the time of a professional if you don't want to read the answer, do the work, and do followup as requested?  

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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