Dogs are weird!
We got a new dog here at my place, and he’s a puppy. I’ve never really dealt with a puppy long-term, and he was born in a shelter, and has got a few behavioral things. He was scared for a few weeks, then sweet for a few weeks, and then he started guarding his treats with growls and snarls. Then he started guarding OUR food during dinner. Then he started guarding the area where our food would go, or the couch, etc. He was just getting worse and worse. And he actually bit me, twice - once drew blood and the other was just scrapes, but I still have a big bruise there.
Anyway it was getting rough because biting is no good of course, but also it was causing disagreements between me and my partner because I felt like she thought it was my fault, and it partly was for having previously been too handsy with him in playtime and doing things that he might perceive as taking food, when I’m actually giving it to him. but I also didn’t know what things I was doing wrong, etc. Also the relationship between me and the dog was worsening, because it’s hard to know how to approach a dog that’s bitten you twice!
So we had to make a fundamental shift, which was:
- keep his food bowl away from the door so he won’t guard the doorway
- put him in his crate when we eat (he likes his crate, it’s not a punishment, we give him treats in there)
- I started just being overly enthusiastic when I saw him and he was just sitting somewhere and doing nothing
- continue trying to train him to be cool with us being around while he has food (which means giving him treats while he’s eating or has a “high value” toy, that is to say something he likes a lot, so he knows that us approaching means good times not stealing his toy times)
and basically just that has turned him back into sweet boy, and he comes back to me for pets again - there’s lots more to do especially on that last point (it’ll take weeks/months). It’s interesting how reframing the whole situation inspired such a quick turnaround.
anyway dogs are complicated but also not complicated, it turns out.
here he is, you wouldn’t expect him to be a vicious beast