12 Jul Resource Guarding between Dogs
Toby Beagle freezes, he shifts his eyes back and forth while hovering over his prize. Right now it’s a water bowl. Later it may be a discovered half eaten tennis ball. Toby Beagle does not like to share. I want Emma (my new employee) to see these signs. They are subtle to an untrained eye. First I must clarify that Toby beagle does not guard from humans. He relinquishes objects easily when I place my hand near him. But he makes it clear that he’s not sharing with his furry playmates, especially puppies – his prime target. So when Toby beagle is out for a walk I’m on puppy patrol – the last thing I want for is for Toby to teach any puppy a lesson. Prevention and management are your best friends when dealing with this type of problem behaviour. I’m never going to teach Toby to feel comfortable giving up his toy to puppies, but I can manage the situation so he doesn’t feel threatened that it’s going to get stolen. For some dogs, toy objects have the same value as a food object. We wouldn’t expect dogs to happily share their cookies so we shouldn’t be surprised when dogs guard objects as well.
At a recent holiday in a boarding facility Toby gave a puppy a puncture wound. It didn’t require vet attention. Situations like these put me in a bad spot. It didn’t happen in my care, but it did happen. Should Toby beagle be walked in a group if he is capable of injuring a puppy? I have to trust in my handling skills that I can prevent this. And for those cases when a 100 lb toy-stealing lab comes by, I will have a muzzle ready. I wish I could say one strike and he’s out, but in matters of dog walking giving chances isn’t something you can afford to do. So if at any point I feel like management is too hard, I will find him a walker that keeps his crew on leash and steers clear of the park.