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Aggressively guarding :/

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Member Since
03/28/2013
 
 
Barked: Thu Mar 28, '13 11:27pm PST 
We adopted Princess almost 2yrs ago and love her very much. She came to us with the suspicion that she may have been slightly abused and was very timid and submissive at first. She had a very sweet disposition but would often cower and urinate if she was approached too fast or if someone raised their voice. We gave her lots of affection and did our best to be patient with her. She is our second husky, our first one Isis, had passed away from what the vet suspected was a heart condition about a year before we adopted Princess so we felt we had at least a basic understanding of what was required to be a decent family for a husky. Princess is a lovely white bi-eyed female and of course my kids fell in love with the look of her and I fell in love with her sweet nature. After about a year she developed a special attachment to my son who is my oldest child. She would follow him and always sit or lay as close to him as she could. This seems sweet and harmless as it also corresponded to her finally ceasing to urinate on any rug or carpet. We have had to replace the entire downstairs of our home with a hard surface flooring due to her urinating on any carpet or rug. Somewhere over the last year she has started guarding my son. She would growl at my husband if he raised his voice when speaking to our son and then began to growl at him when he approached. Every night she sleeps outside my sons room literally against his door and will not allow anyone to approach without growling and has even barred her teeth and lunged and snapped at my husband. She has very recently started doing so in a limited way to me when I go to wake my son for school in the morning. I have responded by I commanding her to sit and trying to calm her by using a reassuring vocal tone and telling her everything is ok and usually she calms and lowers her head so I can pet her and she will let me pass. I have been trying to read what I should do as it seems this guarding behavior is escalating and I am concerned she might actually attack someone. I am especially concerned she may attack my daughter who is small for her age and Princess is large enough to readily overpower her. What I have been reading is that I should show my dominance to Princess by grabbing her muzzle and forcing her head down or by using my own body to roll her over thereby forcing her to submit to me as her "alpha". This doesn't really seem like the appropriate action to take to me due to the fact that she came to us from what the adoption folks and our vet felt had been an abusive situation. I feel given that background that using physical force to dominate her might backfire and cause her to become truly aggressive all the time not just when she is at her self appointed post as my sons personal protector. My husband feels we should find her a new home but I have never abandoned a fur baby and don't intend to start now. She is part of our family. We love her and want to help her deal with whatever it is that is causing this otherwise sweet dog to behave in such an un-sweet manner. Clearly we need to do something though because if this behavior continues to escalate someone could end up getting injured. Any advice would be appreciated.
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Fox

1178619
 
 
Barked: Fri Mar 29, '13 7:10pm PST 
Your instincts are correct - the "training" you've been reading is dramatically out dated, and dangerous for you and your dog.

Along with the risk of being bitten and further shattering her confidence, you also risk shutting down her signals of discomfort. A dog who offers no signals is a dog who literally bites without warning. It's counter-intuitive... Most people feel they need to do "something" about growling. But the best thing you can do is teach your dog you respect their discomfort, and manage the situation without force.

There are many books that address resource guarding - Mine! by Jean Donaldson comes highly recommended - but given that this case involves children in a huge way, I would enlist the help of a certified behaviorist, or a reputable positive trainer specializing in behavioral modification.

Confidence building will be vital, which even basic positive training can help with. It gets your dog thinking, and rewards them for making good choices. Simple, but it works.

Finding a job for her can help as well, on two levels: It builds more confidence as she learns to navigate new challenges with you, and it could very well lessen her drive to guard your son as an improve job. Agility, rally-o, nosework, treiball, sledding or -joring... There are limitless possibilities. Huskies are ultimately a working breed, and while many lines have been bred down for show or pet life, it's not uncommon to find one who needs to work the same way Border Collies and the like are known to need a job.

Getting back to management - until you have a plan in place (I really highly recommend finding professional help) limit her access to your son. If she starts guarding him, he should get up and leave immediately without saying anything or even looking back at her. Since the bedroom door is a specific problem, crate or gate her in a safe room at night so she can't continue practicing this behavior.
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