Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

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BucklesFamily
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Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by BucklesFamily » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:50 pm

Hi. My name is Elizabeth, I'm new to the forums and haven't posted before and was just wondering if I should be concerned about this and, if so, what to do?

My lab mix puppy (the vet thinks she's maybe a lab x hound mix but we don't know for sure), Melian, is 5 months old and my parents and I adopted her at the very end of March. She's a sweetheart, very smart (I've already taught her the commands "shake", "sit", "spin", "lay down", "off", "come" "leave it", "wait" and she finally figured out "speak" this afternoon), and she and my 11 year old beagle, Eli, generally get along very well. They play happily together with toys, chewy bones, treats stuffed in toys, etc until Eli gets tired of the hyperactivity and goes in another room or sits next to me in the recliner. Melian has shown no aggression towards Eli over anything except her food bowl. Eli is bad about trying to get her food if we give it to her anywhere he can get to it, and if he gets his nose near it, she will growl. I don't think she bites at him, though. Most of the time it's not an issue because we feed them in totally separate rooms, but today I put Melian's lunch kibble in a puzzle toy and, without thinking, allowed Eli to go play with it too and Melian growled at him when he put his nose near it. If it helps to know, she didn't growl until he was practically touching his nose to it, and when he was continuing to hang around her and act interested in it, she didn't growl again and probably wouldn't have unless he once again touched his nose to it. I just decided to remove him from the situation entirely so it would no longer be an issue.

Again, Melian does not guard any other resources from Eli, like stuffed toys, chewy toys, treats, bones, or the water bowl. I can even train them side-by-side and toss a single treat in the floor and they will both go for it, but there's no aggression at all. It is only Melian's kibble that she will defend. We don't know much about Melian's life before she came to us, but my understanding is that her mama got rescued, gave birth to puppies, and the puppies were in a foster home from the time they were tiny. I did meet the foster mom, who had at least three other dogs besides Melian in her house, but I don't know if she fed them together or separately.

So, my big question is, once again, should I be concerned about this kibble-guarding, or just not worry about it and make sure Eli just doesn't go near Melian's kibble, especially when she's really hungry? Oh, and because I forgot to mention it before, Melian does not guard her kibble from us people. I've picked up her food bowl while she was eating and she didn't care, and my mom and I picked up the puzzle toy with kibble in it several times and she didn't do anything besides look at us.

JudyN
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by JudyN » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:17 pm

Hi, and welcome to the forum. I don't think you have anything to worry about yet, but there are things you can do that should ensure this doesn't develop into a problem in the future.

First, I would feed them separately, so Eli can't approach Melian's bowl. It makes Melian anxious, and this could easily develop into a much more serious aggression problem as she matures. You want her to feel totally relaxed while she's eating.

This also applies to feeding her from a treat ball - and though you say she's fine when they play with toys stuffed with treats, bear in mind that she might get a bit iffy about this too - I'm not an expert and only have one dog, so others may have more advice, but it may be best to avoid these situations, or at least be prepared to stop them at the first sign of anxiety/growling.

When training, rather than throwing kibble that they both go for, I would make it very clear which treat is to which dog, so either throwing it at one when the dogs are a distance apart, or handing it to one. Even if they seem find now - and they may BE fine with it - it's a potential flashpoint. Sooner or later both dogs are going to think 'MINE!!!' and will feel quite justified in doing what they think necessary to 'keep' it. (I do know of one dog who lost an eye in exactly this situation where previously the dogs had got on fine.)

Finally, please don't pick her bowl up while she's eating, even if she seems fine. It is likely to be stressful for her, just as it would be for you if I came and took your plate away when you were eating (and you'd get pretty snarky with me!). Contrary to what used to be claimed, taking a dog's food away doesn't make them less 'guardy', but quite the opposite. A better plan ois to walk up to her, and put a tasty extra, such as a piece of chicken, in her bowl, so she sees someone approaching her as something to be welcomed, not worried about.

Hope that helps :D
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

BucklesFamily
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by BucklesFamily » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:02 am

Thank you, Judy. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Your advice makes sense and I'll definitely keep it in mind moving forward.

jacksdad
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by jacksdad » Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:25 pm

JudyN wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:17 pm
Finally, please don't pick her bowl up while she's eating, even if she seems fine. It is likely to be stressful for her, just as it would be for you if I came and took your plate away when you were eating (and you'd get pretty snarky with me!). Contrary to what used to be claimed, taking a dog's food away doesn't make them less 'guardy', but quite the opposite. A better plan ois to walk up to her, and put a tasty extra, such as a piece of chicken, in her bowl, so she sees someone approaching her as something to be welcomed, not worried about.

Hope that helps :D
VERY important points from Judy.

It is actually quite normal for a puppy to NOT object to us messing with their food....then they turn 6 months old and things could change at any moment as they become more and more an adult. Suddenly that "give up anything puppy" is now an adult who voices an "I don't think so".

While it is important our dogs learn to give up something to us for their safety, there is ways to train for it so it's not about conflict, battle of wills and increased risks of bites and aggression.

BucklesFamily
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by BucklesFamily » Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:45 am

Thank you for the reply, Jacksdad.

Just to clarify, when I said I've picked up her food bowl when she was eating, it was just one time when I wasn't thinking and the bowl was about to slide up under the edge of the cabinet, so I moved it while her nose was still in the bowl. I don't make a habit of doing that or think that it's something to do to "desensitize" her or anything, I only mentioned it by way of explaining that she wasn't defensive about it, but it was out of context and I see why it sounded the way it did and am sorry for the confusion. Just clarifying because I feel pretty silly that I made it sound like I thought it was okay to just take her bowl away while she's eating. :oops: :oops: :oops: I do know better than that, I promise. :wink: Nobody in this house touches her bowl while she's eating.

I do appreciate you both reminding me that it can be good to walk up and toss a treat in her bowl to help her see people coming up as a good thing, though. I'd forgotten about that method and should start doing it while she's still young.

JudyN
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by JudyN » Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:44 am

BucklesFamily wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:45 am
Just clarifying because I feel pretty silly that I made it sound like I thought it was okay to just take her bowl away while she's eating. :oops: :oops: :oops: I do know better than that, I promise. :wink: Nobody in this house touches her bowl while she's eating.
No worries at all! Many people still think that it's a good idea to lift a dog's meal while they're eating so it's always worth mentioning that that's not the case, to be on the safe side.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

BucklesFamily
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by BucklesFamily » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:19 pm

Thank you, Judy. I appreciate the understanding. :)

While we're still on the subject of resource guarding, do you all have any advice for what to do if Melian ever becomes defensive with Eli over something other than kibble? Like, say, a chewy bone? Generally speaking, chewy bones have been one of their favorite toys to play with together. I hand them each their own and they have seemed to both have fun (relaxed, waggy-tailed body language and play bows involved) stealing them from each other. Melian even likes to prance around with one in her mouth and then stick it in Eli's face for him to grab and then they tug-of-war. They were doing this just yesterday, in fact.

Just a minute ago, however, I gave them each their own chewy bone (handed one specifically to each dog) but Eli dropped his. Melian then took them both (not unusual for either of them to hog both bones occasionally) but when Eli went to get his again, Melian actually gave a small growl, which was totally unusual. I said "ah-ah" which, I don't know if it had any effect or not, or was even the thing to do, and made sure Eli didn't go near it again. A minute later Melian needed to go in her crate for a minute, not because of the growl, but because my dad was getting himself some food and we didn't want Melian to go beg or be under his feet while he was in the kitchen. She is now back out of the crate and she and Eli are once again chewing their separate chews peaceably and play bowing and happily/non-aggressively trading chews again. That first growl bothered me, though. Could it be that it was just because they were fresh, new chews and she just wanted them both, but having had time to chew one alone for a minute is now no longer defensive? If it ever happens again, is there anything specific I should do?

I guess I'm asking because I would hate for it to ever reach a point where Melian is defensive over all the things she and Eli have previously played with together because Eli will literally only play with toys, or play at all, really, if he can play WITH Melian. In fact, that's the whole reason we got a puppy to begin with, so Eli would have a play buddy and not spend his winter years laying around, sleeping his life away (which is what he'd been doing for a couple years), and it has been working thus far. He's been playing with her in ways I haven't seen him play in YEARS and seems so happy. I would hate for anything to change that. I would also never, ever want Melian to hurt Eli as that would be something that would be hard if not impossible to forgive, especially for my dad. But I love her, too and want our home to be her forever home. Sometimes I just get scared I'm going to "mess her up" somehow and she's not going to grow up to be a good dog. (She is my first puppy. All previous dogs I personally have had were 2 years old or older when I got them. My parents have had puppies before, but the last one was a over 26 years ago, and was in her mid teens when I was born.) I would really appreciate any advice and support you all can give on this issue as I really don't want to mess up and cause Melian or Eli problems because I didn't do something right.

JudyN
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by JudyN » Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:55 pm

BucklesFamily wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:19 pm
I would also never, ever want Melian to hurt Eli as that would be something that would be hard if not impossible to forgive, especially for my dad.
I just wanted to pick up in this bit first - dogs, like people, fall out occasionally. And dogs are better armed than humans, and lack the level of conscious awareness that most humans have to stop themselves lashing out when angered. Plus plenty of children lash out at their siblings, occasionally causing minor (or worse) injuries. Mistakes happen even when you're doing your best to manage your dogs so if there was an incident and Melian hurt Eli, it's not her fault, and it's not the end of the world. Of course, if she ended up doing it over every little thing and making Eli's life miserable, that would be a different matter which would need addressing. But for now, you really don't have to worry about that. In fact overall, they're getting on wonderfully so I think in general you need to relax and enjoy them :D

As for the growling over chewy bones - are these rawhide type bones, i.e. edible? (As an aside, many people advise not to feed rawhide as it can cause blockages.) The safest thing to do is not to let them have these in the same area if they are likely to swap, and one of them end up with both. Even though most of the time they seem to share quite happily, there's an awful lot of scope there for 'power struggles' (only over these chews, I'm not referring to status in general), and one dog not being quite as happy to give up their chew as they may seem to be. Eli might actually come to think that Melian can take his chews, which is why he seems relaxed. And of course Melian will be hitting adolescence....

But I'm sort of speculating here as I don't have experience of dog-dog guarding, so I don't know if there's a safe way of letting them share, when they do it so well most of the time. Hopefully someone else can give their thoughts.

BTW, when Melian growled, what was her body posture like? Did she go rigid, or did her body seem relaxed?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

BucklesFamily
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by BucklesFamily » Fri Jul 06, 2018 3:51 pm

I'm glad you agree that they are getting along well, and it is hilarious to watch them play, especially when they decide to run laps around the couch. XD I can be such a worrier at times, it gets rather silly, so it's always good to hear other perspectives besides that worry voice. Thank you. :)

The chews are not rawhide, but they are edible. They're Hartz "Oinkies" pig skin twists and the bag specifically emphasizes that they are digestible. Eli has been chewing them for years with no problems. What you are saying makes sense. If the chews are going to become a problem I am willing to only let them chew separately, though I hope it won't be an issue as they generally have enjoyed chewing together.

Yes, if others would like to share their perspectives as well, I am open to reading them!

I didn't specifically see rigidity in Melian's posture when she growled, though it did happen very fast. It was just a quick "grr" and then she turned around and laid down to chew.

Shalista
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by Shalista » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:25 pm

also idk if anyone has stated this but i was always taught to bless the growl. growl is talking. growl is saying this is not cool. much preferable to snapping or biting to say what he wants.
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Nettle
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by Nettle » Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:51 am

I would always 'err on the side of the angels' because dogs are dogs, react like dogs (really fast) and no matter what WE visualise for them (benign play) they will behave as dogs do (that's MINE). Which includes the potential for spectacular and permanent falling-out.

Like us, dogs put different values on different things, so (for instance) food is really important to some dogs, while other dogs might prefer toys, games, attention from owners etc. So with some dog groups, we can let them have edibles within reach of each other, but with others - no.

In your case, I would separate them when they have anything edible. It's always better to do this before a line is crossed. Puppies develop just like human children, and the time will come with every pup when it challenges the status quo. Best avoided if we can. Dogs bear a long grudge.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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BucklesFamily
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by BucklesFamily » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:54 am

Shalista wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:25 pm
also idk if anyone has stated this but i was always taught to bless the growl. growl is talking. growl is saying this is not cool. much preferable to snapping or biting to say what he wants.
That makes a lot of sense. Thank you for sharing.

@Nettle: I agree. Better safe than sorry, so no more edibles within reach of each other.

Thank you all for the advice. It helps a lot to have a place to ask my questions and get feedback from such knowledgeable people. :)

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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by JudyN » Sat Jul 07, 2018 1:10 pm

Glad to help :D
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jacksdad
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Re: Lab puppy guards kibble from beagle

Post by jacksdad » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:08 pm

Shalista wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:25 pm
also idk if anyone has stated this but i was always taught to bless the growl. growl is talking. growl is saying this is not cool. much preferable to snapping or biting to say what he wants.
oh this is sooooooooo important. because I listen to the growl, respect the growl, I have avoided being bit when working with dogs that have learned to bite to address whatever the issue was.

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