Author Topic: Random resource guarding  (Read 9268 times)

odeya

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Random resource guarding
« on: June 23, 2014, 10:10:01 AM »
Next month it will be one year that we've had our current foster, Piper (a pit mix, not a Boxer for anyone who I'm not friends with on FB :)).

She has resource guarding issues with people. Maybe not typically a huge deal but hers are random and her signals are often fairly low and they escalate quickly. She'll go from a low growl to coming at you air snapping in seconds. She has guarded things as odd as spilled water, and a hole in the ground, to more common items such as the couch, treats, tennis balls randomly...sometimes she's fine with people approaching them other times she's not, a stuffed toy, and recently 2 new dog beds that I brought home. It's strange but she's never guarded her food though we leave our dogs alone when they're eating so she's never been pushed in that area.

She usually guards these things just once so I never know exactly what she's going to consider valuable. She's never bitten anyone but I believe she would if pushed. I'm fairly good at managing her but sometimes I miss her signals. The one time she guarded the couch she was lying on I didn't realize that she was and she lunged off of the couch at me, air snapping (I know if she would have meant to bit me she would have but she was close enough that she tore my sleeve) and snarling when I tried to take her collar and pull her off...her growl was so quiet that I didn't hear it or I would not have tried to pull her off. Last weekend when I brought the dog beds home she wouldn't even let me take her leash - she wears one all the time in the house so I have better control of her - she'd growl if she just saw me reach for the leash and I was 6' away. Usually I can take her leash and lead her away from whatever she's guarding. That was the first time (make that the 2nd time - she scared me over the couch incident because I didn't see that one coming) that I was actually a little afraid of her though she always worries me with the kids and I feel like we're often walking on egg shells with her. Last night she was fascinated with a spot on the ground (she seemed to hear something in the ground so maybe there was a mole or something there) and actually guarded it, growling at Oliver and Kevin when they approached her.

She also has issues, again randomly, with her collar being messed with. If she's excited...someone's at the door, etc. you may or may not be able take her collar - she's fine with it one time but not the next. She will snap over her collar. I never take her by the collar but I've had a hard time teaching the kids to leave her collar alone since they can do anything to our Boxers and there would never be any retaliation from them (I don't allow them to do anything to our Boxers, but they could :)).

Piper's rescue group works with a great, positive reinforcement trainer. She has been to my house multiple times and we have worked and worked with this dog though we cannot really work with her guarding in the traditional/classical conditioning way (Yes, I've read, "Mine!"). You cannot really set up a situation with her because she guards randomly. The last time the trainer, and the director of Mercy's were here, the trainer told the director that we are their best foster family for following up with training, and if we can't help her nobody can, and we may need to consider euthanizing her...she is not adoptable. The director thinks there could be someone out there who would adopt her with all of her issues (she has other less concerning issues to me that may be a bigger concern for potential adopters) but there are so many pit bull type dogs out there who is ever going to take her with her issues :(? I wouldn't have ever taken her myself if I had known what she's like (she came straight from a shelter to me). It's euthanasia or I keep her and take her to a behaviorist the trainer recommended but I don't really want to spend the money for that because I'm not all that convinced it will help.

Of course this is complicated by the fact that there are four children in our house. Except for Oliver they're old enough to help manage her...most of the time...they still don't think everything through when handling her.

Both of my girls (and me) adore this dog. 90% of the time she's super sweet in our home - it's very difficult to take her out in public for other reasons. I know she's probably had a rough life or at the least has had little to no socialization and I feel so bad giving up on her, but I am really tired of the stress she causes in our home. My husband wants her gone, my 13yo is afraid of her, and every time we have an incident I have a terribly upset 15yo who thinks this is the end for her. I seriously doubt we'd still have the dog if it weren't for her. She has put hours of her time into training Piper and is very attached to her. Mainly because of her I don't know how I'll ever make the decision to put her to sleep if that's what it comes to.

I guess I just wanted to hear what other "dog people" who don't have emotional ties to the situation think. Am I awful for considering euthanizing her. Our trainer says we have given her 110% - far more than most people would, but to make such a final decision is so difficult  :'(.


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aquagirl900

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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 10:23:30 AM »
Oh, wow...that's hard.  I personally would NEVER have a dog in my home that showed ANY type of aggression with people.  My child's safety is 100% more important than a dog.  I may be in the minority in this forum, but people always come first.  With the fact that Piper has snapped at people, has ripped your shirt and continues to growl/snarl/snap and there is a small 6 year old kid in your house, I personally would put her down if no one else can take her.  Think of it this way.  If Oliver were to grab her collar or try to take something that he didn't know she was guarding since her guarding is so random and she snapped at him but hit his face and he had to be hospitalized for that injury, could you forgive yourself?  What would you do if she did end up biting him?  Most likely she'd be put down then.  From what it sounds like it's inevitable that she will eventually bite someone, I wouldn't chance it.  Not everyone will agree with me, but...I know I couldn't forgive myself if I knew a dog I had in the home by my choice hurt someone.   

whitepupzoe

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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 10:24:24 AM »
Oh geez, this is breaking my heart. I always look forward to Piper updates and pics on FB...and I never knew this problem was looming in the background.  

Would she do better in a home without children and other animals? A less "busy" setting? How old is she again? I really have no other advice since you have been consulting with a professional.  Does the rescue have any places that they keep "unadoptable dogs".  I'm just thinking like that show Pit Bulls and Parolees, they keep dogs that arent adoptable to live out their lives there at their rescue center.  Just grasping at straws for ideas....

What a impossible decision to make...I can't imagine how heartbreaking this is for you, it's making me tear up just thinking about it... :bigcry:
« Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 10:27:00 AM by whitepupzoe »
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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2014, 10:42:41 AM »
I too immediately thought of trying to find a no pets or kids home for her, but that is next to impossible.  Anyone who doesn't already have pets, or experience with dogs, isn't going to want to take a dog with issues. My son and his wife have had their share of trials with the dog they adopted from a prison rescue.  They know that Cowboy would have been euthanized long ago if they hadn't taken him.  They also know that they are committed to sharing their lives with a volitile dog.  Of course they don't have kids or other animals.  They have rationalized that they have given this dog a perfect life in spite of his drawbacks.  You have done the same.  You've put your heart and soul into working with this beautiful, troubled animal.  She has benefited tremendously.  Your family has benefited from the lessons taught and learned.  It may be time to sit the kids down and let them know the consequences of keeping Piper and waiting until someone gets hurt or just let her go without a horrible incident precipitating it.  I know your kids will be devastated, but they will learn and rationalize the situation (with the excellent guidance you and your husband can provide).  Eventually, they will understand. 
Another question though.  Has she gotten worse with your recent move?  Or . . . not knowing her background, could she be suffering from some sort of neurologic disorder that is making her act out in this random way?  There are so many thing to factor into your decision.  I don't envy you at all.  But as I always say, a dog doesn't think about death in anyway shape or form as we humans do.  If you can somehow convey that to your kids, it will surely help, but that a very difficult concept to grasp.  Dogs live in the moment.  If they are posing a danger, you do her no service to allow her to be a threat.  JMO, but I am old and entitled to it. Please know how I wish this wasn't facing you and your beautiful family.  I truely hate that you are having to deal with this!
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whitepupzoe

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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2014, 10:49:31 AM »
I thought that too Sue...maybe the recent move caused some sort of relapse or caused her to loose confidence.

Whatever you decide...know that you gave her the best year and for that you should be proud. In the end that is all that will matter to Piper, she knew love and what is meant to be a happy dog. That is more then alot of shelter dogs ever get.
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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2014, 11:49:10 AM »
You are not giving up on her , you have given way more help and time than most people would have .

I fostered a long time ago , it did not end well and because of that we will never foster again .
Both my husband and I were attacked by the 9 month old foster boxer for no reason other than I walked into the room he was in  . Dave came in and saw what was happening and tried to grab him and got bitten badly too . I had over 9 deep punctures on my hand and he would not let go the last time he bit me until Dave grabbed his collar , he then bit Dave and sliced his finger open on both sides from the palm to the tip of his finger.

The scariest part is that Rylie was about 2 years old and this could have happened to her . Luckily we always had a gate between them .
I could never put my kids at risk( and I know you would not either) in a foster situation ever again.

In this situation you and others are scared of her and she knows that , she feels your anxiety . There is not much you can do to stop being scared . If this is because of the move and change of her surroundings then it will happen again if she finds a new home , they may not be so lucky as to not get bit.

If she were to bite ( she almost has) then would you ever welcome another foster ? Are you willing to stop helping other dogs to keep working with her ? You already said that she is not adoptable , are you going to keep her forever ?

I may be in the minority but if I were in your situation I would let the rescue have her back . What ever they decide to do with her in the future is their decision . You have gone above and beyond with helping , but not all can be safely saved .


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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2014, 12:37:47 PM »
I may be in the minority but if I were in your situation I would let the rescue have her back . What ever they decide to do with her in the future is their decision . You have gone above and beyond with helping , but not all can be safely saved .

I completely agree... as hard as the decision may be, you can not take chances with the safety of your family.


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odeya

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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2014, 02:01:45 PM »
Oh, wow...that's hard.  I personally would NEVER have a dog in my home that showed ANY type of aggression with people.  My child's safety is 100% more important than a dog.  I may be in the minority in this forum, but people always come first.  With the fact that Piper has snapped at people, has ripped your shirt and continues to growl/snarl/snap and there is a small 6 year old kid in your house, I personally would put her down if no one else can take her.  Think of it this way.  If Oliver were to grab her collar or try to take something that he didn't know she was guarding since her guarding is so random and she snapped at him but hit his face and he had to be hospitalized for that injury, could you forgive yourself?  What would you do if she did end up biting him?  Most likely she'd be put down then.  From what it sounds like it's inevitable that she will eventually bite someone, I wouldn't chance it.  Not everyone will agree with me, but...I know I couldn't forgive myself if I knew a dog I had in the home by my choice hurt someone. 

  

I used to say the same thing, Jamie, but now it's actually happening to me, and it's a lot more difficult of a decision to make when you love the dog. And your kids, at least some of them, love her even more.

Every time we have an incident I say it's the last time, she has to go, but a day or two goes by and she's sitting in our laps being the sweetest dog we have - she truly is most of the time. But she is a risk and probably has not bitten anyone because I am very organized and can stay on top of things most of the time. But I am very, very weary of it. And yes, Oliver is definitely at the most risk, and I think about him being bitten all the time, and how terrible I would feel, because I am not the type to put a dog before people, especially my children. I will say that until recently I have been under quite a bit of pressure by some people to "wait and see". I have been waiting for those people to say it's okay to have her put to sleep and now I have their permission if it's what I decide and I'm wavering.

Oh geez, this is breaking my heart. I always look forward to Piper updates and pics on FB...and I never knew this problem was looming in the background. 

Would she do better in a home without children and other animals? A less "busy" setting? How old is she again? I really have no other advice since you have been consulting with a professional.  Does the rescue have any places that they keep "unadoptable dogs".  I'm just thinking like that show Pit Bulls and Parolees, they keep dogs that arent adoptable to live out their lives there at their rescue center.  Just grasping at straws for ideas....

What a impossible decision to make...I can't imagine how heartbreaking this is for you, it's making me tear up just thinking about it... :bigcry:

She's probably around 2-4 years old. I've never talked about it in public places because I didn't want her to have a bad reputation if we could ever get her to stop the guarding, so most people are unaware. I would never lie to anyone about her issues because she's the one who would probably pay for it, but I was hoping they'd eventually be in the past and I could tell people she was better now.

There is no where within our rescue for her to go. There are childless people who could take her but they don't want her, and quite honestly I'm not sure how much effort has been put into rehoming her even though I've asked repeatedly. Although I think she would do better in a less chaotic home, where someone has more time to work with her, overall she loves everyone here, and really seems to enjoy the kids.

Our rescue does not euthanize their pit mixes for dog aggression and right now we have multiple difficult to adopt dogs because of that (Piper is also very dog aggressive with strange dogs - fine with ours). I don't disagree with that decision but it is much more difficult to find homes for them and quite a few have to be in single dog foster homes which ties up those homes for months or even years. There's simply no place for her to go but here :(.
Jack & Freya

odeya

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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2014, 02:30:45 PM »

Another question though.  Has she gotten worse with your recent move?  Or . . . not knowing her background, could she be suffering from some sort of neurologic disorder that is making her act out in this random way?  There are so many thing to factor into your decision.  I don't envy you at all.  But as I always say, a dog doesn't think about death in anyway shape or form as we humans do.  If you can somehow convey that to your kids, it will surely help, but that a very difficult concept to grasp.  Dogs live in the moment.  If they are posing a danger, you do her no service to allow her to be a threat.  JMO, but I am old and entitled to it. Please know how I wish this wasn't facing you and your beautiful family.  I truely hate that you are having to deal with this!

I don't think she has gotten worse though I'm sure all of us are more stressed right now. The trainer we work with thinks the new dog bed incident might have been caused by her being more stressed. I caught some of that on video and she is showing anxiety signs. We've had two incidents in the past 3 weeks here at our new home. That's not necessarily out of the ordinary, but it's difficult to tell since she's so random. She might not guard anything for a month then guard 3 different things in one week. It's always been that way.

I had put the dog beds up the day she guarded them. I took them back out 2 days later to work with her and them and she didn't guard them again, nor has she since then. That's how it usually works with her :confused:.

I have told so many people the same thing that you said here. Dogs live in the moment and don't fear death like we do - that we project our fears about death onto them but ugh...I'm finding that to be easier said than done :(. I have also always said, even argued it recently with members of our rescue group, that we shouldn't keep unadoptable dogs when so many good dogs die in shelters. Again, that was before my own foster was labeled unadoptable.

If she were to bite ( she almost has) then would you ever welcome another foster ? Are you willing to stop helping other dogs to keep working with her ? You already said that she is not adoptable , are you going to keep her forever ?

I may be in the minority but if I were in your situation I would let the rescue have her back . What ever they decide to do with her in the future is their decision . You have gone above and beyond with helping , but not all can be safely saved .

Basically it is up to me to keep her or have her put to sleep. That's the only options I have. Would the rescue take her back? Yes, but only to take her to the vet and euthanize her. I wish they would tell me I have no choice but to have her euthanized because she is their responsibility. It would make the situation so much easier and I think it should be their decision, but it has been left to me. And if I have to put her to sleep I'll have to be there with her because she loves us, and we're probably the only people who have ever cared about her, and I couldn't let her die alone without me.

She would not be the first foster we have had to have euthanized. Our first foster, almost 2 years ago now, was put to sleep 9 days after we got him. He silently "stalked" (according to the trainer we worked with at that time - I had it on video) and bit (without breaking skin) 3 of us. That was difficult enough but we weren't nearly so attached to him.

I am taking a long break from fostering if we have to put Piper to sleep. It's just too much right now. Two fosters dead, and one abandoned by the family I trusted her with. Only 2 of the 5 we've fostered have good homes. And one of those families is currently having issues with one of them and I'm not sure how that situation is going to turn out . I just need a break.
Jack & Freya

whitepupzoe

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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2014, 02:40:54 PM »
This is all so easy for us to say "Do this, try this, I would do this..." but when you are in that situation it is alot harder. I think her being so random is probably alot harder then a dog that does it all the time, you never know when or what she will want to guard. It has to be so hard on you...knowing the decision is souly on your shoulders.  No one here would ever judge you if you decide to put her to sleep (man that was even hard for me to type)...you have to do what you feel is best to protect your family...and her, it can't be easy for her either.

I don't blame you for wanting to take a break from fostering, you haven't had an easy time.  :(

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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2014, 02:48:38 PM »
For us, it wouldn't be my decision.  Before we even got dogs, my husband told me that if we had a dog that bit, even once for no reason (not protecting the family or we ruled out a medical condition etc) that he would have it put down.  He also doesn't get as close to the animals so he wouldn't have trouble upholding his "rules."  Thankfully we haven't had this issue because I would be a wreck, but at least I wouldn't have to make the decision.

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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2014, 03:14:15 PM »
Kristin... Your response brought tears to my eyes. You are so right. :'(

Odeya... I think it is very unfair of the rescue to completely put this decision on you! They too, have a responsibility in this matter.


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Random resource guarding
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2014, 03:24:15 PM »
Oh Kerri. This is tough. I hate to say it but if a pro- trainer says she is not adoptable then you need to let her go. As much as you and the kids love her, you need to protect them. You've worked so very hard with her and she is doing the best she can but there is some abuse you cant work around or fix without endangering yourself or your family.


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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2014, 04:06:29 PM »
I don't envy your decision, but I can tell you my mother's story that is similar. She was fostering a pit mix of which they loved dearly, but that dog guarded random things as well. It then progressed to her charging without being provoked... never biting just snapping. They worked with her and nothing seemed to change, I never really trusted the dog so I began not allowing my children over at my mothers house because of it. She was really sweet but my kids are young and don't understand "personal space". Long story shorter. The dog ended up attacking on of the family dogs, he had puncture wounds on his neck and was lucky he lived. My mom, being the forgiving person she is, blamed herself and since the dog ended up being "ok" she kept her. I begged her to give her up as I only saw it being a problem in the future as she had an established pack in her home (5 miniature poodles). A week went by and Nyla (pit) became even more protective of random things especially if Shady (the poodle she attacked) was in the room. A week later Shady was walking down the hall and Nyla left a room to attack him again for just walking by....She broke his neck leaving his front legs paralyzed and back legs having nerve damage. My mother still didn't want to give up on her.... A couple weeks later she got a hold of Lola (my moms favorite) and shook her like a rag doll. My dad grabbed her by the collar and she wouldn't let go. I was told he had to lift her off the floor by her collar to get her to release the dog :( Luckily Lola lived but that was enough to get my mom to finally give her up. The rescue insisted upon having her back even after vets recommending that she be put down because of her aggression (she was only a year old). My mom just found out that she was adopted out to a family with children and since has attacked one of the children and they had to have a substantial amount of stitches to repair the damage. Her fate is unknown at this moment as the lady that runs the rescue thinks that its always the foster/adopter that is the problem and never the dog.

That being said... I personally think you have given that dog the best chance you could have. But if it was me, I would put her down. I realize that it is hard as you love her, but my mother loves Nyla and now has a ton of guilt that she attacked a child. She wished she would have pushed harder to have her euthanized. I would hate to see one of your kids get hurt because she is so unpredictable. I feel awful that your daughters will be so upset about it, but I fear that if something were to happen to little Oliver they would blame themselves as well for not allowing you to go through with it. I definitely don't envy the decision you have to make, but just know that either way, you gave that dog way more love than she would have known in a shelter. You are an amazing and caring person!
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Re: Random resource guarding
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2014, 06:25:39 PM »
I wish I had an answer for you. I know you love her but your family's safety is the most important. Hugs to you in making this difficult decision.  :bigcry:
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