Saturday, January 29, 2011

Resource Guarding

I haven't really had a lot of resource guarding problems with Chandler. He doesn't attempt to guard things from me because I have emphasized from day one that I am the bringer of good things. He also doesn't have much of a problem with resource guarding objects from other dogs. Part of that may be a simple lack of opportunity, as he is an only dog and doesn't have a lot of opportunity for competition. He did once start to stand over a toy during playtime in obedience class, but I immediately removed the toy when I saw what was happening. More often his behavior around toys looks like this:

...or this:

However, when he was younger I did have some problems with him resource guarding me from other dogs. Most people would probably characterize this as jealousy. He didn't like it if I was paying attention to another dog. Being Chandler, he wasn't really inclined to growl at, glare at, or bite the other dog. Instead he just used the "icebreaker ship" method, and would cheerfully barge right between me and the other dog. It took some diligent training (and a ruff bite from his cousin for excessive rudeness-leave it to a female ES) to break this bad habit.

The following is an email sent to the English Shepherd Yahoo list that describes methods for working on resource guarding issues. The "anti-jealousy" training described is very similar to what I did with Chandler. It has been reprinted here with the permission of its author. (Thank you Erin!)

So often resource guarding has nothing to do with "dominance" so it's not
surprising that Matilda is not the dominant one but does RG. IME, RG is just as complex in its basics as so many other behaviors. Ceilidh used to RG me, from other dogs, especially. When she did, she got put into a sit stay, I'd move to between her and the other dog, give that dog some attention, then give her LOTS of praise for remaining calm. Soon she realized that *every* time I paid attention to another dog, *she* got a huge reward. And her RG faded dramatically. You can see she still occasionally considers it, but I've done my best to make it abundantly clear that when she's "good" she's rewarded. Also, she's realized that she doesn't need to worry that she's missing out on any of my attention, or affection, if she allows the other dog to approach me. Now, she's gotten so good at this that I've been able to use her as a "neutral dog" when I've worked with dogs who have issues themselves. Tucker wanted to RG his food, especially when we switched him to raw. Boy, he didn't want to take any chances that I'd realized I'd made a mistake, and took THAT back! When I got a freeze and hard eye from him, I immediately sat down with him, and fed him every bite of his meals from my hands for about a week. He started out a bit grabby, but soon realized that I wasn't taking the food away, but was the bringer of the Really Good Stuff. Now there's absolutely NO sign of ANY RG from him. Anyone at all can take anything from him, and he has no problem with it. Neither of those has anything to do with dominance of any sort. Though it could be a case of "I'm boss, so I control all resources" it very often is nothing of the kind.

Resource guarding seems to be a very common problem that can often be avoided if preventative measures are taken and training is implemented at the first sign of a problem. Of course, more serious cases would probably require management to protect all involved, more extensive training, and perhaps even professional help.

May all of you have a peaceable kingdom.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ok, I'm ready for spring now...

Really, 10 inches of snow was the highest prediction I had heard.
Instead we got over a foot, making this the snowiest month on record ever in Connecticut.

Maybe I should have taken it as a bad omen when the heavy construction equipment showed up during yesterday morning's flurries.

They moved most of the massive snow pile on our side of the circle to the other side of the circle. With the equipment, they managed to make the pile more vertical than it had been on our side of the street. The neighbor's house is on a small hill. The snow pile was almost as tall as the hill when they were finished.

This left room for the plow to make new gigantic snowbanks this morning. I sent Chandler up onto the new snowbank, and he laid down at the top. He's the black blob visible in the photo, in front of the neighbor's garage. Behind him is the old snowbank, now covered with a nice layer of new snow.

Maybe they'll melt by June?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The aftermath.

The plow finally cleared out the circle around 9 p.m. last night. We've been left with a massive snowbank that is about 10 feet high, 20-30 feet thick, and perhaps 40 feet long.

That's me at the base of the snowbank, wearing my blue coat.

The plow could not push all the snow to the side, so it spreads out into the circle. My father dug a 10 foot path to the neighbor's mailbox so they could get their mail. Chandler thinks the snowbank is great fun to climb on.

Woohoo! King of the snowbank!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Not-quite-wordless Wednesday: Snow Day

When Rowan ran me over looking for breakfast at 4:30 a.m., the snow that had arrived during the night was already about 10 inches deep. At 11:00 a.m., my father and I headed out to start clearing snow. By then, the snow was 21.5 inches deep, and it was still coming down.

21.5 inches is just about my shoulder height.
By the way, all those white dots in the photos are falling snowflakes.
They show up really well against my black fur.

The plow had made brief passes twice during the night. Rather than clearing the circle of our dead end, the main effect was to leave giant wheel-ruts, some areas with less snow, and several deep snow banks in the middle of the circle.

The ruts were really useful to stand or run in.

Of course, getting to those ruts involved a lot of wading through two feet of snow. Unlike the neighbor's kids, I had blue jeans not snowpants. I ended up caked with snow, between wading through the the drifts and the ongoing snowfall.

I'm not sure what she's complaining about,
bounding through this stuff is a lot of work!
Oh, and those neighbor's kids? Lots of FUN!
I just wish they'd let me lick their faces more.

By 2:00 pm, we'd cleared the driveway, the front walk, the part of the sidewalk that wasn't under a giant frozen snowbank, and a thin strip of the circle in front of our mailbox. It was still snowing lightly, but it was time to break for lunch. We hadn't seen a plow all day.

This was the view down the street.
It's much easier to walk where Grandpa has used the snowblower.

At 3:45 p.m., the plow was still absent. I finally broke down and called the environmental testing laboratory to tell them that I didn't think I would be able to get to work that afternoon. Attempting to plow my Ford Escort Wagon through two feet of snow in the road would be impossible. I was told that all of the courier runs had been cancelled, and that there wasn't really any work to do. It was a fully sanctioned Snow Day.

Of course, the plow arrived within a half hour.

Intruder alert! Wuff! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

However it was just as well that I didn't have to go to work, because the plow did not fully clear the circle in front of our house. Instead it left a six foot high and fifteen foot deep pile of snow at the base of the driveway. If my car couldn't go through two feet of snow, it certainly wasn't getting through that wall of snowbank.

See, I was right to growl at him.
He should not have left this stuff here.

It should be over here in the main snow pile instead!
Plus he left all these messy stray tracks of snow.

Hopefully we'll get fully plowed out sometime tonight. Having the driveway blocked is worrisome. I've told Chandler, Ashke, and Rowan that they are not allowed to need the Veterinary Emergency Clinic tonight. It looks like I'll have to help clear out the three inches of snow that fell after the snowblower cleared the driveway, and do some clean up work on the walkway tomorrow. Chandler didn't get a walk today, due to the depth of the snow. By late afternoon, most of the street had dug out their driveways and sidewalks. Tomorrow's walk should be interesting. We haven't had this much snow in a while.

Sidewalk snow canyons are fun!