Our 2 year old Lab Mix, Tonka, has resource guarding, when he gets something he isn’t suppost to have he gets very aggressive. We took him to a highly regarded K-9 trainer in our area who suggested a low protein diet. He said some dogs can not make the good decisions they need to if they have too much protein in their diet. We had been feeding him Kibbles’n Bits because it had the lowest protein we could find. It did seem to help his aggression lessen when we switched from puppy chow. However on this site Kibbles’n Bits is rated a very poor food. So I was wondering 2 things, first has anyone else heard the protein and aggression combination and second, what would be a good choice for him.
Thank You for any help you can give, we really don’t want to have to get rid of him, however if we can’t manage his aggression we may have to rehome him. He has bitten myself and my husband several times and we have 2 young daughters.
I have heard from some folks that lowering the protein will help with some forms of aggression. Not sure why or how, but that seems to be a “thing” that some trainers will tell you. With that said-
I have yet to see that solve an aggression issue. You are going to need to work at it. Get him into a basic obedience course so the dog learns new parameters in life-you give a command, he is expected to respond with the desired behavior. Never attempt to force the dog to give something up-each time you “lose” the dog wins. It’s best to avoid the situation and keep things out of his way. If he gets something that you need to get away from him, practice substitution until he knows and listens to the “leave it” command. In other words, bribe him to deescalate the situation and get the object of his desire back. In these cases, I take an item that is “better than” the stolen object-I use hotdogs or cheese and BEFORE the situation arises, I make a big deal of getting the item from the fridge and giving the dog small bites(Open the fridge, get his attention and say the item by name “Who wants cheese??? Whose a good boy?) Then when the issue arises, I casually get the treat, do the routine and within seconds the dog is typically sitting there sans item waiting for the special treat. Its important that you do it when he does not have a stolen item so that he does not learn that the special treat is linked to stealing/guarding items. I then have hubby retrieve the item while the dog is out of the picture, or put a leash on the dog to keep him in another room while I retrieve the item.
This part is going to sound harsh-If your dog is so aggressive that he scares you and will attack you., just who do you think is going to want him? Nice lab mixes are a dime a dozen at the local shelters and rescues and dying every day simply due to lack of a home-Your dog is a lawsuit waiting to happen and in my opinion, if you the owner can not rectify the situation, then you need to have him euthanised. No rescue or shelter is going to take on your lawsuit liability knowingly, and if you lie about his aggression(not saying YOU will, but many owners do) they will pts when its discovered.
Oops-sorry-forgot to answer the question-With as many aggressive dogs that we have dealt with over the years, I would never feed kibbles and bits to any of them. If you want to try the low protein route, choose something with less chemicals, dyes etc. If you dog is not already altered, do so. The number one thing I have found that cuts down on aggression is altering. If you dog has not been tested for Lyme disease since developing the aggression, test him also. Lyme has caused dogs to have aggression issues in the past according to some people.
Melissaandcrew gave you excellent advice. There were a few papers published that concluded lower protein diets decreased certain types of aggression. In my opinion there were some problems in how the studies were run and I don’t think the results were really valid. If you want to continue with lower protein foods you may want to take a look at “senior” diets as many companies lower the protein in their foods marketed to that age group.
In general when working with resource guarders if the item is not dangerous to the dog and not vitally important to you then let the dog keep it. Only remove the item after the dog has abandoned it and it and there is a solid barrier between you and the dog.
You don’t want the dog to pair getting cheese or hot dog or a walk etc with stealing and possessing an item. This is why Melissa recommended establishing the cue “let’s get cheese” independent of when the dog has something. There should be many “let’s get cheese” cues without needing to recover an item compared to using it to recover an item.
For professionals to assist you I’d look to see if there are any veterinary behaviorists in your area
http://www.dacvb.org or Karen Pryor Academy trainers https://www.karenpryoracademy.com/find-a-trainer
I’m sure you’ve done amazing managing this dog, but I wouldn’t want it in my house where it could hurt my kids. You have a very serious problem, and I don’t believe protein level is the answer, but all the food dyes and artificial ingredients could be part of the problem.
Aimee’s suggestion of professional assistance is right on the mark. It’s much better to spend a little money now and learn how to fix this problem than to continue trying to manage it and fear the one time you fail. Please take the extra time and effort to help your dog before it’s too late.
I just wanted to say my family had to make that hard decision to put a beloved companion down due to aggression we were not able to handle. We had a professional trainer come from Chicago and help us but we did have a child and together we could not get it under control, you know how everyone must be on the same page and you all have to be consistent. We set it up that we could be with our dog and held him while put down and brought him home and buried him. It is something that you never really get over, but I know we did the right thing because we could not pass along this grave problem to anyone else for the dog’s sake and for other people’s sake. It ended with us and I can live with that. Beth
I’m sorry but because you could not control your dog does not mean your dog deserved to die.There were other alternatives like adoption to a home with no children and to a owner that would take the challenge of reforming the dogs behavior.Things not going good so put the dog down??Your choice so live with it…Sorry but I respect life
Its not so cut and dry, and I assure you, the vast majority of people wanting a dog DO NOT want a defective one to begin with. Sure, many can be rehabbed or at least controlled, but its a long road, a lot of work, and the end result is often major stress on both the owner and dog. Until you have lived with the stress of an aggressive dog and the unpredictable nature, you can not even begin to understand. Even though I love working with the problem children, even I have decided that I am done with it-done with the work, the effort, the stress, the guarding against their behavior reoccurring. From now on, only the pleasant shall cross the threshold, lol.
Thank you for understanding Melissaandcrew, the comment from Mike P is so hurtful in a such a horrible situation, I am glad I could let emtnicki know they are not alone. I know I respect life too, no one can take that away from me, I am not better than anyone, I don’t blame Mike P for his feelings, I am glad he loves animals so much that what our family had to do is appalling. Beth
I just wanted to say I admire your strength and courage for being a responsible and loving owner to your dear dog. We as a society recognize that some people are too dangerous to live among us. There are dogs that simply are not safe to live with either. We want so desperately for these dogs to be normal which is why we grasp at any straw, like diet change, to fix them. But sadly it is not the case.
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