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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 9 month old cockapoo and we're having a few issues with him. Generally, he's a lovely friendly dog, but there are times when he can get quite aggressive.

Mostly, his aggression is I think resource guarding related. So if he has something that he shouldn't and you go up to him, he will put his head right down low and growl if you continue to approach him. The problem is sometimes you don't even realise he's got something until you hear the growl, then you know. If he just has a sock or something that I don't mind him having and it isn't dangerous to him, I will just leave him to it. If, however, I want him to drop whatever it is that he has, I try to make an exchange, so I'll make eye contact with him and ask him to "drop it" while holding a treat. Once he drops it, I'll say good boy, pick up the item and then give him the treat.
Sometimes though this doesn't work. If it doesn't, I try dropping the treat to the side of him instead, rather than holding it, but if he has something that he really wants, it seems like nothing will make him drop it. I've tried chicken, ham, cheese, sausages, frankfurters, toys but nothing works. When he doesn't want to exchange, he will turn his head to tell me that this isn't happening basically, it's almost like he's pretending I'm not there. The problem is if he has something that could hurt him or be dangerous, I can't just leave him to it.

He can also get snappy when trying to attach his lead to his collar. Most of the time, he's fine with this, but sometimes he decides he's not ok with this and will growl and if you don't back off, he will bite you. It doesn't particularly hurt and he's never drawn blood on us, but I can tell he's being aggressive. When he does this, if he's in the back of the car, for example, I generally tend to give up for a minute, shut the door and turn my back. Then go back and try again. It doesn't always work, so sometimes I just end up getting growled at and then bitten.

He also can get a bit snappy with brushing him, but mostly this is him biting the brush, not us, and if he does manage to catch your hand, it's just mouthing, but we took him to the vet for his check up the other day and she was checking his back paws and he bit her. Again, not hard, but he obviously shouldn't be doing this.

So some of his aggression seems to be related to resource guarding, but then other times not. He's not a food-motivated dog either, so that doesn't help. We've had him since he was 8 weeks old. I've regularly hand-fed him his food to try and prevent this behaviour from even starting, but it clearly hasn't worked, but then as I said, he's not food motivated. Unless we add some chicken or cheese, etc, to his food, he'll quite happily not eat it, and even with chicken or cheese in, he will still let me hand feed him. I'm wondering if maybe it's because I'm giving it to him, whereas when he gets possessive over things, it's things he's basically stolen or found, not something I've given him.

Just to add, I also do nothing in life is free with him, where whatever I'm going to give him, whether it's a treat, a toy, his food, I will ask him to do something first, whether it be sit, lay down, give me his paw, etc. We always do this with him. Now whenever I make his breakfast in the morning, he will always go and sit on his bed and he will wait for me to say "Go on then" before he moves towards his food bowl.

We have an appointment with a behaviourist in a couple of weeks, but I'm just wondering if anyone has any tips in the meantime, and if this is even fixable, or will he always have a tendency to be a bit snappy at times? I'd like to get him neutered in the next few months, but I've heard that can lock certain behaviours in, so I don't want to run the risk of making life even harder for us all!
 

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Yes it is fixable but it will take a bit of a change in approach. At the moment he sounds like he is a little worried about several things and they all need specific work on them. From his point of view when he has something valuable YOU are aggressive towards him, you approach and use direct eye contact (which to a dog is threatening) you then I am guessing hold a treat out towards him and command him to drop. Him turning his head away from you is a calming signal telling you that you are making him uncomfortable. So - he needs to learn that him having things and you approaching is not a bad thing as he currently fears. The behaviourist will help you work with him and make your approach predict good things not confrontation but in the meantime if he has something you are not bothered about then as you walk nearish (and not close enough to trigger the guarding) just toss him a treat - you are telling him you are not a threat. If you do need to get something back off him then do not directly approach but instead try calling from another room, opening the fridge, opening the front door, just something to encourage him to leave his treasure.

He sounds like he is not comfortable having his collar handled - many dogs aren't. Practice touching collar and giving him a treat and asking nothing of him, as he gets more confident you can hold it for a second, building up time until he is quite comfortable and confident with the handling.

Likewise with his brushing he is mouthing to tell you he is not comfortable and you are not listening to him. Start again with his grooming, have a full bowl of treats and one stroke of the brush = 1 treat. As he gets more comfortable you can build up to do more. If he wishes to move away he can and you can invite him back but if he says no that is fine and the session is over. As he gets more comfortable and confident he will stay for longer and longer and will not feel the need to bite the brush or indeed the hand. You can also use something like a low table for him to get onto for grooming, he can get off if he wishes to signal needing a break.

This is an excellent program you can work through to build cooperative care and handling - Husbandry Project - Academy for Dog Trainers

It may all sound like a lot of work for something the dog should just "do" but they need to feel confident in how they are being handled and can be amazingly cooperative when they understand what is happening. Molly had her last blood test taken totally unrestrained in the vets, she was just asked to sit, if she could not sit she got a quick break until she could again and the vet was able to put in needle and draw blood from her neck with no problem at all.

Finally - neutering - you need to discuss with the behaviourist the correct time for him,
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The bizarre thing is that sometimes he will just drop it, another time, he absolutely will not. Perhaps it is the way we approach, but I do kind of pick my battles with him so that it's not a constant battle of "Drop it".

He also can get a bit like this on the beach as well. So he seems to have this absolute obsession with stones. He totally changes as soon as he goes on the beach. So we go from walking on the promenade where he's the most sociable dog, he wants to be around people, he wants to be around dogs, but then as soon as we go to the beach, he becomes fixated on finding the perfect stone.

He has a certain type, generally the biggest one he can fit in his mouth. He will then push the stone into the sand, make little whimpering/barking sounds, but if another dog approaches him and doesn't read his mood and leave him alone, he will growl at them. So I wondered if this could be a good opportunity to try and show him that I'm not trying to steal or take stuff away from him. So we tried swapping with a treat, so I give him some chicken, I take the stone, then when he's finished the chicken, I give him the stone back or I throw the stone and he chases it. However, now the treats are no longer of interest to him and I've found picking up another stone, asking him to drop the one he currently has and then throwing the new one for him to go after does work. But I don't know if this will work long-term because most things I've tried seem to work at first, but then he seems to cotton on to what I'm doing maybe and then goes back to being only focussed on the stone.

Some really useful advice though, and thank you for taking the time to respond. Will see what the behaviourist says. My vet is very pro the exchange for something of higher value, but it's quite difficult when he's not a food motivated dog.
 

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Hello. Hope you’re well. We have the same issues with our 18 month old cockapoo and I wondered if you found anything in particular that worked for you that you’d be willing to share please? The issue within the lead and collar only started after he was castrated as he had the buster cone on which he absolutely hated and was very aggressive with. He can also be funny with his harness being put on and off, this was prior to his castration. We’ve changed it a few times to make sure it’s comfortable. He is fine with it going over his head, it is when we go to clip it on and off. If we keep hold of it whilst doing it he is ok (although you can tell he’s still uncomfortable and gives us the side eye) but if we let go of it he then becomes very aggressive and bites us, so I’m not sure if he’s guarding it. He has aggressive tendencies in other ways as well and always bites without giving a warning growl! It’s not just one bite either, they’ll be rapid and continuous in one episode. Recently we’ve stopped him coming onto the sofa as he started to become aggressive and bite us when we moved. I can provide further information about the other aggressive tendencies if that would help. We’ve seen a behaviourist but they didn’t massively help with the issues relating to his aggression so I am hoping to find another. We’re just really struggling with his aggressiveness and biting at the moment (it really hurts!!) and it’s becoming very stressful for us. I don’t want to give up on him and I will try anything to help him. It is such a shame as he can be so lovely and is so very intelligent. He is also extremely motivated by food so that helps with training. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you 😊 Xx
 

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Just to add sorry, we’ve had him since he was 8 weeks old and the aggression issues started from 7/8 months old and have gradually got worse. The first time he was aggressive was when we took his collar off in his crate at night which we did every night just in case it got caught on something but all of a sudden he didn’t like it. I then went to stroke him once when he was sitting on the chair and he went for me, I’m not sure if he thought I was going to move him, he doesn’t like being picked up. Since then it’s been the issue with his harness, resource guarding problems amongst other issues. He did go through a phase of some health issues, he hurt his legs and could hardly walk (we never found out why but he got better and no issues since), had an allergic reaction to something in the garden the vets think and his eyes and ears were very swollen and then he had conjunctivitis. I’d say the aggression started not long after those issues as well. I am not sure if it’s fear or anxiety as he seems to become very defensive in a variety of everyday situations, sometimes things that seem minor, and generally he has a poor impulse control in a variety of contexts and low threshold for any kind of frustration or discomfort.

We are the same and make sure he has to work for a treat/reward every time, he’s very good at basic commands such as sit, lie down, wait and we’re working on leave it and drop it still. We also do other things such as touch and off. We do training on a daily basis, the behaviourist helped in that way but didn’t specially focus on the aggression which is our main issue. He will happily drop his own toys and bones in exchange for a treat but for something he knows he shouldn’t have eg a sock, shoe or even our sofa cushions (he’s very destructive and attention seeks) he wants both and it’s very challenging to get it off him but we never just take it off him as I know this reinforces the guarding (plus we’d get bitten!). He is generally friendly too but there are certain triggers where he becomes a devil! I’m worried when we have people round or if we’re out somewhere as they don’t know his triggers as well as us, although we make sure to tell them and try to avoid any situations where we think he may react of course. More importantly though I am concerned about children, we have a niece (he went for her and her mum once when they were stroking him on his head, they are scared of dogs so I am not sure if he sensed this - luckily he didn’t bite) but we would want our own children in the near future if possible and I’m worried how we will manage this behaviour. I think he is quite predictable in terms of we know the triggers but yesterday I was outside with him and flicked a fly on the floor (it was a tiny fly so he wouldn’t have seen it) and he went absolutely mad biting me. I then flicked the floor inside (hard floor in the kitchen) just to see if he reacted or if it was a one off and he came charging at me growling and bit my hand really hard multiple times, he’s done the same with my partner. I really don’t understand this at all and is something completely new. I also brushed something away on the floor and he did the same, so whilst we won’t make a habit of flicking the floor there will be times we may want to brush something out of the way with our hands! It just seems to be one thing after another. We love him to bits though so like I say we don’t want to give up on him and we will do whatever we can to help the situation. I just don’t want us to be walking on eggshells which sometimes we feel like we’re doing. Sorry for the long post, I just thought it would be helpful to add for context. Thanks again x
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hey, sorry you're struggling as well. Our behaviourist wasn't great to be honest, and I think a few of the things he was doing he just grew out of. He was a really, really bitey puppy and I remember thinking that would never end, but it gradually stopped, but even now (he's 16 months), he will still mouth but I think this is just play. He's got so much better though with exchanging, so if he's got something he really shouldn't have and I drop a treat, he'll take the treat. Sometimes he'll just drop it when I ask.

The biting when we put his lead on, he just stopped that. One of us would give him a treat while the other put the lead on and again, like his biting, I don't remember it stopping, but he hasn't done that for ages now. He does get a bit bitey when we brush him, but we've noticed he's more trying to bite the brush than us, so I don't know if that's a play thing? He doesn't seem aggressive then. However, he's an absolute nightmare for our poor dog groomer. She does spend a really long time with him, and to be honest, probably too long. I think probably a lot of dogs would be getting fed up as he can be there for 4+ hours, but she does give him regular breaks and she only does one dog at a time, but he hates his back feet touched. She did say she has another cockapoo though that also hates certain parts of his body groomed and they got dog's chicken paste and put it on a licky mat while he was there and he's been fine since. So we're gonna try that next time.

He's definitely a much lovelier dog now and has got better but there are other things we have now. Since he's been neutered, he's become a bit jealous which I never noticed before. If one of the kids or my husband sits next to me on the sofa, my dog will come and plonk himself between us. He doesn't show any aggression, it just feels almost like a dominance thing and this is a pretty new behaviour for him. So I just put him back on the floor and he'll generally just lay down. If i stroke another dog or if a dog jumps up at me, or the other day in fact, a dog was running on the beach and caught my son on the hip, my dog didn't like that and started barking at the other dog. He's become a bit protective over us. He also has an absolute obsession with stones. So when we're on the beach (we live on the coast), he is solely focussed on the biggest stone he can find and he likes to dig and bury the stone, but then he brings the stone back out. I've no idea what he's actually doing but he does it every time we're on the beach, and if another dog comes up to him and doesn't back off pretty quickly, he'll bark at them and occasionally snap if they still don't back off. So we now need to think about what we're going to do about that because I don't want it to escalate.

He does still sometimes resource guard though, he would do it with the stones on the beach. If you go to take it to throw it for him, he would growl pretty aggressively and he will bite if you don't back off, but he never hurts, but having said that, he's now realised that we take the stone to throw it for him, so we're not 'stealing' it. So we don't get any of that aggression with the stone now, but of course, other dogs don't always read him and if they want his stone or want to get near him, he'll get pretty angry at them.

I was speaking to a lady who I often see actually and she has a cockapoo, same age as mine, and he's going through a pretty naughty phase, this has been since he's been neutered. He's started weeing and pooing around the house, waking her up in the night, biting her. It's hard work, but I feel like we're at a good place with our dog now, apart from the odd few things. Sorry I can't be of much help. I just watch lots of youtube dog training videos, like Zak George and the TV shows like dogs behaving badly as well. Sometimes they've helped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Actually, just one other thing, I got talking to another dog walker a while back and she also had a cockapoo. She had real troubles with him resource guarding and he was stealing and eating things that he shouldn't and getting quite aggressive. She was telling me that he eventually ate something which almost killed him. Luckily it didn't, but she took him to some dog BootCamp type thing, it's in Wiltshire somewhere apparently. He stayed there for I think for 3 weeks and it was pricey, a few thousand pounds I think, but she said it was worth every penny as it worked perfectly for him, and they just gave her some things she needed to carry on with at home. I guess worth a look if it gets too much and you have the money
 

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Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to me, I really appreciate it. I’m so pleased to hear yours has improved, that’s really fab news and a relief I bet! I’m sure you’ll be able to work through the other problems too, I think sometimes they go through phases and like to test the boundaries! How lovely living by the coast I am very jealous!

It sounds like ours is more aggressive than what yours was as his bites do really hurt us. However, within a few minutes he could be all over us again wanting our attention and completely ignoring the fact he’s just really hurt us! Ours was quiet bitey as a puppy too, but I also think he was very cocky as well. It makes us think we’ve done something wrong sometimes I sit here thinking what we could have done differently but of course that’s pointless as what’s done is done but it does make you think it’s your fault at times. Whilst he will do commands very well (he’s so intelligent and picks up on things really quick), if there’s something he doesn’t want to do eg. get off something, he will not hesitate in letting us know that it’s not happening! It’s like he turns into a different dog, his eyes almost change.

Unfortunately I do back off when he goes for me, I try not to as we’ve noticed before that if we don’t (we’ll, my partner, as he’s braver than me!) he actually doesn’t properly bite and will just mouth without pressing down, almost like “oh, it didn’t work this time?” Lol. It’s just natural to me to back away and I think it is learnt behaviour as well, he knows being aggressive gets his own way. I’m not sure how we can change that now.

Is there anything in particular you did to improve his resource guarding? It sounds like yours has massively improved due to all the hard work you’ve put in to it so well done. Did you just keep practicing with the treats everytime he had something he shouldn’t have? When playing he will drop his tug toy when we say “drop it”, that’s without a treat, and other things such as his own toys he will drop with a treat (sometimes to the point where he will literally throws it out of his mouth as he’s like ohhhh food!!) but anything else he’s very persistent and doesn’t want to let it go, so sometimes I scatter treats by him if I know he’s not going to let it go but he’ll still guard what he has, even if I offer chicken or something of better value! He will look at the treat, edge towards it and then immediately go back thinking I’m going to grab what he’s got. I do understand though in his mind what he has is high value, just because we think we have something better does mean he thinks that. Normally he will eventually go for the treat after debating in his head what to do but it can take a while! If it’s something that won’t hurt him or I’m not bothered about him having I’ll ignore him as sometimes I think it’s an attention thing and to be honest sometimes it’s just not worth it. He took my shoe once and I asked him to sit and he sort of stepped back from it so I picked it up and he jumped at my leg as I turned around and bit me as if to say “oi, that’s mine, give it back!” That was my own fault though as I shouldn’t have done it, and he’s very serious when it comes to his guarding habits lol.

I’ll take a look at the dog boot camp thank you, I’m willing to try anything at this stage. I also look on YouTube a lot although so many people have different views though don’t they. We’ve also watched dogs behaving very badly (our behaviourist said she despises Graeme Hall lol) and also its me or the dog episodes with Victoria Stilwell, I quite like how she trains dogs. He’ll go through a really good phase and we’ll feel so much better about it and then when he’s very aggressive again (like yesterday) it really sets us back and I feel hopeless again! We do continually do the training though on a daily basis and try to be as consistent as possible. When he was continually biting me yesterday after I flicked the floor (sounds so silly saying that lol) I did really shout “no” at him, which I am not sure was the right thing to do to be honest, but it did make him back off and he walked away (he didn’t cower or anything). I obviously don’t want to scare him, and I never and would never use physical punishment as dealing with his aggression with aggression is not the answer at all, but I do feel like he needs to know what he’s doing isn’t acceptable sometimes especially when he’s very aggressive and really hurting us. I am not sure if that’s what he’s intending to do. I think it makes it more difficult when you don’t understand the reasons behind the behaviour as it could be fear or anxiety and I of course don’t want to make the situation worse and want to reduce any fears or anxieties he has. The resource guarding I can understand more as I know that’s very common. But the lead/harness and the other things I’m struggling to understand and it’s therefore hard to know how to deal with it. Like I say it seems one thing after the other at the moment and I’m not sure where to go next. I know he’s still quite young and a lot of people have said he’ll grow out of it but I’m not sure he will, and because he has a bite history and aggressive tendencies we do always have to assume that he could be aggressive at any time.

Thank you again, it’s really kind of you to take the time to reply and I’m really glad things have improved with your pup 😊 X
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It is lovely living by the beach, our dog absolutely loves it, well particularly stones :rolleyes:😂 I do notice with our dog, he definitely sees the order of how it goes in this house. He knows pretty much I'm the boss in this house, then I'd say he's got my husband and youngest son next down, then him and my eldest son who is 10, he's right at the bottom. I can see him really test the waters with him. He's never aggressive to him but I definitely see him try to dominate him and he shows him less respect. My youngest son and the dog are like brothers, always messing around together and he's so much more confident with the dog than my eldest, so we are trying to work on that.

This is the first dog I've ever had so this is all new to me, but from what I can tell, they seem a lot like children growing up, going through phases, testing the boundaries, that kind of thing and I'm the same, worrying if I did something to make him do these things, and then also wondering if I don't respond to something quickly enough, will it escalate. But my friend has a cockapoo with a very different temperament. He's such a sweet dog, really well behaved and she did hardly any training with him. I just think it's personalities personally. Like with resource guarding, I'd watched so many videos on what to do when you get a puppy and one video said to help prevent resource guarding, feed your dog by hand and get your hand in their bowl and feed them. I did all that, but he still would resource guard.

I don't know if it was an age thing that calmed him down a bit with the resource guarding, or perhaps neutering, or if it was just persistence, like he knows if he's taken something he's not allowed to have, that we will get it back from him 9 times out of 10, but a lot of the time he does it to play. Like he'll nick a sock and he'll purposely come and find me and show me he's got the sock, then when he knows I've seen him, he'll run out of the room. I don't follow, but I'll peek out at him and he'll see I'm not following so he drops the sock like "This really isn't fun if I'm allowed to have it". But I've just also noticed about 90% of the time now, when he does steal something he's to allowed to have, he will just drop it when I ask him. I feel he's mellowed a bit, but he's still feisty, there's no denying that.

But my dog can be the same, really stubborn at times. If he doesn't want to do something, he will resist it. Like with the stones before he realized we weren't stealing them, I'd ask him to drop the stone, I'd try and exchange it for a treat, but nothing. I swear in those moments, I could have put a whole roast chicken down and he'd still not have dropped that stone. In fact, I did try taking out bits of chicken with me. I'd have all the other dogs on the beach after me, but mine, no, he had his stone, he wouldn't give it up for anything. The only thing that would make him drop that stone actually was to throw another one. Maybe that's how we got him to stop guarding the stones? I can't remember, it was either that, him realizing we were only going to throw it for him or something else that I have no clue about.

I've heard negative things about Graeme Hall as well. But the thing with dog behaviourists, they generally know what they're doing, they have that authority that a dog probably reads, they have the confidence that we don't have as well, so I just think they make everything look so easy when in reality, it's not so easy. Well certainly not for me anyway. They remind me a bit of Super Nanny, when she comes in and helps the parents resolve their kids behaviour and I always think it must be easier for her, she has no emotional attachment to the child and the kids don't know her, can see she's confident and probably instantly respect that, well mostly.

If you're not a fan of how Graeme Hall works, you might like Zak George better, he's much more a positive kind of trainer and he's done videos with all different types of dogs and their behaviors. I really hope your dog calms down for you and you can start enjoy being around him more. Failing everything, you could always spray yourselves in bitter apple spray :LOL: When my dog went through the puppy biting phase, he would always bite my dressing gown, so I sprayed the hem with the bitter apple spray, worked a treat. He also doesn't bite me if I'm wearing fake tan, clearly not a fan on the taste! But good luck, let me know if you have any success, or maybe someone else on here might be able to offer some advice. I'm a billion miles away from an expert and my dog still has some things we really need to work on xx
 

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Yes it sounds like he really loves those stones 😂 bless him. Milo definitely thinks he’s the boss in our house unfortunately which we need to change lol. It’s good that you’re able to manage his behaviour with the kids, we don’t have any yet but I’m just really worried about when we do as like I say his bites really do hurt and he does draw blood. I think we’ve always thought he’s very cocky and overly confident but actually he may be the complete opposite and it could be fear. I just keep worrying about it at the moment as I know you can’t rehome dogs with a bite history and then I read other things which says the only other option would be to have him out down and I can’t even imagine doing that 😥 but likewise we can’t not have kids because of him and it could be too much of a risk. I suppose we won’t know until it happens, if it happens that is. I’ll do whatever I can though.


That’s really good how you’ve improved with the resource guarding as I’ve heard it can be very difficult to stop them from doing it. Today Milo took a couple of things he shouldn’t have and to be fair I just got a treat, didn’t make a big deal out of it and he was absolutely fine letting it go, whereas other times he won’t give it up for anything, guess it depends what they deem high value and obviously he thought what I had was better!! It made me laugh when I read your comment about the roast chicken as that would be exactly the same with Milo!! Our behaviourist told us if there’s certain things he steals to just get loads of them (like that’s realistic🙄) as he can’t possibly guard every single one, perhaps that’s what’s helped in your case with throwing another stone for him!! I wish we could know what they are thinking it would make life so much easier 😂😂 it’s so weird because ours is fine at the groomers, he used to be funny with his paws there which they said is very common but apparently he’s much better with that now and actually gives them kisses which shocked me as I think he can sometimes be funny with being touched and handled, it has to be on his terms. My partner goes into the vets with him now as I’m too nervous and I think he can sense it, although he says he’s always been fine but you can tell he’s a little scared.

My mum has a cockapoo and he’s the complete opposite to ours, he’s so sweet I can’t believe how different they are, you can literally rock him like a baby, if I did that to Milo he’d attack me lol. At the end of the day they are dogs though and not babies so I do get it!! I have to say though sometimes I get a little jealous when people have these really sweet dogs but you just never know what their temperament will be, even with all the training put in place when they are a pup they have their own personalities as you say, without a doubt. I do think all dogs have their own issues too, but to be honest aggression has probably got to be the worst!!

I agree with you in terms of the behaviourists, on the tv programmes as well they don’t show you won’t goes on behind the scenes only the good parts where they actually do what they should be doing so like you say they make it look easy. Sometimes I watch them and think I don’t even know what they did I feel like they miss parts out. I will take a look at Zak George, thank you. I’ve also followed some Facebook pages too to see if I can get any tips. I’m also going to take him to the vets just to make sure it’s not a medical issue, particularly as the issue on the sofa has only just recently started. I may also try another behaviourist as maybe the other one just wasn’t right for us and Milo. I just really hope he doesn’t start doing other things as well as it will just become completely unmanageable I think, whilst we know his triggers now we can’t possibly predict every single scenario when he may be aggressive.

We are going away in October with my family for my mums birthday and to be honest I am dreading it as they’ll be more people around and we were planning on having him on the bed at night which we have before as he doesn’t seem to settle in his crate on holiday like he does at home, but after he’s been very aggressive and bit us when on the sofa a few times I don’t really want him on the bed!! We’ll try his crate and failing that try and get him to sleep on his own bed on the floor. I can’t see it happening though.

I actually thought about the apple spray on my furniture as he’s ruined our sofa!! I saw it on Amazon lol. I am willing to try anything like I say so I may just have to spray myself in it 😂 I’d probably go with the fake tan first though haha.

Thank you for your kind words and thanks again for your help and advice, I do really appreciate it. It is just nice to talk to someone about it as it’s really stressing me out and I just want to do what’s best for him and I really don’t want to be in a position where we have to make a horrible decision. I hope things improve with your boy too, it sounds like you have made loads of progress so I have no doubt you’ll get there with him, he’s lucky to have you, keep me posted. Yes hopefully others may have some advice too so I’ll stick around on here!

Take care 😊 xx
 

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I took on Molly many years ago with a multitude of problems including pretty bad resource guarding. We have worked together over the years and she is generally pretty easy to live with these days and we have had some great fun together.

She is very smart and works out how to get the best outcome for her out of situations so I need to stay 2 steps ahead of her, but she loves to learn too so really enjoys training and using her brain. She has had lots of health problems over the years and if she is not feeling well or is sore in some way her guarding is likely to show itself a little, the same if something has stressed her.

Sorry that it sounds like you are struggling with help and I am happy to help if I can.

One thing I would say is the only people I would consider behaviourists are those listed here Welcome to the APBC - APBC

I would also say run a mile from a certain trainer who wears a cravat and anyone talking dominance or showing your dog who is in charge. There are not going* to help any dog but definitely not in the case of a resource guarder
 

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Thank you so much for getting back to me. I’ve read lots about Molly, sounds like she’s come a long way and she’s very lucky to have you. I would be really grateful for any help as I feel so deflated at the moment and really worried about what the future holds. I’m trying to just take it day by day. As I say generally Milo is not an aggressive dog but when he does lash out he can be quite bad and whilst we know the triggers I’m worried he may become unpredictable as there’s been some new things he’s done recently. I can’t think of anything that has changed to cause this.

Milo is very smart too and he likes training and using his brain as well I think, he is quite easy to train. I do think he may need more mental stimulation though. We walk him everyday and he has an off lead walk twice a week at the moment, then we also do training with him during the week in the evenings and but I’m looking into new ideas for mental stimulation as I work from home at the moment and can’t give him a lot of attention during the day, sometimes I don’t know whether that’s why he gets a little grumpy! He can be quite destructive too and I think this is attention seeking. Surprisingly since Friday he hasn’t tried to chew our sofa cushions or anything, I’m hoping it stays that way but maybe it’s just a good phase!! If you have any recommendations for mental stimulation please let me know. I do try and do some training during the day though now and play with his tug toy.

Milo had his annual health check not long ago at the vets and there were no problems but I’m going to book him anyway to be checked over just in case it is a medical issue. I’ve read online sometimes dogs can be aggressive if they have a thyroid issue, I’m not sure if they’ll do any tests on that if I ask. As I mentioned around this time last year he had a problem with his hips/legs and was limping for a few days, we never found out what caused it and after rest and medication he was back to normal. There have been no problems since and no sign he is in pain. Unfortunately in a short period of time back then he also had other health problems with the allergic reaction and then conjunctivitis as well, and looking back I think the aggression started around then. I can’t quite recall when he started the resource guarding. He was absolutely fine until around 7/8 months and it’s like he just changed. I do think he knows he gets his own way if he is aggressive and bites too as we back off so I think it’s learnt behaviour. I always though he was quite cocky and confident but deep down he may be quite insecure and not so confident as I thought.

In terms of his lead and harness, do you think he could be guarding those as well? At the moment he’s been ok with us putting them on, he almost goes through phases with it. The lead issue only started after the buster cone and prior to that the issue with taking the harness off only however now it’s putting it on and off. We generally give him treats when putting the harness on and off and when taking the lead off now as well and he seems ok at the moment, not overly happy but he isn’t lashing out like normal. He will do anything for a treat so without one I think he would be aggressive. When he was a baby we used to take his collar off at night as he sleeps in a crate. I’m not sure if that started any guarding issues as that’s the first time he went for me. The next time was when I approached him when he was sitting on the sofa and I don’t know if he thought I was going to pick him up but he snapped at me then and caught my hand. My concern is that he doesn’t just bite once he keeps coming back and you have to really shout to stop him. It makes me think he wants to hurt us! But then he’ll be sweet within minutes after.

I’m really not sure where the issue on the sofa came from, that only started last month and he’s never done that before, he’s always lay next to one of us and been fine but all of a sudden he is very aggressive now if you move so we can’t have him on it anymore. The noise he makes is awful, so aggressive. We have bought him loads of beds and he just wanted to chew them so we gave up with them as he was fine being on the sofa with us but after a few times of him being aggressive enough was enough. He is actually responding quite well to sleeping in his own bed on the floor now in the evening and will go in it now (although he does still try his luck on the sofa). We say “in your bed” and have been rewarding him with treats and try and say “settle” when we want him to settle down as he always seems to want to be on the go!

Any ideas with his reaction to flicking the floor? I have absolutely no idea why he reacted in that way. I don’t know if it was fear as he thought I was going to do something to him or whether it was the sudden movement or sound, I’m really not sure. Tonight he snapped at me when I told him to get off as he was jumping up at the table whilst we were eating, I just touched his chest to move him away and he snapped, he didn’t bite though which is unusual for him to be honest these days! We firmly said no and he did get down, sometimes I think the only way he will listen is when we are very firm and raise our voice. He hasn’t done that in a while to be fair. I don’t know whether that’s just him being a stroppy teenager as he’s being asked to do something he doesn’t want to do, he can be very much like that. He’s 18 months old, I’m not sure if he’s still in the adolescence period, I’ve read it can be up to 2 years. We did have him castrated back in May though and now I’m wondering whether it was the right thing to do, not that we can change it now!!

We are trying our best with the guarding but some things he just won’t give up. On a walk today he picked something up and was chewing it whilst walking!. We were saying drop it but he just ignored us. Unfortunately we didn’t have any treats on us. We stopped and my partner tried to see what it was and you could tell that he would have gone for him had he tried to look in his mouth, he turned his head away so we didn’t even try as that was a clear sign. He swallowed it anyway as he would rather swallow anything than let go or give it back! We need to work on leave it and drop it, he’s quite good when we train him with treats, he will leave it if we ask until we say “ok” and drop it he’s quite good with his tug toy, his own toys if we have a treat to trade but anything else we really struggle to get him to drop which is frustrating as we feel like he knows it, but maybe he only knows it in certain scenarios if that makes sense.

I will have a look on that website for a behaviourist thank you. The one we had was more of a trainer I would say, she had a very structured training plan and didn’t really address the issues we had despite me keeping asking what we could do. She kept saying that he was a very pushy dog and didn’t respect us so we needed to build up the relationship etc. To be fair she was very anti dominance and all about rewarding positive behaviour so no problems there.

If you have any advice I’d really appreciate it. Thank you again for your time and help 😊
 

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For training both of my girls love learning tricks - they have both done a fair bit with do more with your dog website where there are tons of different tricks they can learn and can very much work to their strengths and what they enjoy doing. There are also things like scentwork which you can do at home once you have learned the basics or even agility which lots of dogs love.

It does sound like things started when he was sore and dogs are superb at not showing pain so it might also be worth speaking to your vet about a pain medication trial to see if it improves behaviour at all - for thyroid function they can also do blood tests as yes it can cause aggression.

For the harness it could be it hurt or scared him one day (I am ultra clumsy and caught my finger in the clip the other day and that really hurt) so I would go right back to basics and do a spot of training teaching him to put his head through things for rewards, start with a big loop of a lead and hold out and reward for putting head through and allow him to pull it back out, then gradually reduce the size and when he is happily doing the size of harness head hole hold the harness next to it and play the same game of him putting head through and pulling out for a treat - making a training session of things can really take the pressure off both of you and help ease the issues.

Flicking the floor is an odd one - but maybe it startled him in some way. To desensitise him to it you could maybe try with some of his food and put a piece down a long long way from him and flick gently towards him - so he starts to view a flick as fun not a scary thing.

As you say with guarding dropping when playing and dropping when guarding are two very different things and I learned in the early days with Molly to choose my battles wisely - the majority of stuff she picked up to guard I totally ignored and if I did need to get something back the less pressure I put on her to get it the better so less moving towards her and more going outside with a ball or picking up her lead to give her the dilemma or guard or fun! This is a really nice way of teaching drop -
- with a guarder it won't work for everything but it is a nice no pressure way of doing things.
 

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Thank you so much. I’ll take a look at that website, sounds really interesting. I was thinking Milo would be quite good at agility and enjoy it so I will look into that too.

Yes I will definitely speak to the vet just to rule any medical issue out. I hope they’ll do a blood test if I request one. To be honest when he was castrated he was aggressive towards the staff they said, when they were putting their hands in the crate, and also to the veterinary assistant when she put his lead on. I’m sure that he was probably scared but she just wasn’t very helpful when I asked about his behaviour, saying cockapoos are very highly strung and people just think they’re these cuddly teddy bears, almost implying that’s why I got him and I didn’t know what I’d let myself in for! I think they’re good with the medical side of things but when it comes to behavioural I’m not sure they’re actually very helpful.

Thanks for the tips with the harness. We had started doing this but as he got better we’ve stopped it however I think we’ll continue doing it just to make sure he’s regularly used to it and make it an ongoing thing as he does go through phases. I’m not sure why though. We only use the harness when we go in the car so we can use the belt, other times we will just use his lead on his collar as to be honest it’s just easier and he’s less likely to be aggressive. He does pull quite a bit on both though so we’re working on that too. He also gets so excited when we’re getting ready for a walk like he can’t control his excitement and screams the house down running around!! Maybe getting the lead and harness out but not actually going for a walk may help with that so he doesn’t always expect a walk.

I will try that with the flicking thank you, that’s if I am brave enough! I start to lose my confidence a little the more he does stuff as I flinch which I think makes the situation worse as he then gets what he wants so to speak as I back off. It’s just very odd but as you say maybe it startled him and he saw it as a threat I’m really not sure. Perhaps it all comes down to fear aggression.

Thanks for the video on drop it. I am really keen to work on this so I’ll take a look. When he has something I sometimes go over with a treat but don’t pick the item up straight away I let him go back to it a few times so he doesn’t think I’m a threat and will take it straight off him whenever I approach or exchange for a treat. I’m hoping that may help and I’ll monitor his behaviour more to see if he does it more frequently when he may be stressed.

I’ve read a lot online that most dogs will give warning signs before a bite. Milo does this with guarding but other things such as his harness, the sofa, telling him to do something he doesn’t want to do and what happened with flicking the floor he’s gone straight into a bite. With the harness I suppose thinking about it he goes slightly stiff and gives us a look so that would constitute as a warning but it’s pretty subtle to be honest, he just seems to “go straight in for the kill” a lot of the time as I put it! If he growled first then it would be more manageable but I get worried that he bites so quickly as I thought a lot of dogs will try to avoid this where possible, which then makes me think he wants to bite us?! As I say he seems to become very defensive in situations, sometimes things that seem minor to us, and generally I think he has a very poor impulse control and low threshold for any kind of frustration or discomfort so his first response is to bite which do hurt and draw blood, and it’s like continuous and not just one bite. Is this normal for some dogs? This is what worries me about kids in the future. I appreciate they’re all different and have different tolerance levels. He doesn’t shake once he’s got hold or anything but he does keep coming back to bite you a few times and jumps up at you, he got me near my shoulder, leg and arm when he was aggressive on the sofa as I moved slightly. The only reason he stopped last time he bit was because I shouted no at him quite firmly, I’m not sure if that was the right thing to do but as I say it did make him stop and back off and then he just walked off.

Thanks again.
 

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If you try the flicking you need to do it a very long way away from him to start with as last thing either of you need is another aggressive response.

It is unfortunate he is not giving much of a warning but freezing, a look, a glance away or a lip lick can all be some of the more subtle signs that he is not comfortable about situations. Dogs do generally try to avoid the sort of confrontation leading to a bite and that and the fact that he does not stop easily does make me think a good behaviourist might be a huge help for you. One thing that rings a slight bell is a friend had a collie rescue once who would bite and keep going and he had learned that in cases of confrontation his previous owners would continue to tell him off so he learned to bite and carry on as he may as well stand his ground. He had to learn that he could go to his crate any time and nobody would come near him - so it was his safe space to retreat to
 

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One extra thought - dogs can be superbly cooperative. Molly has had lots of health issues and has been hospitalised several times with the need for drips. She has also needed quite a lot of blood tests. I was once called while she was admitted and told she had removed her drip and would not let them put it back. So handling has been something of an issue at times.

The thing she really fears is the restraint which typically accompanies these things so we now do blood tests pretty much restraint free, her last one I removed her collar and harness for better access to her neck and asked her to sit, I had one hand gently holding her head high to give the vet easy access.

For some reason communication has gone wrong here but once you get help to get back on track you can achieve the world
 

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Thank you for your advice and kind words. It’s useful to hear about other dogs. I agree with you about the communication and hope we can resolve this.

I am going to look for a behaviourist listed on the APBC website as you have kindly suggested. In terms of the process do I choose one and ask my vet for a referral or do they direct me to one? I live in the West Midlands. I’ve had a look at a few but I’m not really sure what I’m looking for to be honest and who would be best!
 

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Thank you. I contacted Claire, she’s responded already and it sounds like she can fit us in as we’re local which is great news. She sounds absolutely brilliant and has made me feel better already just from her email. It sounds like it’s a common problem in Cockapoos which is reassuring. Thanks again for all of your help. I’ll keep you posted with how we get on. Fingers crossed.
 
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