Resource Guarding

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I spend a lot of time trying to understand why my huskies do just about everything. Some things are easy and then the answer to some behaviors is baffling. Many times it takes several days to put the answer together by eliminating what you do know.

Nikki and Sammie had this fight over a treat, but before that it was brewing anyway. I think part of it is a dominance debate, and part of it is a learned behavior. The dominance behavior is easy to understand as Huskies have a hierarchical pack structure.

Everyone has their place. Someone leads, and the rest follow and that makes sense to me. It’s the way it has been with them for thousands of years. In our case I think it is more than that.

The problem is Nikki and Sammie are both guilty of resource guarding. Now this does not affect us humans as they have never acted aggressive to us over food, toys, or treats. I can reach down and pick up Nikki’s favorite guarded toy and she shows no sign of aggression at all. Same with Sammie so that is a good thing or we would really have problems.

So, I’m sitting around wondering about this one night and it occurs to me that Nikki is small for a husky. I started to wonder if maybe she had to battle for food as a puppy, and maybe was kicked out-of-the-way by bigger siblings during nursing.

I’ve known real children that hoard food because they rarely had food to eat and it left a life long-lasting impression on them. The idea had real possibilities until I remembered seeing all of her siblings at the same time. They were all more or less the same size so I don’t think she was a runt grubbing for a teat.

The answer was right in front of me the whole time. Sammie taught that behavior to Nikki as she grew up. You see Sammie has always kept treats and dared any other dog to take it from her. She would not eat them just keep them in some sort of game. Not a problem until Nikki grew up.

Now where Sammie learned this habit from I have no idea. I got her as a puppy as well as Nikki. It never seemed to have been a problem until Nikki came into her own.

Nikki is the first dog that was willing to fight for it. I believe the combination of learned resource guarding and the urge to move as high in the pack combined… brought it to a head.

Here you have a multiple dog thing to watch out for. A bad habit from one of your other dogs can be learned by your new puppy. It never even occurred to me to watch out for this. Something a puppy learns in that first year is much harder to fix. It becomes part of them, and may never go away.

I have yet to figure out the solution. The obvious choice is to keep them separated during treat and food times. If they don’t eat it…pick it up and don’t give it back. This should teach them they only have one chance to eat it. Better not save it or you miss out.

That is going to be my course of action and see if I can break Sammie of this bad habit as well. If you have any experience with this problem, please speak up. You never stop learning with huskies, and as soon as you think you have it all figured out….wham!

I try to share with you things I’ve learned or am still learning. It should go into the husky file in your head. It might come in handy someday.

Understanding these dogs is a combination of many things, that when mixed together give you an overall picture of what the breed really is. There are variances in each dog but an overall knowledge base can help you in your journey.

TJ

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