So I have been doing a lot of "training" with Mom lately. I think SHE is doing pretty good. She seems to learn very quickly. She feeds me my meals on time, takes me for nice walks, plays with me, and gives me lots of tummy rubs and ear scritchies. In exchange, I am doing marvelously with sit, stay, down, paw, and leave it. I am making great strides with potty training, just the overnight issue of mostly dry nights and an occasional wet night.
She says she gives me very good marks too, except for one thing. I am going to let her do the talking now.
So a while ago, we mentioned that Timber had an issue with some guarding of a few of his toys. There are only four toys that seem to be HIS treasures. Now all of these four toys are pre-Timber, well-loved and enjoyed by both Lightning and Misty (and even Angel Ciara). So they are not new, not HIS.
A silly fuzzy turtle and a nubby-textured dinosaur.
A crinkly critter that might be a dog with wings? and Sneaky Snake.
The turtle, dinosaur, and snake have/had squeakers, and the critter has crinkly paper inside. The turtle and dinosaur have recently been de-squeaked by Timber. But the high level of interest is still there.
We also have many, many more toys with squeakers and crinkly sounds that are very nicely shared by Timber, Misty, and Lightning, like the four shown above. For some reason this snake doesn't seem to have that same high level of "mine" appeal as Mr. Sneaky Snake.
A blogger friend who is an excellent trainer and "reader" of dog behavior gave us some ideas for working with Timber to try to prevent this "guarding" behavior from going any farther. It is a minimal issue now, but we don't want to see it escalate. One of the things we have been doing is to only let Timber have these special toys when he is away from the other dogs. During that time, we let him have one or two of the cherished toys and we do a lot of trading, toy for a tasty treat, over and over. There has never been a problem for us to take ANY toy from Timber, even the ones he guards. He just doesn't want Misty (or Lightning) to have those four toys. He truly loves his time with these toys. They keep him very busy even with the repeated trading with Mom. We were thinking that maybe now that he has desqueaked them, he would have less interest. But as soon as he sees Misty in the other room, he goes under the table and very steadily keeps his eyes on where she is. We are also reading a book reconmmended to our blogger friend by another dog trainer. The book is called "Mine: A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs" by Jean Donaldson. The book has a lot of very good information but seems to apply mostly to dogs guarding from humans rather than other dogs. We are still gaining a lot of insight into the whys of resource guarding and will adapt the suggestions to our situation.
Meanwhile, we wondered how Timber would do if we introduced a new toy to the pack. In the video you can see Misty and Timber enjoying their new pink piggy (with crinkly stuff inside) with Lightning watching the two sillies. What you see in the video is typical of 99% of Timber's playtime with Misty - no guarding whatsoever. There must be something very magical about his four "mine" toys that makes them different from all the others. We were very pleased to see that he reacted extremely well to a new toy.
Timber and Misty had a lot of fun with Pink Piggy, and it even appears that Misty took the lead role. She even tried to engage Lightning who was too busy with his bone.
See, I really AM a very good boy, and I love to play with my packmates as long as I can have MY special toys alone:)
It may turn out that the toys in question may just have to be discarded. But if you have any other ideas, we are more than open to suggestions.
No, no, no, Mom. Don't throw them away. Let's keep trying.
Woos - Lightning, Misty, and Timber and Mom