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Should I take my puppy's toy away?

asked 2020-06-27 20:44:44 -0500

I have a 10 week old puppy. He's been with us for almost 2 weeks already, and I can say that he's a pretty smart pup. In those 2 weeks, he's been able to learn commands such as recall, sit, stay, give paw, fetch, and go find (when I hide treats around for him to search). He only has one toy for now as we're still under quarantine and I have to buy him toys online instead. It's been with him ever since the day we adopted him. He had no issues with it in the beginning. However, in the past few days, I have noticed him being more guarding of his toy. Sometimes he would stiffen when I try to touch it to play with him. I've started to train him "out" and exchange it for a treat. He drops it right away but only when he knows I have a treat on hand. The same goes for when we play fetch. He brings it back and drops it in front of me when he knows he'll get a treat, but when he knows there isn't, he won't. Nonetheless, he's very very obedient when following commands that have nothing to do with his toy.

The past couple of days, I've also noticed that a few minutes after he plays with his toy, he would then bring it in his den (it's a small cabinet with no doors but a curtain, and he loves staying in there ever since). I'm worried it might be another sign of him guarding it.

The thing is I think it started only when he noticed that I would sometimes put it away when playing is done, although I reward him with a treat afterwards. I did so because when I read articles, some would say dogs should not have constant access to them all the time but only when you allow them to. However, I've also read a few who says they should always have their toys around. I'm confused which I should follow. Meanwhile, I think we'll continue with training the "out" command.

Do you leave your dogs/puppies with their toys or do you take them away? How has it affected them? And maybe you have some tips that we can do so as to avoid further developing resource guarding? :)

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answered 2020-06-28 23:44:35 -0500

I applauded you for being so keen and aware of your dogs behaviors. (You have no idea how many people are unaware, for example They think it's cute when theire dogs growl at them. Ugh...) I was so happy to read what a good owner you are. But Unfortunately, I dont know the answer to your exact question. What I can tell you, from Working with a board certified Veterinary Behavioral Specialist and a trainer who worked specifically with aggressive dogs, you are correct is dogs need to respect the toys and understand that they are your toys and you are letting him use them. Your understanding of resource guarding is spot on. My only concern or question is if 10 weeks is too young for his to really display that type of behavior? (But o domy know, I could not tell you 100%) however, if I was in your position, I would remove the toys to play it on the safe side. It will not hurt to take them away after play time. (And just a reminder, playtime is over when you say playtime is over but when he says it's over) . Maybe rotating to toys might be another option.
I am curious, what breed is he and where did you get him from? Were you able to see his mom and dad's disposition?any signs of aggression with them? Best of luck a d do please keep us posted on how things turn out. -Erica Marie

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Hi, Erica. I totally agree with you. Some things might look cute on puppies but definitely not when they're stronger and bigger! And thanks for the tip! Mine's a mutt we adopted from a relative. I never saw his parents but they're probably nice as they live/interact with smaller children. :)

Kyla Ellaine V.'s profile image Kyla Ellaine V.  ( 2020-06-29 00:34:15 -0500 ) edit
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answered 2020-07-02 07:50:10 -0500

Update: His 3 new toys came in the mail today: a squeaky toy, a chew toy, and another chew toy that also acts as a treat dispenser. He's very curious about them at first, but after a few minutes of play time, he's not so interested in playing with them anymore as much as he is at putting his paws on them and hiding them in his den. I think I was even more excited than he was when I saw the toys LOL.

So far, he hasn't acted aggresively towards me when I try to take them away by trading a different toy. He just stiffens a bit then goes away or hides the toys. Sometimes, he pulls it not like as a tug-of-war game but as an "I'm taking it" kind of thing.

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