What is resource guarding? Well, if you’ve ever heard someone say “You should not bother a dog while he is eating,” that would be an example.
This is the most traditional advice which is based on the assumption that dogs guard or protect those things aka “resources” which they value and do not want to lose. Food certainly fits such description, but is it valid?
The term resource guarding refers to a dog which displays an aggressive behavior like snapping and growling, which is intended to convince other dogs as well as humans to stay away from a particular resource or treasure. Such resources can be a place, a toy, food or a person. In simpler terms, a resource to dogs is anything which is considered by your dog to be of high value.
Even though there are some theories saying that particular dog breeds are more likely to display a resource guarding behavior, it is not necessarily a breed-exclusive type of problem.
In general, the most common reasons for resource guarding include:
In case your dog exhibits signs of resource guarding, it will not be difficult to find out the root of that problem. For instance, if a puppy guards their food bowl even though they are still young or a bay, chances are it is a trait which he inherited from both or one of his parents.
If you adopted a dog from a shelter rescue, it is more likely the result of a past trauma. Lastly, the last reason is the most common one and stems from competition and jealousy. Dogs are naturally more motivated to protect their possession or valuables if there are other animals at home which they see as possible threats.
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Whether it is a dog guarding his food against other pets or defending their favorite spot for napping or taking the attention of their favorite person, possessive aggression can be a huge problem. Not only there is a risk that a resource guarding dog can harm other family members or pets, but his aggressive behavior can disrupt the whole household.
So when resolving resource guarding, the secret id to react fast and continuously work on the issue. Here are some training tips which can help you solve your furry friend’s resource guarding habits:
There is nothing more efficient than using treats in order to encourage wanted behavior and that goes with solving a resource guarding problem. If your pooch finds out that tolerating company during dinner time and sharing their toy means tasty treat, then they will forget all about snapping and growling.
Use a calm yet firm voice when giving the command to your dog. After your dog starts relaxing rather than being possessive or aggressive, reward his good behavior with a delicious treat.
This trick is a great way to get your dog to stop being overly protective or feeling anxious about their possessions. By introducing the triggering elements such as the presence of another pooch or touching their bowl while eating, you will be able to de-sensitize your dog to actions which used to stress them out and reduce their resource guarding habits.
You need to start at low-intensity actions and work your way up to triggering situations. For instance, if your adorable baby turns into a growling lion when you get near them during meals, start by standing in the corner. Slowly, start reducing the distance between you and your pooch, until you get to the stage when you can pet your dog comfortably while they eat their food without being aggressive.
Although taking away rewards or toys might be a great method in order to help your dog recognize his unwanted habits, in terms of resource guarding, this trick is counterproductive.
Dogs with resource guarding habits are always anxious that their toys, foods and other valuable possessions will be taken away. This is why they become aggressive and defensive when they feel threatened. And if you take away their valuable, you are only reinforcing their fear, instead of actually getting to the root of the issue.
So, rather than using punishment when your pooch displays defensive and aggressive habits, you need to withdraw and let him calm down. If you antagonize him by punishing them through hitting or taking away their items, you are only making the behavior worse.