Resource Guarding

Resource Guarding 

As dog owners, we provide our dogs with everything they need daily. They get food, water, shelter, exercise, attention, you name it! However, we must remember that our Canine Companions were not always domesticated. They had to fend for themselves, hunting, scavenging, and protecting their resources from other hungry canines. Due to their family genetics, past experiences, or lack of trust, we may sometimes witness Resource Guarding behaviors.

What kinds of objects do dogs usually guard?
  •  It is also crucial for us to remember that our dogs are the ones that determine what they find valuable. Some dogs may guard their food bowl, high-value treats, bones, toys, beds, space, trash, or even people. 
What behaviors indicate my dog guarding a person, place, or thing?
  • When a dog deems something of high value, he may display distance-increasing behaviors such as a freeze, a hard stare, physically standing over the object, growl, snarling, snapping, or even biting. By showing these distance-increasing behaviors, he is trying to give clear warning signals to the person/animal approaching. Your dog is trying to communicate that he is uncomfortable and would prefer you/they keep your/their distance. These behaviors are entirely natural responses to stressful situations, and we must educate ourselves to read and understand dog body language to be the best advocate for our dogs that we can be. Educating ourselves and our family members on resource guarding will create less stress for the dogs in our care, prevent unnecessary bites, and learn to live harmoniously with our Canine Companions. It is important to note that Resource Guarding is not an “aggressive” behavior but rather a behavior indicative of a lack of confidence or trust. The good news is, it’s manageable! 
What techniques can I use if my dog is resource guarding?  
  • They prevent family members from approaching the dog while having a high-value resource.
  •  If food is an issue, feed your dog separately, such as in a crate or a spare room.
  • Always pick up any potential resources to prevent unforeseen resource guarding behaviors.
  • If your dog guards his sleeping areas, be sure to provide him with one of his own (such as a crate or dog bed) so that he always has his place to sleep, and you do not need to worry about moving him off your furniture.
  • If your dog does get hold of something valuable to them, always do a “trade out” for a HIGHER value treat than what they currently have.
  • Be consistent! The more our dogs can predict day-to-day situations, the more we will set them up for success. 
  • Never put your hand in a dog’s food bowl, “steal” toys or bones from him (trade it out instead!), or punish resource guarding behavior. Contrary to popular belief, this could intensify the behavior and make it worse. 
  • Suppose your Canine Companion’s Resource Guarding behaviors are increasing in frequency and intensity or are occurring between other household dogs and animals. In that case, we recommend reaching out to a Certified Professional Dog Trainer that will help guide you through a management and trust-building training plan.

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