Dog eating

Dogs can resource guard more than just their food bowl.

Does your dog guard items, also known as resources?

Has this ever happened? You tried to take your dog’s toy, and he curled his lip at you, or you accidentally bumped into him while he was eating, and he growled at you.

These are all classic signs of resource guarding, something you need to work on with your dog through force-free training methods immediately.

If we sound a little alarmed, it’s rightly so because this kind of temperament in dogs can be pretty problematic. So let’s take a closer look at this behavior:

What Is Resource Guarding?

Resource guarding is a behavior that dogs exhibit when they feel something in their possession that they value is being threatened. This item can be anything from a toy, food, blanket, space, water, people, and so many other things that we, as humans, do not always understand.

In most cases, you will see a response, such as a head turn or tilt, narrowing of the eyes, a hard stare, or teeth-baring. In severe cases, you might be subjected to growling, biting, lunging, or fighting. One of the most common signs of resource guarding is stiffening of the body. You might see your dog go completely still and give a vibe that he is about to jump you.

If your dog has been exhibiting such signs, you should start working with a professional trainer immediately. Of course, the obvious solution to this is to prevent this from happening in the first place, but if you have a rescue dog or you just made a few innocent mistakes with your puppy, in the beginning, things can be a bit more complicated.

How to Prevent Resource Guarding

There are two ways to stop dogs from resource-guarding objects and food. Both are explained below:

Manage the Environment

If your dog is resource guarding an object that shouldn’t be in their possession, the best way to stop them from placing too much value on this object is to remove it from the equation. Block their access to it so that they don’t claim possession.

Start Desensitization

The best way to prevent your dog from resource guarding is to change their emotional response so that they don’t feel threatened by you. Changing their emotional response will help them look at your nearness with happiness rather than dread and fear. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Find the threshold where your dog starts to resource guard. For example, when you are three steps away from your pet, he starts to eat his food at a fast pace. So, next time, stand a little farther back.
  • Instead of giving your dog food in his bowl, toss it to him from a safe distance, gauge his reaction, and walk away.
  • Close your distance every day, and make sure to keep track of his reaction. If you see the slightest of stiffening, take a step back.
  • Keep doing this until your dog becomes accustomed to your presence.
  • In the last few tosses, walk by them casually instead of walking away.

As for resourcing guarding objects, use a force-free dog training method to teach him the drop it and leave it cues. Give him a treat every time he relinquishes his rights over something valuable. Make the treat more special when the object he relinquishes is more valuable.

Resource guarding can be a dangerous issue to deal with, and it can take a lot of time. If you don’t have the skills to teach your dog how to let go of this behavior, the best thing to do is hire a force-free dog trainer. For dog training in Miami, visit the website Dances with Dogs. They offer online dog training for puppies as well as adult and older dogs. To know more about their services or to schedule an appointment, call on 786-299-1552.