Updated: Jan 28, 2022
Resource Guarding: Behavior exhibited to maintain access, or attain access to something with significant value to the individual.
Human Example: Some of us resource guard our desserts! We don’t punch anyone in the face for them (not typically anyway), but we make it clearly known that we will not be sharing. Get your own, - k? Thanks!
We can see normal levels of resource guarding with our dogs and the things they find valuable. This may look like playing keep-away with their toys or stolen items, hiding or burying their bones, eating their food super fast, or taking a toy from their dog friend.
Sometimes our dogs can have a bit more stress about sharing and the behavior can escalate into a scuffle between dogs or even a bite. This has nothing to do with a lack of structure or discipline, we are all doing our best! Resource guarding exists due to an individual dog's early environmental experiences and at times genetics, which has created a high level of fear or distrust of others near their valued resources.
Things our dogs may guard:
● Food, or area they are typically fed
● Sleeping areas like beds or couches
● Valuable people caretakers
Resource Guarding canine body language typically looks like:
● Stillness or “freezing”
● Hovering over object/valued object
● “Whale eye”; whites of eyes exposed
If initial warnings are ignored:
● Teeth bared
● Verbal warnings: low growling
● Air snaps; biting
How to prevent concerning resource guarding behaviors:
● Let your dogs eat in peace.
Petting, handling your dog, taking away their food/bones while eating, putting your hands in their food bowl does not help prevent or resolve resource guarding behavior...in fact, it can oftentimes create increased guarding behavior.
● Instead of being a taker of things, or further reinforcing their need to guard their things, teach your dog that when you’re near AWESOME stuff happens. Example: approach while eating and toss a piece of chicken into their food bowl, and then walk away. This creates fun feelings of excitement when you appear while your dog is in possession of resources.
● Teach your pup to trade! If you need to take an item from your dog, offer something exciting in exchange.
Bonus: Teach foundational cues like “Drop” & “Come” for increased communication & decreased confusion/frustration.
● Management: If you have a dog who would rather not share specific items with other dogs or gets nervous around eating time, give your dog a quiet controlled space to have those valuable items to prevent conflict behaviors from arising.
If your dog is exhibiting concerning resource guarding behavior that is difficult to manage, seek out assistance from a certified professional who has experience working with these behaviors! If you are a Dallas DogRRR FOSTER OR ADOPTER please email email@example.com if you need assistance.
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