Resource Guarding


Positive Dog Solutions 202-630-0249

Resource guarding is a behavior triggered by the dog’s need to keep others away from something the dog considers to be a valuable resource. It is a normal behavior that all dogs have as it is necessary for survival. Some dogs will only guard with other dogs. Other dogs will also guard from humans. If your dog exhibit guarding tendencies beyond what we consider “normal” or reasonable to live with, consider setting up practice sessions together with an experienced behavior consultant. Here are examples of what dogs may guard.
● Guarding food
● Guarding objects
● Guarding space
● Guarding people or other animals
What to do if your dog is exhibiting resource guarding
● If the dog is guarding food, make sure they eat in a space with no disturbance
● If the dog is guarding certain objects, keep these away from the dog
● If the dog is guarding space, you can either deny access to that space or call the dog away from that space before interacting with them
● If the dog is guarding people or other animals, do not allow close proximity or immediately remove where there is a chance for a guarding incident to occur
Training consists of changing the dog’s conflicted emotional state around the things or circumstances that trigger the guarding. This is accomplished with counter-conditioning and desensitization exercises. In combination, it can also be effective to teach the dog specific cues where a person can request the dog – in the presence of the triggering stimulus – to do something that is incompatible with the guarding behavior.
Retrieving a guarded item
If the dog has gotten a hold of a forbidden item, try one of the following things to get it back
● Trade with food or high-value toy
● Tell the dog “Let’s go for a walk!” as a distraction – and then go for a walk
● Walk away and seem disinterested
● For very specific situations when something must be removed from the dog balance the risk of getting bit with the harm to the dog if you do not remove the item immediately
Things to consider
● The severity of your dog’s guarding should be evaluated based on whether the dog has bitten due to resource guarding, severity of any bites, number of triggers and the progression of the dog’s body language communicating the guarding
● Children in the household which causes extra concern – very tight management is vital
NEVER punish a dog for the guarding behavior, it will just escalate the conflict.