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Resource Guarding

Dog-resource-guardingResource guarding is a natural behavior, both human and canine.  We lock our doors at night to keep our family and possessions safe; banks keep valuables in vaults; and companies hire security guards to protect their property.  If you have more than one pup, you know that “cold stare” that one will give the other as if saying “back off….this toy is mine.”  Most dogs heed the warnings and will withdraw when the other gives the warning growl.  Some on the other hand live on the edge and will proceed in trying to obtain that tasty bone out of the other dog’s mouth.  Dogs will usually work it out amongst themselves with one or the other usually backing off, but intervention should definitely be taken if the behavior becomes extreme as this type of guarding can spread to being displayed towards humans (especially children).

If your dog is guilty of resource guarding his dinner, the best step to take is to feed him slowly by hand.  He needs to understand that the food doesn’t just magically appear in his bowl.  You, the human, are supplying the food and you can take it away.  I know this sounds a little harsh, but the stronger the dog’s belief that the presence of humans by his food bowl in all likelihood means receiving more, the less he’ll be inclined to react aggressively when someone interrupts his dinner.  When it comes to resource guarding toys or bones, the best way to handle this is to teach the dog to “drop it” and “leave it.”  Ask the dog to drop his special toy, and when he does, reinforce the behavior with another toy or treat.  When he tries to take his special toy back, tell him to “leave it” reinforcing his good manners once again.  The dog learns much better and much more when your stimulating him with new tasks to accomplish.  Plus, it’s great fun and very rewarding when you tackle these behaviors together.

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