Resource Guarding in Dogs & How To Stop It

resource guarding in dogsresource guarding in dogs

If you have a dog or puppy who snaps, growls, barks, or bites when you try to take away its food bowl, toys, or bone, then you have a ‘resource-guarder’ on hand. Some resource-guarding dogs even guard their sleeping positions and their mates or owners! Resource guarding in dogs is a common behaviour problem. The aggression associated with it is influenced by canine genetics and how puppies are nursed by their mother and raised by the breeder.

Unfortunately, many pet parents do not take resource guarding as seriously as they need to. If you happen to leave your dogs home alone and one of them is a resource guarder, then a tiny crumb on the floor or a dead worm in the yard can lead to a fight between your dogs. You might even come home to a devastating scene.

resource guarding in dogs toys

In this guide, we discuss:

  • Types of resource guarding
  • Can resource guarding be cured?
  • How do I stop my dog from resource-guarding?
  • And more…

Types of Resource Guarding in dogs

what is resource guarding in dogs

Food Guarding

In this type of resource guarding in dogs, they become protective or possessive about food or chew bones. It might growl, bark, or snap if someone comes near while it is eating. Some dogs even guard their empty bowls, just because they’re used to protecting their eating spots. This type of resource guarding is the most common as far as the different types of canine resource guarding are concerned.

Object Guarding

Object guarding is when dogs get possessive about things like toys or random items they find. Your dog might growl, bark, or show signs of protecting its favourite things if someone tries to take them away. Common objects dogs like to guard include a favourite ball, a chew toy, or sometimes even stuff like socks or the TV remote.

Location Guarding

resource guarding in dogs toys

Location guarding in dogs happens when a dog becomes possessive about certain places, like its bed, a cozy corner, or even a spot on the couch. The dog might growl or show signs of protecting that area if someone comes close. Dogs value their comfy spots, and sometimes they guard these places because they feel safe and relaxed there. 

Owner Guarding

Owner guarding is when a dog gets protective of its human. It might bark, growl, or try to stand between the owner and another pet or a kid. Dogs mostly do this to show their love to their owners and because they want to keep them safe. Sometimes, they’re worried that the other dog/pet or person might do something to their beloved human, so they try to protect them. However, the behaviour can get out of hand.

Can Resource Guarding in dogs be cured? How to Stop Resource Guarding in Dogs?

signs of resource guarding in dogs

Yes, resource guarding in dogs can be cured with desensitisation exercises, positive reinforcement, and behaviour modification. Resource guarding is natural in dogs because it stems from the instinct to protect what the dog believes is its possession. However, the behaviour can get out of hand and lead to aggression.

Here are some steps you can take to stop resource guarding in your pet:

Start Training From Puppyhood

It is always easier to teach a young dog than to teach an adult dog. When your puppy is eating its meal or chewing on its favourite bone, approach it from a few feet and toss high-value treats in its bowl or nearby. This will help your puppy have positive associations with anyone approaching its bowl. The idea is to teach your dog that your presence means good things.

You must also handle your dog’s food bowl, toys, and treats regularly and several times a day (but always give them back or offer something higher in value). This assures your pup that you mean no harm and that trading their favourite possession gives them something that has a better value.

Train Your Dog in Basic Obedience

Your dog should know its basic commands like sit, stay, drop-it, etc. These commands can be especially useful if things start to get out of hand and your dog gets overly aggressive with you or another pet. The drop it command is useful when you want your dog to let go of an object it may have picked up from the floor or counter like socks, shoes, etc. 

Do Not Use Negative Means to Teach Your Dog

Avoid shouting, scolding, or hitting your dog, and do not forcefully take away its toy/bone. Doing so could worsen the behaviour and may even lead to increased anxiety in your pet.

Be Consistent and Patient

resource guarding between dogs

Make sure everyone in the household is on board with the training and follows the same rules and training methods. This is important to avoid confusing your dog.

Be patient. Changing your dog’s behaviour will take time. Be consistent with training and keep reinforcing positive behaviour consistently.

Seek Professional Help

how to stop resource guarding with dogs

If your dog’s guarding behaviour worsens or it resorts to biting or other signs of aggression, seek professional help. Enlist the help of a canine behaviourist or dog trainer to determine the root cause of the behaviour and also come up with a tailored plan to modify it.

FAQs – Resource guarding in dogs

What breeds of dogs are resource guarding?

Dog breeds like Basset Hounds, Labrador Retrievers, Old English Sheepdogs, Schnauzers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Doodles, Golden Retrievers, and Dobermanns are notorious for resource guarding.

How do I know if my dog is resource guarding me?

If your dog growls at anyone approaching you when you are sitting on a park bench (or at home; it does not let other pets/children near you when it is in your lap), then it may be resource-guarding you.

Do dogs grow out of resource guarding?

No, the behaviour is likely to worsen as the dog gets older. Therefore, you need to take preventative measures right from the start and nip the behaviour in the bud.

At what age do dogs start resource guarding?

Puppies as old as 8 weeks have been known to show this behaviour, although some older dogs could also display it due to health issues or stress.

Why did my dog suddenly start resource guarding?

Mostly, dogs develop this habit when they are anxious or fearful. A change in the dog’s environment or routine, the arrival of a new pet or baby, or an illness/injury could trigger this behaviour.

Key Takeaways – Resource Guarding in Dogs

what causes resource guarding in dogs

Resource guarding is the behaviour a dog shows when it is possessive about its food, toy, chew bone, or even its owner. It can quickly escalate into a dangerous situation if not taken care of right away. Certain dog breeds are more likely to display the behaviour, although any dog can develop the tendency at any age out of anxiety or fear.

You can curb resource guarding in dogs through positive reinforcement, consistent training, and behaviour modification.

If you need behaviour or dog training tips contact Foresight Dog Trainers to transform your dog’s behaviour today.

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Hi! I’m Tres! I’m passionate about dog behaviour and training. My dog training methods are effective for all breeds and goals. I have trained dogs for protection, obedience, manners, loose leash walking, crate training and have solved common behaviour problems such as reactivity, barking, separation anxiety and more. Let’s connect, sign up to my free newsletter (above) for helpful tips and upcoming training events.
dog trainer Sydney
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Hi! I’m Tres! I’m passionate about dog behaviour and training. My dog training methods are effective for all breeds and goals. I have trained dogs for protection, obedience, manners, loose leash walking, crate training and have solved common behaviour problems such as reactivity, barking, separation anxiety and more. Let’s connect, sign up to my free newsletter (above) for helpful tips and upcoming training events.
dog trainer Sydney

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