Resource Guarding

Resource guarding is a very common behavior in dogs. There are different reasons such as genetics, past trauma or competition. In my experience the behavior seems more common in certain breeds, particularly Herding Dogs, Spaniels, Beagles, Akita, but can show up in any dog.

In most cases it is correctable but it is quite serious and one must proceed wisely and slowly.

Every one of my 5 Belgians displayed resource guarding that I had to fix. In this video I am working with “Caden” my 3.5 year old male. As you can see he is not too happy with the fact that I want to take his bone away. He warns me then moves away in avoidance.

If your dog has it first he or she may think they own it and if they think you want it they might want it more!

Cade has not been given a bone like this too many times so I am not surprised he tried to guard.

Punishing him for this would only make matters worse. Instead, I will need to convince Cade that giving up the bone is a very good idea and he would be a fool not to! I will need to proceed very carefully and desensitize him to my approach. I will use all positive reinforcement. The good news for Cade is he will get these bones more frequently so I can work with him. He is a good and smart dog and I will show future videos of his newly trained response.

If your dog is a resource guarder it is best to seek the help of a professional trainer or behaviorist. But, you can begin the process by happily offering your dog a trade for lower value items (something the dog does not guard) such as a toy. Use a higher value treat to trade for a lower value item. When the dog has the toy act happy and say something like “Can I have it”? When your dog gives up the toy praise and ask for a sit. Now reward the dog with the treat and give the dog back the item. Do this a few times then leave the dog alone. Repeat this exercise frequently with many different low value items.

Next thing you know your dog will be bringing these items to you without your asking! That is because he or she has learned that this is a very fun game! Repeating this exercise with many objects your dog does not guard will be very helpful and create a good solid base of desensitization. Now you can work with a good trainer or behaviorist!!

Laura Christiansen
Canine Learning Centers

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