Resource guarding is a very common behaviour seen in many dogs. But why do they do it? And how can we get them to stop? Here’s everything you need to know about resource guarding in dogs and what you can do to make it stop.
Resource Guarding In Dogs – Why Do They Do It?
Resource guarding is really a dog’s way to say ‘back off!’, and really, who can blame them? Would you like it if someone else keeps putting their hand in your bowl of popcorn? They don’t like it either and while some dogs are very tolerant, some of them might just snap.
In some instances, many pet parents choose to ignore resource guarding behaviours in dogs as long as it’s tolerable.
For example, if your dog is enjoying a bone on the side while you are reading a book or enjoying a movie that’s okay, right? You’re doing your thing while they are doing theirs.
It becomes a problem when resource guarding stops you from doing daily chores. For instance, if your dog guards the bed, making it impossible for you to make the bed in the morning.
Some dogs guard their favourite person or another pet in the house, making it a very risky situation for anyone coming in the way. Secondly, if you have children or old people in the house, we can understand why you want to address resource guarding before it becomes worse.
Here Are 4 Ways To Make It Stop
If the resource guarding seems to be getting out of hand or is proving unsafe for children and guests, here are some ways to address rit.
1. Offer A Fair Trade
The main reason why dogs guard things is that they know that if you take it, they won’t get it back. Trading allows you to get the best of both worlds. You get what you want while they get something even better.
They won’t feel like they lost something, rather they will happily give it away for the currency.
2. Become The Provider
Dogs are less likely to growl at you when they know you’re the one providing them food and that they have a safe environment. This type of training is more ideal when your dog has food aggression, or they tend to snap at anyone during meal times, or if they have a bone.
Before giving them food put your hand in their bowl. Manage their food with your hands and when you’re ready to give it to them, ask them to sit before you give them their food.
In the case of young dogs, you can also add food in their bowl while they are eating to prevent the chances of food aggression as they grow older. Remember not to overdo it as it may lead to co-dependency and your dog won’t eat unless you are there with your hand in their bowl.
3. Teach Them ‘Leave It’ And ‘Back’
The safest way to take anything away from them is by a few simple commands. This way you won’t have to put your hand in the danger zone and brace your self for a bite.
Dogs may be reluctant to leave behind the newfound object that they have claimed for themselves, but with a few treats and a lot of praise you can make them look forward to parting with their favourite toy.
By teaching them to leave it and to go back you can safely toss them a tasty treat and take away the object and thus creating a safe environment for both of you.
4. Hire A Professional
While you can tolerate mild forms of resource guarding if the problem is too severe, you should consider hiring a professional – someone who does not encourage physical punishment.
Most of the times, dogs resource guard because they feel insecure. So the best way to get them off the habit is to build their confidence and teach them that if they let go, something really good happens to them.
Things You Shouldn’t Do
While we learn all the things you should do, remember that there are some things that may perpetuate the guarding. In fact, many trainers have said that the guarding behaviour in dogs is almost always accidentally taught to them by their well-intentioned pet parents.
Here are some things that you shouldn’t do to your pets:
1. Harsh Punishments
You may have read in many places about exerting dominance over your dogs. But trust us when we say this – it only makes things worse. When you resort to harsh punishments, your dog feels more inclined to fight and defend whatever they feel is theirs.
In the process, you may end up tearing or destroying the thing that you wanted to protect from them. In the long run, harsh treatment can make them more aggressive every time they grab something.
2. Don’t Let Children Handle Resource Guarding
If you have young children in the house, you should have a different set of rules to protect your child and your dog. One of those rules should be around dogs and their food/toys.
Children should never be allowed to grab anything out of the dog’s mouth no matter how gentle your dog is. If a dog has their toy, the child must be taught to tell you about it instead of trying to get it on their own.
3. Losing Your Temperament
We understand that it is difficult and sometimes you may lose your temper but dogs are quick to notice shifts in temperaments. They will be able to sense your frustration and may become even more aggressive.
Instead, if you feel frustrated, the best way to handle the situation would be by removing yourself from the situation.
If you have a partner to help you, you can ask them to step in for you. Or else you can wait a few minutes to cool down after which you can come back to them with a better mood and a tasty treat to trade.
We hope this article threw some light on resource guarding. How is your dog with food and toy? Do they like to guard them and what have you done so far about their resource guarding? Let us know in the comment section below.