Training TIPS

GRrrrrr!!! Resource Guarding

*safety first! Please do not try this training without professional guidance!

What is resource guarding? Many people remember hearing the phrase "don't go near the dog when he ahs a bone" as he might growl, snap or bite. It is also common at the food bowl. But a resource can be anything: a used tissue, a sock, a rock, an empty food carton, a toy, or even a stick. A resource is anything the dog likes and considers valuable. Guarding is protecting his valuable thing from being stolen. Guarding communication can be very obvious like growling, snarling, snapping or biting but a dog can also (and usually does) give much more subtle signs he is guarding that we often miss. Some more subtle sings would be: his body tensing up/freezing; turning his head, moving away, stop playing/chewing with the item, faster eating of the item, staring at you or any combination of these plus more when you come near him & his prize.

Picture of Resource GuardingGuarding is a natural canine behavior that in the wild would allow an animal to survive. Of course, it is not a needed (in our minds) and certainly not welcomed behavior in our home as it can be very dangerous. Just keep in mind that guarding is natural and does not automatically deem your dog aggressively unfit. This behavior can be changed, or modified and usually has a good success rate if applied properly and consistently. Your dog simply needs to learn that humans coming toward him and his prize is a VERY good thing!

How can you make it worse?? Why ask this? Who would want to make it worse?! Often without realizing it we can do just that. Yelling at the dog, screaming, hitting or any type of punishment will certainly make the situation worse. What the dog learns from such 'training' is that humans are indeed barbaric looters out to steal his prize and he will most likely increase his defenses/guarding. Now, that may sound silly but put yourself in a similar situation. You leave a store happy after you purchased yourself an item you've long desired--let's say it's a DVD of season one of your favorite sitcom. Someone rushes up to you cursing, screaming, grabs it out of your hands and hits you. How do you think you'd react next time you saw someone approaching you? Hmmm??How can you make it better? Convince the dog that a human approaching him & his prize is wonderful, unbeatable deal! This is done by 'trading up' and giving the dog something better than what he already has in exchange for his prize. Again, put yourself in the situation. You leave the store with your prized item--we'll say that DVD again. Someone casually approaches you and offers you the entire, complete series collection of all the seasons in exchange for your one--or maybe they even offer you a complete paid vacation for two weeks. Would you happily relinquish your DVD? A positive association begins to build over time and Fido will be happy to give you his bone.

So what are you to do?? Safety first! If there are any items you see your dog guarding, temporarily do not give him those items until you have a professional trainer out to help you. Under no circumstances punish the dog! Your risk for getting bitten can be great. If it is an emergency that you must get the item for safety reasons then lure the dog away. Practice trading up & building a positive association. Though the concept is simple it has to be carefully executed and planned. Please do not try this without professional guidance!