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.
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!