Resource guarding is one of the things we like to nip in the bud before it becomes a more severe problem in our dog’s adult life. Dog’s that show any signs of growling, freezing, or even potential biting over a possession are exhibiting a form of resource guarding. One of the things new or uninformed pet owners do when their puppy reacts to them reaching toward their food or toys is try and correct the behavior by yelling, or worse, striking the dog. More often than not this can actually aggravate the situation, causing the dog to view the circumstance as his owner becoming aggressive over his warning. This can progress to the dog stealing possessions and items and actually hiding in an inaccessible area and resorting to biting when you reach for them. Another mistake that often occurs is the owner actually snatching their hand back or backing away from the puppies reaction. This is also not a favorable response, because the dog is now learning that his reaction gets him exactly what he wants…You going away. Then, what are you supposed to do? Well, if the puppy is exhibiting a mild reaction, like growling or freezing and your hand is in the vicinity wait until the dog visibly calms down before you move away. This is so the dog realizes that when they have actually exhibited a calm behavior, and not a possessive behavior, that’s when you’ll move away from them. Avoid repeating this process over and over and unknowingly taunting the dog. You’re now aware you are experiencing a minor resource guarding issue and that you should maybe seek the aid of a professional to work with your puppy. If the circumstance is more severe, consult a professional right away! The earlier the better.
How do you avoid the situation altogether?
- A dog with good temperament and breeding.
- Continued access to objects like toys and switching between them or engaging in play with your dog. This is so the dog never views the item as a resource that he needs to protect.
- Hand feeding your dog their dinner and not bothering them (sticking your hands in their mouths) while they’re eating.
- Politely petting the pup at random intervals during feeding (like once a week)
If you’re in need of professional assistance, we have a variety of programs that can work and trainers that have the know-how to curb that behavior.