resource guarding in dogs

How to Stop Resource Guarding in Dogs: Best Practices

When dogs are nervous, they might lash out at anyone who comes near their food, toys, or other possessions. This kind of resource guarding is problematic and can stress your dog out. The team at Ridgeside K9 put together this article about resource guarding in dogs and how you can stop it. 

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What Is Resource Guarding?

Dogs are somewhat territorial in nature, so they can get aggressive and protective over things they like and enjoy. Resources for a dog can include anything, such as their bed, food bowl, chew toys, blankets, and even other humans. Unfortunately, severe resource guarding can make other pets and housemates uncomfortable.

Many dogs pick up possessive aggression when they are puppies. Evolution created dogs to eat whenever they find food, so young puppies get used to being defensive over their things as a survival mechanism. 

If owners do not stop this behavior early, it can continue in their dog’s adult life. A small puppy yapping about food might seem cute, but a fully grown adult dog growling at people is not. In the worst-case scenarios, resource-guarding dogs can cause injury.

Stopping Resource Guarding

Common signs of resource guarding include:

  • Stiff tail
  • Lowered head
  • Body language
  • Staring
  • Eating rapidly
  • Showing teeth
  • Barking or growling

 

However, not all instances of these behaviors constitute resource guarding in dogs. The frequency and context of the aggressive behavior matter. 

Below are strategies to stop resource guarding in your pet. 

Desensitize Them

One method is desensitizing your dog by standing outside of its reaction zone. If the dog gets used to you being around them while guarding possession, they will eventually learn that you are not a threat and won’t take anything from them. The more your dog gets used to you being around them, the less aggressive they will be. 

Give High-Quality Treats

High-quality, tasty treats teach your dog to associate you with food, making them less likely to snap and growl. You can start giving them treats outside their reaction zone and slowly move closer while presenting more treats. Your dog will begin associating your presence with tasty treats. 

Remove Guarded Items

Sometimes, the best solution is to keep guarded items out of their reach. For example, put away the dog’s food bowl after eating or keep toys off the floor and away from other pets. The fewer objects your dog has to guard, the less likely it will develop aggressive, protective habits. 

Live with It

Some people just learn to live with resource guarding if it’s not causing any harm. If you are single and live alone, you can handle a potentially aggressive dog better than someone living with children. Some owners leave their pets alone when they are with their guarded possessions. 

Read our blog to learn more about adding dogs to your home and resource guarding in dogs. Contact Ridgeside K9 today at (910) 541-1110 to schedule dog training lessons.