Posted on October 31, 2013
Judging by his constant joyful expression and cheery prance, you can tell that life couldn't be any better for this 13 week old Westie pup. Like all brand-new puppies, Pluto's entering his new home with a blank slate. The learning starts the second he walks in the door, so it is important to start training immediately!
One of Zen Dog Training's must-do training exercises is Preventing Resource Guarding. You might say, "But my puppy doesn't growl when I touch his food bowl" and falsely think you don't need to do any further training. But you should take time to train even if your puppy doesn't seem to have a problem. Why train when there isn't a problem to begin with? Prevention!
This sort of training is so important because the day your dog picks up something dangerous to his health -- if you never practiced Preventing Resource Guarding previously -- you dog may gobble the questionable item before you can do anything about it! This can be expensive and dangerous.
Another all-too-common scenario is aggression. Imagine that you are a visitor are sitting next to your dog while he is eating from his food bowl and your visitor drops a pen. She leans over to pick it up - which causes your dog to feel threatened and he lunges at her or even bites! It should never get to this point, and with proper training, it won't!
The main idea is to Preventing Resource Guarding is to teach your puppy that when he is eating or has something in his mouth -- human presence and intervention always leads to something good! Here are some examples of when and how to do this:
Food Bowl Exercises: Pet and touch your puppy while he eats. Add a tasty treat into his food bowl while he is eating from the bowl (eventually do this by taking the food bowl away first, then give it back with the tasty treat inside).
Hand Feeding: Young children should hand-feed the new puppy! Also practice games like Taking Treats Gently.
Bully Sticks, Raw Hide Chews, Pig Ears, Flossy Chews: Practice giving your pup one of these chew toys and then randomly take them away. Make sure you give your pup a High Value Treat in exchange for the chew toy. Remember: give your puppy back the chew toy you just took away! You want him to learn to not be threatened by someone approaching him as he eats.
Preventing Resource Guarding is such an easy game that will pay off in the long run and practicing it will keep your puppy confident and happy! But remember you should always use caution in these games and hire a dog trainer if your dog is showing any signs of aggression!
For more on Preventing Resource Guarding, Taking Treats Gently, Management Tools, High Value Treats, and other games and training resources, visit Zen Dog Training Online.