Is your dog a resource guarder?

Have you ever seen your dog hoarding food or guarding an object? Does your dog growl when you get close to their food, or refuse to give up a toy? If that is so, your dog is a resource guarder. Luckily, Zen Dog Training offers useful techniques for solving resource guarding. 

As a first step we always recommend reading Mine! A practical guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs (Jean Donaldson) and scheduling a visit with a Zen Dog Trainer. Here’s a guide we’ve put together to help you better understand resource guarding.

What is resource guarding?

Resource guarding is a canine habit that can stress owners out: it’s when dogs feel the need to defend their food, toys, favorite places, objects, and anything of value to them—even if it happens to be the shoe you need to get to work! This behavior is especially difficult when people try to remove things from a dog’s mouth.

It is very important to address early signs of resource guarding, especially with young puppies. When dogs act aggressively because they feel that something in their possession is being threatened, people, other dogs, and children, especially, can be injured or traumatized.

Although resource guarding can be improved with time, effort, and a well-designed training plan, it is a common cause for dogs being euthanized in shelters. Zen Dog Training’s solutions prevent such sad endings by helping people work with their guarder.

A dog who is “resource guarding” will act in ways to keep others away from the things they possess.

What are the signs of Resource Guarding?

You can tell a dog is feeling protective by its body language, actions, and vocalizations.

Usually, the first sign of resource guarding in a dog is freezing, and slightly raising their top lip. If a dog feels these subtle acts are not working, they may start to lift their lip high enough to show teeth and make a low quiet growl.

Growling when approached is the most common behavior. The dog may also speed up to eat more quickly, or act in any way that gets people to move away and leave them alone when they are in possession of something they consider valuable.

Resource guarding can escalate to include loud aggressive growling, snarling, lunging, snapping, and even biting when a dog feels threatened.

Why do they do it?

The reason dogs guard is that they have learned these behaviors gets them what they want.

To survive in the wild, dogs needed to have a powerful instinct to protect their food. Because of this, they sometimes learn to protect food, toys, or objects from people.

Often dogs who demonstrate resource guarding have other issues; for example, they are shy/fearful, or in the worst cases have survived on their own by depending on this natural instinct.

These dogs have learned through trial and error that they can manipulate the people around them by acting aggressively. There are many guides and training plans to help reduce and improve resource guarding tendencies. A most popular example is Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs by Jean Donaldson, formerly of the SF SPCA Dog Training Academy, which helps owners create a step-by-step training plan.

Can resource guarding be cured?

Yes, it can! Here at Zen Dog Training, we focus first on the people in the house and teach both positive and negative reinforcement techniques that create a wraparound training program for your dog. By carefully structuring rules and boundaries, households can collectively stay in control of their canine and do away with unpleasant aggression.

If you are looking for help with a dog who is a resource guarder, reach out to us Zen Dog Training. if you would like to learn more about Resource Guarding Solutions we recommend checking out Jean Donaldson’s book titled Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs.