Is your new puppy uncomfortable or aggressive about anyone getting near their food or toy? That’s classic resource guarding between dogs – or anyone, if your puppy’s not particular.
Not all dogs do this, but resource guarding between dogs can be hard to manage for new owners. Even more so when your dog’s aggression is directed towards people as well as other dogs.
Although resource guarding between dogs is normal behavior – it’s just your dog being territorial or possessive about their possessions. But did you know that a large chunk of the cases of dogs biting young children is because of such resource guarding behavior.
So even if you don’t have other dogs around at home, your pup’s display of resource guarding behavior is bad.
Resource guarding can be tough to deal with. And if you don’t start conditioning your dog to improve their behavior, it can lead to some real problems later.
The best starting point for anyone managing guarding issues with their dog is understanding the behavior itself.
Makes sense, right?
Once you understand the behavior you can manage it with a fresh perspective — one with more optimism and a lot less frustration.
Understanding Resource Guarding Between Dogs
Dogs most often tend to guard their food. That’s why it’s sometimes called food aggression. But they could also “protect” their humans, toys, beds, or even a spot on the couch!
Typical sigs of resource guarding between dogs are growling, snapping at or other defensive or aggressive behavior towards other dogs, or people that may be approaching their possessions or their “area”.
And not only that…
The behavior will be different for different dogs. Some may only become slightly defensive, while others are very clearly aggressive.
The first thing to understand about resource guarding behavior is that it is a natural behavior. So punishing your dog for it will do neither of you any good. Your dog is merely taking care of themselves, and literally protecting their resources!
It’s just that they probably don’t realize that it’s safe to let down their guard with you and other family members or pets at home. Or likely that they feel insecure or not confident enough that they can take care of their things.
We had our problems with Buck at first. One moment he would be our perfectly lovable little bulldog, but when we tried to approach him as he ate his food, he would turn into a growling, snappy little monster.
So how does one go about training and conditioning a resource guarding dog?
1.Using Treats As Substitutes
This works especially well with food aggression. At the nest mealtime, approach your dog and their bowl, and drop them a couple of their favorite tasty treats.
Make sure not to provoke your pup too much by putting your hands too close to the thing they’re guarding. Start by just tossing the treat from a distance.
Eventually, as your puppy learns that people approaching their food or whatever other things they’re guarding is not necessarily a bad thing, you can approach closer and closer as your pup gets more comfortable.
Also, it’s a great idea to hand feed your dog, especially when you first bring them home, so they get used to human contact with their food.
2. Using Command Training To Counter Resource Guarding
Commands like “drop it” or “give” can be really great to use while training your dog to stop resource guarding.
And for obvious reasons.
But even if your dog doesn’t know these commands, you can take the time to both teach them, as well as do resource guarding training at once.
Start with an object or toy that your dog doesn’t guard, and play with her with the object. When she takes ahold of the object with her mouth, use her favorite treat to coax her to drop the object for the treat.
Remember to give the verbal command too!!
When she does so, give her the treat and also remember to praise her a lot. Repeat this again and again, with different objects, eventually moving to her favorite toys.
It might be slow going at first, but you will definitely make progress! So don’t be inconsistent or irregular with the training!
3. Change Your Dog’s Routine
Sometimes resource guarding between dogs sets in as a habit due to other factors like where your dog feeds normally or at what time.
Switching things up every now and then will help your dog form new associations with her food, the environment, and other people at home.
For example, we found that feeding Buck in the living room where there was a lot more activity stressed him out more. And so he showed more aggression compared to, say, feeding him in a quiet spot in another part of the house.
When you do find a place or a time when your pup shows lesser resource guarding aggression, don’t stick to it permanently! Keep changing spots so your puppy gets used to different places, and realizes that there is no threat to his stuff.
We hope you find our tips on stopping resource guarding between dogs useful! If you have thoughts or suggestions of your own, do let us know in the comments section below!
Featured image by instagram.com//straight_bulldog