Dog advice

A guide to resource guarding – how to tackle it

If you’re a new dog owner, you may have noticed that your puppy can be somewhat possessive of items around the house. This possessiveness can extend to anything from a high-value item like a bowl of kibble to a (seemingly) low-value item like a scrap of cardboard. This behaviour is known as ‘resource guarding’, and it’s something all dogs will experience to some degree. Luckily, it’s possible to break this habit as part of a residential dog training regime.

What causes resource guarding?

If you think about the genetic heritage of modern UK guard dogs, it makes sense that they would have a natural tendency to protect things they see as their own. This is especially true for food, which, generations ago, would have been a valuable – and scarce – resource. These traits are still present in the genetic makeup of modern dogs, so before they learn otherwise, it’s common for dogs to guard their resources. Unfortunately, this can manifest as snapping, snarling, and even biting in puppies.

Tips for dealing with resource guarding

In the short term, you’ll want to know how to react to your dog when the resource guarding actually happens. If the dog is growling at you in order to defend its food, you can immediately try to gain the dog’s focus by offering them a higher-value treat. Their attention should switch to you as a provider of good things, and away from their misconception that you want to steal their resources.

Preventing resource guarding in the long term

As with all undesired behaviours in puppies and dogs, one of the key tactics in tackling resource guarding in the long term is to take things slow. Dogs are often slow learners, especially when they’re puppies, so the idea is to slowly introduce them to the idea that there is no need to aggressively guard items in the home. If they are resource guarding their meals, for example, it’s a good idea to position yourself close to their feeding area when they eat – then get closer each day. Over time, they’ll learn that you aren’t a threat to their food and that there’s no need to be aggressive.

If you’re having trouble with resource guarding with a puppy, or even an older dog, get in touch with our team today to learn how residential dog training in UK could help.