Resource Guarding: A Serious Issue
Most dogs demonstrate some degree of resource guarding, especially toward other dogs and animals. For example, if your dog stands guard in front of their food bowl while their sibling walks by, that is an instance of resource guarding. If your dog growls when their sibling tries to take a bone away from them, that is another example of resource guarding.
Resource guarding is a form of dominant behavior, and most dogs will express some type of resource guarding. Even the most submissive dog can show a little bit of dominance through resource guarding. Sometimes the resource guarding is pretty minimal, supposedly nothing to really worry about. However, resource guarding can come in more extreme forms, and can cause more serious problems to arise. It becomes a major problem if your dog resources guards against you, their owner.
Resource guarding can be a dominant behavior, but it always links back to some insecurity. Similar to food aggression, a dog feels the need to protect a resource (ie: food, water, toys, bones/treats, crate, even people!) from other beings, perhaps because they feel it will get taken away or that their pack status is being challenged. If you have multiple dogs and one dog is being more protective of resources against the other dogs, that dog may be trying to assert him/herself as alpha. They also could simply be lacking confidence and worried about the resource being taken away from them. If the other dogs submit to the dog protecting the resource, then the dog has established him/herself as being the more dominant one, particularly over that resource.
Some situations like that might end fine, where there’s a mutual understanding between the dogs and there’s no argument over who’s more in charge in the pack. However, there can be disputes over resources and sometimes that can get really ugly and sometimes bloody between the dogs or other animals (ie: the house cat). When resource guarding is directed toward human family members, that’s when things can get very problematic, as dogs should always view their people as established leaders.
Resource guarding is always something to take seriously, even if your dog isn’t snapping at you or trying to fight your other dog or the family cat. If your dog continues to challenge your place as pack leader, then they can get the idea that snapping or biting is a future possibility and attempt to do these behaviors. To avoid resource guarding, be sure to train your dog consistently in obedience that will raise their confidence and develop more trust in you. It’s important to reward good behavior and to correct inappropriate behavior so that way they understand that the resource guarding behavior is wrong.
A few signs of resource guarding to look out for:
- Hovering over or in front of the resource
- Stiff body language by the resource
- Growling and baring teeth
- Snapping and growling
- Refusal to give up a resource
While some resource guarding may not be severe, don’t let it slide where it can grow into some more severe! Be sure your dog understands obedience and confidence, between right and wrong behaviors, and as long as you demonstrate consistent leadership, resource guarding shouldn’t be an issue for any longer!
If you’re struggling with addressing your dog’s resource guarding, call us at Colonial Dog Training Buffalo! Reach us at 716.217.2817 or e-mail us using our contact form!