Are you afraid to approach your dog while they are eating or chewing a bone? Is it difficult for you to have your dog drop something you don’t want them to have?
At Muttz with Mannerz™ we have a passion for pups and want to help you raise your dog to be safe and a loving part of your family and your community for life.
What is Resource Guarding?
Resource Guarding is when your dog protects something that has perceived value to them from what they feel is a threat to them (i.e another dog or human). That does not necessarily mean there is a real threat, but your dog thinks there is a threat. Your intention when you’re walking toward your dog may not be to take the item, but if the dog feels you are, that’s a perceived threat and they may show varying degrees of protective behavior.
Resource Guarding is a natural defense mechanism that is a part of our (humans and animals) base biological survival mechanisms. Therefore, on its own, it is not a behaviour that is problematic. It’s only when your dog’s behaviour goes too far, or it doesn’t fit the situation that it’s problematic for you and your dog.
Resource Guarding is not just about Food!
A common misconception is that resource guarding is only over food, treats, or bones. Your dog can choose to resource guard any item they find valuable – a sock, your shoe – even a person or another pet in your home.
How Does it Start?
Resource Guarding can occur at any age and is common to see developing in puppies as they mature or in a dog if there are changes in the household ie: new pets, children, etc. Resource Guarding can also be a learned behaviour – if you take something away from your dog every time they have it and they find it valuable to them – they may start guarding that item.
What are Common Behaviours to Watch for?
Common behaviours that you will see are; running away as you approach, growling, stiff body language, cowering over an item, curling up of lips, or more serious escalation such as biting.
If you are not familiar with your dog’s body language and what it means check out our podcast Episode 007: How to Read Your Dog’s Body Language or our article on Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language.
What is one thing that I can do to help?
If the severity of resource guarding is not too dangerous, or not too serious, then teaching your dog to trust you enough to willingly give up an item can really help.
Work with your local dog trainer for an effective process on how to train your dog to use a “drop it” or “give” command as a verbal cue when you want your dog to release whatever he has. Working with your trainer, you’ll begin with items of lower value to your dog and slowly work up to items of higher value. Building trust is key and must be built up slowly.
Call a Professional
If your dog’s behaviour is escalating (you think there is a chance of a bite) or if you want help before it escalates, we recommend you seek a qualified professional. Look for a Dog Trainer or Behaviour Consultant that is experienced in dealing with resource guarding to help you.
Check out our podcast this month Episode 15: Understanding and Overcoming Resource Guarding with Karen Baxter. Karen is a Dog Behaviour Consultant in the York Region at Unified K9 https://www.unifiedk9.ca/ with years of experience to help you and your dog.
At Muttz with Mannerz™ we are committed to providing you with the help and resources that you need for you and your pup so that you can live a happy, healthy life. To contact us visit our website at www.muttzwithmannerz.com