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Understanding and Preventing Resource Guarding in Dogs

Resource guarding is a common behavioural issue in dogs, where they display aggressive behaviour over certain items like food, toys, or even people.

Understanding the psychology behind this behaviour and early intervention is crucial for preventing and managing it.

Understanding Resource Guarding

Resource guarding is rooted in a dog’s instinctual behaviour to protect valuable resources for survival. In the domestic setting, this translates into guarding food, toys, or even their favourite spot on the couch. While it may seem harmless, unaddressed resource guarding can escalate into aggressive behaviours, posing a risk to both the dog and its human family.

Early Prevention Strategies

Desensitisation to Human Presence: Introduce your puppy to various people during meal times. This helps them associate human presence with positive experiences.

Trading Up: Teach your dog to willingly give up an item in exchange for something better. This not only prevents resource guarding but also strengthens your bond.

Avoid Punishment: Punishing a dog for guarding can exacerbate the problem. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement for non-guarding behaviours.

Proper Socialisation: Expose your dog to different environments, animals, and people. Well-socialised dogs are less likely to develop guarding behaviours.

Addressing Existing Resource Guarding Behaviour

Identify the Triggers: Observe your dog to understand what triggers the guarding behaviour. It could be a specific item, situation, or even a particular person.

Seek Professional Help: If the guarding behaviour is severe, consult a professional dog trainer or a behaviourist who can provide tailored strategies and support.

Controlled Feeding: If food is the guarded resource, practice controlled feeding sessions where you are present and intermittently add treats to their bowl. This helps your dog associate your presence with positive outcomes.

Teach the ‘Leave It’ Command: This command is invaluable in preventing and managing guarding behaviours. It teaches your dog to trust your judgement about what is safe or not.

Resource guarding is a natural, albeit potentially problematic, behaviour in dogs. Understanding the psychological underpinnings and early socialisation can significantly reduce the likelihood of its development. If your dog already exhibits resource guarding behaviours, remember that with patience, consistent training, and possibly professional guidance, this issue can be successfully managed.

By addressing resource guarding, we can ensure a safer and more harmonious relationship between dogs and their human families.

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Justin Jordan Trainer

Justin Jordan

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