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Tuesday Training Byte: Resource Guarding

Resource guarding is more serious behavior than a dog that simply thinks it is the boss (see last week's blog). Resource guarding can progress to the dog biting anyone who comes close to taking the item the dog is guarding. Establishing that you are the boss in a gentle way from the beginning can help prevent this behavior. If your dog is doing this in a potentially dangerous way, seek help from an animal behaviorist fast. Look for someone certified in this specialized area. Here I will discuss ways to help prevent this behavior in the first place.

Resource guarding- Food: I start with feeding the pup from my hand, then place some kibbles from my hand into the dish. I sometimes hold the dish with one hand and the kibble in the other. While the dog is eating, I gently stroke them on the head. When the dish is empty (I am still holding it) I move it back toward me and add a few more pieces of kibble.. Soon the dog is okay with me holding the dish and removing it. Next I progress to feeding the pup in their crate. If there are children in the house I make sure to never let them bother the pup when he is eating or crated.

Resource guarding- Toys: Similar steps here. I do not play tug or tease the dog if he is laying on the floor with his toy. Early on I teach the words "take it" and "drop it". Even if we are playing a game of fetch, I do not incorporate tug or act like I am going to steal their toy. When your dog drops the toy, be sure to lavish them with praise and even a tasty treat.

Resource guarding- Furniture: It is far easier to me to just not allow my pets on the furniture to begin with. I may have a doggie bed or a specific place they are permitted. I teach them that laying on their bed is a good place to relax without human interaction. They may be given a safe chew bone or treats when they go to their bed. Make sure that others do not tease or bother the pup when he is on his bed. With my rescue dog pictured, he was a bit food aggressive when I got him. Within less than a month, I could hold him on my lap while he had a butcher bone, rub his face, and take away the bone, then give it back with zero growling, lunging or snapping. He now trusts me and feels no need to guard his resources. He was 2 years old and the habit was ingrained when I got him. Gentle, calm methods helped him overcome this dangerous habit.

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