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  • Writer's pictureNina

Preventing Resource Guarding

Whatever age your dog is, resource guarding can be very challenging once it starts so here are a few things you can do to help prevent resource.

Firstly, if your dog suddenly develops resource guarding behaviours where there have previously been no issue, get a full vet check to rule out pain or discomfort as any sudden change in behaviour can be a big indicator of a medical issue.


Management:

  • When your dog is eating you completely leave them alone, this can be in another room or sitting further away from them so you are not perceived as a threat to their resource. This will help them feel comfortable and confident that it will not be taken away.

  • If you have just welcomed a rescue into your home, don't give them long lasting chews or high value chew toys before they have settled in and started to trust you. Before a dog knows that you are safe and not a threat, they are far more likely to guard resources because they may feel unsafe in their current environment. I recommend waiting a couple of weeks until your dog is more settled and then start to introduce chews and toys.

  • Don't put your hand in their food bowl or try to take away a chew, this is a big no no!! This can cause stress and increase likelihood of resource guarding behaviours developing because of the way your dog is perceiving your hand.

  • Don't make your dog wait for long periods for their dinner or chew. This is often thought of as a good "impulse control" tactic, however dogs don't generalise so it's not very effective in other areas of impulse control training and prolonged waiting can result in your dog building frustration, stress and putting a lot of value on their food bowl itself. Too much value on their food bowl can cause them to resource guard the bowl even without food in it.

  • If you live in a multi dog household, put management in place around meal times which can often mean feeding dogs either side of a baby gate or door to prevent dog to dog resource guarding.


Preventative Training:

  • Once your dog is settled you can start to give them chews and long lasting items. While they are eating their chew, walk about a meter away from them with very high value treats and drop the treats on the floor near your dog.

  • DO NOT TRY TO TAKE THE CHEW AWAY WHILE THEY GO FOR THE TREAT

  • Simply repeat walking near and dropping food on the floor and walking away again. This tells your dog that when you come near them and their resource, you are not a treat, you are only there to add to their current situation.

  • Building this trust is built on a value system so I often start with dentasticks (was they are often not incredibly high value to your dog) and the treats I hold are super high value (like chicken or hot dogs) so your dog will be more excited about what you have to offer them.

  • Teaching a leave with other items. Start teaching a strong leave with toys rather than bones or chews. When your dog leaves a toy you then give it back to them and engage with play again. This tells your dog that when you say leave you are not always going to be taking something away, you will just hang on to it for a second before handing it back to them.

In this video below, I have given Arlo a Kong with just his normal dinner wet food in it and I have high value treats in my treat pouch.

I do not attempt to pick up the kong until he shows absolutely no interest in it anymore and is far more interested in what I have to give him.




(Do not try to pick something up if your dog is still showing lots of interest towards it)


*the barking in the background of the video is my family's dog who is getting FOMO from being in the other room.



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