Preventing Resource Guarding
In order to successfully prevent resource guarding from occurring, learning why it happens in the first place is the best way to start. In this unit we will discuss why puppies guard and how to prevent the behaviour from occurring.
"The biggest misconception surrounding preventing resource guarding is to touch your puppy while they eat. This is the best way to create conflict around food."
Training Dogs Online
What is resource guarding?
Resource guarding is a natural desire to either gain possession of an item or maintain possession of an item. The most common form of resource guarding is to maintain possession of an item. This means that your puppy will communicate with you utilizing threats of violence in order to maintain possession of the item they have. Puppies can display resource guarding over any object, food, toy or space. Resource guarding is not limited to only food.
The physical behavioural signs of resource guarding include; eating or chewing faster when you approach, lowering the head position and freezing, showing teeth, growling, barking and lunging.
Signs of resource guarding
Listed below are 7 signs that your puppy is resource guarding. Resource guarding always comes with warning signs but if they are ignored, the behaviour will escalate.
Eating or chewing faster when being approached.
Freezing or lowering of the head over the object.
If your puppy is exhibiting signs of resource guarding, it is recommended that you seek the help of a Proffessional Dog Trainer immedtely.
How to create resource guarding
Although some puppies are genetically predisposed to resource guarding, it is for the most part a learned behaviour.
Touch your puppy while they eat
Take their food bowl away multiple times while they eat.
Constantly physically remove items from their mouth.
How to prevent resource guarding
99% of resource guarding manifests due to the conflict unintentionally created around items. In order to prevent we need to learn how to remove conflict and create opportunities for learning to share as well.
Create a safe space
Crate or Confine
Giving your puppies a quiet place to enjoy a meal or a bone will help them feel more relaxed. When they feel more relaxed about consuming food, they are less likely to develop resource guarding, as there is nothing attempting to take the resource away.
Don't always use a bowl
Hand feeding small meals throughout the day can help your puppy see that you have possession of the food, but you are intentionally sharing the food with them as well.
Make them feel good about it
When your puppy has food, bones or toys that they perceive as their own, walk towards them non confrontationally and drop high value treats near them and walk away. This can help them pair your approaching with good things coming, instead of the assumption that you will be taking away their item.