What Is Resource Guarding?

Resource guarding in dogs is a type of aggression that can be seen when a dog feels threatened by the presence of someone or something near his prized possessions. It is important to understand that resource guarding is not an act of aggression directed towards people or other dogs. Rather, it is the dog’s attempt to protect what they believe to be their own. Certain dog breeds are more prone to aggressive behaviour, such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Kelpie breeds.

Resource guarding behaviour often begins at an early age and can become more frequent and intense if it goes unaddressed. Puppies may show signs of resource guarding when they are around 8 weeks old and have begun to recognize their individual belongings.

The most common objects associated with this behaviour are food and chew toys, but any object that your puppy values can trigger this response.

Attempting to take away the object may cause any of the following behaviours:

  • Freezing in place
  • Growling
  • Snarling
  • Snapping
  • Biting

In some cases, puppies may also try to hide their food from others or retreat into another room with their prized object in order to avoid having it taken away from them.

It is important for owners to remember that resource guarding is a normal behaviour for dogs and does not necessarily mean that your pet has aggressive tendencies. Many dogs will exhibit this behaviour because they are unsure or anxious. It should always be addressed positively and calmly so as not to cause more stress for your dog.

Why Would a Dog Guard a Resource?

Resource guarding is rooted in evolutionary biology and has been seen in many species throughout the animal kingdom. In wild canine packs, resource guarding helps ensure that each individual gets enough food and shelter; it also helps maintain order within the pack by preventing disputes over resources.

In domestic households, resource guarding may be seen more commonly due to environmental factors such as competition for resources with other pets or people. For example, if there are multiple pets in the same household who must compete for food or attention from humans, resource guarding may be used as a way of ensuring that each pet has enough access to these important resources.

Additionally, resource guarding can be triggered by fear. Dogs may feel threatened by certain types of people or animals and use resource guarding as a form of protection against potential danger.

Similarly, if a dog feels insecure about its environment or position within the home hierarchy, it may resort to using resource guarding as a way of asserting itself and gaining control over its environment.

It’s essential to note that while some degree of resource guarding is natural in dogs, it should not be tolerated if it becomes too severe or aggressive in nature. If your dog exhibits signs of extreme aggression when around its resources, especially if they have hurt another human or dog already, it is best to contact an experienced animal behaviourist for help in addressing the issue.

What Can You Do About Resource Guarding?

If your dog does display resource guarding behaviours, there are several steps you can take in order to help them overcome the issue:

Identify the Triggers

The first step in dealing with resource guarding behaviours is to identify what is triggering them. Ask yourself if certain items, situations or individuals are more likely than others to spark this type of behaviour. Pay attention to body language and vocalisations that may indicate your dog is feeling anxious or threatened. Understanding the triggers will help you take steps to avoid or reduce their effects.

Establish Boundaries

Once you have determined what’s causing the resource guarding behaviours, it’s important to establish clear boundaries for your pet. Make sure everyone who interacts with your dog understands these boundaries, including children and other family members.

For example, if your dog is triggered by others approaching their toys, teach members of the household not to approach when your dog is playing with a toy. If necessary, use physical barriers such as baby gates or exercise pens to keep people away from objects your dog is guarding.

Teach Replacement Behaviours

Teaching replacement behaviours is another key part of managing resource guarding behaviours in dogs. This involves teaching your pet alternative actions that provide similar rewards without leading them into territoriality or aggression towards people or animals near their possessions.

Examples include teaching them commands like “drop” or “leave it” which prompt them to release items upon request instead of resorting to defensive posturing and growling when approached by someone else near their belongings.

Teaching these commands also reinforces the idea that humans control access to resources rather than competition between animals/humans over possessions being necessary for survival purposes like in wild environments. This helps create a sense of security within your dog, giving them confidence that whatever resource they are guarding will be returned to them eventually.

Final Words

It’s important to remember that resource guarding is a reaction from your dog – they are not choosing to be aggressive, they are acting out of fear or anxiety. Resource guarding should not be punished, as it is not the dog’s fault that they are acting that way. It can be difficult to do, but resource guarding can be solved with proper treatment, training and management.