Resource guarding, though you may not know it, is something we see every day. Those “cute” videos of dogs protecting the new baby in the family, there was a video recently of a tiny dog protecting his food from a big Great Dane, the people filming thought it was hilarious, as did many of those who watched. This is not hilarious; guarding can be a serious problem in dogs of all ages and can lead to dogs being rehomed or worse.
If your dog or you think your dog is resource guarding, you need to address it as soon as possible. Some of the signs to look out for include stiffening or freezing, showing teeth, cowering over the object or eating it faster, sometimes swallowing it whole(whether it’s edible or not).
Dogs can guard anything from food bowls (empty or full), bones, toys, their bed or your child. When handling the situation it is extremely important to get help from a professional. There has been a well-known dog trainer told a family with a Labrador puppy to shout and hit their dog when he takes something and guards it. Needless to say, this did not work; the outcome for this puppy in the end was not good.
Although it is a difficult situation to be in, there is a lot that can be done. It is VITAL that training is done correctly. It would not be advised to chance training yourself as you could be chancing their life.
There are some things that you probably have already thought your dog that can be used. If you see your dog going for something you know they will guard you can ask for a sit and stay before they get to it. Once you have your dog’s attention, throw some treats or a toy behind the dog allowing you time to pick up the precious item. Drop it and leave or also great cues to teach so you can get the item without force. If your dog is likely to snap for something, teaching them to take things gently is important.
The best way to avoid these situations occurring in the first place is management. If they guard their food while eating, have them eat where they won’t be disturbed and don’t take up their bowl until they have left. When feeding always have your dog sit and wait until you release them to eat. If you are taking something, always swap it for something, treats or something yummy. NEVER allow children to be a lone with them, although this goes for all dogs and children. Warn others interacting with your dog of the issue, if they don’t act appropriately with your dog, revoke their visitation rights.