Updated: Oct 9, 2021
If you've experienced this, you know it can be scary. Living with a dog who shows aggression over toys, food, or other items can mean lots of management, and there's conflicting advice about how to treat it or prevent it in the first place. So what should you do?
(First, if you need to set up a private consultation, you can do it here. )
Give your dog space and quiet to eat their food or special treats.
DON'T try to mess with their food and take things! This won't show them who's boss, but it WILL show them that humans take the good stuff. That can make things worse.
Feed dogs separately (same with really high value bones or chews)
Practice trading items! And teach an awesome "Drop It" cue
Like above, giving your dog quiet, safe spaces to have "their" stuff is important
Make sure no one is taking their stuff or getting too close- including small kiddos! Management is really important.
Use baby gates, exercise pens, doors, and other strategies to provide separation
Some resource guarding is minor, and can just be managed by separating food bowls. But if we can't manage it, we'll need to treat it!
Remember that resource guarding is based on not wanting to lose something. So if we want our dog to be more comfortable with us approaching their stuff, we have to build that trust. We use a process called counter conditioning to change their association from "human approaching my food, uh oh" to "human approaching my food, YAY!" Once the association is gone, the guarding will stop
DON'T try to punish the guarding. Growls, freezes, and snarls are all very clear warning signs. If we try to punish those, we sometimes see dogs who will go straight to a bite!
Work with a qualified positive reinforcement trainer!!! If you need more than just some management, a trainer or behavior consultant can help you come up with a training plan.
Want some more info? Check out this awesome webinar! Want to set up a behavior consultation to talk about your dog's guarding? Do it here.
A few other links to check out:
Working With Resource Guarding- Trish McMillan
How to Prevent and Fix Resource Guarding- Everything Dog
How to Teach Your Dog to Share- Grisha Stewart
Wait, Drop It- Smart Bitch Modern Dog Training
Drop It and Structured Play- Calm Canine Academy
Drop It- Kikopup