Resource Guarding Prevention

Resource guarding is when the dog takes ownership of something...food, toys, bed, people, house...and challenges other dogs or people who want to take that thing. If you think about it, it's pretty reasonable for an animal to guard things that they value. Survival of the fittest comes to mind. Resource guarding is a natural behavior for dogs and is the first behavior they learn after their eyes and ears open. To help lower the risk of increasing the intensity of resource guarding, or to help prevent issues from arising, we can create a conditioned response to relinquishing resources. We do this through trade games. By offering a higher value item for the one the dog is possessing we teach the dog that giving up their valuables means they get great things in return.

Important to note: we DO NOT take anything from our dogs. Doing this will create defensiveness. We trade, use obedience that the dog knows, or safely use leash pressure, to compel the dog to release something. 

Methods used to help prevent and address resource guarding without conflict:

  • Trade games - teaching the dog that when he gives up the thing he is possessing, he will get something of higher value.  Watch these videos: LK9 Cody RG1  and LK9 Cody RG2
  • Obedience - Leave It/Out commands and the use of send-aways (kennel/place command) 
  • Applying leash pressure, without conflict, to compel them to release the object
  • Add Value - toss in higher value treats into their food bowl while they're eating. DO NOT put your hand in the bowl.

Porter, a 16 week old male mastiff, started growling at his owners when he was in possession of a certain chew. While staying with me for a few nights we worked on this and filmed some video to help show the process. The first video does not have any commentary as I was not filming for clients initially, but I decided to include it since it is the first time we specifically introduced the chew. You'll notice there are safety precautions in place; leash on the dog, leash attached to the chew, crate and kennel board available.  Also noteworthy: prior to working on this with an item we KNOW he finds very valuable, we did trade game exercises and used leash pressure with less valuable items to teach the concept. Our goal is not to take the item AWAY, but rather have him relinquish it...forgo that reward for a different one. 

VIDEO SERIES: Porter - RG


Lionheart K9 Facebook Video, 3.14.18:

"Resource guarding is a problem behavior that is often over-exaggerated or under-observed. Owner participation has a lot to do with it's absence or presence, and this LIVE event is to address how to AVOID it, and skills to develop in order to PREVENT it from ever happening. 

I know some folks who call themselves trainers like to use escape and avoidance to train it out of a dog, but I have found that using these same tactics are just as easy to convince a dog to review his ideas of ownership before someone gets hurt and the dog gets himself in trouble.

This dog we are using today has some issues with resource guarding, both with his owners, and another dog in the home. With remediation we have abated a large part of it. Although not as bad as I have seen, he would jump-start your heart if you got close to his stuff. I don't exaggerate a dog's likelihood to bite, like some folks who make careers out of it, but there is no doubt in my mind that left untended, this dog would eventually write a check his butt can't cash.

There will be no questions during this event- please save them for after!"