How to prevent resource guarding

Resource guarding is a serious behavior where a dog will growl or bite to protect something they see as valuable. Most pups aren’t born with Resource Guarding but over time they learn that if they have something they want to keep (like their favorite bone or your shoe!) they better run and when cornered, hang on tight because you are about to take away their prized possession! As a result, many dogs learn that having people around their things is bad instead of good.

The first step to preventing this behavior is to teach your dog to drop an item on command. Have yummy treats in your pocket and then start to play with your dog. Throw the toy, when he picks up the toy and turns to come back to you, show him a treat. This will help him come straight to you instead playing “keep away”. Once your dog comes up to you, offer him the treat. As he drops the toy, say “drop it” and give him the treat. Then throw the toy again. This will teach him that giving things to people is great because he gets a treat AND he gets the item back.

You can also use this method to help teach your new pup that you can take anything away from him. To do this, walk up to him as she is chewing on a bone or toy. Reach down, take the toy away from him and give him a treat. Then tell him “okay” and give the toy/bone back to him. Remember to be confident in your movements when you take anything away from him. If you are nervous and slowly reach your hand in to grab whatever it is he has he will sense that you are uncomfortable and this will convince him that the toy is his. If he thinks this he is more likely to growl and resource guard.

Finally, when your pup first comes home till he is 8 months of age, make sure to pet him as he is eating his meals at least twice a week. As you pet him, praise him and then give him a treat. Once a week, pull his food bowl away as you praise him, and then give it back to him. Also, make sure that all family members are around your pup as he eats so he learns that even your youngest child is not a threat to his food.