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(✅ Step by Step) Do This If Your Dog Resource Guards

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

Welcome to one of our Step by Step articles! In these articles, we do our best to avoid lengthy explanations and jump straight into the actions you need to take, to tackle different concerns you may have.

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Dog sitting next to his owner, on his dog bed with a dog toy

Resource guarding is a very common and normal behaviour for dogs. It's important to note that it is never ever done or meant from a place of wanting to hurt others (dog or people), but rather because the dog in question feels afraid or unsure that they will potentially lose something they deem valuable there and then. This can happen with any and all objects, food, toys, and sometimes even people.

It can be challenging to fully and properly tackle resource guarding (so be sure to reach out if you have any concerns!), but I wanted to share with you the following steps you can use to react if you start experiencing it. Try these steps if your dog resource guards: 1. As soon as you believe your dog is resource guarding (stiff body, growling, snarling) do your best to stop and wait. Don't say anything, relax as much as you can, focus your attention on something else like your phone, and don't move much.

Remember that your dog is at that moment likely feeling concerned or nervous about the situation, and no matter what you say you likely won't talk them into changing their mind/emotions right away. The best you can do is wait and listen (listen for the moment were your dog starts to relax, like in the following steps).

2. The moment your dog stops showing you a more relaxed demeanour (softer gaze, loose tail wag, panting), wait a little bit more. This is when your dog is basically going through a wide range of emotions, from worried and concerned to unsure.. to hesitant.. to curious.. to calm.. to relaxed. Alternatively, you can try tossing a treat away from where you both are and seeing if your dog shows curiosity towards it and heads that way. If your dog does go for it, don't do anything else and continue to wait for your dog to come back to being himself. If it tossing a treat away doesn't work, that's okay, continue to wait and don't throw any more treats out.


3. Once you're feeling confident that your dog's body language is showing a more calm and relaxed demeanour and acting more like himself again, the next thing you will want to do is toss either a toy or treat (not the one being guarded) away from your dog and wait for them to go towards it.

When they do, you can then start talking to them, praising and rewarding that your dog has chosen to no longer guard and go do something away from it instead.

(This is when you can take away the item they were resource guarding if it's not something they should've had, otherwise, I would give them the room to go back to it so you can practice this exercise if you wish, and eventually, completely eradicate it as a result.)

If your dog is feeling more relaxed but doesn't seem to want to take space from the item being guarded, you might need to bring out a strong tasty smell to lure them away. I recommend doing this if your dog has grabbed something they shouldn't have, to more quickly guide them away from it.

Otherwise, I suggest practicing the longer route as it provides more room for your dog to make good choices on their own. Additionally, you will also want to practice these steps with items that your dog deems less valuable than the next. Ultimately practicing the idea of sharing is what you'll want to accomplish, as your dog decides to care more about interacting with you, and focus less and less on the object or guarding it, because they'll realize that nothing bad happens and that the traction you always adopt is one of patience, and relaxation!

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