An Easy Way to Stop Resource Guarding in Dogs

By: David Codr

Published Date: January 31, 2023

Loumi - An Easy Way to Stop Resource Guarding in Dogs

For this West LA dog training session we worked with 1 year-old Teacup Poodle Loumi, going over tips to stop resource guarding in dogs.

As a Dog Behvaior expert, many of the dog behavior problems I am hired to fix are caused by the dog’s humans. This was the case with Loumi as one of his guardians was using the old force based training methods (pushing the dog’s butt down to teach sit, taking things away rather than teaching the dog to drop, etc). Most dog trainers have given up on force and punishment based training methods because they often cause other more severe behavior problems and only suppress (dont fix) behavior issues. The guardian had also purchased one of the sonic tools you see advertised to “magically or instantly stop dog barking). But there is no magic box or button to press to stop dog barking without unwanted behaviors resulting. These devices stop the barking by causing an unpleasant experience for the dog. Its a safe bet that this device likely was a contributing factor for Loumi’s anxiety.

Fortunately Loumi’s guardians were open to a new approach. We started off by covering a number of basics; marker words, hand targeting, how to motivate dogs by petting them when they do the things we want (Celebrating), how to teach doggy manners, creative forms of exercise, the importance of mental stimulation exercises like cookie in the corner and a trick to make command cue words more powerful.

We also spent a good period of time going over canine cut off signals, how to gauge dog consent and how to read dog body language. I think the dog’s resource guarding problem was greatly influenced, if not directly caused, by the guardian pulling and taking things away (cigarette buts, trash, high value chews, etc) from the dog. This caused Loumi to “act aggressive” when he has an object and is worried his humans may want to take it away. In cases like this, literally the worst thing you can do is take the item away forcefully, but thats exactly what many people do when their dog guards things.

I showed them a simple drop it exercise that I added into a simple game of fetch. By holding out a treat when Loumi returned with the toy, then marking and treating her after she dropped it, his guardians can develop a great drop it cue while they play / exercise thier dog. I strongly recommeneded they stop taking things away from him forcefully and instead teach him to drop things like this so his guardians can trade the item for something safe and appropriate for him to chew.

How to Stop Resource Guarding in Dogs

A big part of stopping a dog from resource guarding is to help them learn that when humans approach when they have the object or place, that we are not going to take it. Unfortunately, taking things away from a dog who is growling is extremely common. But this almost always reinforces the guarding behavior.

A better way to stop dogs from guarding things is to first develop a strong drop cue (which I covered when I played fetch with Loumi) and help the dog see the arrival of the person as a good thing and not a threat to loose something. I learned this easy way to stop Resource guarding in dogs several years ago. This trick to stop resource guarding is effective provided the human reads the dog’s body language properly and stops getting closer at the first warning.

I pulled out my phone so I could show Loumi’s guardians this secret to stopping resource guarding. If your dog has a problem guarding objects, people or places, you should check out the free positive dog training video below.

When you have a dog with resource guarding, its important you recognize the dog is acting more instinctively when they act out. Many people take it personal and punish the dog when it guards things. But as mentioned earlier, this is often a result of humans taking things away from the dog by force. Since this happened many times for Loumi, his guardians will need to practice the drop it cue with low value item toys and completely stop forcfully taking things away from Loumi. At home, this means removing access to things he guards and practicing with low value toys he doesnt value.

I recommended the guardians get a couple of small plastic boxes so they can have leave these treat caches nearby to use my tip to stopping resource guarding when Loumi starts to guard the chair, bone or other objects. I also recommeneded they pick up a pack of bully bites. That way, when Loumi has something she isnt supposed to have, after having him drop it, they need to trade the item they take away with something of equal or greater value. So having these on hand is super important.

We covered a lot of ground in this in home West LA dog training session. To help the guardians remember them all we recorded a roadmap to success summary video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr