Teaching a Dog to Drop and Other Tips to Stop Resource Guarding

By: David Codr

Published Date: February 6, 2018

For this Omaha dog training session we worked with a pair of Doberman mixes; 4 year-old Max (left) has started growling at the kids when he has an item he doesn’t want to give up and 1 year-old Boomer who likes to steal things to get attention. The family was most concerned about the growling thinking it may be a case of resource guarding.

After sitting down to ask some questions about the dog behavior problems I was called in to fix, I started thinking that Max didn’t have a case of resource guarding. Its possible, but since the mother can take things away from the dog without his growling, Im guessing this is more of a case of the kids pulling things out of his mouth.

Dogs often growl as a warning to stop or back off. While the kids were not at all abusive, they were very handsey with the dogs (light tail pulling and trying to pull things from their mouthes). While the dogs clearly loved the kids and vice versa, I have read many case studies of dogs with no history of aggression nipping and biting kids they know well due to being over tired and the children not giving the dog time and space to rest.

To help ensure that never happens here, I suggested that the humans add a dog bed to the living room and incorporate a rule that any time the dog is on the dog bed, the kids are not allowed to play with or physically touch the dog. This way if the dog gets over tired or wants to chew something in peace, they can retreat to the dog bed. Giving a dog a safe place or sanctuary is always a good idea when you have young children living with a dog.

I also went over a focus exercise and my special strategy to get the kids to interact with the dogs in a positive way. This positive reinforcement based form of positive dog training is always a hit with kids as it involves giving them pieces of candy for good interactions.

After suggesting increased exercise, introducing some rules, demonstrating how to add structure and the importance of rewarding desired actions and behaviors, I ran through some tips to stop resource guarding in dogs as well as how to teach a dog to drop.

Id really like to see the humans practicing the drop exercise several times (6 or more) a day for the next week or two to instill a strong drop command in both dogs. This way the kids can ask the dog to drop things and forsake chasing them (which becomes a game) or pulling it from the dog (which makes them less likely to drop and likely increases growing and protesting).

The family’s father was hard at work during our session, but was able to join us for the end. I used his arrival as an opportunity to demonstrate how to claim the area around the door.

Training a dog to respect an invisible 10 foot boundary from the door can help the dogs stop getting too excited, jumping up on guests or potentially run out the open door. It also gives the humans an opportunity to act like a leader, at least in the dog’s eyes.

We wrapped things up by shooting a roadmap to success video summarizing many of the things we covered in this in home dog training session.

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