Stopping a Large Dog with a Big Resource Guarding Problem

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 12, 2021

Nike scaled - Stopping a Large Dog with a Big Resource Guarding Problem

For this Omaha dog behavior session we worked with Nike, a 5 year-old Lab / Mastiff mix who has a resource guarding problem.

Anytime you have a dog with resource guarding is cause for concern, but if you have a giant breed dog like Nike (120+ lbs), it can become pretty dangerous.

I started off the session by asking questions to determine if the humans were doing anything to contribute to the dog’s resource guarding behavior. Sometimes there are things we do unintentionally and unknowingly that can impact a dog’s resource guarding issues such as picking up a food bowl, grabbing toys or other items from the dog.

As a Dog Behaviorist, Its been pretty common for me to spot things people do with thier dogs that can cause frustration, anxiety or even contribute to other dog behavior problems. So I always start out my first session by going over these common issues, then going over basics like the importance of using marker words, rewarding desired behaviors when the dog offers them on its own (celebrating), making sure the dog has enough exercise and mental stimulation and tricks for those who dont (definately a factor here). Sometimes my clients get a little frustrated when I do this, thinking Im not addressing their dog’s behavior problems. But I absolutely am.

Failing to address these fundamental issues is the reason many dog trainers struggle to solve behavior problems. Frustration is a common denominator in many of the dog behavior problems I have solved. I made sure to relay this information to the guardian because in this case, I think there were a number of small things that the humans were doing often that were contributing to Nike’s overall frustration and underriding his motivation to listen to the people in the home.

Tips to Stop Resource Guarding Behavior in Dogs

Stopping dogs from resource guarding is all about making sure the dog isnt worried we are going to take their resource. Dogs can guard anything and even in cases where its inappropriate for the dog to guard an item, physically taking the item away, even briefly, can contribute to the problem. Its not a case of showing the dog it gets it back; the dog just sees us taking their thing or sticking our hand in their bowl. They may not react in the moment, but they remember the interaction and it can contribute to the next resource guarding incident.

I went over how to teach a dog to drop and strongly recomended the guardians practice this often (minimum of 10 reps a day, but more is better) when the dog has low value items. This is one of the foundational elements of treating resource guarding problems in dogs, but its a step many people dismiss. The fact is, the more a dog voluntarily drops things, even low value things, the more likely they are to drop higher value items later. Id like to see the guardians stop physically taking anything away from the dog and instead asking the dog to drop it. When they do drop it, the dog is saying “im totally cool with you having this item.”

I also went over a hand targeting exercise, a cue that asks a dog to come over and touch its nose to the person’s hand. I went over this lesson as often there are times a dogs is not clear to the human that they do not want to engage or agree with what the human is doing. Once Nike has this hand targeting exercise down, the humans can use it to determine if he is OK with our request or interaction. If its not, and we dont work on the issue or listen to thier response, we can cause a dog to feel conrnered or confronted which can cause it to react.

After going over all the things that may be contributing to the dog thinking it needs to protect its stuff, we were ready to come up with a solution to a dog’s resource guarding of bones the kennel and other things. I handed my camera over to the guardian so I could share an easy way to stop a dog from resource guarding.

The great thing about this free positive dog training video on resource guarding is how easy it is to do. You dont have to be a professional rescue dog trainer to do stop a dog who is resource guarding in the home with this modern dog training exercise.

The secret to stop a dog from resource guarding is pretty simple; prove to the dog that you arent there to take their stuff. In fact, your presence is an indication that the dog is about to get even better stuff, so there is no need to resource guard the kennel or bone or toy.

The problem with a dog who is resource guarding is the act isnt on a schedule. In fact it usually happens at the worst possible time. This is why I recommended the guardians keep high value treats in all areas of the house so they can be quickly and easily accessed when Nike resource guards something again. In fact, Id like the guardian to look at future resource guarding episodes as an opportunity to help the dog get over the resource guarding problem.

To help the guardians remember everything we covered in this in-home Omaha dog training session, I recorded an extended roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categorized in:

This post was written by: David Codr