A resource can be anything your dog regards as valuable. It might be food, a toy, a treat or a space. Part of a dogs evolution means that they opportunists. Guarding their food could be the difference between life or death in the wild. Common displays of guarding in canine language include growling, staring, moon-eye, teeth-baring or taking their prized item out of sight.
If arguments are eminent when there is more than one dog present it is best to remove items of value in advance, or let each dog enjoy his prize in a separate area so he won’t need to guard.
Dogs should not be punished for giving warnings, because it is a good thing that he has given you a ‘caution light’. This is your cue to determine what to do next. One wonderful game to establish when your pup is young is to get him to give things up, making sure you give him back what he originally relinquished but there is timing and method involved. If your dog already has resource guarding issues there are methods (including up-swapping) you can employ however that is a whole other article. We recommend employing a trainer to help you deal with guarding issues.
It is quite an empowering feeling to be able to easily take something from your dog that he would rather keep. The joy is being able to reward him for it. One day he might have that chicken bag or another item which could cause him harm if swallowed, but after all your dedicated practice he is willing to give it to you. Understanding your dog’s body language and personality is imperative. Remember that resource guarding ‘is’ a natural behaviour. Part of your responsibility as a dog owner is to manage it. Being vigilant in ‘loaded’ situations such us a child carrying around something that a dog fancies, will help ensure that your dog and other people are safe.
Leah & Angela O’Meara
Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)