aggression guarding shepherd

Resource guarding is the act of aggression (growling, showing teeth, biting) over something the dog is possessing, also known as possessive aggression.  Possessive aggression can occur over food or an item. The possession could be a raw hide bone, kibble, dog toy or something as minor as a Kleenex tissue. I worked with a Rottweiler once that took a tissue from the garbage and growled at the owner when they tried to take it away. The possession can be any high value item. That tissue was, in the dog’s mind, his tissue and he was going to bite anyone that tried to take it away. A possession could also be human. It’s my mom so stay away.

When working with dogs with this issue, the first thing we do is put structure in the dog’s life; sit, down, wait, place, come and heel. As the dog learns we add the “out” command. Out means drop anything that is in your mouth and back away from it. I give the dog a high value treat, like a piece of hotdog for obeying. I never get into a confrontation over food or high value item with the dog. Out and leave it.

For food aggression I drop high value items in the food as the dog eats. Chicken, meat, hotdog that sort of thing. So we teach when people approach your food bowl good things get added. We never take food away while the dog is eating. If you are consistent with this exercise the food aggression should diminish.

My personal dogs eat separately. I currently have two adult dogs and a 5 month old puppy. The puppy always eats in the crate with the door shut and latched. This way it’s impossible for anyone or dog to interrupt the puppy as she eats.   I have never owned a dog with this issue. Do Not take food away from any dog as they eat. Do Not put your hands in their food as they eat. How would you like this if I did this to you?   You are not teaching the dog anything but to start resource guarding because the human is going to take your food away from you.

My adult dogs eat separately away from each other with doors closed. This way if one finishes before the other there is not a chance for the dog to try and push the other away to get more food. Once all three dogs have finished their meals they can hang out together again.

If you own a resource guarder you need to put structure in the dog’s life and teach the out command.   These rules must be enforced;

                                                Stay off furniture

                                                Stay off of my lap

                                                No more sleeping in bed

                                                Wait at the door (you go through the door first)

                                                Remove Triggers (Raw hides, bones, toys)

                                                Teach Children to stay away from dog when eating

                                                Teach Children never to take anything away from the dog

If you own a resource guarder seek help if you’re struggling. If you are not willing to abide by the rules above don’t waste the trainer’s time. You need to make changes and you can start with no sleeping in bed, stay off my lap etc.

Resource guarding is something that may never go away but you can help control it in a safe manner. Feed your dog in a crate. Remove triggers, teach children to how to behave around dogs and hopefully we can prevent a dog bite.

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