Resource guarding is confronting!
When your sweet puppy or dog .. bares their teeth and growls at you signaling in no uncertain terms that your presence is threatening to them and you need to back away. If you don’t they will take it as a direct threat to them and they will aggress. Now given that dogs truly only resort to violence as a last resort, it has got to get you thinking that you have been reading your dog all wrong for a while, that you have missed their other subtle, gentle, cues for you, that they are not comfortable with you in that situation.
Youtube will give you lots of dangerous advice on this …. they will even promote disclaimers on the videos. “Don’t do this at home” …. so where do you go to get professional, best-practice advice that will help your dog and not make this situation worse?
I appreciate you want an instant fix but your dog is not a car where you can swap out parts …
Let’s start by helping you understand why this is happening. It is not just a dog thing!
Just think back to Covid where some people perceived a threat to the things that give them comfort (toilet rolls) and essentials, mince.
The shelves were empty, people were grabbing, shoving, and lying to family and friends about how many toilet rolls they had at home !!!!
A quote from the Sydney Morning Herald “Police were even called to a dispute on Wednesday, with reports saying a knife was pulled out in an argument over toilet roll between panic buying shoppers.”
This is despite authorities stressing there is no shortage – given most of the nation’s rolls are made locally.
And then there are Easter Eggs each year, where some people share their eggs and some people keep their chocolate in their rooms.
The real issue is never the item being hoarded or guarded it is the stress, the emotions around its availability, and what that availability offers the individual that really is the issue.
Other common outburst areas are sitting in someone’s chair, and having your best friend play with someone else.
These are all strong emotions around controlling something that adds security to your life.
These emotional outbursts are based on whether you feel these items will make your life that much better so protecting them is a reasonable action.
Surprisingly dogs are no different!
But it is important that we understand this extreme reaction is based on Emotion. To understand more about dog emotions check this out by Sarah Heath ( RCVS and European Veterinary Specialist in Behavioural Medicine)
For example, a socially inexperienced dog in the park may grab a stick to start a play conversation with another dog
That other dog may be over-enthusiastic in their play and the socially inexperienced dog may feel pressure and not know how to end the play session. They are still holding the stick at this point and now realize that chewing, biting down, and grinding on it offers momentary relief. It is calming. So the stick now is a security blanket for the dog. The dog cannot see security anywhere else in the situation so they protect that security.
So now the inexperienced dog is nervous and feels they need the stick and now they resource guard the stick for security !!!! Understanding the stick is truly not the issue. The solutions for this dog would involve;
- Increasing the activities the dog finds joy in ( both exciting activities and calming activities) so they have more behavioural options to feel secure to feel joy.
- Generalizing/ training these activities in multiple locations both at home and off your property
- Ensuring the dog can switch between these activities in many locations when asked
- Gentle social exposure
- Shorter exposure
To create a plan for your dog, seek a Professional Qualified Force Free Trainer
Punishment does not breed optimism. Optimism affects training outcomes. Check out the science here .
So now you understand why, you need a long-term plan to help you … this takes time and dedication. BUT you ask what to do at the moment if your dog is guarding.
- Calming everything down
- Stay calm and quiet
- Move the non-guarding people/ dogs away
- No moving towards the dog or the object/ location person/animal being guarded
- Close the door or gate to the area where possible, to prevent further escalation
- Offer a large bowl of food or toys in line of sight from the dog but in a different area where you can then calmly separate them from the item.
- Be patient and wait for them to move away from the object/ person/ location
- Ensure that any other contact with this resource is managed
- Book in a Professional Qualified Force Free Trainer
- Get a copy of this great book on Guarding
That description is how to cope with a situation
It is critical to manage everyday life to prevent things from getting to this point, to a situation
And to train to increase the behaviours your dog has that offer them relief /security to a level they can switch between them and offer them in many settings and situations. That is why you need a trainer .
“ You don’t have to be awesome to start learning something new but you have to start to be awesome at it “