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Training Tips: Food and Toys

What is Resource Guarding in Dogs?

Having a dog who defends food and toys with aggressive behavior is a common challenge. Known as “resource guarding,” this behavior can extend beyond food and toys to include locations and people.

dog with stick thumbnailResource guarding can be caused by several different factors, especially a dog’s inherent survival instincts. This natural urge to survive motivates them to protect valuable items; puppies are especially susceptible to resource guarding because they have to compete with their littermates for food.

Resource guarding in dogs can vary in severity. A dog may simply run away with the desired object to protect it, or they might show aggression through biting or chasing. Some dogs only guard against certain people while other dogs just guard stolen items. Additionally, a dog might display guarding behavior to another dog. This type of resource guarding can be an appropriate dog to dog behavior, but it’s important to learn when to intervene so conflict can be avoided.

If your dog is guarding resources, it’s essential not to physically punish them because this type of confrontation usually makes the problem worse. Resource guarding is best treated by managing your dog’s behavior and trying to prevent it from happening. Because dogs can display unexpected aggression while guarding resources, you should work with a professional who can help you read their body language and recommend safe and positive treatment methods.

Resource guarding does not always require treatment, but it’s important to recognize its symptoms and act before behavior becomes dangerous. Speak with your veterinarian for additional advice and to see if action should be taken.

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