Resources, and guarding behaviors

by Steph Mahrle

Resources! What is a resource in the dog world? It can be anything that a dog perceives as valuable. Some examples of resources are; bones (Durachew, or raw), dog food (kibble or raw food), toys, territory (backyard, or even the dog's crate), and water. Certain dogs really struggle with resource guarding behaviors which can consist of barking, growling, lunging, and/or biting, in an effort to defend the dog's perceived valuable resource. How can this behavioral issue be managed? In my experience, I do not believe that a dog with a genuine resource guarding issue can ever truly be resolved. I believe in training basic obedience on #ecollar, and then setting the dog up for success by managing the resources in a way that doesn't perpetually challenge the dog. Why? Because this is the safest, most logical method I have observed over time, with a variety of dogs, and their issues. First, I focus on ensuring the dog's "come" command is solid. Secondly, training the "out" command is crucial. The dog needs to understand how to surrender a resource in a safe, predictable environment. After I have ensured a solid foundation of training exists with the dog, I train the owner on how to ensure the dog surrenders the resource, using the most non confrontational method possible. Calling the dog off of the resource by using the "come" command, is typically the most low key method for everyone involved..depending upon the value of the resource. I manage exceptions to these general rules based upon the dog's history of their specific resource guarding issue. While my dogs can share a water bowl comfortably, I absolutely crate them separately when they're chewing on their raw bones. Have my dog's ever fought viciously over resources? No. I'm honest with myself though. Resources are very important in the animal kingdom. The fairest option for both of my dogs is to set them up for success, by giving them both their space when they're presented with a high value item like a raw bone. This is how you train a calm family dog.