Resource guarding is a natural behavior that can occur across several species. However, if left unchecked, resource guarding can be one of the more dangerous behaviors within the home.
What is Resource Guarding?
Resource guarding is a series of behaviors that a dog may display to keep people or other dogs away from something of value such as food, toys, people, and places.
Common behaviors associated with resource guarding include:
- Increased rate of eating and/or hovering over a food dish
- Hiding or burying items of value
- Wide eyes or a “worried” expression
- Stiffened body posture
- Standing position with nose to the ground, looking at the object of value
- Moving between the object and another dog/person
- Growling, lunging, or snapping when around the object
Preventing Resource Guarding
Resource guarding can be observed in puppies as young as 8 weeks of age. With time and management, this behavior can be improved and, in some cases, the risk can be mitigated. However, it is incredibly important to move forward with patience and understanding as resource guarding can be quickly escalated due to repeated exposure of objects of value being ‘stolen’ or taken away.
Additional ways to prevent resource guarding in MILD cases include:
- Tossing high-value food into your dog’s bowl as he eats
- Play with two or more of the same toy and trade them out during play
- Reward your dog with high-value food for bringing you objects or toys
- Avoid games like keep away
- Avoid reaching into your dog’s mouth to remove an item