Resource guarding dogs are tough to deal with. Dogs can resource guard many things – food, high value treats, toys, people, furniture, and even space. I had a client who was sitting on the couch with her dog, and when her husband approached, the dog growled at him. In this case (and typical for this kind of behavior), the dog was resource guarding my client. My client had unintentionally been creating a situation where the dog felt the woman was a resource to guard. She was providing a lot of affection, treats, praise, and allowing the dog to always be near to her. Some dogs can handle this without adverse affects, but this particular dog could not.
What is the solution to this problem?
Resource Guarding Dogs Require Structure And Rules!
I advised my client to do several things:
- Limit the affection to the dog
- Create space between her and the dog so the dog can get used to not being right next to her (this involved teaching the dog the place command so the dog has a specific spot to stay while my client moved around the home)
- Share consequences with her dog for the growling (she kept a leash and prong on the dog while not crated so she could issue corrections)
- Remove furniture priviledges (couch, bed, etc) until dog is consistently not resource guarding
- Have her husband hand-feed her dog all meals, preferably during training exercises
It’s not just 1 or 2 of these items, but all of them working together which create a new dynamic and a new structure for this dog’s life. And, my client must consistently hold the dog accountable for the new rules and structure in order for her to provide the believable leadership it will take for this dog to improve his behavior.
In this case, but my client and her dog made a successful turnaround, and they have no more problems with resource guarding. She was able, after the behavior was fixed, to go back to sharing affection with her dog. She knows now that it’s important to also share structure and rules in addition to the affection so that there is balance in her dog’s life!
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