Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What is resource guarding? its reasons, and how to prevent it?

Resource Guarding is extremely intimidating and a very common behavior problem in dogs. In this post I will give be sharing my knowledge of what Resource Guarding in dogs is, its causes and how to prevent them. I will be discussing the positive reinforcement training method (to get rid of this behavior) in the next post.

What is Resource Guarding?

A dog is Resource Guarding (RG) when it has an object (resource) in possession that he tries to protect it by means of growling, lip lifting or hard staring if you try to take it away from it. The object might be anything from a torn cloth, bone or even its own chewy toy. Usually this behavior is triggered when the dog gets hold of an object that is of high value to him. There are some dogs that would even guard their couches or beds or even it’s owner from others.

Positive Reinforcement Training

The greatest relief is that with positive reinforcement training you can fully rectify this behavior without intimidating the dog or damaging the relationship with it. Positive Reinforcement training method like Clicker Training is extremely effective in putting an end to all the behavior problems in dogs.

Why is your dog Resource Guarding?

Though dogs have been domesticated by humans since ancient times and have remained his best friend, the ultimate fact remains that they have evolved from wolves and they still carry those wild wolf instincts in them, and resource guarding is one amongst them. But you must note that not all resource guarding are instinctive. Some dogs develop this behavior due to anxiety, fear, under confidence or even boredom.

Please watch this interesting video

How can you make out that your dog has begun Resource Guarding?

Your dog will start showing the warning signals in the beginning stage itself. Usually it starts off with mild signals and then over a period of time it gets stronger. Initially the warning signs might be just mild growling or lifting the lip to bare its teeth when you try to reach out for the resource that it’s guarding, e.g. Food bowl or toy, but these milder signals will give way to stronger ones when the behavior aggravates to the higher levels. In the advanced stages the dog will first snap without breaking your skin, and then it will snap which can break your skin and finally it can end up biting you with full force that can severely harm you. So you must never ignore these signals. But if your dog has learned bite inhibitions during its puppy hood, the intensity of the bite can be much lower.

It is also very important to note that the rate at which a dog advances in this behavior can vary from dog to dog depending on what object triggers it’s guarding nature.

How do you prevent this behavior?

Prevention is the best way to get rid of Resource Guarding. But if you have a dog that you have adopted from a shelter home that is already in the advanced stages of Resource Guarding then you need to start training him using positive reinforcement training method. But it can take some time, so be patient.

Some dog owners take this behavior to be a leadership issue and think that the dog is trying to establish their dominance over them or trying to be their pack leader by displaying aggression. This is a misconception and totally baseless! Sadly they resort to all sorts of negative correction methods which only results in aggravating this problem.

Since this behavior basically develops from anxiety, you must never resort to any negative reinforcement methods like shouting or yelling or other punishments expecting to get it resolved. All those methods can only help in worsening the behavior further which will end up in a strained relationship with your dog. You don’t want a dog that hates seeing you, do you?

The earlier you prevent this problem, the easier it will be to get rid of it. You can try these easy methods to prevent resource guarding behavior in your dog,

  1. Take out all the objects that can trigger resource guarding nature in your dog eg. Clothes, toys, food bowls or whatever that triggers it.
  2. If your dog has the habit of guarding its food bowl, then start feeding your dog by hand until he understands that the food is coming from you.
  3. If your dog has the habit of guarding its couch or bed, then you must not give access to that area. You can block it with a gate or a wire mesh. This will discourage your dog from guarding its couch or bed gradually.
Positive reinforcement training is the best method to correct this problem effectively without harming the dog in any way. But if you are dealing with a dog that is an extreme case of resource guarding and is potentially dangerous, then it is safe to seek professional help at the earliest.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! Just wanted to say thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such nice comments!.

    You have a great blog - full of good information!

    Honey the Great Dane