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Resource Guarding - tips and prevention

Updated: Dec 24, 2022

Biologically speaking, it actually makes sense that dogs are hardwired to guard their perceived resources. Maintaining access to food, water, shelter, and mates is paramount to the survival of the species.

Unfortunately in today's modern lifestyle resource guarding is greatly misunderstood and equally mishandled. In the not so distant past it was common place for trainers to tell you to grab your dog's food bowl, bones, and toys and "dominate" them. All this does is make your dog think you're an unpredictable lunatic who they have to guard their resources from at all costs!

Some common things that dogs guard:

  • food

  • items they may not be allowed to normally have (trash)

  • high value treats (bones)

  • resting/sleeping areas (couch or bed)

  • their favorite people

There is a better approach at resource guarding is thinking ahead and preventing your dog from feeling the need to do so.

In a multi-dog household this can mean:

  • Feeding all dogs in separate spaces (for example on opposite sides of the room, in crates, in different rooms, or behind baby gates)

  • Careful management of toys and enrichment activities

  • Keep all toys put away unless each dog has their own item

  • Give dogs high value treats (such as stuffed kongs, bully sticks, raw bones, yak chews etc) in separate areas

  • Ensure each dog has adequate access to water at all times

  • Keep food bowls/food puzzles/snuffle mats etc put away when not in use

  • Supervise and manage all interactions where resources may be shared

  • Not throwing treats or toys into a room where multiple dogs are present

  • Making sure there are enough comfy spaces for all dogs (in case they aren't keen on sharing at that moment)