May 31, 2023
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Do These Steps If Your Dog Resource Guards
Resource guarding is a very common and normal behaviour for dogs. It's never done from a place of wanting to hurt others, but rather because they feel afraid/unsure to lose something they deem valuable there and then.
It can be a bit challenging to fully and properly tackle resource guarding (so be sure to reach out if you have any concerns!), but I wanted to share with you the following steps you can use to react if you start experiencing it.
1. As soon as you believe your dog is resource guarding (stiff body, growling, snarling) stop and wait. Don't say anything, relax as much as you can, focus your attention on something else like your phone, and don't move much.
Remember that your dog is at that moment likely feeling concerned or nervous about the situation, and no matter what you say you likely won't talk them into changing their mind/emotions. The best you can do is wait.
2. The moment your dog stops showing you a more relaxed demeanour (softer gaze, loose tail wag, panting), wait a little bit more. This is when your dog is basically going through a wide range of emotions, from worried and concerned to unsure.. to hesitant.. to curious.. to calm.. to relaxed.
3. Once you're feeling confident that your dog's body language is showing a more calm and relaxed demeanour, the next thing you will want to do is toss either a toy or treat (not the one being guarded) away from your dog and wait for them to go towards it.
When they do, you can then start talking to them, praising and rewarding that your dog has chosen to no longer guard and go do something away from it instead.
(This is when you can take away the item they were resource guarding if it's not something they should've had, otherwise, I would give them the room to go back to it so you can practice this exercise if you wish, and eventually completely eradicate it as a result.)
If your dog is feeling more relaxed but doesn't seem to want to take space from the item being guarded, you might need to bring out a strong tasty smell to lure them away. I recommend doing this if your dog has grabbed something they shouldn't have, to more quickly guide them away from it.
Otherwise, I suggest practicing the longer route as it provides more room for your dog to make good choices on their own.