Resource Guarding: Teach Your Dog to Trade
Brought to you by the AKC GoodDog! Helpline – the AKC’s 7-day-a-week training support service
By Hilarie Erb, AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer
Is your dog possessive when you want to take something from them that they shouldn’t have? Do they growl when someone gets near their food bowl? This is called “resource guarding.” Some dogs display this type of behavior because they want to keep “their treasure” to themselves, but if the item is hazardous or valuable, you need a way to get it back.
Don’t wait to start training until your dog is thumbing their nose at you while she chews on your nice new gloves. Start teaching your dog now that trading, or giving up something, is a good thing! Practice this by using one of their toys while playing with them. Then offer a tasty goody. When the toy is released, reward! Practice this often, so that when it’s truly important, you know it will work. Every so often, while your dog is playing with a toy, approach her, offer a nice treat, take the toy, and then give it back. For more ideas on how to deal with this problem, read more about resource guarding.
“Start teaching your dog that trading or giving up something is a good thing!”
It’s usually too much to ask even the best-mannered dog to pass up a good opportunity, so take extra care to keep things out of a dog’s reach. It is almost impossible to keep the entire house picked up, but most people can keep one room dog-proof. This is the only room the dog should be in without total supervision. This is management – setting your dog up for success by not giving him a chance to practice resource guarding in the first place. Get the entire family on the same page. Toys, shoes, television remotes – if they are within reach, the dog thinks they are fair game.
When your dog gets something that you would prefer them not to have but that isn’t harmful or valuable, such as a tissue or harmless piece of food, just let them keep it. Don’t reward your dog with a game of keep-away. This will only make them think it’s worth keeping from you.
Occasionally, dogs can be serious resource guarders, and professional help is needed to change the behavior. If the dog is growling, snapping, or lunging when people or other pets get near her stuff, then lure the dog away with a treat, put them in a crate or fenced area, and then put the toys away so the dog cannot access them. Ask your veterinarian to help you find a certified behaviorist for an evaluation.
Join the AKC GoodDog! Helpline TODAY at the discount price of $59.99 – $20 off the regular fee. This provides lifetime training support for your dog. No renewals ever necessary.
For more tips and advice on training your dog, join the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by experienced dog trainers: www.akcgooddoghelpline.org.
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