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Dog Care Info, Issue 44
December 04, 2012

Dogs that resource guard are often labeled as being aggressive, however how much do we really expect from them? Dogs are the only specie that we expect to never be aggressive. They may not growl, bite or snap without being labeled as aggressive or punished for it.

This means we expect them to tolerate anything in their environment without reacting at all even if something is being done to them that may be unkind to them. We however do not set the same standard for ourselves, if we did, it would mean that we may never curse at someone that made us angry, call your lawyer if you feel that someone did something wrong to you, defend yourself when you feel threatened etc. We do however expect this from dogs and then in the same instance we expect them to be aggressive towards intruders in our homes without realizing that dogs do not generalize all that well.

A few examples of resource guarders:

Food guarding

(food, food bowls, water, treats, treat bags)

Object guarding

(toys, socks, shoes, sticks, toilet paper)

Location guarding

(bed, couch, car, dog bed, crate, kennel, blanket)

It is imported to asses the dog to determine which objects he is guarding. You will probably never be able to know off all the objects but at least get a pretty good idea.

Once you know which objects trigger your dog’s behaviour you can choose different objects to teach your dog to share that is not of such high value to your dog.

It is not just the object that determines how intense your dog will react. How you approach your dog, meaning from which angle and your body language also plays a role in your dogs reaction.

If from start go you do not relinquish the object yourself completely to your dog his behaviour of snarling and growling is usually less or even extinguished. The further away you start to approach your dog from the more likely the behaviuor is to increase in intensity as you approach.

So you can start by handling the item away from your dog and only approach him if he is not reacting to you handling the object. You could also give him a treat for wanted behaviour, no reactivity but be careful that you do not push your dog to quick because he is eager to work for the treat, but in fact is not happy with you handling the object.

As you are able to come closer to your dog, you can eventually hand him the object while still holding on to it and then retrieve it again. If again he is non-reactive or even better, happy about it you can hand him the object again until you are able to give him the object and easily take it from him. If at any point he starts to be reactive again, you need to take a step back in the training maybe back to you holding on to the object while offering it to him.

This will not be fixed in one session, be patient and once your dog is happy with many items meaning not showing any teeth bearing, growling behaviours you can start to work on his high value object that he guards with all his life.

Be sure that if your dog has any history of biting while guarding that he wear a muzzle to manage the situation while training.

For more information and training on guarding issues, contact us directly by simply replying to this e-zine.

Click on the image for more information.

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