When dogs control access to their possessions by exhibiting aggressive behavior or defensive body language, it’s called resource guarding. Though this behavior is linked to food in most cases, dogs can also guard their favorite sleeping/relaxing spot, toys as well as humans. However, not everything you’ve previously heard about resource guarding may be true.
When your previously held beliefs about the behavior are wrong, it’s possible to make things worse because you don’t understand your dog. For instance, you may punish him for guarding his food, thinking it will make him stop the behavior. However, this only makes him less confident and more fearful, leading to more aggressive behavior later on. Let’s demystify some the myths you may have believed wrongly about resource guarding:
Resource Guarding Is Abnormal
You may have heard and believed that resource guarding in dogs is abnormal. However, this myth has no basis at all. Dogs have been guarding their foods and other possessions for ages, so the behavior is perfectly normal. This behavior is not desirable within a home environment where your dog gets his food, toys and other objects freely.
However, when he finds himself in a natural environment, his resource guarding skills will give him a competitive and natural advantage over non-guarders. In other words, his chances of survival in the wild are higher if he can successfully guard his food against other animals.
Resource Guarding Results From Spoiling Dogs
Well, this isn’t true. Any dog can exhibit this behavior regardless of history, age, breed or degree of obedience training. There’s no evidence at all to show that dogs lacking proper manners or obedience training develop guarding behaviors more than well-mannered and obedient dogs.
Resource Guarding Is Influenced By Genetics and Can’t Be Changed
Currently, resource guarding is seen in dogs of all ages and breeds. There is no conclusive scientific evidence to show how a dog’s genes influence his guarding behavior.
Availing Resources In Abundance Can Cure The Problem
It’s logical to think that your dog will guard his possessions less when you provide them in abundance. However, dogs don’t see things the same way we do. Some will still exhibit their guarding behavior even if you give them access to all their toys at once.
Resource Guarding Is A Sign Of Dominance In Dogs
There’s no truth to this myth as well. So stop punishing your pet when he guards his food or toys thinking he’s showing dominance over you. Punishment here will not solve the underlying problem; it only makes your dog’s guarding behavior worse i.e. he’ll become more fearful, aggressive and protective.
Overall, resource guarding in dogs is manageable with the right training approach. A good starting point is to stop believing the false myths above and try to understand your pet’ behavior with an open mind. When you do so, you’ll have a fresher perspective on how to manage guarding with less frustration and more optimism.
Don’t give up when you don’t see results right away. It might take a few weeks or several months to start seeing significant improvements. With time, consistency and patience, your efforts will pay off in the end.