Resource guarding is when a dog protects his or her food, toys, bones, people, car, personal space, or anything else he or she finds to be important. Dogs can guard things from other dogs, people, or both other dogs and people.
Resource guarding is a common behavior in many dogs and ranges from mild to severe. Genetics play a strong role in whether a dog will resource guard. You can often spot signs of resource guarding in puppies as young as 8 weeks old.
Here are 5 signs of resource guarding to watch out for:
1. Eating faster when you approach
If your puppy starts eating his or her food faster when you approach him or her, this can be an early warning sign of resource guarding. Resource guarders want to gobble up anything they believe might be taken away from them.
A resource guarder is always on the prowl to find important things that “need” protecting. Stolen items are very enticing!
3. Refusing to drop items
It is super difficult for a resource guarder to spit out something that he or she has possession of! Luckily, this skill can be taught through obedience training. You can even teach your resource guarder how to “Drop It” with our online classroom!
4. Grumpy when being moved
Resource guarders often love their beds, blankets, and other resting places. They may be quick to snap or growl if touched, moved, or told to get off.
5. Leash reactive or fearful
Resource guarders often start off shy or socially awkward. As they get older, they can become reactive or fearful on leash. Resource guarders really don’t like sharing their space!
Are resource guarders “bad dogs?”
No, resource guarding does NOT mean the dog is bad or defective. For instance, I’m sure you locked your house before you left for work – aren’t you guarding YOUR resources?
This behavior only becomes a major problem if the owner is inexperienced, the guarding is unpredictable or unmanageable, or if there are young kids in the home.
Need help managing your puppy’s resource guarding?
Attending a group puppy class (if your puppy is under 5 months) or enrolling your dog in Obedience Level 1 is a great place to start. Our certified trainers can offer you advice and basic management tips to help discourage resource guarding tendencies.
If your puppy’s guarding behavior is more extreme, we recommend private lessons, our Puppy Raising Program, or our Board & Train Program.
In addition, we recently launched our online dog training classroom and are offering a new course later this year to help you manage your puppy’s resource guarding.
Fill out a free training evaluation form to get advice from one of our certified trainers!