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How to prevent resource guarding

This blog post is not for dogs who already show signs of resource guarding but for those wanting to prevent resource guarding in puppies or new dogs. Resource guarding is exactly what it sounds like - your dog guarding something they deem to be high value that they do not want to give up. Resource guarding can happen with any object, not just food. I will refer to a food bowl in this post but bare in mind that you can practice this with toys etc.

Resource guarding can develop in any dog at any age so its important to keep on-top of these techniques especially when hormones come into play.

Hand feeding and spoon feeding. Introducing that food comes from you in a good thing for every dog from bonding to preventing resource guarding. Dogs can’t resource guard something that is being actively given to them and over time you no longer become a threat to take the food away but a person that provides it.

Teaching your dog that being approached equals addition of the good stuff. Practicing adding food to your dogs bowl whilst eating is an excellent practice to teach that approaching is a good thing and leads to even more good stuff. You may wish to start this at a distance and throw the food towards them or the bowl before transitioning to being close.

Allowing your dog to choose to come away from the resource for a reward. Have your dog eat their dinner and choose to leave their food to come and get the tastier or more exciting object.

Desensitising them to the process of taking away a reward. If your dog is at the point where they are happy to be approached and leave the resource then proceed to get them used to removing and giving back the object. This pairs nicely with teaching a drop cue if needed. Taking something away and giving something back teaches your dog that removing something will not end in a negative experience.

Before trying any of these techniques with your dog please get in touch with me!

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