How To Prevent Your Dog From Guarding Objects
If your dog has started ‘guarding’ certain objects, then this is a problem you need to get sorted as soon as possible. This behavioural issue is often called ‘resource guarding’. It’s where a dog holds an object or a thing in such high regard that they feel the need to protect it. They value the object very highly and feel that it is theirs and no one else (be it a human or another dog) should be allowed near it.
Resource guarding may seem harmless at first, but it can turn into a serious problem. It can begin as simply nudging someone away, barking or not letting an object go and develop into aggression where the dog will growl or even bite when approached.
Dogs should not be allowed to guard an object, and need to be taught to release it or let someone else go near it. If your dog’s resource guarding is so bad that it has become aggressive, contact a canine behaviour specialist straight away. Do not wait or try and sort the problem out yourself as you could risk getting bitten, make sure you enlist the help of a professional before tackling this issue. However, here are some general tips that might tell you how to prevent your dog from guarding objects.
Never try and take the resource away from your dog, especially by force. This could cause aggression and if you do take their prize off them in this manner, they will only become more defensive of their possession next time they get their paws on it. Instead, find something that is of higher value to them than the object they are guarding. For example, if your dog is guarding one of their toys, throw a treat away from them and they will most likely leave their toy to get the treat. In the meantime you can pick it up and put it out of reach.
If your dog becomes protective over a particular object in any way, keep it out of their reach and do not let them have it until their behaviour improves. They shouldn’t be able to have an object if they display guarding behaviour. If your dog guards specific things then remove them from the environment so that you can control the situation.
Some dogs will develop guarding behaviour because they have been allowed access to whatever they like. Don’t just leave your dog’s toys lying around the home so they can access them whenever they want to. Make them work for their toys, for example, get them to do a sit or lay down before you give them their toy.
Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. A tired dog is less likely to act out and misbehave. Providing enough mental stimulation can also help to keep your dog’s mind busy, rather than focusing on what they need to guard.
Teach your dog to ‘drop’ and ‘give’ back objects from an early age. Then if they dog have something you can ask for it back in return for a treat or reward. This will also help to prevent guarding behaviour from occurring later on in their life. Don’t let your dog ‘own’ anything in your home. Whether it’s a toy or a particular spot on the sofa or bed. They should not have this sort of control over you.
Remember these are just helpful tips, they may not be sufficient for a dog with severe guarding issues. Always consult a trained canine behaviourist before attempting training techniques with your dog.