Resource Guarding Behaviour in Pet Dogs: Causes and Handling |

If you have a pet dog, you might have noticed that they sometimes become too possessive or aggressive when they perceive a threat to a valued possession– be it food, toys, or their owner. This is a common issue which is seen in pet dogs, and it is known as resource guarding. Understanding resource guarding behaviour and the root cause behind it can help pet owners better deal with it.Here’s all you need to know about resource guarding:
What is resource guarding?
Just as the term refers, resource guarding happens when your pet dog becomes too possessive about something or someone whom they perceive as theirs. And when they feel there’s a threat or competition for it, it is an instinct for them to protect their valuable resources for survival. And so, resource guarding behaviour can result in your pet dog growling, snapping, or even biting when someone approaches their coveted items.
Some causes of resource guarding in your pet dog could be:
1. Survival instincts
Dogs naturally tend to protect their resources for survival. In the wild they would fight for food; in a domestic setting, they can get possessive about their toys, humans, or other pets whom they consider a part of their pack.
2. Past negative experiences
Pet dogs who have experienced competition or scarcity of resources in the past may be more prone to resource guarding. Incidents like snatching or pulling things or toys from them could aggravate this behaviour. Fear or anxiety can trigger their defensive behaviours.
3. Genetics
Certain breeds or dogs may be more genetically inclined towards resource guarding. Understanding breed characteristics is important for addressing this behaviour.
How to handle resource guarding behaviour in your pet dog?

The first step is to recognise this behaviour in your pet dog. Early signs of resource guarding could include stiff body language, growling, or tense expressions about something or someone. Once recognised, implement positive reinforcement techniques to reshape your dog’s behaviour. Reward your pet dog when they display calm and non-aggressive behaviour around resources. This helps in creating positive associations with people when they approach their valued items.
If you feel you are unable to handle your dog’s behaviour, seek help from a professional dog trainer or behaviourist, especially in cases of severe resource guarding. A dog expert can assess the specific triggers for your dog, and help in developing a customised training plan.
Meanwhile, remember to avoid punishing your dog for their resource guarding behaviour as it could lead to increased aggression. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement to create trust in your relationship with them.

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