Does your dog growl, lunge or bite to block access to their possessions? Resource guarding is a common issue – and bringing it to a stop should be a top dog training priority.
Also known as possessive aggression, resource guarding can be problematic for several reasons. Your furry friend may refuse to give up something harmful, for example, or you could suffer a serious injury if they snap when you try to take their treasured item. And, the behavior could end up affecting the bond between you and your beloved pet.
Early dog training can discourage resource guarding and help your pooch to overcome the bad habit. Below, the professional trainers at The Driven Dog explain how to go about stopping possession aggression.
Take the Right Training Approach
When you’re trying to end resource guarding, remember that your ultimate goal in dog training is to help your four-legged family member develop a different behavior – and this takes time.
If the item being guarded poses an immediate danger, you’ll need to take it as soon as possible. If not, snatching it back right away is likely to be counterproductive. The next time they guard something, they may be more observant and act more aggressively when feeling threatened. To avoid that outcome, take your time with the dog training.
Make Trading for Another Item Fun
If your dog is guarding, say, a shoe, and you want to get it back, trading it for another, more enticing item like a chew toy can work. But, don’t just grab the shoe as soon as it hits the floor and leave your pooch alone – make trading fun.
Instead of simply offering a trade, snake the chew toy across the floor. Seeing that you’re ready to play should tempt your dog, and continuing to play should lead them to stop caring about the shoe they were guarding. Once they’re focused on the game, grab the shoe in a nonchalant manner, as if it’s no big deal.
Getting Dogs to Let Go of Harmful Items
What if your dog is guarding something hazardous, like a candy bar snatched from the counter? You’ll need to act quickly, but you don’t want to risk getting injured. In this case, you’ll want to make a fast trade – and make your dog think they’re getting a good deal.
To accomplish this, grab a handful of treats your pooch really loves, such as cheese chunks or pieces of meat. Toss them, attempting to land the treats close to their nose. Once they’ve eaten a couple, toss more, further away. When they’re fully engaged in eating, slowly reach for the harmful item and continue playing the game for another minute or two.
Need Help with Your Dog’s Resource Guarding Behavior?
If you’re not having much success managing your dog’s possession aggression, consider professional dog training. For expert help in the greater southern California area, turn to The Driven Dog.
We’ve been the go-to local source for effective dog training for over a decade, and we know the right techniques to stop resource guarding. To speak with one of our professional trainers, or to learn about our dog training services, contact our office in Long Beach, California, today.