Resource Guarding: Preventative Exercises for Your Puppy

June 9, 2023

Preventing puppy resource guarding

Maybe you’ve seen a dog growl when someone approaches them while they are chewing a bone, or maybe you’ve seen a dog eat faster when there are other dogs around them. Resource guarding in dogs can range from small behaviors that show they are uncomfortable when others are around their covered item, all the way to aggressive and dangerous behaviors. Whether it is food, toys, bones, comfy spots, people, or something else, it is extremely important to teach your puppy at a young age that they do not need to guard their resources. We do this with preventative resource guarding exercises. 

Preventative resource guarding

Preventative guarding exercises are a great way to teach your puppy correct behaviors as you approach to keep everyone safe as your dog grows. Every dog can develop reactive behaviors, but some are genetically predisposed. We recommend these exercises for all puppies, no matter the breed or size. Starting at a young age can help prevent or reduce these reactive behaviors. These exercises should be fun, so if you notice any excessive aggressive behaviors that are not playful or you are not sure, please reach out for a consultation.

So, what exactly is resource guarding? 

Resource guarding is any aggressive behavior in order to continue to have access to something of value. This can present as growling, snapping, barking, or lunging when a person or animal approaches them in the presence of the item. Aggressive behaviors are not a sign that they “just don’t want to share” but instead can become worse if left untreated. If your puppy or dog is showing aggressive behaviors please contact our team of trainers to come up with a plan that will help your pup and your family. 

What are preventative guarding exercises? 

We use these exercises to decrease aggressive guarding behaviors from developing in the future. A happy puppy should let you approach them in any situation without showing any aggressive behaviors. We do this by pairing food and treats with approaching them with coveted items. This shows your puppy that good things happen when you approach them, even if they lose access to the coveted item.

Preventative Guarding Exercises 

Preventative resource guarding
  • During meals, approach your puppy while he is eating from his food bowl
  • Pick up the bowl and give him a treat that is higher value than his food (i.e. a small treat)
  • Replace the bowl and walk away 

Repeat with coveted bones or chews, and toys for a total of 10 approaches per day. 

Your puppy quickly learns that even if he has something he likes, your approach does not mean that he will lose it, instead, he gets something tasty when you approach! These exercises are important for your puppy and for your family as your puppy gets older. If you would like any help with practicing these approaches or if you are not sure if your puppy is showing aggressive behaviors already, contact us and we would love to help!