Guarding / Showing Aggression Over Resources
Dogs who growl, snap or charge when they are approached while
chewing a toy, eating or lying on a favorite spot are referred to as
"resource guarders". These dogs are guarding what they
consider to be a valuable resource.
dogs do this because of temperament tendencies. Others have learned
to be this way from humans. An example of this may be; Your dog has
been verbally or physically "attacked" by a human after he
picks up something and then wouldn't give it up. (a shoe, dropped
food, a kids toy or something else he should not be allowed to
have). At some point simply dropping it didn't work, (he didnít
get rewarded for that), so the dog chose aggression in an attempt to
back the human (or another animal) off.
remove the tendency to guard the resource,
start by removing anything he may be protecting. If itís an item
like a bed, sofa or an area of the house, and you can't remove the
item, you can block access to it by closing a door or putting up a
baby gate. While working to remove this guarding issue, you may want
to keep him on lead so you can more easily control him.
training by teaching him the ďDrop ItĒ or "Leave It"
command. If he has the item in his mouth use "Drop It" or
the "Leave It" command. The same can be done if he is
standing over the item. Remember to do this in a positive way. Do
NOT make this into a battle of wills. Make him realize that these
commands are part of a game that is an opportunity for him to get a
reward or treat.
start the teaching with low value objects so that the praise or
treats will be the obvious choice. Donít use his favorite toy at
first. Work up to it slowly. Wait until he is 100% responsive with
low and medium value items first. Mark sure to reward him immediately
for releasing the item to you when you give the command.
that most dog aggression is man made. This is because a lot of
people get angry when their dog takes something they shouldn't have.
Then they scream and yell at the dog (Bad Dog, or worse). They fail
to give the dog a way to please them. They create a situation where,
once something is in their dog's mouth, there is no way for the dog
to win. This can force the dog to start defending himself. If they
will just turn it into a "Leave It" type of game the
guarding aggression would not even happen.
big thing to remember is this: Once something is in your dog's
mouth, it is TOO LATE to teach him not to pick it up. The only thing
you can teach him at this point is to spit it out on command. This
is why it is SO important for you to reward him for spitting it out
when you ask for it.
don't want your dog to pick something up, you must stop him before
he even touches it. This means you have to have great timing and you
must be closely watching him.
is the best and most effective way to remove resource guarding. Here
are some other ways to lessen aggression in dogs.
Take and Give.
Early on, practice "Drop It" with your dog. Walk up when
he is chewing a toy. Say "Drop It" and take the toy.
Praise him for doing what you ask with a different toy , a treat or
lavish praise. Return the toy and leave him alone. After a few
weeks of this training, done two or three times a day, and your dog
will want you to come and take his toys away.
The most serious bites come
from intact male dogs. Neutering will remove a lot of testosterone.
This will make your dog much more mellow and less confrontational.
It will also make him easier to train.
him to move out of your way.
This will help him understanding that you lead and he follows. Walk
toward him slowly until he moves out of your path. Then praising
him. With the lead on him, you can guide him out of the way, then
Everything in the house is yours, not his. If he is protective over
anything, a bowl or a toy, remove it until he returns to a passive
state of mind. Then return it to him as a reward.
clear rules and boundaries.
If heís not allowed to be on the couch, or in the kidís room, be
in the dining room during meals or whatever, make sure that everyone
in the house abides by the rules. If one of you allows the dog to be
on the couch, he will think itís OK all of the time.
praise him cheerfully for obeying!
This is self-explanatory.
his structured exercise.
Exercise will help relieve stress and release excess energy. Be sure
to play games that promote cooperation and control. You may want to
skip tug-of-war, wrestling or chasing games for a while if he is
very aggressive as these games can promote more aggression.
when a dog shows that he is ready to do battle, he is confused,
feels threatened or is under stress. If you ďattackĒ him for
threatening to attack you, you will only escalate the aggression.
Even if you "win" the first time, he may decide to fight
sooner and harder the next time. What he needs is education, not
dominance or anger from you.
your dog threatens you, if you are not 100% sure what to do,
hands-on help from a qualified professional is the best next step.
Aggression is complicated. If it is left unchecked or not dealt with
quickly and correctly, it can get worse. It can even lead to the
death of your dog if he happens to bite a child or a friend or a
dog show ANY signs of aggression never assume that he won't bite. Do
not avoid the problem - deal with it. Do not allow him to be around
children. If he has access to items that you know he is protective
of he may try to bite someone. Do not think that this behavior will
get better with time.
seek out any and all help you can get, including from your