Should I Be Scared of My Dog Resource Guarding?

Should I Be Scared of My Dog Resource Guarding?

Resource guarding is a common behavior in dogs that can be a source of concern for pet owners. Also known as possessive aggression, it occurs when a dog displays aggressive or territorial behaviors when they perceive a threat to their resources, such as food, toys, or space. In this blog post, we'll explore the concept of resource guarding, understand why it happens, and provide tips on how to prevent and manage this behavior.

Understanding Resource Guarding:

Resource guarding is a natural instinct in dogs that originates from their evolutionary history as scavengers. In the wild, dogs needed to protect their food and valuable resources to survive. This instinct can still be present in domesticated dogs today, causing them to guard items they consider valuable.

Common signs of resource guarding may include:

Growling or Snarling: Dogs may vocalise their discomfort when someone approaches their resource.

Baring Teeth: The dog may bare their teeth as a warning sign.

Lunging or Snapping: In severe cases, a dog may escalate to more aggressive behaviors, like lunging or snapping.

Preventing and Managing Resource Guarding:

Early Socialisation: Start socializing your puppy from a young age. Expose them to various people, pets, and environments, so they learn to be comfortable and non-territorial.

Teach "Leave It" and "Drop It" Commands: These commands can help you gain control over your dog when they try to guard an item. Use positive reinforcement to reward your dog for compliance.

Practice Desensitisation: Gradually expose your dog to situations where resource guarding may occur. This could involve petting them while they eat or gently taking away their toys and giving them back. Always reward calm and non-aggressive behavior.

Trade-Up: When your dog has something they shouldn't, offer them a higher-value item in exchange for what they are guarding. This will teach them that giving up a resource results in something even better.

Avoid Punishment: Never punish your dog for resource guarding, as it can escalate aggression. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and desensitization.

Consult a Professional: If resource guarding is severe or continues to be a problem, consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide tailored strategies to address the issue.

Manage the Environment: When you're not actively training your dog, manage their environment to minimize the chance of guarding. Keep valuable resources out of reach or in a controlled space.

Respect Their Space: While it's essential to teach your dog to share and not guard resources, also respect their need for space and privacy.


Resource guarding is a common behavior in dogs, but with the right approach, it can be managed and even prevented. By starting early, teaching essential commands, and practicing desensitization, you can help your dog feel more comfortable and less inclined to guard their resources. Always remember to be patient, use positive reinforcement, and seek professional help if needed to ensure a harmonious relationship with your beloved canine companion.

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