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Disclaimer: Resource guarding (commonly known as food assault) is serious behavior. If your dog exhibits any aggression or guarding that he is not comfortable with, seek professional help. resource protection will not just go away, and it tends to get worse if not managed properly. If your dog has serious guarding issues (where they growl or snarl at you), seek help from a professional trainer or behaviorist.
Reading: Food guarding in dogs
Does your dog guard his food?
Does your dog guard his food? Do they get stiff and uncomfortable when you get close to his plate? you are not alone.
Resource surveillance is attributed to 44% of all dog bites to children under 6 years of age. It’s not a fun behavior to drive, and in serious cases, it’s a major liability.
The tips in this article are only recommended for dogs with mild resource protection. As I mentioned earlier, I recommend seeking professional help if your dog’s guarding behavior is severe.
what is canine resource protection?
Resource guarding is when a dog tries to dissuade an item from being taken from it, such as food or a toy. In mild cases, a dog may stiffen when you approach the protected object, but in severe cases, he may growl or even bite.
Tip: If you’re having trouble protecting your own dog, I recommend reading the Protection: Understanding Behavior resource to help you better understand behavior. It’s a behavior that is often misunderstood, and once you understand why your dog is guarding, it will be easier to manage.
resource protection must be addressed
Dogs guarding your belongings are a risk, especially to children. it is a serious behavior problem that needs to be managed before it gets worse. If you don’t feel comfortable with your dog guarding it, don’t hesitate to call a professional trainer. They will work with you and your dog in a controlled environment to help you learn to control the behavior.
If your dog has a mild case of resource protection, the following tips will help. I am going to focus on methods that help prevent and reduce the protection of resources around food. it’s the most common item dogs keep, but these methods will work for other items your dog becomes possessive of, like toys or other people.
why do dogs guard their food?
Protection of resources around food is the most common form of protection (often simply referred to as food aggression). your dog is not being aggressive to annoy you, the dogs guarding his food are exhibiting fearful behaviors. Whether it makes sense to you or not, they see you as a threat and will exhibit behaviors to dissuade you from reaching out to them.
I’ve gone over it a million times in my mind and it still doesn’t make sense. I have never taken food away from my dog or acted in a threatening manner towards her. Why does my dog think I’m going to take away his food?
but the thing is, I had to let that question slide to handle it. I had to stop blaming myself, and I had to stop wondering why he felt that way and just deal with it. it is what it is: scientists believe it is part genetic and part environmental. No one knows the exact reason why some dogs watch and others don’t, but we do know that it’s a natural instinct inherited from their wolf ancestors.
Because people often misunderstand why their dogs guard and why there is social competition, many resource guardian owners often get angry and confrontational with their dogs. – win stilwell “resource protection“
so yeah, it’s frustrating, but we need to let go of those negative feelings we have towards our dog when he’s being watched. Your dog’s behavior isn’t personal, it’s a fear-based response. It’s not something you can fix by confronting your dog, nor can you fix it by trying to become more dominant. any harsh punishment for protecting resources is likely to make his fear worse and more likely to make your dog angry.
Read more: Chinese Hot Dog Buns – The Woks of Life
So instead of worrying about the causes of the behavior, we should focus on changing it.
Once we stop pondering why our dog is on guard, it’s easier to stick to the task at hand: managing behavior. I hesitate to say cure because, despite all the progress we’ve made, he comes back. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but every now and then my dog gets a new toy and starts taking care of it again. Without some form of maintenance training from time to time, dogs can revert to full-time guard behaviors.
how to reduce resource protection around food
Managing resource protection is a long process, but if you’re consistent, you’ll start to see results in a few days. it’s important to continue using these methods even after seeing improvements, as resource protection tends to reappear inconsistently.
here are the 5 methods i used to reduce my dog’s resource guarding around his food. These methods can also be used for dogs guarding their toys, their bed, or other people.
know your dog’s threshold before you start
every resource guarded dog has a threshold. a certain point where they start to feel uncomfortable when you approach their food. I think of it as an invisible line, and to keep progressing you need to make sure you don’t cross it too quickly. these methods will require patience on your part. it’s important to know where your dog’s threshold is and take it easy when crossing that boundary.
1. manage your dog’s environment
Prevention is an important part of resource protection management, and consistency is the most important part of behavior modification. Certain items, such as food, will trigger your dog’s defenses, so it’s important to keep the environment as predictable as possible when training with a guarding dog. If something unexpected happens, like another family member walking up to your dog while he’s eating, you may find yourself dealing with a dog that’s already over the threshold to concentrate (too stressed).
Your ultimate goal is to change your dogs attitude when it comes to people approaching anything that triggers resource protection, most often food & supplies. toys it’s easy to lose momentum when faced with setbacks. every time your dog puts away an object and nothing positive happens, that behavior is reinforced. keeping the environment predictable until you are ready to train is an easy way to avoid mishaps.
In my case, I chose to work on the protection of laika’s resources when I was alone. she didn’t want anyone to come by unexpectedly and interrupt the process as she is already stressed enough when it comes to food. Until you’re sure the behavior has been changed, it’s important to keep the environment controlled.
manage the environment until the behavior is changed. remove all possible protection triggers. don’t leave food bowls, even empty ones, on the floor. store toys. provide them only under controlled circumstances. – resource protection – prevention & amp; stop it, paw rescue
2. desensitize your dog with treats
When it comes to changing your dogs guard behavior, desensitization is key. Instead of punishing a dog for guarding resources, you should modify your dog’s feelings when it comes to people coming near his food. we want them to say “yes, good things are coming” when we approach their food instead of cowering or attacking. and the way to do that is through counterconditioning and desensitization. Keep in mind that desensitization can be a long and tedious process depending on how severely your dogs are guarded, but it works if you have patience.
step 1: start using treats around your dog’s food
The first step in changing your dogs attitude about how they feel when someone approaches their food is to always make it a positive experience for them.
- With some awesome treats in hand, walk over to your dog’s bowl while you eat. stop before they start to show signs of distress. (your threshold mentioned above)
- a few steps before you reach the point where your dog begins to guard or become defensive, throw a treat at him.
- while you have attention your dog, throw a few more treats his way while you’re at a safe distance & walk away.
- repeat this step a few more times for the first few days while your dog is eating.
When done regularly, these desensitization exercises will begin to change your dog’s attitude when it comes to being approached while eating. they will begin to associate your approach to their food as a positive experience, rather than something to fear. But keep in mind that it takes time to change your dog’s attitude toward something he’s afraid of, especially if it’s been going on for a long time, and moving too quickly can set back any progress he’s made.
step 2: slowly decrease the distance between you & your food
once you’re sure your dog isn’t stressed because you’re a certain distance from his food, you can begin to slowly approach.
- with high-value treats in hand, approach your dog’s food bowl as they eat, this time walking one step closer than in step 1.
- throw some treats from your new one and walk away.
- after a few tosses, you can take another step forward, slowly reducing the distance between you and your dog.
- repeat this step a few more times while he I’m eating.
If your dog stiffens, growls, or begins to show signs of discomfort, you’ll need to take a step back & throw treats from there. remember where your dog’s threshold is and only work to get closer one step at a time.
after enough practice, you’ll find yourself getting closer and closer. closer to your dog, and as long as you don’t push too quickly, you’ll eventually be able to get closer to your dog’s bowl while staying relaxed.
There is no specific time frame for this method, desensitization tends to be a long process and if your dog has been guarding his food for a long time it can take a long time to change his attitude about it. remember that every step closer is an achievement. It’s not a problem that can be solved overnight, but with consistency it becomes manageable. you’re changing your dog’s attitude from ‘no one is going near my food’ to ‘yeah! I wonder what treats I get now.’
It’s about creating positive associations every time you approach their food. After a while, your dog will begin to expect you to come closer, instead of becoming defensive.
3. change your dog’s feeding routine
Where do you feed your dog every day? Is he on a corner or in a busy area? sometimes the environment itself can cause additional stress for your dog. so if he’s trying to lower resource protection, he’ll need to take a look at what triggers it to begin with, and the environment itself is often a big factor.
We used to leave my dog’s food bowl by the front door in a corner. I now realize the location was not ideal for a food stressed dog. I couldn’t clearly see what was going on in the next room and I was in a fairly busy area of the house.
A dog can feel cornered in certain areas, and no doubt my dog’s bowl leaned into a tight corner attributed to that. surveillance of him is under control now, but I decided to move his food bowl to different locations to gauge his responses, and it was always worse in that original area, so we’ve since moved his location.
some are due to the location itself, and some are because that’s where it was normal for her to become defensive, as she didn’t know how to handle her surveillance properly right away. if her dog has been guarding resources for a long time, it’s a hard habit to break. a few times a week she moves her bowl to a new place & work on training there. it’s an easy way to change her mindset about mealtime by making her less predictable and giving her new associations.
4. add some hand feed & food dispensing toys
I’m a big fan of using food dispensing toys to feed my dog his dinner at least a few times a week. I use both the kong wobbler & bob a lot of treat dispenser because they are sturdy & big enough to put a few cups (or more) of food in there. Using treat dispensers helps break up the routine and makes eating something my dog looks forward to. our dogs get their meals for free, but their ancestors used to have to work for all of their meals, so using a toy gives them an easy job.
I also like to hand-feed my dog, though I’ll admit it’s not a cure-all for resource conservation. helps build your dogs confidence & confidence, and it’s a great way to work on some manners & amp; impulse control. It’s an easy way to change up their eating routine, and it’s useful for teaching dogs that it’s okay (and not so scary) for people to touch their food.
5. play around your dog’s food bowl
Similar to using desensitization with yummy treats, you can start the game in different areas around the food bowl to reduce resource protection. If you start playing before you get to the point where your dog is uncomfortable, you can instantly change your dog’s attitude. I like to call it the “brain my bitch” moment, the moment when she normally gets angry but instead gets carried away with joy.
Just like when I use food, I start walking towards her with a toss toy or ball, making sure to pay attention to her body language. Before I get to the point where she’s unsettled, I’ll offer her her toy and ask her if she wants to play, and if I haven’t crossed that threshold, it always works.
Not as effective as using food, but I still use it regularly to keep up with training. Ultimately, you want your dog to be comfortable with people coming and going; going everywhere in the house, even near his food. having different positive situations in that area will help them get used to the idea that good things happen here, without needing to get defensive.
reducing resource protection requires patience
I’m not going to lie and say that reducing resource protection is easy: desensitization is a slow process. but trust me when I say it works wonders over time. each day you’ll be able to get a little closer to your dog’s food bowl without protesting, and your dog will begin to see you coming as a good thing.
With patience and dedication, you can control your dog’s aggressiveness around food and reduce surveillance of resources. But remember to be consistent and educate the entire family about the issues and risks of resource protection before you begin. and make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to the management techniques you’re using to avoid mishaps.
Remember: If you feel uncomfortable due to your dogs guarding behaviors, seek the help of a professional. without help the behavior can worsen and become a risk for the whole family. the trainers can help you teach you some methods and methods. give you a management plan that works for your dog.
resources for resource protection & food aggression
- resource stewardship: understanding behavior
- 5 myths about resource stewardship
- the benefits of hand-feeding your dog
- why do dogs guard their food?