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20/08/2021 - Living with Dogs

Resource guarding is a natural behaviour, not only in dogs, but in humans.  It is simply keeping your treasures safe from thieves. Do you lock your doors? Do you keep your wallet safe? What if someone tries to steal your chips?

However, dogs do need to live in our world and we must ensure everyone is safe. And that is a very important word here. S A F E. If you feel safe about your treasured possessions, you act differently around them. Where is your handbag or wallet right now? If you are at home, is it even in the same room as you? However, if you are in a foreign city in a dark alley, are you hugging your bag to you? When you feel SAFE you are less likely to feel defensive or fight over your treasures.

So, if your dog is acting aggressively over its possessions, we need to make sure they feel SAFE from thieves. This is why challenging them is the opposite of what you want to do. If someone challenges you over your belongings – how do you feel? Are you more likely to react? However, if you feel safe with that person, you are more likely to share or swap treasures.

My first advice to people is to STOP BEING A THIEF. If you constantly TAKE treasures from a dog, why would they want to give them up to you? Even if you are my good friend, if you constantly stole my chocolate I would start growling at you. And, if you still didn’t listen, I might get violent! My behaviour would escalate.

My second step is for dogs to feel comfortable with you around their treasures. This does not mean you touch food/bowl/toy. This can actually make matters worse. Imagine if someone kept touching your food? How would you react? Instead, when they have a treasure, approach and throw an even better treasure to them and walk away. BOY OH BOY! This should change your dog’s reaction to “Wow, humans approaching doesn’t mean I lose something but I GET something good, I like humans approaching me”.  Slowly, you can get closer to drop the yummy treasure to them. If my dogs have a treasure and I approach, they wag their tail. They know something good is happening. They like me being around as it predicts good things.

Furthermore, respect your dog’s boundaries and undertake the above process SLOWLY. If your dog’s body language shows they feel threatened or they growl –LISTEN and move back a few steps. You want your dog to feel SAFE. Listen to your dog's whispers (their body language) so they don't have to shout!

While you are training the above, please ensure that your dog has space to enjoy his high value treasures in peace. Bones are generally pretty special. Let them enjoy them in peace. Keep them separate from any potential thieves.

The next step is to teach your dog to give you an item – HAPPILY and by their own choice.

And that is where us qualified trainers at The Doggy Lady can help you. Pop us an email at woof@thedoggylady.com.au and we can arrange a consultation in the comfort of your own home.

Fiona Cowie IMDT
Qualifed Dog Trainer
The Doggy Lady
Tel: 0417 949 635