Resource Guarding

Resource guarding is a dangerous and scary behaviour to deal with. With the right training methods, there is hope.

What Is Resource Guarding?

Resource guarding refers to when a dog displays protective or aggressive behaviour in order to defend or control access to a particular resource. This resource can be food, toys, treats, bones, beds, furniture, people or any item the dog perceives as valuable. 

The behaviour and body language of resource guarding can include some of the following:

Resource guarding is one of the most dangerous behaviours for dog owners to have to deal with.

Resource guarding is a learned or genetic behaviour which puppies will try when they are young. Depending on the result of that attempt, the behaviour will either be reinforced or shut down.

Some breeds are more prone to resource guarding (retrievers, beagles, rottweilers, livestock guardian breeds & chihuahuas), and some dogs have an anxiety induced resource guarding problem that is similar to OCD in people. Either way, resource guarding can definitely be (at bare minimum) safely managed, or at best eradicated with the right training tools and techniques.

Dog Training Toronto | Hairy Tales | Award Winning Dog Behaviorist

When I am working with a dog that has resource guarding, I always take the human clients safety in mind first and foremost. This behaviour is dangerous, and so many precautions and management tools need to be put into place before we begin to tackle the resource guarding head on. 

The Hairy Dogmother

Most owners are shocked when their precious puppy growls or bites them for the first time over a toy or bone. Unfortunately, this fearful reaction will encourage the behaviour in the future because the puppy got exactly what it wanted. 

Other reactions such as taking the toy away reinforces the behaviour because the puppy learned that their humans take yummy things away from them, and so they should resource guard it in the future. 

Resource guarding is one of the most dangerous behaviors’ a dog owner will have to deal with. Because of this, when dealing with dogs over 15lbs who are resource guarding and have bitten a person and broken skin, e-collar training is the only recommended route in order to handle this in the safest way possible for everyone involved.

Since resource guarding is almost always a relationship problem, the first most important step to any dog training, is improving the relationship with your dog.

This is where I come in, to help you understand what you might be doing to send your dog messages stating that the dog is in charge. I help you communicate with your dog clearly and effectively to help them understand that they are not the leaders of the household, you are. 

So what does Resource Guarding training look like?


Improving Communication & Relationship

Through teaching you how dogs communicate, Kristina will be helping you how to clarify your interactions with your dog so you are sending them the right messages.


Learning Techniques

You must learn from Kristina how to communicate what is and is not acceptable. Then you must apply this and teach your dog the rules and boundaries clearly and consistently. 


Practice, Practice, Practice!

Once you have the knowledge, skills and tools from Kristina to improve your dogs behaviour, you are to practice every single day. Practice makes perfect!

What kinds of training tools do you use?

This really depends on the dog and human involved. Again, we don’t use a one sized fits all method, and so each dog and human duo will need something different depending on the behaviour and how intense they are. What is common, is we often need to use e-collar training for dogs who are more than 15-20lbs as this is the safest, gentlest and least confrontational way to get the behaviour under control.  E-collar training is also a great way to reinforce other rules and boundaries consistently.

***PLEASE NOTE: Do not try e-collar training without a professional trainer. E-collar training takes special technique and understanding in order to be used properly and effectively. 

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  • Before we consulted Kristina about our rescue dog Stella’s leash reactivity, we couldn’t take her for a walk without her barking/lunging/snarling at LITERALLY EVERYTHING. We’re talking — we leave the door of the condo building and it was non-stop snarling at everything she could see. People, cars, bikes, dogs. If you could name it, Stella was trying to bite it. After just the initial consultation session with Kristina and being given homework on relationship building/the correct tools (and being taught how to use said tools), we saw a considerable improvement in Stella’s leash reactivity and her leash walking manners. It’s been 3 weeks since our first session, and today Stella walked so casually in a loose leash position, I thought I must’ve brought the wrong dog home from the groomer. She does not bark at people and cars anymore (sometimes she’ll tense up at cars, but we can redirect her now). Her threshold for seeing dogs without reacting has considerably improved and we can even walk by many of them on the sidewalk without issue — a massive improvement from seeing them even across the street and reacting. I don’t feel scared to take her on walks anymore and my confidence as a handler has also greatly improved. AFTER ONE SESSION!!! Aside from Kristina’s expertise in training, my partner and I are extremely grateful for how gracefully Kristina communicates with us. Kristina never shamed us for not knowing better or not already seeing Stella’s signs of guarding (which is related to the reactivity issue). She never made us feel badly about Stella’s behaviour issues. She teaches in such an easily understandable way. We have another session with Kristina booked soon, and I imagine we’ll sign up for more in the coming weeks/months to continue to help Stella live the best life she can. I can honestly say that it’s probably the best money we’ve ever spent. Highly recommend!!!

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