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Resource defense. What to do when your dog guards its food?


A growl at the bowl, a leering eye or maybe even a bite? Sounds familiar? A resource guarding dog may seem intimidating and cause anxiety and frustration for the handler. What to do if your dog defends toys, food or space?

What is a resource? This is the question we should start our journey through dog emotions about resource defense. Pies can defend various things, such as toys, sticks, space, treats, or even its guardian — everything that is of value to him. And although at first the feeling that your dog is growling at you may cause strong emotions, it is worth knowing the reasons for defending resources to better understand your pet.

Reasons for resource defense

A resource is the thing that is most valuable and important to the dog at a given moment – a favorite toy or a beloved guardian, but what will happen if something threatens the “object”?

“This is mine! I will not give back!” best describes the behavior of a dog defending its resources. This may manifest itself in growling, teeth grinding, or even an attempt to bite. Sometimes it takes more subtle forms, such as threatening glances towards a potential threat.

Aggressive dog behavior that occurs when the dog defends access to toys, bowls or beds is not a desire to compete, strive for dominance or attempt to confront. In most cases, such behavior results from the dog’s uncertainty and is associated with a lack of sense of security. Confrontational reactions from the caregiver not only do not solve the problem, but can sometimes even make it worse. Methods based on punishment only increase his uncertainty and fear. Therefore, it is crucial to thoroughly understand the problem and make a proper assessment of the situation. This allows you to choose an effective work strategy, avoid mistakes that may exacerbate undesirable behaviors, and eliminate them effectively.

The dog growls – is it aggression?

When a dog growls at you, it should be perceived as a form of communication through which the dog is trying to convey certain needs and expectations. In this context, he wants you to move away, stop, or keep a greater distance. Growling is an expression of anxiety and at the same time an attempt to ask for space in a specific situation. For example, when a dog is busy eating from its bowl and you approach it, triggering a growl response.

In the past, the belief was often promoted that a dog must understand who its “Master” is and should not growl, especially when dealing with its food. However, today we understood that this perspective only exacerbates the situation. Growing at such a moment is a clear message from the dog – “stop”. Don’t come any closer because I’m eating now and I don’t want anyone to disturb me.

Is this aggression? No, it is rather a reaction to a human crossing a certain dog boundary. The next time your dog growls at you, instead of reacting with irritation, it’s worth considering the circumstances in which it happened and what could have caused the dog to react that way. Drawing conclusions from these situations is an excellent form of learning for the dog’s owner, allowing him to understand and adapt to the needs and messages of the animal.

Working with a dog

Contrary to appearances, such behavior does not result from the desire to compete or dominate, but from a lack of sense of security. Therefore, it is crucial to properly use work techniques to effectively eliminate undesirable reactions. How to work with a dog?

Get to know our webinar course – “It is mine! I will not give back!” How to work with the resource defense problem? Behind the scenes of the work of behaviorists. Webinar aims not only to provide theoretical knowledge about the issue of resource defense, but above all to show practical solutions and techniques in working with this problem. You will learn how the process of working with specific cases works, what tools we use, depending on the scale of the problem, and what to do to prevent the dog from developing such reactions.

New, an innovative formula showing the behind-the-scenes work of Zosia and Piotr Wojtek. During the webinar, we will show video materials documenting step by step our work with specific cases:

  • collecting and analyzing materials before the meeting
  • recording of the first consultation/training session
  • implementation of recommendations
  • recording of the consultation/training session to check progress

What will you learn?

  • Why do dogs defend resources?
  • Is this a behavior a dog is born with?
  • Can you contribute to developing this issue?
  • Prevention, i.e. how to prevent undesirable behaviors from occurring?
  • How to work with a dog that already defends resources?

The webinar is addressed to all people who want to expand their knowledge on working with the problem of resource protection – dog guardians, behaviorists, trainers and pet sitters.


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