Recently a rush of resource guarding calls have come my way. The human response to this canine behavior runs the gamut from slightly annoyed to “this dog has to go!” Understanding it may be helpful.
Some dogs show no tendency toward the behavior of resource guarding. This type of dog is not likely to have a protective nature. In fact, burglars may be shown where the best stuff is kept by this type of dog! Others may be very picky about which “resources” are important to guard and from whom. These dogs may easily give prized items to some family members but not others or to a family member but never a stranger. They may care little if you mess with their food but don’t mess with their frisbee or favorite family member or bed, etc. These dogs are selective in what they guard but when they say it is important to them they mean business. Another dog may guard a very large number of items including their own personal space. This type of dog may not want anyone near their bed, they may not wish to be handled or physically manipulated. Some guard everything within the confines of their yard or the length of a leash from strangers.
There are different types and different intensities. Overall it is not an unusual canine behavior. It is closely tied with survival.
The most important part of treating resource guarding is that the dog sees giving up that stance as beneficial or rewarding. How you go about teaching this is very important. The thing with the internet is that good information can be found but so can bad, and that bad information is just as easily found by google. Asking a puppy to accept that you may put your hand in their food bowl or even take their food away is much more likely to teach them that valued resources may not be safe around you.
Resource guarding can be made worse and even dangerous if the wrong protocols are applied. Never push the boundaries, get professional help if you see signs of resource guarding. It could be a very easy fix if caught early and treated properly.