Features April 2014 Issue

Trading With Your Dog to Combat Resource Guarding

It’s important to be able to ask your dog to give something to you, especially something he is not supposed to have, and especially if you’re frequenting public places where he might pick something that belongs to someone else or that might be harmful to him. If you only take things away that are forbidden to him, he’ll learn to play the keep-away game, or worse, he may learn to resource-guard. The “trade” game will help you avoid these problems.

resource guarding dog training

1. While your dog is happily occupied with his toy (in this case, a food-stuffed Kong), offer him an even higher-value treat.

To teach “trade,” give your dog a toy or other object that he likes to play with. When he’s happily holding it in his mouth, offer him a high-value treat and as he drops the toy to take the treat, click the clicker (or use a verbal marker, such as the word “Yes!”) and feed him the treat. Then give him back the toy or object. If he is reluctant to give up his toy at first, use a higher-value treat, and/or scatter-drop several treats on the floor.

Note: This is a two-handed exercise. Be sure to keep your dog’s mouth busy eating treats from your hand while you pick up the toy with your other hand.
When you know he’ll drop the toy as you present the treat, start giving the “Trade!” cue just before you offer the treat.

training dog not to resource guard

2. Keep his mouth busy with the treats while you reach to take the toy. If hes reluctant to give up the toy, use higher-value treats, or scatter a few on the floor.

Vary the length of time between giving the cue and offering the treat, until your dog starts dropping the toy on cue even before you present the trade treat. (Continue to give him the treat after you click, even if he drops the toy on cue.) Do lots of repetitions until he drops the toy on cue every time.

Now do this with higher-value items, such as stuffed Kongs, hoof chews, and raw meaty bones. Slowly work your way up to very high-value objects. Because your dog has learned you will give the valuable object back each time, he should continue to be willing to trade even very high-value items in exchange for a treat, followed by the return of the item.

train against resource guarding

Be deliberate and coordinated with your movements. If you incorrectly reach for the toy first (or even at the same time, as demonstrated here), you risk being bitten. This dog is clearly interested in the treats, but the hand reaching for the toy is giving him pause.

Of course, when he grabs a bag of chicken bones on the street you won’t give it back, but that will happen so infrequently that he’ll learn to happily give you things when you ask.

Note: If your dog shows any signs of resource-guarding when you try to teach him “Trade” (unwillingness to give up object, tension, hard stare, growl, snap, or hovering over or moving away with the object) we recommend you seek the assistance of a qualified positive-behavior professional.

Do not try to forcibly take the object from him.

Comments (4)

You can call Bentley (when lying on the bed) and it awards. The award must be so compelling (may be his favorite toy, a tasty piece of food, even new and unknown sound or object) ... But there's something else: where he sleeps and what his bed?
Many dogs sleep on inadequate both in size and in terms bedding material ... I will not mention the owners who let their pets to sleep on the floor?? If Bentley belongs to these categories correct his bed. In a nutshell: it is wrong interact with him if you neglect their needs and see everything only through your eyes ...
Dogs although they are social animals in some cases are able to assert their personal space and distance between them. Can play together or to sleep on cold nights tightly to each other, but that does not mean that this is an ongoing process.
The same goes with the car.
PS. I recommend that you read the materials calming signals in dogs.
Remember what life had Bentley. Life with a dog is built on mutual understanding and compromise.

Posted by: Hundefreund | April 3, 2014 10:45 AM    Report this comment

You can call Bentley (when lying on the bed) and it awards. The award must be so compelling (may be his favorite toy, a tasty piece of food, even new and unknown sound or object) ... But there's something else: where he sleeps and what his bed?
Many dogs sleep on inadequate both in size and in terms bedding material ... I will not mention the owners who let their pets to sleep on the floor?? If Bentley belongs to these categories correct his bed. In a nutshell: it is wrong interact with him if you neglect their needs and see everything only through your eyes ...
Dogs although they are social animals in some cases are able to assert their personal space and distance between them. Can play together or to sleep on cold nights tightly to each other, but that does not mean that this is an ongoing process.
The same goes with the car.
PS. I recommend that you read the materials calming signals in dogs.
Remember what life had Bentley. Life with a dog is built on mutual understanding and compromise.

Posted by: Hundefreund | April 3, 2014 10:43 AM    Report this comment

Bentley adopted as stray in 2013. He is a resource guarder of my bed (and he is now ok with that after training) but still can be violent when car is approached in with me in car or alone for training ex resize. Using behaviorist with success but slow process. Maybe someone has experienced and might have some tips?

Posted by: BentleysMom | April 3, 2014 7:31 AM    Report this comment

Bentley adopted at age 1 springer resource guards. Have trained him from my bed guarding but car still guarded. Having some successes with behaviorist but maybe someone has some new ideas ? Progress is slow. Maybe your experiences would help.

Posted by: BentleysMom | April 3, 2014 7:27 AM    Report this comment

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