Resource Guarding – What to look out for


During resource-guarding, dogs exhibit components of ritualized aggression. That is, they have a fairly explicit hierarchy of warnings – accelerated eating, cessation of eating or “freezing up,” glassy/hard eyes, growling, lip lifting, snapping, biting – that they’ll run through to get a competitor (YOU!) to back away from what they have. They’re nervous that you’re there and don’t want to share.

Trainers and behaviorists take these warnings and apply a rating scale, ranging from reactions that pose no risk to humans to those that are extremely serious.  A rough eight-level guide is useful for owners and trainers to assess the situation but some dogs don’t follow such a neat hierarchal scale. A dog can move from a growl to a serious bite in a matter of seconds.

Trainers often hear the cry, “he bit without warning!” More often than not, there was a warning, somewhere, sometime – we just missed it.

For more advice on how to recognize the signs of resource-guarding and ways to reduce, eliminate and prevent it, purchase Whole Dog Journal’s ebook Resource Guarding.