Resource Guarding – A Natural, Normal Canine Behavior.


Resource guarding is a natural, normal canine behavior. In fact it’s a normal behavior for most warm-blooded animals. Even we humans guard our resources – sometimes quite fiercely. Think about it. We lock our doors. Store clerks have loaded .22 rifles under checkout counters, while homeowners keep shotguns and baseball bats leaning in the corner by the back door. Banks keep valuables in vaults. Some of us get insanely jealous if someone pays too much attention to our significant other.

Dogs guard their resources as well, sometimes quite fiercely. This is most troublesome when they guard from humans, but can also get them in hot water when they guard from other dogs. That said, some dog-dog guarding behavior is quite appropriate and acceptable.

As an example: In a dog park or doggie daycare, Dog A is chewing happily on a (insert any valuable resource here). Curious, Dog B approaches. Dog A gives Dog B “the look.” Dog B quickly defers, saying “Oh, excuse me!” by calmly turning and walking away. No harm done. Much of the time the dogs’ owner isn’t even aware that this occurred.

This is the ideal resource-guarding scenario. Many times, however, other, less appropriate scenarios occur.

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.

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Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn "Pat Miller Certified Trainer" certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.