Is Some Resource Guarding Normal?

Some dog-dog guarding behavior is quite appropriate and acceptable.


Excerpted from an article by Pat Miller

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.

To read about these scenarios along with advice on how to recognize the signs of resource-guarding and ways to reduce, eliminate and prevent it, read Whole Dog Journal‘s ebook Resource Guarding.