Long back i have heard a question from some people. How to stop my dog from resource guarding me?
I wondered and asked them, Why is your dog guarding you and they replied: “Don’t know”. It seemed strange to me at that time.
We have heard of Resource guarding in dogs which is very common behaviour and most of the dog owners observe this kind of behaviour in their dogs, but what about dog resource guarding people? Is it common or uncommon? Let us find out in this article and let us discover ways to stop this behaviour.
How to stop my Dog from Resource guarding me?
Before finding out ways to stop this behaviour, let us have a brief idea about our canine friend and its resource guarding behaviour so that we can deal with this behavioural problem more easily and efficiently.
Resource guarding in dogs- What is it actually?
Mother nature has provided dogs with an instinctive nature of protecting its food from other animals. Hence its protective behaviour is very much present in its genetic code.
We have to remember the fact that, even though dogs became our furry friends and a part of our families they actually belong to the ancestral wolves which are resource gatherers and carnivores. Therefore guarding its possessions is its survival instinct and it is not abnormal to find this behaviour in our doggy friends.
Canine resource guarding includes behaviour such as growling, snapping and biting in some cases. Your dog can exhibit this kind of behaviour when it is insecure about a valuable resource. It can be food, treats, toys, bed, furniture etc, whatever your dog thinks to be valuable.
Sometimes it can be a piece of paper from the trash and sometimes it can be his favourite person. Person? Yes, a person. Dogs exhibit behaviour of resource guarding humans. You can observe a dog resource guarding a favourite human being. I mean his favourite human being. Actually, in present times this is unwanted behaviour as it might turn into a serious behavioural problem that makes everyone hate your dog.
Dog behaviour while resource guarding a person
Every dog may not behave in a similar way. Some dogs just growl and some might attempt to bite immediately. It all depends upon the situation that is triggering this behaviour in your dog. But there exist some common behavioural patterns when your dog is resource guarding a person. Have a look below
1. Barking and growling when some other person comes near you.
2. Sudden lunging when a person approaches closer.
3. Aggression when other dogs try to come closer to you.
4. Becoming upset and angry when you play with other dogs.
5. Other body language signs such as body stiffening and other signs of attack.
All these are the common forms of dog expression while it is resource guarding a person.
Reasons why your dog is resource guarding a person
The reason is simply that your dog is treating that person as a valuable resource. Like a valuable bone, like a valuable treat or valuable cloth, whatever it can be. You might feel happy when your dog is treating you as a valuable resource. But actually, there is nothing to be happy about this behaviour as this unwanted behaviour in your dog and can cause serious injuries to people in extreme cases.
There are a list of possibilities why your dog exhibits this kind of behaviour
1. Attention seeking
Some dogs always prefer attention and cherish any form of attention from their owner. This attention whether positive or negative, all they want is attention.
When some person is approaching you, you might have held your dog or laughed at that behaviour or sometimes you might have scolded him. Any form of expression is nothing but giving attention to your dog’s behaviour and in that case, your dog’s purpose is served.
I have observed this in my Labrador which used to bark when i used to interact with other people. It simply needs my attention and wants to turn my attention to him.
2. Fear issues
You find this behaviour especially in dogs that are anxious. When a person walks towards the dog, it feels uncomfortable and mostly fearful which makes the dog to show signs such as growling and barking.
It is his way of demonstration that it is only comfortable near its favourite person and not others. In this case, the dog’s behaviour is simply out of fear and nothing else. You can observe this kind of behaviour especially in small dogs and newly adopted ones.
3. Space issues
Dogs love patterns and that’s the reason dogs mostly prefer to lie in a particular place every time. Some dogs have serious space issues and they think that the place beside his owner is completely his place. So any dog or person coming towards the place is not accepted.
Ways to stop this behaviour
All living beings repeat rewarding behaviours, this is true for your dog too. They even slowly stop behaviours that are not rewarding. This simple principle is to be remembered to stop your dog’s behavioural problem.
Every time your dog does some action, you have to analyze “What is it getting from its behaviour?” Is it attention? or is it a sense of security? or comfort? what is it?
1. If it is getting attention
In some cases, your dog is resource guarding you simply to grab your attention. In such cases, you have to stop giving attention to your dog when it starts that kind of behaviour. If your dog is barking when someone approaches you, Simply you can stand up, leave your dog and move away from that place. In this case, you are not providing any kind of attention that your dog wants.
Repeating this kind of behaviour makes your dog understand that barking at people while coming nearby does not serve its purpose. This is a process of not rewarding undesirable behaviours so that your dog will slowly stop repeating them.
2. If it is getting a sense of security
This happens in dogs that become uncomfortable or anxious when another person is approaching near. The dogs tend to growl, bark and the person goes away. Every time the person goes away, the dog gets a sense of security and comfort. Hence every time they bark and growl to achieve that comfort.
This kind of behaviour is common and methods like counterconditioning need to applied to change your dog’s fixed mind patterns.
Whenever a person is approaching, the dog treats it as a bad sign as it causes a feeling of fear in it. This feeling needs to be replaced with a positive feeling. I will explain clearly…
If the dog is given a tasty treat whenever an unknown person approaches him, the dog associates a good treat with an unknown person coming nearby. The pattern changes in its mind that good treats are given when an unknown person approaches near him. When good things happen as people approach, the dog’s sense of security stays and it is strengthened with a positive feeling. This way of reconditioning your dog’s brain can help in eliminating this behaviour.
Important things to remember while dealing the issue
1. Every dog is different in its behaviour, hence it is important to consider your dog’s behavioural reactions while approaching him
2. Do not attempt to approach your dog when it is growling seriously. As it can cause a risk of dog bites.
3. Never punish your dog for growling as it is giving you a warning sign to go back. Punishing dogs for growling may cause them to directly go for biting.
4. Scaring, threatening and hitting your dog for its aggressive behaviour will not serve the purpose and in turn, the dog intensifies its resource guarding behaviour.
5. A mild form of resource guarding can surely be dealt with positive counterconditioning in the home itself.
6. But if your dog exhibits a severe form of resource guarding behaviour, it is better not to take a risk and consult a positive reinforcement trainer or a behaviouralist to assess your dog’s condition accurately. A professional would be wise enough to analyse your dog’s behaviour and triggers that are leading to such kind of behaviour.
When your Dog exhibits a severe form of resource guarding, it is not a simple problem. This is a serious possession problem and without applying corrective measures this problem can become worse.
People around you will start Hating your Dog and even they are at risk of the dog bite. Bad behaviour in your dog can lead to many issues that can disrupt the relationship between your dog and yourself.
It is important to correct this overprotective and attention seeking behavioural problem right now
Realise that it is Very important
Here is the ultimate solution for your dog’s possession problem