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What is Resource Guarding?


A resource is anything that a pet finds important, most often we find these resources to be food, treats, certain toys, a room, crate, or even a person.

Resource guarding is when the pet wants to protect that resource and doesn’t want someone to take it away. For example: You have a delicious dessert, and your older sibling is coming in the room. Experience has shown that they will take your dessert or want to steal a bite. This will prompt you to let your sibling know this dessert is yours and not theirs.

Many of the pets that come to our shelters have past experiences that we know nothing about, so we assess them all to see if they have resource guarding over common items and how they react when a person goes near their resource.

How we can identify it

Low level resource guarding warnings from dogs are moving the resource away from the person, whale eye (you can see the white of their eye), freezing around the resource (this is your pet going still whenever you are near their resource). These warnings can escalate if continuously ignored.

More intense resource guarding warnings from dogs are growling, snapping, or as a last resort, biting. If you notice these warnings, we strongly recommend reaching out to a certified trainer for help

Working towards change

The good thing is we can work with pets, so they don’t feel the need to guard their resources from us!

Ideally you never want to take items from your pet, you want to give things to them. This lets them know “I don’t want your dessert; I want you to have that dessert and here are more things you can have with that dessert”

Throwing treats by your pet when they have their favorite toy or are on their favorite bed helps them learn that good things happen when you come around and they don’t have to be nervous that something will be taken. Do not pet them near their resources.  

When people are the resource, the person that they are guarding should give the treats when a new person enters their space. The treats should come before the warning signs are given. This is letting them know that they do not need to be on alert and that good things happen when new people enter their space.

For more information on resource guarding or to learn about our training classes please email behavior@buckscountyspca.org .

Categorized Under: Blog,Education

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