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Resource Guarding: the how's, why's and the to do's

The delight and excitement of bringing home a new puppy never gets old. As a new puppy owner, your priorities probably include socialisation, command training, and setting up a caring home. The resource guarding behaviour of puppies, however, is one area of behaviour that frequently surprises owners. Resource guarding can take many different forms and, if left unchecked, occasionally result in unwanted behaviours. We'll explore resource guarding in this blog post, including what it is, why it happens, and most importantly how to properly manage it to maintain a positive connection with your pet.

Possesive dog

What is Resource Guarding?

Dogs, even puppies, can demonstrate resource guarding, which is the act of being possessive or defensively towards objects they value highly. Food, toys, beds, and even specific rooms of the house can be included on this list. A puppy resource guards its valuables from perceived dangers by growling, snapping, or even biting.

Why Do Puppies Resource Guard?

To successfully manage the behaviour, it is essential to comprehend why puppies resource guard. Puppies may exhibit resource guarding for a number of reasons, such as:

Instinctual Behaviour: A dog's innate instincts are firmly embedded with the idea of resource guarding. Dogs in the wild have to fight for scarce resources like food and shelter in order to survive. Thus, securing priceless objects guarantees their availability.

Lack of Socialisation: Fear or worry may cause puppies that haven't received the correct socialisation to behave in a resource-guarding manner. They might consider other people—including their owners—to be possible dangers to their belongings.

Past Experiences: Due to prior experiences of deprivation, puppies from overcrowded shelters, puppy mills, or those with a history of scarcity or competition for resources, may be more susceptible to resource guarding.

Genetics: Certain breeds are more likely than others to display resource guarding behaviour. Although resource guarding may not be solely influenced by genetics, some breeds may exhibit this behaviour more frequently than others.

Managing Resource Guarding in Puppies

Puppy resource guarding can be effectively controlled by patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement.

The following tactics can be used to address and stop resource guarding behaviour:

Desensitisation and counterconditioning: Reward your puppy for peaceful, non-guarding behaviour while introducing them to scenarios that gradually cause resource guarding. Through this process, the negative association that your dog had with the trigger is changed to a positive one.

Trade-Up Training: Show your puppy that when you part with a valuable object, you can get something much better in return. Reward your dog with a high-value treat or toy when they voluntarily give up an object to help them learn the behaviour.

Early Socialisation: From an early age, introduce your puppy to a variety of situations, people, and animals. Resource guarding is less likely when there are positive responses with different stimuli that help lessen fear and anxiety.

Respect Your Puppy's Space: Refrain from going near or handling your puppy when they're holding something they consider valuable, particularly if they've shown resource guarding tendencies in the past. Instead, politely tell them to go or divert their attention with anything else.

Seek Professional Assistance: If resource guarding still occurs after you've tried everything, you might want to speak with a behaviourist or dog trainer. They can offer individualised direction and assistance based on the particular requirements of your puppy.

Puppy with parent


Puppies frequently engage in resource guarding, but with the correct training, this behaviour can be efficiently controlled. You can develop a pleasant, trusting relationship with your furry friend by learning about the root causes of resource guarding and using positive reinforcement methods. To handle resource guarding and ensure a pleasant and peaceful existence together, keep in mind that patience, consistency, and empathy are essential.


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