At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we often times deal with food aggression and resource guarding.
Whether we’re aware of it or not, our furry friends are always in communication with us. Though a language barrier exists, our canine pals utilize other methods to get their message across and help us understand what needs and desires they wish to be met. One example of this unconventional medium of communication is known as resource guarding.
Resource guarding is most often witnessed with the dog’s food bowl, and to find out whether or not your pup exhibits this behavior, a simple test can be administered, with caution of course. As you place your dog’s bowl of food on the floor, walk away and then re-approach him or her. As you are walking towards your canine companion, note the body language they exhibit. The desired reaction is no reaction at all. You want your pup to be okay with you approaching their space and bowl while they are eating their meal. Keep in mind though, it is not uncommon for a dog to display an adverse response. The pup is guarding something that is incredibly vital for their survival – food.
One sign of guarding is quickened eating, which shows that he or she is not willing to share. The dog may also walk away from the bowl, showing that he is not okay with you approaching, but recognizes he is not strong enough to fight you for the contents of the bowl. Other warning signs include showing a side glance or lowering his or her body to protect the contents and shield you from accessing them. Each of these behaviors are threats that your furry friend are physically communicating to you.
If these signs are not respected, your pup may lash out and behave in a manner that is aggressive and potentially harmful to you or others Thus, if witnessing any of these signs, you should stop and not proceed any further. After learning that this problem exists, there are actions that can be taken to assist your pup in warming up to the idea of you being near during mealtime. These actions do not include seizing the bowl or continuing forward. In fact these signs can validate the resource guarding in the dog’s mind or, as stated before, lead to aggression. As you attempt to encourage your dog to welcome your closeness, slowly try placing dog treats around them as you approach. Once he or she lets you close enough, you can place the treats in the dog bowl itself, teaching your pup that you pose no threat. As this process continues, try serving your pup treats as you nudge them or place your hand in or around the bowl.
For some of us, resource guarding is a commonly missed form of communication. For others, we see it and are not sure how to explain it or why our beloved pup is displaying this seemingly-threatening behavior. Resource guarding can also be interpreted as improper as some suggest it looks as if the dog is not showing respect for the “alpha dog,” which we hope to be us.
On our YouTube channel, we have over 1000 videos, we show some of our food aggression training, like this Pit Bull, Mar!
Almost all dogs with food aggression can be much better managed; however, with many it is possible to completely eliminate, as well!
Are you having resource guarding/aggression issues?
Contact us at Off Leash K9 Training!