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Resource Guarding and why dogs do it...

What do you see in the image above?

This dog is showing signs that he is unhappy about the person approaching him whilst he has his bone! Yup, he's showing his teeth - that's pretty clear! He's giving many more signals that people often miss...

  1. Showing the whites of his eyes or 'whale eye' - we can see the whites of his eyes because he doesn't feel comfortable enough to move his head away but wants to keep an eye on the person coming near his bone

  2. Tight face and furrowed brows - his facial muscles are tight rather than relaxed and loose because he's feeling stressed

  3. Ears are back - he's unhappy with the situation

What could happen if we tried to get his bone?

Well... there's a good possibility we may get bitten! He may start by showing these visual signs, he may growl and he may resort to an air bite but if he felt like his precious bone was worth keeping hold of, he may just resort to biting us! And we definitely don't want that to happen! Don't be fooled either - if a dog wants to warn you about feeling the need to resort to a bite, he'll do an 'air bite' BUT he did not miss! If he wants to really bite, he will!

So what is 'resource guarding' and why do they do it?

Resource guarding is what a dog does to make sure he can keep hold of something he feels is highly valuable to him. This could be food, toys, random objects, people, places... absolutely ANYTHING he values and does not want to lose. The dog will guard the 'bone' by showing defensive body language and possibly displays of aggression, which can lead to bite incidents.

This type of guarding behaviour is actually quite common with dogs but some dogs display it more frequently and / or aggressively than others. Resource guarding is a natural and instinctive reaction and those dogs that do this are likely to be better survivors out in the big bad world as they will make sure they get to keep the things they need! For example, if he has prime access to food, he has the nutritional advantage, so why would he want to lose this and risk his survival?

It's super duper important if you have a resource guarding dog to manage the environment and especially so if you have children. Dogs can't always read children with them being unpredictable, noisy and quick movers and both dogs and children don't always want to share food, toys or beds!

Should I show my dog who's boss?

The answer is... no... confrontation does not work!

The reason your dog is guarding an item isn't their way of trying to get one up on you. They're guarding it because it's valuable and they feel like they need it. So getting angry at your dog and punishing them is only going to make them find a way to keep hold of their bone even harder!

Instead, help your dog to realise that he's not threatened and teach him to have more confidence.

Need some help?

If your dog is resource guarding, we can help! Just get in touch via our website at:



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