Training Dogs And Humans For A More Enjoyable Life Together

By Susan Smith, East Valley Dog Training

Answers to questions are based on the information provided. It’s always a good idea to have your pet thoroughly examined by a veterinarian when having behavior problems. Although I can give general information and management suggestions on serious behavior problems such as aggression, issues such as these can be a very serious problem and a certified dog trainer should be consulted.

 One of the problems professional dog trainers hear about a lot is aggression. And one of the most common forms of aggression with pet dogs is resource guarding. Resources are anything a dog values. Some of the more common items guarded by dogs are: food, chews, toys, locations (crate, couch, bed, etc.), and their humans.

And, one of the things we hear when we hear about resource guarding is that the aggression is unpredictable. However, when pressed, the owners are usually able to tell us specifically when the dog is aggressive, which means it is actually quite predictable.

Resource guarding is a combination of genetics and environment. A dog whose parents were guarders is more likely to be a guarder than dogs whose parents didn’t guard. However, the environment does also play a role. More importantly, because we live in such close proximity to our dogs, we need to understand that it is not only a very normal behavior, but also a survival behavior.

None of us allow others to take our stuff, and that’s almost always what’s happening when a dog resource guards. Even our kids, who don’t hold a lot of power in the world, have their own stuff and we respect that. Children are taught from an early age to share – we need to teach our dogs the same thing.

Because this is aggression, I’m not going to talk about how to address the problem; however, I do want to say that it is a problem that can be resolved fairly easily. If this is something your dog is doing and you’d like to see it end, contact a certified dog trainer and they will be able to help you with your guarding dog.

If you have questions for the trainer, please send them to Susan Smith, CDBC, CPDT-KA, is a dog trainer in San Tan Valley, AZ, specializing in pet dog trainingas well as cat and parrot training—from obedience behaviors to serious problems such as aggression. She can be contacted at Sue is also the owner of Raising Canine, LLC which provides professional education to animal trainers.