Puppy Resource Guarding. Warning Signs to Watch For
Puppy resource guarding should be identified and addressed before it gets worse or carries over into adulthood. More importantly, you want to be careful not to accidentally enable puppy resource guarding. This can start when you reach for a bone and your puppy moves away from you. Do you take it anyway or do you let him keep it? Both options can reinforce puppy resource guarding.
There are many warning signs a dog gives long before they bite. Puppy resource guarding signs can include:
- Moving away from you with an item when you come near
- Eating faster or repositioning their body over the food bowl when you walk by
- ‘Freezing’ over an item or food
- Growling or lip curling
Instead of taking a toy away from your puppy every time you call them, give some affection and let them keep the item occasionally. When you do want to take the item, make sure your puppy releases it to you. Hold the item and have puppy let go, instead of pulling it out of their mouth. Once you have the item, own it. If your puppy comes back to grab it, don’t pull away, but disagree with this behavior so it is clear to them that once you take an item it is not for them any more. Keep toys, bones, balls put away so that it is clear these items all belong to you.
Food aggression, unfortunately, is a fairly common problem. The worst thing you can do for your puppy is to add stress to feeding time. This includes petting your puppy while he’s eating, putting your hand in the bowl or taking food away and putting it back. This does not prevent food aggression, but it actually creates and nurtures it. Feeding in the crate reinforces that the crate is a positive place and helps with potty training (the old saying – you don’t s#$! where you eat). If your puppy seems tense during feeding time you can stay in the picture with out being a threat. After putting food down, move back, turn to the side and calmly wait until they are finished eating. This builds trust and lets your puppy know that you are not there to compete with them.
In an emergency situation, you must be able to call your dog off a dangerous item or take it from them. By seeing the early signs of puppy resource guarding and properly addressing them, you may, one day, save your dog’s life.
Do not put yourself or others in danger. Seek professional help for puppy resource guarding if you notice it progressing.