Resource Guarding Revisited

As a follow-up to last week’s blog on resource guarding, Charlotte Mallion presents her approach to dealing with this problem.

By Charlotte Mallion, Guest Author                                                                                            See Spot Sit Dog Training and Behavior Modification-Arkansas

Here is how I handle resource guarding.

dog with treatMake a list of the items (or people) your dog guards.

“The Motivator.” Figure out what motivates your dog to comply. This can be a ball, a toy or a really yummy treat. (Boiled chicken can get a dog to give up most anything.)

Ask yourself some hard questions about your own behavior. Do I pet my dog every time it comes up to me? Does my dog nudge my hand for petting? Does my dog shove a toy into my hand or against me to tell me “play with me right now!”? Do I feed my dog if he goes and picks up his food bowl and drops it or brings it to me? Do I give my dog a treat if he whines at the treat cabinet? If you answered yes to any of those questions, stop that!

Initiate the Premack Principle or “Grandma’s Rule.” This is commonly referred to as the Nothing in Life is Free “NILIF” protocol. In other words, no petting, no food, no play, no going for a walk, no going outside, unless they have “earned” it. Now, this is simple. They don’t have to jump through burning hoops or take out the trash. A simple, sit-wait or sit-stay, or using whatever “request” you have taught them to go outside will suffice. Working for what they need to survive is natural to a dog and makes sense to them.

Teaching the Cue “Give” or “Drop.” In this section I will be describing a “trade off” method. Start with objects that your dog does not consider “high value.” This sets the dog up for success. You must work your way up to the items that are guarded more intensely. You can entice your dog with a treat or another toy to drop the item. (The Motivator.) The second the dog drops the item, pick it up first, and then deliver the motivator and praise lavishly and calmly. Return to your dog the prized item you have asked him to relinquish immediately after he has given it up happily, or finished chewing his treat if that is what you are using.

Repeat this process until you are certain that the dog knows the cue “give” or “drop” and is doing it reliably every, single time, with no protestation. This teaches the dog that giving you the resource is a good thing and often means something even better is coming their way.

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About Canine Good Citizen

AKC Canine Good Citizen Director, Author of the AKC's official CGC book, "CITIZEN CANINE"
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4 Responses to Resource Guarding Revisited

  1. I suggest reading Kathy Sado’s book “Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace” for an interesting alternative to NILIF–SMART (See, Mark and Reward Training). It is fast, effective, and it just feels better!

  2. Pat says:

    what do you do OR how do you handle the dog when they are on leach and don’t let other dogs get near you??in a class situation or on a walk, after we top to visit.

  3. Nicole says:

    Really great information Charlotte, thanks for sharing!

  4. Ira Smith says:

    good info but ‘Drop’ or ‘Give’ are terrible commands to use. Yo
    u’re asking or pleading with the dog to obey, you my as well use ‘PLEASE” since they’re not going to listen to that command. Try something more affirmative and sharper – like : ‘OUT OUT” works 1000 times better EVERY time

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