Training plays a huge role in shaping a well-behaved and obedient dog. One common behaviour that owners may encounter is food or toy guarding. While it can be concerning to witness your pet exhibit this behaviour, especially if you’re a household that has small kids or that has a lot of friends and family visiting, it's important to understand that guarding is a natural instinct.
This does not mean that you should allow your pet to misbehave and guard their food. Instead, through the right training tactics and techniques, you can work with your pet to manage this behaviour effectively. This not only helps your dog exhibit proper behaviour but also keeps your children or friends, family and loved ones safe - preventing any unforeseen accidents.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll highlight why dogs may start guarding their food or toys, the importance of addressing this behaviour, and practical training techniques to help your dog overcome it.
It’s important to understand the intricate reasons behind food and toy-guarding behaviour. Just as humans may feel protective over their personal possessions, dogs have their triggers that lead to guarding.
These triggers can stem from various sources, including their history, past experiences, or underlying emotional states. By understanding the complexities of guarding, you can develop a holistic approach to tackling this issue, allowing you, the owner, to work with your pet to prevent it. Here are some of the reasons as to why dogs guard their toys or food:
The impact of food and toy guarding in dogs goes far beyond the immediate behaviour that you can see your dog doing. If you allow your dog to continue this bad behaviour, it can affect the safety and well-being of all those who interact with your dog, as well as the emotional health of your dog itself.
Here are some of the reasons why you need to take the time to work with your pet on this behavioural problem:
It's essential to maintain a calm and consistent approach when working with your pet to address this behaviour. While letting go of guarding tendencies will take time and patience, managing the environment plays a pivotal role in ensuring a successful transition.
Here are some of the ways that you can manage and create a more supportive environment:
By proactively managing the environment in these ways, you create a safer and more predictable setting for your dog to learn and adapt. Consistency in your approach, combined with a well-structured environment, will go a long way in helping your pet overcome guarding behaviour.
We also recommend using a balanced or Operant Conditioning training approach to help your dog understand their commands and adjust their behaviour. Here is a list of the training techniques that can be used to address your dog’s guarding:
Counterconditioning: Teach your dog that the approach of people or other pets during mealtime or play is a positive thing.
Leave It Command: Teach your dog a firm "leave it" command. This can be invaluable in redirecting their attention away from guarding and toward you.
Management: While working on the behaviour, always supervise interactions with other pets and manage the environment to prevent potential conflicts. This is why we advise against taking your pet to a dog park, where the environment is not controlled.
Consistency: Be consistent with your training efforts. Everyone in the household should follow the same rules to avoid confusion for your dog.
Dogs ' food and toy guarding behaviour can be managed and improved with proper training techniques and patience. Understanding the root causes, addressing the behaviour promptly, and using Operant Conditioning methods will go a long way in helping your dog become more relaxed and comfortable in sharing resources.
If you're struggling to work with your pet or unsure where to start, our trained professionals can help. They fully commit to working with them through behaviour, obedience training, and continued learning safely and effectively.
We do the hard work for you to attain a happy home and a healthy relationship with your pet.
Included in all of our programs are the following;