Lulu: Resource Guarding Case Study

Does your dog seem overly protective of his food or toys? Do you notice your dog standing close by to their food bowls when others are nearby? Or hovering over their bones as they fixate on you and every moment you make? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then your dog may have some resource guarding or food aggression problems.

With different dogs, resource guarding may not be that concerning. For example, a dog that only quietly guards the area where their food is may not seem as bad comparing it to a dog that will growl or bite at someone coming near the food. The tricky thing about resource guarding is while it may not seem like a problem now, there is always a chance the dog may transition from simple guarding to outright aggression. Without communicating to the dog that their behavior is wrong, the dog will not see an issue with what their doing and may want to demonstrate more protective behavior.

Resource guarding is a problem because it is a sign of nervousness and lack of confidence. A dog that feels he must protect his food from his owner or another dog is showing that they do not trust either the owner or another dog. If this is happening with an owner, this should be addressed immediately. Dogs should not only respect their owners, but also should be able to trust them. However, we need to teach and at times, earn that trust from our dogs.

One recent example I’ve had with resource guarding gone terribly wrong is a young dog named Lulu. Since being adopted, she had always shown some guarding behaviors over all her resources and possessions. But her owner never saw it as serious, as Lulu never tried to bite or make a single peep whenever she guarded. Once Lulu turned eight months old, that is when she struck out for the first time – when her owner brought home a bag of dog food and set it down on the floor, Lulu stayed close by. When it was dinner and time to tear the bag open, Lulu went after her owner’s hand and drew some blood.

This will not occur with EVERY resource guarding case. Still, it is a behavioral issue that should not be taken lightly. Even if the dog never shows aggression over their food or toys, there is still that lingering lack of confidence and trust. Instead of risking any potential problems, why not nip it in the bud while also building the relationship between you and your dog? Consistent, structured training will not only help your dog’s anxiety levels plummet, but it will empower you to effectively handle and communicate with your own furry best friend.

In Lulu’s case, we started from the basics to make sure she understood how to focus and succeed in training. The trust between Lulu and her owner had to be repaired, and we had to show Lulu the difference between good behavior versus bad behavior. At the first lesson, we were already seeing a more confident owner, and that confidence being picked up by Lulu. Through training, both human and canine were able to calm each other down, and learn from one another through a loving, trusting bond.

If you are concerned about your dog’s resource guarding or food aggression, don’t wait until a crisis strikes! Call 800-649-7297 to schedule your first training consultation!