Is your dog defending his favorite toy? Does food belong to him alone? His blanket is sacred to him, and so is the sofa? Resource defense can be a big issue that can lead to problems. It is essential to know that dog behavior is biologically wholly normal. However, if it gets out of hand, you, as the owner, should take measures to moderate the dog’s defense of resources.
It is dog nature to defend things that are important to them. From a biological point of view, it makes perfect sense to secure resources such as prey or a safe place to sleep against others. After all, we humans do it similarly; just think of the clichéd reserved towel on the lounger by the pool. In any case, resource defense is not a behavioral disorder but makes sense.
What are resources?
Resources defended by the dog can be objects and places or people that a dog protects against other individuals such as conspecifics or other people. Possible resources include:
● reference persons
● Dog toys
● Territory (apartment, garden, car, etc.)
● conspecifics (dog buddies)
● digging holes
● Treasures (pieces of wood, pine cones, etc.)
● Snooping sites
Resource defense in dogs is not a behavioral disorder
The defense of resources is neither disrespectful behavior nor dominance behavior of the dog towards people. It’s not always about ranking but usually simply defending something important for the dog. Dogs are opportunists and merely want the best for themselves – this is not evil or unfriendly, but logical and normal for the four-legged friends.
What is mainly defended and what less strongly differs from dog to dog, as this depends, among other things, on the life history and preferences of the respective four-legged friend. How resource defense is expressed can also be completely different – it is not necessarily defended aggressively. Everything is possible, from barking, growling, and nervous behavior to mounting and, unfortunately, biting.
Training approaches with strong resource defense
If your dog defends resources very vehemently and may even bite, you should do something and steer things in a controlled manner. It would help if you didn’t get involved in fights with your four-legged friend or take everything away from him. This usually results in the resource defense being reinforced or ends in frustration for your cold nose, which can seriously strain even the human-canine friendship. For example, how would you feel if your lunch or bed was taken away from you by force? Dog owners need to understand that defending resources has nothing to do with being disrespectful to them but simply learned behavior.
Better approaches can be found in training that targets the emotion underlying resource defense. At best, the dog understands that it is worth giving up resources. At best, when you patiently and consistently encourage calm and friendly behavior, your dog will realize that it’s okay, if not suitable, to share resources with others. For example, you can start by taking a beloved dog toy away from your Sofawolf for a while and immediately replacing it with another. It is essential that your dog knows the command “Off!” understands. To train him, give him an item and after a certain amount of time, say “Off!” – if your dog lets go of the object, reward him with praise or a treat. In this video, the handing out works very well for the young dog Bubbles:
Tip: Talk to a professional dog trainer who can give you helpful information on controlling resource defenses.