Do dogs resource Guard humans?

Yes, a dog can resource guard their owners. This is usually seen in dogs who are very attached to their owner. The dog may become territorial and protect their owner from other people or animals. If you think your dog is resource guarding you, consult with a professional trainer to help address the behavior.

Resource guarding is among the most prevalent dog training problems for which assistance has been requested. This can cover a wide range of actions, with the most typical triggers being prized objects like food, bones, or toys. These actions can range from growling or snapping to very severe bites to people or other animals.

Understanding why resource guarding occurs in dogs is necessary for effective treatment, followed by a methodical plan to change the behavior.

We strongly advise seeking the advice of a qualified professional dog trainer to assist you with this training if you have young children in your home or if your dog has previously bit someone.

What Does Resource Guarding Look Like?

Any age can experience the onset of resource guarding, which can involve virtually anything the dog deems valuable. Some dogs only protect what they are actively holding, like a toy or a bone, or when they are eating. Even when they don’t seem particularly interested, other dogs guard toys or treats in their general vicinity. A few dogs guard space, like the couch or bed. However, what appears to be a dog guarding area may actually be a toy or bone that is concealed there or underneath the couch. Dogs may guard resources from other dogs, humans, or both. The severity of resource guarding can also vary, from a dog who simply moves to another location when approached with a toy to a dog who snaps, snaps, snaps, or bites. When a dog perceives an increasing threat, the guarding behavior occasionally progresses through these levels. Lower level behaviors (e. g. , lip lifts, snarling or growling) are simply warnings. If you punish your dog for these warnings, he might stop issuing them altogether and start behaving more aggressively, like biting.

You want your dog to learn that there is no need to guard his “treasures,” and that there are advantages to giving them up, whether you have a puppy, a new dog who hasn’t yet resource guarded, or an occasional but not dangerous resource guarder. Practice these exercises frequently before you really need them.

  • When your dog is eating or chewing on a bone or toy, walk by your dog without speaking or making eye contact and casually drop a very special treat, like a piece of chicken or beef, by his feet or into his bowl. This will teach him that humans approaching his food are not a threat, but rather something good. This is especially helpful when you first bring a dog into your home.
  • Choose a word or phrase like “drop it” or “give” to use as a release cue when you want your dog to give up something that he has. Get something that will interest your dog, without being high value. You will also need some really yummy treats (diced cheese, hot dogs, whatever your dog loves). While holding onto one end, offer your dog the other end, moving it around to make it more exciting until an empty paper towel roll, a toy, or other item that will interest your dog, without being high value. You will also need some really yummy treats (diced cheese, hot dogs, whatever your dog loves). While holding onto one end, offer your dog the other end, moving it around to make it more exciting until he takes it. Continue to hold onto it, so he can’t grab it and run. Now, stick a treat right under your dog’s nose. Your dog will likely spit out the item. When he does that, give him the treat. After this is working consistently, add the verbal cue, “drop it” or “give”, in a happy voice, as he sniffs the treat. After your dog has finished the treat, add the cue “take it”. Then, use your cue of “drop it” and repeat the trade. Your dog is learning that when he lets go, he not only gets the treat, he gets back the items he originally gave up. Note: When not practicing, move the item out of sight, so that your dog doesn’t keep picking it up in order to get a treat. When working on these exchanges, make sure you maintain a non-threatening position. Do not look directly at the dog and angle a little to the side. Leaning over or walking directly toward a dog is often a trigger for resource guarding. If your dog becomes still and stiff or raises a lip at any time, don’t continue. Remember, the key is to trade for an item of greater value. And the dog gets to decide what’s valuable. Generally, though, that item will be an especially tasty (and if necessary, smelly) treat. Using food also has the advantage of allowing you to practice this exercise a number of times in quick succession.
  • With your dog in a room or the yard, begin walking around. Anytime you approach your dog, say “drop” (or whatever word you have chosen), drop the treat and move away. Continue this step until your dog is eagerly anticipating the cue word. Next, give your dog a low value toy. Keep moving around the room, cueing and dropping the toy anytime you approach your dog, then walk away. Once your dog is readily dropping the treat when you approach, begin picking up the toy after your dog drops it. Give it back to him after he has finished the treat. Repeat with higher and higher value items. Remember to casually pick up the toy. Do not attempt to race your dog to the toy or grab it from him. If he reaches immediately for the toy, toss some treats away from the dog to move him away. Reduce the value of the toy and continue to practice a little longer before upping the value of the toy again. You can see Chirag Patel demonstrate this method at
  • If there is a specific item that your dog guards (a chew toy or favorite tennis ball), that item is “off limits” until your dog learns to willingly share his treasures. Put the item out of sight. When your dog learns to “drop” items of lesser value, then…and only then…will he be allowed to first practice with his “special” item, and then have access to it on a regular basis. The same principle applies to places. If your dog guards the couch, use a baby gate or tether, so that your dog doesn’t have access to the couch. If it’s your bed, your dog should not be allowed in the bedroom.
  • How to Stop Your Dog’s Resource Guarding

    You could seek assistance at your preferred veterinarian’s office or by speaking with an animal behaviorist. These experts are skilled at recognizing, reacting to, and modifying a dog’s undesirable characteristics. They can also assist in the diagnosis of any underlying illnesses that may be the source of resource guarding.

    To work on the behavior at home, take a look at the steps below to get started. With the proper training and a sense of commitment, you can de-train a dog that’s showing the warning signs of resource guarding.

    She enjoys reading, hiking with her two Cardigan Welsh Corgis, and paddleboarding when she’s not obsessing over dogs.

    Cathy holds the CPDT-KA and CBCC-KA certifications from the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers. Cathy is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, the Pet Professional Guild, and the Dog Writers Association of America. She is also a Fear Free Certified Certified Professional.

    As Preventive Vets dog behavior expert and lead trainer at Pupstanding Academy, Cathy focuses on helping humans and their pets build a strong relationship based on trust, clear communication, and the use of positive reinforcement and force-free methods. With over 13 years of experience, she has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of dogs on a wide variety of training and behavior issues. Her specialties include dog aggression, resource guarding, separation anxiety, and puppy socialization.

    Our goal is to use our educational materials to help save the lives of dogs and cats. To support our efforts, this page may contain affiliate links. With no additional cost to you, we receive a commission for qualifying purchases.


    Why do dogs resource guard humans?

    The dog’s deep-seated insecurity and inability to function well in a social setting, even with people and other dogs he is familiar with, are typically manifested by him guarding resources. Anybody can appear to an uneasy dog as a potential threat to a resource, whether it be food, toys, room, a partner, or access to a person.

    How do you tell if your dog is resource guarding you?

    Signs of Resource Guarding Narrowed-in staring. Getting in-between object and approaching person/dog. Always running away with object and refusing to drop. Rapid eating and chewing.

    How do I stop my dog from resource guarding me?

    Here are some dog training tips that can help you solve your furball’s resource guarding habits:
    1. Use Treats as Positive Reinforcement. …
    2. Focus on Desensitization. …
    3. Avoid Punishment. …
    4. Teach Your Dog to Share. …
    5. Pet Them During Meals. …
    6. Solving Food Aggression Between Dogs.

    Can dogs resource guard affection?

    It might surprise you to learn that dogs can also resource guard people. Think about it; dogs resource guard things they value. Most dogs don’t want to share their owners’ affection with people or other dogs because they enjoy receiving it.