Resource Defense in Dogs: Problematic Behavior?

Is your dog defending his favorite toy? Feed belongs to him alone? His cozy blanket is sacred to him and the sofa anyway? Resource defense can be a big issue that can cause problems. It is important to know that, from a biological point of view, dog behavior is quite normal. If this turns out, you as the keeper should take measures to moderate the resource defense in the dog. "Share? No, no! This is my toy - why should I give it away?", This dog might think and doesn't mean it badly - Shutterstock / K.A.Willis

It is in the dog's nature to defend things that are important to him. From a biological point of view, it makes perfect sense to secure resources such as captured prey or a safe place to sleep against others. After all, we humans do the same, just think of the clichéd reservation towel on the lounger by the pool. Defense of resources in itself is not a behavioral disorder in any case, but actually makes sense.

What are resources?

Resources that are defended by the dog can be objects as well as places or people that a dog defends against other individuals like fellow species or other people. Possible resources include:

  • ● lining
  • ● caregivers
  • ● Dog toys
  • ● Territory (apartment, garden, car, etc.)
  • ● Fellows (dog buddy)
  • ● berth
  • ● Burr holes
  • ● Treasures (pieces of wood, pine cones, etc.)
  • ● Sniffing points

Resource defense in dogs is not a behavioral disorder

Resource defense is neither a disrespectful behavior nor the dominance behavior of the dog towards humans. It is not always about ranking, but mostly simply about defending an important thing for the dog. Dogs are opportunists and simply want the best for themselves - this is not evil or unfriendly, but logical and normal for the four-legged friends.

What is particularly defended and what is less strong differs from dog to dog, as this depends, among other things, on the life history and preferences of the four-legged friend. The way in which resource defense is expressed can also be completely different - it is not necessarily aggressively defended. From barking, growling and nervous behavior to climbing and unfortunately biting, everything is possible.

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Training approaches with strong resource defense

If your dog defends resources very vehemently and may even bite, you should do something and steer the matter in a regulated manner. It is particularly important that you do not engage in fights with your four-legged friend or that you simply take everything away from him. This usually means that the defense of resources is strengthened or ends in frustration for your mustache, which can even seriously burden the friendship between humans and dogs. For example, how would you feel if your lunch or bed were taken away by force? Dog owners need to understand that defending resources has nothing to do with disrespect towards them, but simply learned behavior.

Better approaches can be found in training that targets the emotion that underpins resource defense. At best, the dog understands that it is worth giving up resources. At best, if you patiently and consistently encourage calm and friendly behavior, your dog will notice that it is okay or even good to share resources with others. For example, you can start by taking a beloved dog toy away from your sofa wolf for a while and replacing it directly with another one. It is important that your dog commands "Off!" understands. Give him an object for training and after a certain time say "Out!" - If your dog lets go of the object, reward him with praise or a treat. In this video, spending on the young dog Bubbles works very well:

Tip: Talk to a professional dog trainer who can give you helpful tips on controlling resource defense.

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