What is Resource Guarding?

“Resource guarding” is shown when a dog or cat behaves in a way to prevent others from getting close to or taking something. They might guard things from people, other pets, or both. The behaviors can be obvious, like lunging, growling, biting, or carrying something away. They can also be more subtle, like placing their body between you and the object, or making hard eye contact while staying still. Resource guarding is a normal behavior that we see in lots of species (including humans!). Sometimes, the intensity or frequency of guarding is high enough that it puts people and/or pets at risk of being aggressed at, hurt, or stressed.

What Might Be Causing It?

So many factors can contribute to this behavior! Your pet’s genetics, early experience, and the way your family interacts with them around resources, can all play a role. The most common motivations for resource guarding are fear and frustration.

What Does a Behavior Plan for Resource Guarding Look Like?

  1. Manage your dog’s world to prevent or reduce practice of the unwanted behavior. Here’s Management for Resource Guarding from Humans and here’s Management for Resource Guarding from Other Pets
  2. Teach your dog their Training and Behavior Games (Like Come and Go to Your Spot) with no triggers present. Most dogs need 2 to 3 weeks of practice doing these without triggers before we go to the next step.
  3. Practice Set Ups for Success around your dog’s triggers, for resource guarding from humans. You’ll be using your Management and Behavior Games, which is why you both need to get good at them first, before doing them around triggers. OR, practice Set Ups for Success with your multiple pets together as instructed by your consultant.

While you’re training, it’s also important to:

  • Address any health concerns that might be affecting your dog’s behaviors.
  • Talk to your vet about behavior medications or supplements if you think that your dog might benefit from these.
  • Meet your dogs’ daily needs through enrichment and exercise.
  • Remember, your dog needs to go to Middle and High School before he can do College level work. (Check out our short article on Training Steps!)


What Does Success Look Like?

Clear improvement in your dog or cat’s resource guarding, and way less stress for you both! This can mean:

  • Your pet is able to be around their triggers and stay calm much more often. (Reactions become the exception, rather than the usual!)
  • Others can get noticeably closer to their triggers without a negative reaction.
  • Your pet recovers faster and easier after they guard.
  • You feel more confident about reading your pet’s body language and what to do when things go right, as well as how to help when it’s too much for them.

If you haven’t already, please check out these two short articles that can help you better understand what to expect:

Behavior Program Expectations

How much will my dog improve?


What Do I Need to Do?

We’ll give you the tools and know-how to help your dog. Your role for your dog is:
  1. To carry out the behavior plan. While we wish we could wave a magic wand and help your dog just within our sessions, behavior change takes time and practice. Your dog’s behaviors won’t change unless your behaviors do. And they won’t be consistent unless you are. We’ll help you find ways to maximize your success and fit training into your lifestyle.
  2. To let us know if you have questions, concerns, or struggles. We want more joy and less stress for both you and your dog! Email us so we can help you both out ASAP 🙂 Timely, honest communication helps us do our best for you.
We’re here to help you succeed, and we’re always rooting for you and your dog!