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Some dogs are very possessive of their food and toys.  It’s theirs and they do not want to share with anyone, including you!  When a dog is possessive of his food and toys, it is referred to as resource guarding.  This is a bad habit that needs to be stopped right away so that it doesn’t become worse.  There are several ways to stop your dog from resource guarding, we will discuss the 4 top ways. 

Food is very important to your dog.  He must realize, though, that he does not need to protect his food.  Sometimes we need to teach him this and sometimes dogs just seem to figure this out quickly on their own.  Either way, it is not acceptable or cute (even when they are baby puppies) when they are growly dogs and it needs to be stopped right away.

The Top Ways To Stop Your Dog From Resource Guarding

1. You Control The Food

The first lesson your dog needs to learn is that you control his food. Give him his dinner, allow him to eat for a few seconds, then take his bowl away from him. If he doesn’t show any signs of aggression as you remove the bowl, tell him that he’s a “good boy” and then give him back his bowl of food. Repeat this two or three times during each meal for a few days, then once or twice a week for a few weeks.

2. Stop The Behavior As Soon As You See It

Stop your dog from resource guarding.

Some dogs are never possessive with their food, but you may find if your dog came from a large litter, the only way he could obtain his share of the food was to threaten his brothers and sisters. Knowing that this worked on his litter mates, he may try it with you. If you don’t sort this out very early on, this possessiveness and growly dog behavior will transfer to other things, such as bones, toys, furniture and possibly even to other members of the family.

3. Hand Feed Your Dog

Stop your dog from resource guarding.

To stop him from guarding his food, don’t give him possession of it! By this I mean feed him by hand for a couple of weeks. Prepare his food in the bowl as usual but don’t put the bowl on the floor for him. Instead, feed him a handful at a time. The bowl of food on the floor almost instinctively makes him want to guard it, so if he is not put in this position of needing to guard, he will not bite!

The Complete Guide To Raising A Well Trained Dog

4. Make Your Dog Work For His Food

Feeding by hand also helps if your dog is dominant in other areas. It makes him completely reliant on you for the most important thing in his life, his food.  This will reinforce your position of pack leader, as he is only receiving the food from you and not from the bowl. You can also use this period of hand feeding to your benefit by making him work for his food. Get him to sit first before one handful, or to lie down for the next, and so on.  This will help strengthen your bond, teach him some obedience and help with the resource guarding!   A win win situation, for sure!

Feed your dog out of a bowl.

You will find that after a couple weeks of this regime, his general attitude over possessions will change. You can then try giving him his food in a bowl again. If there is no sign of aggression, continue to feed him normally.

For dogs that are food possessive, do not give them bones or toys, as they will attempt to guard these in the same way.  Once the food possession has been sorted out, you can try introducing a toy.  Make sure the dog understands that it is your toy, though, and he is only allowed to play with it with you. When you decide the game is to end, you must end up with the toy.

What Else Can You Do To Stop Your Dog’s Resource Guarding?

If you try these tips and your dog is still resource guarding, it’s time to seek out a professional.  Look for a dog behaviorist in your area.  Find a dog behaviorist that uses positive methods and who has dealt with resource guarding before.  

It is very important to stop resource guarding as soon as you see any signs of it.  Growly dog behavior should not be ignored.  The longer the behavior is allowed to happen, the harder it is to stop.  But with the correct training methods, the behavior can be managed or stopped.  

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