All mine!? Quite a few dogs tend to defend their resources, but why do dogs do this? What can you do about resource defense? This topic often creates major conflict situations in everyday life, so it’s worth to look at it.
What are resources?
In principle, everything that is important to your dog. What exactly this is can be different for each dog.
Popular resources are for example: Food, bowls, toys, places to lie down, social partners (people, other animals), home, garden, watering holes, car and everything that is important to the dog at the moment.
What does resource defense mean?
Resources are defended to satisfy needs. Resource defense is about defending resources that are important to the dog or access to them. This is to prevent us humans or conspecifics from taking them away from him. Therefore, resource defense is to a certain extent quite normal and also, biologically seen, useful.
The dog is neither dominant, nor disrespectful or anything else, he simply defends things that have a meaning for him. This behavior begins to develop from about the fifth month of life until adulthood.
What does resource defense look like?
To secure the resource your dog can simply carry it away or eat it quickly. This would be resource protection.
In resource defense, dogs often stand over the object that is being defended, lower their head and tense up. Calming signals can also be observed, which can change into vocalizations and threatening signals when “danger” is imminent, e.g. when we approach further.
As a rule, this behavior is shown when a resource is present and another individual approaches. Thus, the individual distance is undercut and the dog feels compelled to act. In which radius is defended is thereby individual.
How does resource defense arise?
To some degree, this is an innate and natural behavior. But in some cases, dogs learn that they need to defend their resources more. This is often the case when we simply take things away from them. As a result, many dogs develop strategies to prevent this “theft” from happening again.
Common “tips” to take the food bowl away from the dog are completely counterproductive and encourage resource defense. As a result, the dog begins to avoid the human, to classify him as unpredictable, to run away with his prey or even to become food-aggressive.
What to do in case of resource defense?
The best way to prevent it is to make sure your dog doesn’t see you as a risk and learns to share with you. What can you do to make your dog more relaxed?
Attention: in case of existing resource defense, please talk to a qualified dog trainer, so that you don’t get in danger and your dog can learn stress-free that it is worthwhile to share.
– since resource shortages encourage resource defense, it makes sense to provide enough. If your dog has only one toy, which he gets only once in a while, it will become especially valuable to him. On the other hand, if he has ten toys and three of them are always available, the toy probably won’t seem quite too valuable to him.
– practice swapping! Your dog never just gets something taken away. He learns to swap, that is, to give you something and receive something better or at least of equal value in return.
– only good things come from you. So for example, you can give your dog, who is eating, something super tasty. Be careful to do this exercise only once in a while, because your dog has the right to eat in peace.
– approach is always positive. Your dog learns that it is nice when you come. You achieve this by rewarding him, having fun with him, playing or even cuddling with him. It is important to pay attention to your dog’s body language and to take it seriously. If your dog does not want physical contact, leave him alone. So he learns to trust you.
– Relaxation despite the presence of a resource. The more tense your dog is, the faster he reacts. Therefore, it is important to avoid stress and practice relaxation.
Defending resources is a natural behavior, but it can sometimes lead to problems when living together. So pay attention to whether your dog defends resources and practice with him to give things away. Sharing instead of defending is the new motto.