After Sunday’s scuffle* between Rainer and Pyrrha over a toy, I’ve been refreshing my memory on resource guarding and associated training tips.
BEHAVIOR UPDATE: As of today, Rainer/Pyrrha relations are going quite smoothly. An interesting observation is that they continue to get along perfectly outside in the yard; they play like they’re best friends (chase, lots of play bows, happy and goofy faces). Indoors, they are still a little nervous with each other, but I think this has to do with the tight quarters.
For those who may find themselves in a similar position with their dog(s), here are some great web resources on this common canine behavior:
- Resource guarding: Thorough, clear blog article with easy-to-follow guidelines and behaviors to teach and implement in the home. (Ahimsa Dog Training)
- How to React When Your Dog Begins Resource Guarding Against Other Dogs: Pat Miller wrote this very in-depth piece, specific to Rainer’s issues (he only guards stuff from Pyrrha). Very helpful! (Whole Dog Journal)
- How to Prevent Resource Guarding in a Multiple-Dog Household: This article, posted on Karen Pryor’s site, also has great tips. (Karen Pryor Clicker Training)
- Creating a Resource Guarding Issue: Trainer Nicole Wilde makes a good point about how people can create possessiveness issues by taking away bones, toys just for the sake of it. (Wilde about Dogs)
There are, of course, many other blog posts and articles written about this behavioral issue, as it is a pretty normal, natural canine quality. But it obviously gets dogs into trouble when they start lashing out at people, children, and their fellow dogs.
I think both Rainer and Pyrrha are at fault here. Rainer takes possession of too many things, but Pyrrha also doesn’t know how or when to back down. Instead of taking a hard stare from Rainer as a cue to get lost, Pyrrha sees it as a challenge. From Pat Miller’s article, this is exactly what’s been happening in our house:
Now We’re in Trouble, Part II: Dog B [Pyrrha] is socially inept – Dog A [Rainer] is chewing on (insert valuable resource). Dog B approaches. Dog A gives “the look.” Dog B is oblivious, and keeps blundering forward, until Dog A feels compelled to escalate the intensity of his message, to aggression if necessary, to get his point across.
This clearly makes for a messy domestic atmosphere! We are taking all of these tips to heart and working on this behavior every day in our house.
Have you had to deal with resource guarding among your dogs? What tips or techniques helped you?
(*Thanks to Carolyn for properly identifying the altercation as a “scuffle” instead of what I initially termed it, a dog fight.)