What is Resource guarding?
When dogs behave aggressively when in possession of things – like food, toys, owners, crates, couches – it is called as resource guarding.
Is Resource guarding an abnormal behaviour?
The simple answer here is – No. Resource guarding is an adaptive trait in dogs, which has given them an advantage in survival and reproduction over the non-guarders since the time they had to fend for themselves in the wild. Also, if your dogs were resource guarders, and tomorrow they had to fend for themselves for some reason, Resource guarding would be a very valuable trait in them. This is a very natural behaviour for your dog. If we really think about it, humans have survived and progressed because they are one of the biggest resource guarders. However, since dogs are held to such high standards when they live with humans that this behaviour is not acceptable anymore.
Is resource guarding a dominant behaviour?
Not necessarily. It has been speculated at times if resource guarding was a result of dominance in dogs. However, it was also seen that eventually, a resource guarder responds well to a well planned desensitization and counterconditioning techniques. In these techniques, we do not “show the dog, who is the boss”. Instead we carefully make a plan to desensitize the dog to having people and things touching his valuable resources and getting a good outcome out of it. Although it takes a while to use these techniques, when done correctly, the dog will eventually stop guarding his resources. Also, there are so many resource guarders who are seen with other non-dominant behaviour traits – lack of confidence, tucking the tail between the hind legs, submissive urination, fearfulness. It may be fair to conclude that resource guarding is not always a dominant behavioural trait. It can be said to be more of an adaptive trait than anything else.