Sunday, September 16, 2012

Resource Guarding-What NOT to do, what you can do

A study by the ASPCA found that food bowl guarding is one of the most common reasons why dogs are put to sleep at shelters.  A more recent ASPCA study found that food guarding can be easy to modify when humans use safe, behavior modification techniques that teach the dog to respond calmly and happily instead of displaying guarding behaviors.

Of course the easiest solution for food guarding is prevention.  Jenn and Eric taught me as a puppy that humans being around my food bowl was a good thing so even now that I'm grown up I don't guard food.   And Jet did some more intense food guarding when she was a puppy and Jenn taught her that humans can be trusted and it was OK to let them near your food bowl.  

But lots of puppies don't get those lessons and they develop food bowl guarding behaviors that can become dangerous if they aren't handled properly.  Here's what you SHOULDN'T EVER IN A MILLION YEARS DO WITH A DOG THAT GUARDS, never make it a physical confrontation. This video is slowed down and captioned so you can get a sense of what the dog was trying to communicate and how the trainer did not read her signals:
Nothing this guy did helped resolve the problem, it only made it worse.   Let's see, where do I start with everything he did wrong.  First off, he didn't take the time to establish trust with the dog, or to teach her that she had other options.  He threatened her, bullied her, punched her in the neck, and escalated the situation for the cameras.  Oh, and then he kicked her. What a jerk!  So now instead of having a dog that resource guards, you have a dog that has learned that humans can't be trusted and bites without giving the signals that this human didn't bother to read. There's no "winner" here.    Please do not do this to your dog!
The bottom line here is all this drama and violence are so unnecessary.  Helping a dog with guarding behaviors should not be a "showdown" or "winning."  Truly helping a dog with food guarding should be using non-confrontational techniques that help the dog to become less defensive and more trusting of humans around food.  Why wouldn't you just use a proven, safe, and effective method for changing a dog's guarding behavior where no one gets hurt?  I guess that doesn't make for dramatic TV.  Always, always set the dog up for success, not failure. 

Here are some proven options from positive pet professionals on how to safely work with a dog that guards food:
  • Food Guarding from ASPCA
  • The behavior modification program suggested by the ASPCA involves rewarding the dog with something really yummy when a human approaches the bowl:
It goes without saying that if you are concerned about your dog's food guarding you should contact a positive dog training professional who can properly access your dog's issues and help you resolve them safely, especially if the behavior is escalating or if a bite has already happened.  Don't take chances, get help for your dog.  You can use this guide from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers to help find the right trainer for your dog. 

And be sure to ask what type of methods any trainer uses before allowing them to work with your dog.  If they claim to be positive, but use choke, prong, or shock collars or use force or intimidation, then find another trainer that does not resort to these tools/methods. 

1 comment:

Niamh said...

Good post Royal! We are very comfortable with people around our food bowl because Barbara always practiced giving us extra special cookies when she came near while we were eating. We were horrified watching that man intimidate and corner that poor dog until she could do nothing but bite him. All in the name of being submissivie. UGH!

Your friends,
Niamh & Ambrose