Resource Guarding of people

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


Barked: Tue Jan 15, '13 9:28pm PST 
My 3y/o cavalier seems to have taken to guarding me (or maybe the couch?) Twice now my dog has snarled and growle when my husband picked him up to make room for himself on the couch.

He does not do it if I move him and sit, and not every time. Also we always make him "ask" to get on the couch in the first place by sitting and then giving an ok command.

What is the best reaction for my husband and I to have if this happens? How do we prevent it?
~Emma~ RL1

Mixed breed,- Pure heart
Barked: Tue Jan 15, '13 10:18pm PST 
Hey Winston!

The last few foster dogs that I have had at my home have had some degree of resource guarding. Mostly, it was learning the trigger and changing the reaction.

For me it was teaching "touch", "back up", "give", or "trade ya".

Here is an article: Click Me for an article on Resource Guarding

Another one: Quick and Dirty Trips from the dog trainer

Finally: From the Whole Dog Journal

we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Wed Jan 16, '13 5:58am PST 
To add to Emma's great links, I would try having your DH approaching become a wonderful thing. Have him approach, give a few (small, high value) treats, then walk away. repeat till your pupper is looking forward to his approach. The gradually up the criteria. Approach, reach, treat, retreat. Appraoch, touch, treat, retreat. Split, don't lump. break it down into the smallest steps with which you dog feels comfortable, until he can appraoch, pick up and sit down himself.


Barked: Wed Jan 16, '13 7:34am PST 
Thanks for the thoughts! It's so strange since this just started happening, and he doesn't do it every time. I just want to nip it in the bud now. He doesn't really guard anything else...

Let's play tug!!
Barked: Wed Jan 16, '13 10:12am PST 
Totally agree with previous posters. I know it's really unpleasant the first time your dog does something like that. You're going, but wait, aren't you my little baby?! You snuggle in my lap, bring me your squeaky toys when I'm sad, and run in joyous circles when I get home. What the HECK is this?! But truthfully, little problems like this crop up with all dogs. If you don't panic about it and use some simple counterconditioning, and do a tiny bit of followup (you may only need to give treats 1 in 10 times, 8 weeks from now) you'll be amazed how quickly it resolves. I do a little happy dance when people ask for help right away, because it is just soooooooo much easier to change new behaviors. The problem is that a lot of people start yelling, using shock collars or other pain, do nothing and pray it stops happening by divine intervention, or have some crazy mixed reaction (they shove the dog off the couch, you know, unless they're feeling kind of needy that day, and then they cuddle and kiss the dog, and succeed in confusing the everloving heck out of it). Growling when being moved is a really common problem. It especially seems to happen with little dogs, where perhaps it wasn't bred out as rigorously because it isn't seen as so threatening from a 15-pound ball of fluff.

I'll throw in just a simple game of "find it". I really like this, because it creates a positive association while also distracting the dog until the unpleasant thing is over with. You can just keep a little container of tiny pieces of something delicious (slim jim works well, but there are other options with less junk in them) next to the couch, and when hubby approaches, scatter a few far and wide and cheerfully yell "find it!" This gets puppy off the couch with no histrionics and makes him see hubby's approach as a good thing.