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Mine, Mine Mine - Resource Guarding

If you notice that your dog is starting to protect his resting place, food bowls, or high-value chews and toys, he is starting to do what animal behaviourists call “resource guarding.”

What is Resource Guarding?

Resource guarding is when a dog reacts when they perceive a threat to a valuable resource in their possession. The dog feels they are about to lose something and takes action to keep it.



We all guard resources, that’s why humans live in houses and lock the doors. We don’t let others take our belongings. Access to resources like food, water, and a safe space is essential to survival. It's an animal nature to protect the things we believe we need to survive.

WHEN it becomes alarming?

Though guard resources is natural for dogs, it becomes alarming if he manifest aggression in order to protect the things he thought as "valuable".

What TRIGGERS guarding resources for dogs?

Food Aggression

Food and Treats

Food Bowl (filled with food or empty)

Bones and Edible Dog Chews

Non-Food Aggression


Stolen "contraband" (tissues, socks or laundry items, shoes)

Space (dog bed, crate, their position on the couch or bed, their feeding area)

Their owner (from other pets in the home or even from other people)

TIPS to prevent resource guarding from developing.

1. Trade up

Life is about give and take. During puppy playtime, occasionally ask your puppy to, “Leave.” Take the toy away for a few seconds. Then give it back and praise the puppy. When you are teaching this skill, you can exchange one chew toy for another, or exchange a toy for a treat. In the beginning, as soon as the puppy releases the item and “Leaves” as you say the word, give the puppy a treat.

2. Don’t let food become an issue.

With a puppy, you can start early by handling the food dish and adding something to it so that your puppy learns good things come from you. If you’ve adopted a shelter or rescue puppy, know that prior to being rescued, these dogs may have been in a situation where they had to guard their food if they wanted to eat. You might need a behavior plan to address food guarding.

3. Hand-feeding

A great side-effect of force-free training is that it pairs your hand with receiving yummy food.

(Not thinking your hand is yummy food!)

4. Food Bowls

For puppies or dogs who do not already guard bowls: Sit on the couch with your dog on one side and her bowl full of food on the other side. Hand feed your puppy or dog, piece by piece, from the bowl.

Start with an empty food bowl. Walk by and drop one piece of food into the bowl as you pass to begin the process. This is how your dog will come to trust people coming near your dog’s food bowl. Then, put some food in the bowl, and as your dog is eating, walk by and drop a higher value bit of food into your dog’s bowl. For example, if your dog is eating kibble, walk by and drop a piece of chicken into the bowl. We want to make your approach something your dog finds not only non-threatening, but very positive. Slowly and carefully pair your hand reaching toward the food bowl to deliver food, and never let your dog associate your hand with taking away of a valuable item or food bowl.


They are funny, but seems true.

1. If I like it, it’s mine.

2. If you have something and put it down, that makes it mine.

3. If it’s in my mouth, it’s mine – please don’t forget that.

4. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.

5. If it looks remotely like mine, it’s mine.

6. If I saw it first…or last, it’s mine.

7. If I had it a while ago, it’s mine.

8. If I chew something up, all the pieces are mine.

9. If I don’t want it, it’s yours…unless,

10. I want it back, then it’s mine!

Reference: Do No Harm Dog TrainingTM and Behavior Manual by Linda Michaels

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