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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our doberman girl just turned 3 years old and she has gone through a couple of stages of resource guarding.

It started with not bringing back or dropping a ball. We would offer treats in return but she would soon decide that wasn't worth it. She runs away and when we do catch her, she will look at us from the corner of her eye and become very stiff. First stage of resource guarding.

We have been able to fix that by giving her a ball to carry around on long hikes. She found out that carrying the ball meant she can't sniff and play with other dogs and that dropping it wouldn't be the worst.

She has always been very obsessed with socks, blankets, towels, .. and will carry them around and sleep with them. She developed some resource guarding over fabrics and would growl and snap her teeth at you.
We let her have a blanket to sleep with in her crate but as soon as she comes out she will want to chew little pieces of and swallow them.

Anything we take from her, we trade. She will be chewing, I'll mention a high value treat, she will drop whatever she is doing and run to her bed. I'll take the item away and then return to give her the treat. This works really well for us but now she developed a new stage of resource guarding.

She will look at something and decide that its hers and will start resource guarding. For example, a laundry basket will folded covered laundry in the corner, dryer balls on a table or a floor towel in the kitchen.

We have been really good at keeping her environment clear of temptations but uncontrolled environments like my in-laws home is difficult. She will sneak in the laundry room and try to find something.

Does anybody have any other tips that you can give to train resource guarding without actually using the item she is guarding in the training. She has swallowed fabrics before, sometimes big enough to go to the emergency room.

Also, we would like some feedback on how to de-escalate once your dog starts growling and snapping at you. Should we de-escalate or should we scare her back with a loud noise?

We have only done positive reinforcement training so far because that has worked well, but we don't want her to take advantage or learn that growling will get her her way.

Any feedback will be appreciated!

Note. We have met with a professional trainer but haven't seen many results because we can't show her exactly what happens. She has given us the same feedback as with the resource training of the ball, etc.

· Super Moderator
3,894 Posts
I think you should seek the help of a veterinary behaviorist or perhaps someone who specializes in this sort of behavior. You're doing a good job playing the trade game when she starts guarding things, but it's difficult to keep this up when she decides things as simple as towels on the floor are worthy of being guarded. These are seemingly low value objects....so why does she feel the need to guard them?

A professional trainer is certainly a good step, but sometimes you need to step it up and find someone who specializes in this sort of behavior.

If your dog is growling and snapping, I would not try to scare her. It will likely make the problem worse because she will fear there is even more reason to guard her prize. Keep playing the trade game, and put whatever she was guarding away so she can't do it again.

It sounds like you're already trying, but keeping objects she likes to guard picked up and put away may help, too. Make areas like the laundry room where many fabric things often reside off-limits by closing the door or using baby gates. Block the kitchen with baby gates. If you go to someone else's house, tether her to you or keep her crated so she can't sneak off and find something to guard. Manage her space and allow her as little opportunity as possible to guard.

· Registered
7,415 Posts
What do you mean when you say you can't show the trainer "exactly what happens"? I would understand that a trainer would want to keep your dog under threshold and work at a level where your dog is not pushed to display guarding behavior. But it sounds like there is something missing in communication or skill if you feel like the training is not addressing your problem.
It sounds like you are on a good track with the trading exercises. However, it also sounds like you could use some general training to prevent guarding situations. If she is guarding the laundry basket, developing skills like 'come' or 'leave it' can help diffuse the situation. More management can also be beneficial. If your dog has a tendency to sneak off and eat things that can harm her, perhaps focus on not letting her sneak off - keep the leash on, gate her to a portion of the house, etc.
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