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How much resource guarding should I allow from my dog?

Most dogs guard something, whether it’s food, a rawhide or a bed.

But should we let them?

There are a lot of articles on my blog about resource guarding and possessiveness and how to stop this behavior in dogs.

But aren’t there some situations where resource guarding is reasonable?

I think it depends on the dog, his personality and his relationship to people and to other pets.

I came up with this topic thanks to your thoughtful comments on my post, Should I correct my dog for growling?

We were all questioning what is and isn’t acceptable as far as “guarding” things like personal space when the dog is tired.

Ace the black Lab mix

For example:

– Is it reasonable for an older dog to growl when he’s eating and another dog tries to take his food?

– Is it OK for a dog to growl when she’s trying to sleep and the cat tries to steal her bed?

– What if a person is petting the dog and another dog comes over for attention, causing the first dog to growl?

I don’t have the answers, but I’m curious how the rest of you would handle these situations. (I’d say the first two are reasonable, not the third.)

Resource guarding between my own pets

I have a dog and two cats, and they are constantly “fighting” over beds, attention and who gets to sit where.

Usually my cat Beamer “wins” by taking what he wants from the other two. He’s actually kind of an asshole, but his behavior is often subtle enough that my husband and I don’t notice.

And my other pets just go along with it.

But every now and then Ace the dog will stand up to Beamer the cat and growl.

And isn’t it justified?

Ace is not really being “possessive” in this scenario. He’s standing up for himself. (So maybe the question is how much bullying to allow from your pets? I don’t know.)

[quote_right]Ace is not really being “possessive” in this scenario. He’s standing up for himself.[/quote_right]I mean, let’s say you’re a dog and you’re trying to sleep on your own dog bed. And then this cat comes over and tries to take your bed even though there are two empty beds available.

Isn’t a growl reasonable? And if he persists, maybe even a snarl?

This scenario happens pretty often at our house, and I don’t know how to respond.

I mostly let my pets work it out, which of course is not a safe option if your pets might get into a real fight and harm one another.

My three have lived together for 8 years, and they pretty much know how to deal with one another.

Here’s how it usually goes down:

Cats stealing bed from dog

Ace small bed

Beamer large bed

Where I draw the line – guarding items from humans

One thing is clear to me.

Dogs should not be allowed to guard food, toys or space from people.

I’m not saying it’s easy to break a dog’s possessiveness of food or anything else. It’s hard.

But I do think it should be a goal, and if the habit can’t be broken then it at least needs to be managed so no one gets hurt.

I’ve written several posts on stopping a dog’s possessiveness if anyone needs some ideas. They’re all located under one category here.

But now I want to hear from you.

How much resource guarding do you allow between your pets?

Leave a comment and let me know!

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