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My Dog Won’t Share!.. Resource Guarding in Dogs.

Resource Guarding in Dogs is relatively common, particularly among dogs who have grown up with many other pets in the family. They may be used to guard their food simply because it was the only way to get anything to eat in the past.  On the other hand, this is a genuine medical condition that can develop in later life and often results from some bad experience. Worryingly, resource guarding can be a symptom of a deeper issue, so your vet should always check it.

And while this may…

Seem like a strange behavior when considered from a human point of view; from a dog’s perception, it is simply securing the future of its food source. It can be characterized by growling and aggression when others go near its food bowl and is a massive problem if you have children in the house.  For this reason, we here at IndulgeYourPet wanted to take a closer look at this abnormal behavior and find out what it is, why it happens, and what we can do about it… because it is treatable and doesn’t need to be this way.

So, what is “resource guarding,” and where it comes from?

Resource Guarding doesn’t just have to be about the food bowl. Some dogs will guard them:

  • toys,
  • treats,
  • bowls,
  • a “favorite” bone

Or even their favorite blanket or “spot” on the couch!


When you get right down to it, the “what” a dog decides to “guard” can be just about anything that they see as a helpful resource that belongs to them.  The problem is that guarding resources is accompanied by aggressive behavior and growling, and the dog is liable to snap at those who get too close.

The resource most…

Commonly guarded is the food bowl. In this case, the guarder is afraid that other dogs will eat their food – not that uncommon if there are other dogs in the house and a natural, genuine concern for your dog. The guarder will often display increased aggression. The closer you get to the bowl, the dog’s body language will change. Their ears will flatten, and they will lower its head but point their chin, indicating that they might be ready to bite you.

It’s important to understand that…

This behavior is learned from puppy age, and the aggressive growls are an emotional response, indicating that, at some point when your dog was a puppy, other dogs were stealing its share and leaving it hungry. Your dog is displaying these symptoms because it fears being hungry again. Don’t worry; there are plenty of ways to fix this with dog training and a little time.

Clinical signs

Of this condition are the dog growling or displaying aggressive behavior when you take any of these resources away from it or even when you get too close to the dog while it is eating.  Luckily this condition is reversible, and there is something that can be done about it with behavior modification training and an expert trainer. So, don’t give up hope just yet!

Commonly Affected Breeds

Any dog can develop this condition at any point in their lives. However, the state is frequently associated with certain breed types, such as guard dogs, working dogs, and any dog who has previously been a stray. You commonly find treats or food items stashed around your house if your dog suffers from this problem since it is stockpiling food against future starvation.

The Cocker Spaniel in…

Particular has been associated with this condition, and a semi-endearing term of “Cocker Rage” has been attributed to them. It is important to remember that it doesn’t have to be this way, and while you might find it amusing at first, it is only a matter of time before someone unprepared gets bitten.  It should also be noted that your dog might develop this condition over time if it lives with another pet that frequently steals its food. Remember that it is natural, although unacceptable, and focus on training.

Treatment Options

A short-term solution to this problem is to feed your animals separately. Also, could you replace kibble with meat temporarily until training has taken effect? While kibble is left in the bowl all day, meat tends to be scoffed, negating food for the dog to guard.

Long term…

Your veterinary surgeon will recommend a strict training regime. You can do many little things to help negate bad behavior. You can use treats to teach your dog that it will not starve.  Usually, a dog with this issue won’t eat out of your hand. If you can persistently hold onto the treat while they eat it, they will eventually get the message. It would be best if you also tried to pet them while they eat to reassure them that the food belongs to them. Never take their food away until finished, as this will only worsen the problem.

Over time…

It is possible to stop your dog from being a guard. With time, effort, and various items like treats and toys, you can eventually convince them that they won’t starve. Do invest in a professional trainer, to begin with, and they will show you other things you can do to ease up your dog’s paranoia.

This brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals.  We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.  This is why if you feel like your pet may have an issue guarding their “resources” (or any other health issue), you will want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!


An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!  And while this condition may not be life-threatening, it can become quite expensive, particularly if it becomes recurring.  This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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