Only a short while ago kids were taught to respect a dogs space when chewing a bone. Somewhere along the line ideology changed; we decided to interject ourselves into their chill time. A chomping session and really getting into that activity yields a much different reaction to being rudely interrupted.
Your dog is not learning to give things freely-your dog is learning you’re an jerk!
Imagine you stop off for your favourite coffee before work. A higher end “treat” coffee. Your co-worker arrives with some gas station coffee-declares it’s the same thing and swaps it out. Depending on the person the reaction could be anything from a shocked freeze, to downright aggressive. The next morning your special coffee is suddenly hidden, or guarded from the approaching coworker who might steal your good stuff!
So what’s the trick? How do you help a dog with guarding but ensure in the event of an emergency-it won’t be a fight to retrieve an item?
The start is as simple as giving them extra good stuff for nothing in return. Tossing a small piece of hotdog down within easy reach as they enjoy their tasty bone. Or standing near (keeping threshold in mind) the dish, feeding a meal in small portions-so you can keep topping it up.
How does this fix guarding a bone?
Let’s head back into the office with our coffee. Here comes our co-worker…with two fancy cups. As they pass your desk they put a coffee down and carry on!
The next morning when they walk in; I bet you’ll be quite happy to say “Good Morning”
When you add more good stuff to the situation you increase the value of your overall presence.
Next time your dog gives out a warning or tries to hide something-ask yourself what you want to teach your dog.
**I highly recommend consulting with a science based, force free trainer to help you navigate behaviours. While the science is the same-different dogs sometimes require different strategies**