Basenji Companions

Devoted to Basenjis as Pets

Resource Guarding

By Cheryl Silver, Texas

Dogs will guard things, places, people, food — you name it. Whatever it is, some dog will find a way to make an issue out of it.

One of the most common things to happen when a new dog comes into the household is guarding of the people/person that the dogs feel is in charge of things. The original dog/s may start guarding family members and/or the new dog might latch onto people in the household and “guard” them.

This is what the scenario looks like:

The dog who is guarding will put himself close to the person, and when another dog approaches, the guarding dog will snarl, snark, maybe mohawk or something similarly “tacky.” The dog is sending the message,”This powerful person is MINE! Back off, buddy.”

Or, the new dog may be standing close to you, and one of the original dogs will approach with the clear message that they are not happy with the new dog standing so close to you.

In either situation, the wisest thing you can do is refuse to be treated like an object that any dog can claim. You do this by turning and walking away from all dogs calmly, without saying a single word. Do this the instant you see any hint of “tackiness.” This could be just at the sight of a mohawk or a change in posture of either dog.

This can get pretty exhausting, moving away from the dogs, because you need to do it if you are sitting down, too. That means you will find yourself getting up all the time and moving. I find that when this kind of nonsense is going on that sitting at the dining room table works the best for me.

Eventually the dogs will figure out that their “tackiness” gets them absolutely no attention from you at all — and there is no payoff.

At some point you may notice that there is a change in attitude. A dog will be near you and another approaches and they manage to remain civil. Yippee — but, don’t get too excited or effusive in your behavior. Just tell them calmly, with a pleasant expression, “What good dogs, that’s nice,……good dogs”(or something else pleasant). Then calmly remove yourself and recognize that you have just witnessed the beginning of civil behavior between the dogs.

You all have probably been in situations where two dogs that you know to be constantly tacky to each other in your presence, have somehow managed to be together in a yard or in a room without anyone there, and they had no problems. What probably happened is that the issue of being the number one with respect you wasn’t an issue because you weren’t there.

You likely have seen that a new dog will stick to you like glue…. That is pretty common behavior, but don’t get sucked into doing too much lovey, dovey stuff with the new dog. While the dog may be developing an attachment to you, he may actually just be holding onto anything for security and you are his security blanket of the moment. If you reinforce this clinginess by going overboard with attention, the dog will come to feel that he is dependent on you for security, and that is one way that people inadvertently create separation anxiety in their dogs.

Right from the beginning, I urge you to go about your business without petting and hugging and acknowledging the dog every time you turn around. Also, start leaving the house on a daily basis so the dog learns that people come and go and it isn’t the end of the world.

These are pretty critical issues and can help avoid lots of future conflicts both the short- and the long-run.

Copyright © 2013 by Cheryl Silver.
All rights reserved.

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This entry was posted on March 3, 2013 by in Tips and Training and tagged , , , , .
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