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  • April Schrader, CPDT-KA

Managing Resource Guarding Between Dogs

Updated: Apr 22

Having multiple dogs in a household can bring joy and companionship, but it can also present challenges, especially when resource guarding behaviors arise. Resource guarding occurs when dogs display possessive behavior over items such as food, toys, or even attention from their humans. This behavior can lead to tension and conflicts between dogs if left unaddressed. However, with the right approach and guidance, it is possible to alleviate resource guarding and foster a peaceful coexistence between your furry friends.

In this blog, we will guide you through a valuable exercise that aims to address resource guarding behavior while simultaneously enhancing the bond between your dogs. By following the steps outlined in this process, you can work towards a harmonious relationship where both dogs feel comfortable and secure in their environment. So let's dive in and discover effective strategies to overcome resource guarding challenges and create a positive atmosphere both of your furry companions.

Materials Needed to Get Started:

  • Two lick mats

  • Peanut butter or other suitable spread

  • High-value treats

  • Leashes and collars/harnesses for both dogs

  • Verbal markers (e.g., "yes" and "good") Each dog should have their own word marker

Preparing for the Resource Guarding Exercise:

  • Prepare your lick mats first by spreading a some peanut butter or any dog safe spread that your dogs enjoy

  • Attach one dog to a secure anchor point using a leash and collar/harness.

  • Repeat the same process with the other dog, ensuring they are both within view of each other but cannot physically reach each other.

  • Give each dog their lick mat, make sure there is no tension on their leashes. Your dog shouldn't have to reach for the lick mat it should be right in front of them.

Introduction and Marking:

  • Allow your dogs time to begin licking the lick mat

  • Once they are enjoying their treat you will have one person designated for each dog. Person A will work with Dog A, and Person B will work with Dog B. Each time you do this exercise alternate who works with each dog.

  • Person A will approach Dog A, say "yep" (verbal marker), and then toss a high-value treat onto Dog A's lick mat then walks away

  • Simultaneously, Person B approaches Dog B, says "good" (verbal marker), and tosses treats onto Dog B's lick mat then walks away

Reinforcing Positive Associations:

  • We use a verbal marker to indicate to your dog the desired behavior which is remaining calm and licking the mat

  • Your goal is to encourage both dogs to enjoy their lick mats calmly and without feeling the need to guard or compete for resources.

Gradual Proximity:

  • Over time, gradually decrease the distance between the dogs, always monitoring their comfort levels.

  • It is essential to ensure that the dogs are never able to reach each other all the way or access each other's treats.

  • The goal is to create an environment where they are comfortable being around each other when resources are present, but that does not mean we expect or should expect them to share. This is an unrealistic expectation, dogs do not like to share!

  • If any signs of tension or resource guarding behavior arise do not punish or correct the behavior instead increase the distance again and continue at a level where both dogs are successful.

Patience and Progression:

  • Progress at a pace that suits both dogs' comfort levels. Take your time and be patient.

  • Consistently reward desired behavior and maintain a positive and calm environment during the exercise.

Professional Assistance:

  • If your dog(s) resource guarding is severe or they have a bite history of any kind we always recommend consulting with a certified professional dog trainer or behaviorist for guidance and support tailored to your specific situation.

Addressing resource guarding behavior between dogs requires a systematic approach that focuses on positive associations and gradual exposure. By following the steps outlined in this blog, you can help your dogs develop a healthier relationship and reduce resource guarding tendencies. Remember to prioritize safety, be patient, and seek professional assistance if needed. If you have any further questions or need personalized guidance, feel free to reach out to our experienced team. You can contact us at 301-231-1907 or send an email to We're here to support you and your dogs on the journey to a harmonious and happy relationship.

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