When Ted resource guards, is it associated with arousal and stress?

Published by Theo Stewart on

Ted picks up an item, parades and resource guards it, not because he wants it. I believe he uses the item to have some kind of control.

He uses it to entice the lady or the gentleman to get it off him.

The young Cocker Spaniel never resource guards an item that he’s not picked up for this sole purpose. It’s not all the time.

Ted has bitten them four times.

On all but one occasion he has ‘set them up’ by taking and then flaunting an item. The behaviour started a few months ago. There are common denominators

Each time he resource guards it’s been shortly after his walk – late morning.

Each time he has been particularly stressed or over-aroused.

Each time it’s been after a training session.

Ted resource guards.

I sense that he resource guards as a kind of diversionary, displacement activity when things get too much for him.

Ted is a sensitive dog, made uneasy by traffic; he can be reactive to people and other dogs he meets when out on his walks.

To help change his ‘need’ to resource guard, they should work on what I perceive too be the root causes.

The first is by doing all they can to reduce Ted’s arousal levels, particularly around his walks.

The second is by controlling him less and giving him more control over himself. More choice.

Different kind of walks

He resource guards mostly after walks. What can they do about that?

Walks for now can be a lot more casual, even sometimes giving Ted the choice of where to go . For now I would cut right down on the training sessions and just let him do his own thing.

The lady has worked very hard with training him and all her efforts won’t be lost. Contrary to what is commonly believed, one can simply do too much. She can try less training and giving him more freedom of choice.

He resource guards in the hallway

Ted also resource guards a particular space – a place in their hallway. At one time his bed had been there, until they moved it.

This is the thoroughfare between the front door, living room, cloakroom and stairs.

If he’s in a ‘certain mood’, as someone enters the hallway he may suddenly rush at them, barking aggressively.

This ‘certain mood’ where he resource guards the hall will also be as a result of stress.

Unwinding

I am pretty certain that when he’s kept calmer these occasions will diminish. It may need very little more than just changing his walks and giving him more ‘unwinding’ activities.

Meanwhile, every time he’s in the hall they can call him to them before entering – and not only on those occasions when he’s barking aggressively as they approach him.

They will reward him for coming to them. Then they will be able to walk into the hall space without upsetting him. Over time they will break the habit. He will feel differently when they enter the hallway.

It’s possible the behaviour will resurface from time to time if Ted is particularly aroused. In future if he resource guards they will know what to do about it.

The key is: less control, less arousal, more choice.

Ten days later: “We are so pleased we found Theo as we are amazed with the difference we can see in our little Ted already, although we still have a lot of work to do.  She has given us an insight into how he is feeling and what causes him stress but equally importantly she has given us sound coping strategies and advice to help us to help Ted be a happy, balanced dog. “

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help

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