How To Stop A Dog From Resource Guarding A Person: Our guide on resolving resource guarding in dogs directed towards people. Resource guarding is a natural instinct in canines, but it can become problematic if it leads to aggressive behavior towards loved ones. Understanding and addressing this behavior is crucial for creating a safe and harmonious environment for both the dog and the people involved.

Resource guarding occurs when a dog perceives a person as a valuable resource to be protected. This could manifest in growling, snapping, or even biting when someone approaches the person the dog is guarding. Fortunately, with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, this behavior can be managed and modified.

We’ll explore effective techniques to stop a dog from resource guarding a person. We’ll cover the importance of recognizing early warning signs, building trust and respect through training, implementing desensitization exercises, and promoting positive associations with human interaction.

By following these expert tips and understanding your dog’s unique triggers, you can create a stronger bond and a safer environment for everyone involved, promoting a happier and more peaceful coexistence. Let’s get started on this transformative journey together.

How To Stop A Dog From Resource Guarding A Person

How do I stop my dog resource guarding me?

Stop resource guarding before it starts

To start, you will need some treats. The trick is to teach your dog that a person approaching is a positive thing. As your dog is finishing a meal, approach close to where they are eating, drop some treats near to their food bowl and calmly move away.

To stop your dog from resource guarding you, it’s essential to address the behavior through a combination of training, positive reinforcement, and creating a safe environment. Here are steps you can take:

Recognize Triggers: Identify situations or people that trigger the resource guarding behavior. Understanding the specific triggers will help you be more proactive in addressing the issue.

Avoid Punishment: Refrain from using punishment or force, as this can escalate the guarding behavior and erode trust between you and your dog.

Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement training to teach your dog alternative behaviors. Reward calm and non-guarding responses with treats, praise, and affection.

“Leave It” Command: Train your dog to respond to a solid “leave it” command. This helps redirect their focus and encourages them to let go of possessive tendencies.

Controlled Socialization: Gradually expose your dog to different people in controlled settings, rewarding them for calm and relaxed behavior around others.

Enrichment Activities: Engage your dog in mentally stimulating activities and provide interactive toys to prevent boredom, which can contribute to resource guarding.

Seek Professional Help: If the guarding behavior is severe or persists despite your efforts, consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide personalized guidance and training techniques.

Why do dogs resource guard humans?

Your dog may be possessive over you for a few reasons: They may see you as a valuable resource and want to protect you from other people and dogs, They may be anxious about being separated from you, They may lack confidence and see you as a source of security.

Dogs resource guard humans primarily due to their natural instincts and emotional bonds with their caregivers. From an evolutionary perspective, resource guarding is an innate behavior that has helped wild canids survive in the wild by protecting valuable resources such as food, shelter, and mates from potential competitors.

When a dog resource guards a human, it is a manifestation of their strong attachment and loyalty to their owner or family member. They view their human as a valuable resource and may perceive other people or animals as potential threats to their bond. This behavior can be particularly pronounced if the dog has had past negative experiences, lacks socialization, or feels anxious or insecure.

Additionally, some dogs may develop resource guarding tendencies due to inconsistent or harsh training methods that create a sense of mistrust or fear in their relationship with humans. Other contributing factors could include a lack of clear boundaries or structure, leading the dog to believe they need to assert control over their resources.

It’s important to note that resource guarding behavior is not driven by malice; rather, it is a survival instinct deeply rooted in their genetics. Addressing resource guarding with positive reinforcement and training techniques can help foster a more secure and balanced relationship between dogs and their human family members.

Do dogs ever stop resource guarding?

Even though resource guarding can become far more serious, there’s some good news. One, there are ways to prevent it in most dogs. Two, behavior-modification plans are easy to implement and they are effective at improving the dog’s behavior.

Yes, dogs can stop resource guarding with proper training, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Resource guarding behavior is not a fixed trait; rather, it is a learned behavior that can be modified over time. The success of stopping resource guarding depends on several factors, including the dog’s individual temperament, the severity of the behavior, and the commitment of the owner to address the issue.

Through positive reinforcement training, dogs can learn alternative behaviors and positive associations with people and resources. By rewarding calm and non-guarding responses, dogs gradually learn that there is no need to protect their possessions aggressively.

Early intervention and recognizing signs of resource guarding are crucial in preventing the behavior from becoming ingrained. The sooner training starts, the higher the likelihood of success. However, even in more severe cases, with patience and the help of professional dog trainers or behaviorists, dogs can still make significant progress and reduce resource guarding tendencies.

It is essential to create a safe and supportive environment where the dog feels secure and can build trust with their human family. With consistent training and positive interactions, dogs can develop healthier responses, leading to a more harmonious and fulfilling relationship with their owners.

Should I punish my dog for resource guarding?

Using punishment and aversives as a response to resource guarding can result in MORE resource guarding. When you notice aggressive behavior developing around your dog’s resources, it’s important to address it as soon as possible and in the right way.

No, punishing your dog for resource guarding is not recommended. Punishment can exacerbate the problem, lead to increased fear and anxiety, and damage the bond of trust between you and your dog. Resource guarding is a natural instinct in dogs, and punishment may only reinforce their belief that they need to protect their resources even more fiercely.

When you punish a dog for resource guarding, it can create a negative association with people approaching their possessions, making them more likely to respond aggressively in the future. Punishment may also lead to other behavioral issues, as the dog might become fearful or anxious in your presence.

Instead of punishment, positive reinforcement training is the preferred approach. Focus on rewarding desired behaviors, such as dropping items willingly or remaining calm when approached. By using treats, praise, and affection, you can create positive associations with people around their resources, encouraging the dog to feel more secure and relaxed.

If your dog exhibits resource guarding tendencies, it’s essential to seek guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can provide tailored strategies to address the behavior effectively and safely. Remember, patience, understanding, and positive reinforcement are key to modifying resource guarding behavior and building a strong and trusting relationship with your furry companion.

How To Stop A Dog From Resource Guarding A Person

What are the common signs that indicate a dog is resource guarding a person?

Resource guarding in dogs directed towards a person can be displayed through a variety of behavioral cues. Recognizing these signs is crucial to addressing the issue before it escalates. Some common indicators include both subtle and overt body language that suggests possessiveness and discomfort around specific individuals:

Freezing or Stiffening: The dog may become rigid and tense when someone approaches the person they are guarding. They may also stop moving altogether.

Direct Staring: Intense, unwavering eye contact can be a sign of a dog feeling threatened or protective of their resource.

Growling or Snarling: Vocalizations like growls or snarls are clear warnings that the dog is feeling threatened and is willing to escalate their response if the perceived threat continues.

Lip Curling or Baring Teeth: Displaying teeth is another visual warning that the dog is uncomfortable and may resort to aggression if pushed.

Body Position: A dog exhibiting resource guarding may position their body between the person and the perceived threat, attempting to create a barrier.

Guarding Behavior: They may physically block access to the person, refusing to move or allow anyone to approach.

Snap or Bite: In extreme cases, the dog may resort to snapping or biting as a last resort to protect their resource.

It’s essential to note that resource guarding behavior can escalate over time if not addressed properly. Early recognition and positive reinforcement training can help modify this behavior and create a safer and more trusting environment for both the dog and the people involved. Consulting with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist may also be beneficial in more severe cases.

How can positive reinforcement training be used to address resource guarding behavior in dogs? 

Positive reinforcement training is a highly effective and humane approach to address resource guarding behavior in dogs. This method focuses on rewarding desirable behaviors, encouraging the dog to associate positive outcomes with specific actions, rather than using punishment or force. When applied to resource guarding, positive reinforcement can help the dog learn alternative, non-aggressive behaviors in response to perceived threats. Here’s how it can be implemented:

Identify Triggers: Understanding what triggers the resource guarding behavior is crucial. Once the triggers are identified, a controlled environment can be set up to begin the training process.

Counter-Conditioning: Through positive reinforcement, the dog is encouraged to associate the approach of people with pleasant experiences. This can involve offering high-value treats or rewards when someone approaches the guarded person. The goal is to rewire the dog’s emotional response to associate people’s presence with positive outcomes.

Desensitization: Gradual exposure to the trigger is essential. Start at a distance where the dog remains relaxed and then slowly decrease the distance over time. The dog learns that the presence of people doesn’t lead to a threat, and they no longer feel the need to guard.

“Leave It” Command: Teach the dog a solid “leave it” command to divert their focus from the resource they’re guarding. Reward them generously when they respond appropriately to this command.

Respect Boundaries: Ensure that people respect the dog’s space and avoid actions that trigger guarding behavior. This will prevent reinforcement of undesirable behaviors.

Consistency and Patience: Positive reinforcement training requires consistency and patience. It may take time for the dog to unlearn the guarding behavior fully, but with persistence, the results can be rewarding.

By employing positive reinforcement techniques, not only can resource guarding be effectively addressed, but the overall bond and trust between the dog and their owners can be strengthened, creating a more harmonious and enjoyable relationship. Seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer with experience in positive reinforcement methods can be beneficial for successful outcomes.

What desensitization techniques can be employed to help a dog become more comfortable around people? 

Desensitization techniques can play a crucial role in helping a dog become more comfortable around people, especially if they exhibit fear, anxiety, or aggression towards strangers. The goal of desensitization is to gradually expose the dog to the presence of people in a controlled and positive manner, allowing them to build confidence and reduce their emotional response. Here are some techniques that can be employed:

Start at a Distance: Begin desensitization at a distance where the dog feels relatively comfortable and relaxed. This might be outside their usual “threshold” where they start to display signs of distress or guarding behavior.

Positive Associations: Pair the presence of people with positive experiences for the dog. When people are around, offer treats, toys, or engage in fun activities to create positive associations.

Progressive Exposure: Gradually decrease the distance between the dog and people over multiple sessions. Progress should be slow enough that the dog remains calm and stress-free throughout the process.

Reward Calm Behavior: Praise and reward the dog whenever they remain calm and relaxed around people. This reinforces the desired behavior and encourages them to repeat it.

Consistency: Consistency is key in desensitization. Regular training sessions, even for short durations, are more effective than infrequent, lengthy ones.

Respect the Dog’s Limits: Pay attention to the dog’s body language and stress signals. If they become overwhelmed, go back to a distance where they feel comfortable and continue from there.

Controlled Socialization: Controlled interactions with well-behaved and calm individuals can be beneficial. Ensure the encounters are positive and brief, gradually increasing exposure as the dog becomes more at ease.

Desensitization requires patience and understanding of the dog’s unique needs. It is essential to respect their pace and avoid forcing interactions, as this could exacerbate fear or anxiety. If the dog’s discomfort is severe or persistent, seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist is highly recommended for a safe and effective desensitization process.

Are there any specific training exercises that can help modify resource guarding behavior effectively?

Yes, several specific training exercises can help modify resource guarding behavior effectively in dogs. These exercises focus on building trust, promoting positive associations, and teaching alternative behaviors to replace guarding responses. Here are some effective training techniques:

Drop It / Give: Teach the dog a reliable “drop it” or “give” command. This allows you to ask the dog to release the item they are guarding willingly and without confrontation.

Trade-Up Game: Offer the dog a higher-value treat or toy in exchange for the item they are guarding. This helps them associate people approaching their resources with positive outcomes.

Leave It: Train the dog to respond to a strong “leave it” cue. This command can be used when the dog starts to exhibit guarding behavior, redirecting their attention to something more desirable.

Hand Feeding: Instead of using a food bowl, hand-feed the dog to create a positive association with human hands around their food.

Approach and Retreat: Gradually approach the dog while they are near their resource, then immediately retreat without interacting. Repeat this process, rewarding calm behavior and gradually decreasing the distance over time.

Crate Training: Teach the dog to enjoy spending time in a crate with their favorite toys and treats. This provides a safe space for the dog and can prevent resource guarding incidents.

Behavioral Conditioning: Counter-conditioning techniques involve rewarding the dog for remaining calm when people approach their resource. Over time, this can replace guarding behavior with more accepting responses.

Consistency and patience are vital in training exercises to modify resource guarding. It is essential to progress at the dog’s pace and avoid triggering negative reactions. Seek guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist if the guarding behavior is severe or if you need personalized assistance in the training process.

How To Stop A Dog From Resource Guarding A Person


Addressing resource guarding behavior in dogs directed towards people is a process that requires understanding, patience, and positive reinforcement. Recognizing the signs of resource guarding early on is crucial to implementing effective training techniques. By using positive reinforcement methods, we can promote a safer and more trusting environment for both the dog and the people involved.

Desensitization exercises play a pivotal role in helping the dog become more comfortable around people, gradually reducing their guarding responses. The use of specific training exercises, such as the drop it command and the leave it cue, empowers the dog to make positive associations with relinquishing resources and redirecting their focus.

Consistency, respect for the dog’s limits, and controlled interactions are essential throughout the training process. Seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist can provide invaluable insights, especially in more complex cases.

By dedicating time and effort to modify resource guarding behavior, we can foster a stronger bond with our canine companions and create a harmonious coexistence built on trust, understanding, and mutual respect.