Once a guarder, always a guarder?

Dogs with low social skills often become resource guarders as it is very rewarding to them.

Zeke, my foster dachshund, was surrendered because he continually fought with another dog in his home.  This was particularly sad because he was given up by the family who adopted him as a pup. It was the only home Zeke was familiar with.  On the other hand, if Zeke was fighting with another dog in the home, did he feel safe in that home?  Why did he constantly want on his owners lap?  Was he guarding her, or was it that he felt safest when near her?  Why did he guard his crate?  Again, was it his or was it that he felt safe there? What made this behavior rewarding to Zeke?

I am pleased to inform you that after less than 3 weeks, Zeke has developed a trusting relationship with my three dogs.  Why is that important?  Because many dogs that guard are also fearful and defensive.  Once I reduced his fear, he now moves through the house with bones and toys in each room, and he no longer chases my dogs away from them or even gives them the “look”.  They have walked past toys and bones so many times (and there are plenty to go around!), so guarding is not rewarding anymore.

I am warning you!

That does not mean he may not fall into old habits in his new home, but it does mean that I personally believe Zeke’s underlying habitual guarding behavior stems from very poor social skills with both people and dogs.  Developing a trusting relationship with dogs in the home, and devaluing the objects he found high value, have been a successful plan for Zeke.

When Zeke, the Dachshund, would show his teeth at my dogs to gain access to more food I was holding, I walked him away and gave his share to my dogs.  I waited about 2 minutes and repeated this exercise of feeding everyone some chicken.  When Zeke focused on me and ignored my dogs, showing no distance cues at them, I rewarded him with chicken. Hence, he learned good social skills always gets rewarded in my home.