Resource Guarding

by Emily
(Germany)

My great pyr just turned 1 about 2 weeks ago. We love him so much, he is a great companion and guard dog (with all of his barking lol). We haven't had many problems with him at all, but the past month or so he has started to get aggressive with his food.. mostly when there is another dog around. He is so food driven and will get very defensive over his food if he thinks it will be taken away. He is not really aggressive with me, but I am worried it may come to that eventually if it is not fixed now. I make him sit before I feed him and pet him while he eats.. we have always done this since he was a puppy. I am not sure what to do about the food aggression now with another dog.. he is so protective over his and will growl and bark and try and bite the dog if they go near his food bowl. Please help! I do not want this to turn into something really bad. Thank you!

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May 28, 2018
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Resource Guarding
by: Donna

This is common with many dogs. If a dog allows another dog to go near his food and eat it, that dog wouldn't get to eat. It's survival of the fittest.

There is nothing to be 'fixed'. Think about it. Why would a dog allow another dog to come near his food? Why would he want to share his food with another dog? or any animal for that matter.

Simply feed the dogs/animals in separate areas so they don't have access to each other.

I would be more concerned if he resource guarded against humans, although, in some cases this can be rectified.

Note that growling and barking is good. He is warning the other dog to stay away. Without that growl and bark, the dog will simply attack. The other dog needs to learn to stay away at dinner time.

May 28, 2018
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some tips
by: Anonymous

Good advice and insight from the Club, as always. To which I would add this one little thing. Petting him while he eats will only have taught him that you require that he tolerate this touch and he will, as long as he is the one in control of his dish. Same with 'sit'...he has learned to be patient until his food is finally on the floor (his turf), where he assumes complete control.
The touch lesson is still good, as he will have learned to not startle if he is touched while his head is in his bowl. They are vulnerable in this position.
Same as the 'sit' command; it has taught him to wait. But neither touch nor command has taught him that you, not he, controls the food resource. Right now, he owns that bowl once the bowl hits the floor, and the only threat to that control is another dog with whom he must then compete for the food.
You can do 2 things, and the first is to separate him into a secure place when he eats, where he will not be in contact with another dog or a human. Doing this will may look like avoidance, but in actual fact you will stop his guarding behaviour from becoming a habit, and to allow him to relax while he eats.
Second thing is to sit quietly beside him while he eats, and begin to habituate him to you moving his bowl with the toe of your foot. If he stops eating, you must also stop. Don't move your foot from wherever it is, in that moment. When he returns to eating continue, in tiny increments, to move the bowl. Move it gently all over the floor and make this a game, rather than a threat. Eventually, you should be able to take the bowl from him, add a little something to it and return it to him without any protest from him. It takes a lot of time and quiet persistence on your part. Do not challenge him in any way...always stay within his tolerance level as you are building trust. This exercise should extend to anything that is on your floor that always still belongs to you: his toys and his bones.
Our own Pyr guarded when we adopted him at 8wks, still a baby. Felt he had to fight for access to his and our other dog's food bowl. He was young, so was super easy to train. I sat between them, kept my hand on his bowl, often took his bowl and taught him to sit quietly and focus on me before I returned it to him. In this way he learned to respect me (as provider) and the other dog's space. This may also work for you. Remember that Pyrs are not a naturally obedient dog and good habits are built upon consistency, respect and trust. Good luck.


Dec 28, 2020
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Puppy introduction
by: Michele

I just adopted a gp, newfi and my gp has shown some growling and barring of teeth to the puppy if he gets close to her. How do I introduce the puppy to her without her growling when he walks past her?

Dec 29, 2020
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New Puppy
by: Donna

You've brought a bouncy new puppy into your home. Your Pyr doesn't want anything to do with that puppy right now. He is teaching the puppy to follow rules.

Here is an excellent article for you to inform yourself.

Puppies and adult dogs

Jan 06, 2022
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GP bone aggressive
by: Anonymous

Hi my male GP whole lives outside was a year 3 days ago. He has been raised with my family, another golden retriever who lives in the house but plays with the GP outside, 2 geese, 2 goats. He has been the perfect dog and a very big goof ball the whole time. I have never seen him food aggressive and all the animals growing up all nit picked from his bowl while he ate. He now will growl at the other animals if they come close but not bite and they leave.
On his b day I gave him a bone. I went in the house. I went out later and reached down to get it. As I tried to pick it up it was slimy. In the process of that he decided he was done and growled at me. I then just reached in that direction and he sorta snapped. Shocked I stood there about 3 ft away and said no and he lunged at me with teeth. Later me and my husband both went out and we were easily able to call him away from the bone. I picked it up and my husband was petting his stomach on his back and I held the bone. We talked very gently to him. Bear, my gp, didn't growl but never took his eyes off the bone. As I told him to get up I said good boy and put his bone on the ground. I keep reading all this stuff about killing our dogs over any aggressive behavior. Being guard dogs I never had a doubt we were alpha but this makes me think twice. How can I fix this and I def don't want to kill him.

Jan 07, 2022
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High Value
by: Donna

A dog should never be expected to share his food with any other dog. Always feed them separately.

A bone is very high value for your dog. Your dog is starting to mature and becoming his own dog. You cannot just take it from him. You have to work with him.

From a trainer: First question to ask when dealing with a dog training problem is "Am I dealing with an underlying emotional challenge." Growling = an emotional issue is present. So you deal with that first. Growling = "I’m not comfortable with what is going on". So we help the puppy be comfortable. Taking away what the puppy is worried about losing, doesn’t help build comfort or confidence. Feed her a small meal and then walk by and add more and tastier food as she eats. Feed her small meals this way. Once again please, do not take the food away. Just add to it.

Here are a couple of videos to watch:

Resource Guarding

Resource Guarding (2), It's further into the video.

This is a good book to get also:

Mine: A Practical Resource Guide to Guarding in Dogs

If you still have issues, consult with a certified veterinary behaviourist.

There is no need to euthanize your dog. You just need to work with him.

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