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Why do dogs guard their food?

Are you afraid to approach your dog while it is eating? Do you see him snarling or barking when one of his toys is touched?! Are you afraid for your children to approach him while he is eating?

Why do dogs protect their food for no reason? Do you feel threatened and insecure? If your dog has this behavior, this is a common behavior in some dogs and is called “resource guarding”. But where did this behavior come from?! Resource guarding behavior is an instinctive, fear-based behavior in which dogs fear for their resources or possessions. The largest of these resources is food, which is the most important reason for their survival. As much as the behavior of “guarding resources” is normal in dogs, it can be dangerous at times. If there are small children in the house, and your dog has this behavior, he may have a bad consequence if someone approaches him while he is eating. Therefore, it is important to know the causes of this behavior and how to treat it. Here, we will discuss the reasons for this behavior and its motives in dogs.
How dangerous is this behavior in dogs?!

Although the behavior of “guarding resources” is resorted to by wolves and dogs in the wild, where they transport their food, as a precaution to protect themselves, it is not understood why the dog at home does this behavior even though he is not exposed to danger or threat when eating?! Does instinct overwhelm him?

The degree of this behavior varies from dog to dog. There are some mild cases in which the dog becomes stiff when someone approaches his food bowl. There are some cases that are more severe, where the dog begins to bark or try to bite anyone who may approach the food bowl. To address this behavior, you must first understand that “resource guarding behavior” is not aggressive dog behavior, or an attempt to dominate and not submit to control. Rather, it is an instinctive behavior that stems from the dog’s fear for its property and food that someone else will take it. Although it is not known why some dogs protect their food, others do not! The good news is that the “guardian of resources” behavior can be managed and remedied.
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Reasons Dogs Guard Their Resources
Why do dogs guard their food?

Some experts attribute the reason dogs protect their food for several reasons. One of the reasons behind the behavior of “guarding resources” is that dogs do not feel safe, as they protect their food in order to prevent others from taking it. The environment and heredity also play an important role in the genesis of this behavior. The nature in which the dog grows up may greatly influence the acquisition of this behavior. This is in addition to some popular theories, which try to find the secret behind why dogs guard their food. Among the most important are the following:
Competing with trash buddies and reward theory

Some experts believe that the acquisition of resource-guarding behavior develops too early in dogs. It begins when young puppies compete with each other for a little milk from their mother, or to take part of the food in the bowl. And the puppies that eat more, they grow faster. Here, the reward theory becomes clear, which is based on the fact that these puppies are rewarded by eating the largest amount of food, as a result of their ability to monopolize this food. This in turn reinforces resource-guarding behaviour, as the puppies learn that holding and guarding food is rewarded by getting it and eating it later.

Some may suggest that the behavior of guarding resources results from a sense of insecurity in competition for food, or deprivation of it. But what questions the validity of this opinion is that there are some dogs that practice this behavior that have not been subjected to food deprivation, abuse and neglect.
The effect of the environment on the behavior of guarding resources

The environment may be a factor in acquiring resource custodial behaviour. One of the biggest examples of this is the appearance of this behavior in dogs that are in shelters at a higher rate than usual, up to 25%. These dogs do not know when their meals will be served, and whether they will be served or not. Therefore, they become increasingly anxious about eating, which is a major reason for forming their food-guarding behavior.

Many shelters have developed feeding programs that reduce this behavior in dogs. These shelters prepared free meals for the dogs. It also gave them access to a full bowl of food at any time they wanted, while ensuring that food was an inalienable right. Although the shelter environment is difficult and stressful, the assessment of the resource-guarding behavior of dogs in general should not be based on it. Studies have shown that this behavior is no longer present and not observed in dogs when these dogs were placed in homes. Several shelters have reported a success rate of over 90%, as the dogs’ food-guarding behavior disappeared less than three weeks after they were housed.
The effect of genetics on dogs’ guarding behavior for their food

It is possible that the genetics of dogs have a role in influencing their behaviour. Unfortunately, the food-guarding behavior of dogs has not received a great deal of scientific research in terms of why. Although some research has shown that the genes of some breeds, such as the Border Collie, have a natural herding instinct. They guard livestock as much as they guard their herds from predators. But scientific studies have not yet shown that there is a particular breed that is more susceptible to developing resource-guarding behavior in dogs.

You may struggle with your dog’s guarding behavior, especially if he reacts violently. But when you know that this

 

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