Written by Naomi White
We tend to assume that we have some sort of right to just take things away from our dogs without any issue. That bone you gave him 10minutes ago? Now you want it back, and since you gave it to him, why shouldn’t you take it back? When the dog is lying on your spot on the sofa, you think to yourself ‘It’s my home too, he can move’, and surely you should be able to move him off the sofa without an issue?
We wouldn’t expect to take away someone’s dinner without any reaction. Nor would we expect to tell someone to get off the sofa without an explanation. So why do we think it’s acceptable to do these things to our dogs without even a thought for giving anything in return?
Guarding is a very normal, natural behaviour for dogs, yet when they display it towards us, it can cause huge problems and put us in potentially dangerous situations. Respecting your dog’s space and belongings goes a long way to aiding peaceful co-existence. But conflict isn’t always avoidable in daily life. Perhaps when the dog has picked up something he shouldn’t have or he won’t get off the furniture, or perhaps he has a chew and you can’t even walk in the room without fearing a bite.
And then when your dog does react, what do you do? Perhaps you shout ‘NO!’ at him? Grab his collar and move him away? Point your finger at him and tell him how BAD he is?
We tend to get confrontational when our dogs react in a way we don’t like. We think that he will understand our angry NO or that warning finger point. Unfortunately, dogs don’t think like we do. Rather than understanding what you mean, he’s more likely to feel threatened, anxious and fearful of you in these situations. He will start thinking that when he ha