Let’s Talk Resource Guarding

Let’s Talk Resource Guarding

Guest Blog from Nat!
(@Jayce The Greyhounds Mum)

Hi I’m Nat, @jayce_the_greyhound’s hoomum. If you follow us, you may know
that Jayce is a resource guarder. This blog post is going to detail the various
changes/ things I put in place to reduce Jayce’s guarding to give you ideas
about what to look at beyond training. Even if your dog’s guarding is different
(e.g. a bed, toy) these ideas will demonstrate how many different and
seemingly insignificant factors affect Jayce and could be affecting your dogs.

Quick disclaimer!
I am not a canine behaviourist and I’d always recommend
getting advice from one if possible.

What Is Resource Guarding?

Resource guarding is a dog reacting to what they perceive to be a threat to
something they perceive valuable. This could be a bone, a bed, part of the
couch, a sock, a toy or any other item, place or sometimes even a person! At
its worst it can be growling, barking, lunging, trying to bite the perceived threat
but it can also be more subtle and mimic the signs of canine stress (lip licking,
bared teeth, whale eyes). It can happen between dogs and humans and also
between dogs or dogs and other pets.
Jayce resource guards high value food items which for him are bones and
long-term treats. He used to resource guard all bones but these days it’s
generally very large bones.

Setting The Scene

For context it’s also important to understand our living situation a bit. We’re in
an apartment and Jayce has stepped foot willingly onto our balcony about
twice in 2.5 years. Our balcony is also exposed so even if I desensitised him
to it, it would not be a year-round solution to allow him to eat bones on it. This
means he eats all of his meals in our living room. His bed is also in a bit of a
walkway between the kitchen and dining area to the lounge area. This meant
that there was no easy way to simply just stay away from Jayce while he was

Also, because he was guarding indoors and in a semi-walkway, I would
sometimes have to remove the bone after some hours had passed to allow
him to relax.


First and foremost is training. When Jayce would resource guard, I’d fill a
bowl/ training pouch etc with treats and throw them at him from afar. First it
was just when he WASN’T growling. Then, when he was silently guarding it
was just sporadically to reward the calmer behaviour. Whenever I had to walk
past his bed I would throw lots of treats before, during and after to reinforce
that my presence meant a positive thing and that his resource was safe.


I was initially feeding Jayce two chicken wings for breakfast. He wouldn’t eat
them but left them to ‘marinate’ (sit) on his bed and bark and growl at anyone
who came across him and this could sometimes last hours.
He is now fed his bone after his evening (raw) meal. I used to feed his bones
with his dinner but he’d just eat the bone as it was his favourite part and leave
the rest of his dinner. For whatever reason in Jayce’s head, eating a bone in
the evening makes a lot more sense.

What Temperature Are The Bones?

I’ve slowly realised that Jayce doesn’t like his bones too cold (I defrost bones
in the fridge). I noticed that he would guard the bone until it was presumably a
better temperature. Now, 1-4 hours before he’s due to be fed them (based on
the size of the bone) I now get them out of the fridge and stand the silicone
bag that the bone is in in some room temperature water. These days, he’ll
start on bones a lot faster/ guard them for shorter periods of time.

What Else Has He Eaten?

This is mostly relevant for large bones. At this stage, having a duck wing after
dinner is habitual for Jayce. However, if a bone is larger than this (for example
a lamb loin or turkey neck) he’ll decide he’s not hungry enough to eat the bone
and then ‘bury’ (in blankets) and guard the bone instead. To combat this (as
larger bones are much more effective at cleaning his teeth) he’s just fed less
before he is given the bone!

Also, I initially tried to give him large bones after a long walk (~90mins) and
before any other food so he was STARVING. He also guarded bones in this
instance as well (I assume he was so hungry that he wanted to save the bone
just in case he got even hungrier later).

So, having a bit of food on his stomach (but too much), is key for Jayce.

People Around

This has to do with timing as well. I generally feed Jayce large bones on
nights when my partner is home late from work. This means Jayce only has
one potential threat to worry about rather than two. (If only he knew I was

Being Aware of Other Stressors

This is a huge one that I only realised after someone else pointed it out to me.
Sometimes, Jayce would guard bones that he would normally eat fine
because he was trigger stacked.

In summary trigger stacking is when a dog experiences something stressful, it
elevates their stress levels. Depending on how stressful the situation was, it
can take a dog’s stress levels hours, days or even weeks to reset back to
‘zero’. This means that if they encounter something else during this timeframe
that is stressful but would normally not send them over the edge, it may send
them over the edge due to their already heightened stress levels.

For Jayce, if he has a stressful situation (e.g. an bad encounter with a dog
while Jayce is leashed), I can’t feed him a large bone for at least a week as
the stress of that situation would be too much and he’d just guard it.

Removing The Bone/ Trading Up

Occasionally I would have to remove the bone. This was when Jayce was
guarding it too much (e.g. consistently growling instead of just lying by it) for
too long. While this wasn’t an ideal situation, the alternative was allowing
Jayce to be stressed for even longer (and at least overnight).
If possible, I would lure Jayce away from his bed with another high value treat/
item (a frozen lickimat is ideal as licking that would help him to start to
destress) and then grab the bone. If this was impossible, I would put the
lickimat or scatter high value treats in his bed so that he’d have to turn his
head away from the bone to get the treats. While his head was turned, I would
quickly grab the bone and then throw down even more treats.

I also want to note that common advice to prevent/ reduce resource guarding
is to take away resources/ put hands in bowls while feeding. This will either
create guarding or make the current guarding worse. Please don’t remove or
interfere with resources unless absolutely necessary.

Searing Bones

Let’s make the bone even more attractive?! While this may sound
counterintuitive by making a bone super attractive Jayce wouldn’t be able to
help himself to take a lick/ nibble which would normally kickstart him actually
eating the bone.

I would heat a pan really hot and swirl in a bit of butter. Using tongs I would
sear the bone for 10-20 seconds on a couple of sides and let it cool.

Pick Your Battles

Last but not least, pick your battles with your dogs. Jayce comfortably eats
duck wings, duck and turkey necks, lamb loins and occasionally beef brisket.
This is a good rotation of shapes and proteins so I have decided to not
introduce any new bones that would cause him stress.

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