7 Strategies to Stop Your Doberman’s Resource Guarding

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Resource guarding is a common issue among dogs, including Dobermans. This behavior involves a dog protecting an item, such as food or toys, and showing aggression towards anyone who tries to approach or take it away. This can be a serious problem and potentially dangerous for both the dog and its owners. It is important to understand the signs of resource guarding and how to prevent or address it. In this article, we will discuss ways to stop a Doberman from resource guarding, including recognizing the signs and implementing effective training techniques.

Note: Resource guarding can be a challenging problem for a dog owner. In addition to the tip below, you may want to consider consulting the help of a professional. Two excellent online courses we reviewed for resource guarding are SpiritDog and K9 Training Institute.
1. Understand What’s Triggering Your Doberman’s Resource Guarding
The first step in addressing resource guarding is to identify the specific triggers causing your Doberman to display this behavior. Observe your Doberman closely and take note of which resources they guard and under what circumstances. Common triggers include:

The presence of other dogs or pets
Approach of family members, especially children
Sudden movements or loud noises near the guarded resource

Understanding the triggers allows you to manage the environment effectively, preventing incidents before they occur.
2. Desensitization and Counter-Conditioning Your Doberman Against Resource Guarding
Desensitization and counter-conditioning are powerful techniques to help your Doberman overcome resource guarding. Desensitization involves gradually exposing your dog to the triggering situations, starting with low-intensity encounters and gradually increasing the intensity. Counter-conditioning, on the other hand, involves teaching your dog to associate the presence of the trigger with positive experiences.
For example, if your Doberman guards their food bowl when approached, start by standing a considerable distance away while they eat. Gradually decrease the distance over time, rewarding your dog with praise or treats when they remain calm. This process helps your dog associate your presence near their food with positive outcomes, reducing their need to guard the resource.
3. Teach Your Doberman the “Leave It” Command
Training your Doberman to respond to the “leave it” command is essential in addressing resource guarding. This command tells your dog to release whatever they’re holding or to stop focusing on a particular item. To teach this command:

Hold a treat in your closed hand and present it to your Doberman.
When your dog sniffs or paws at your hand, say “leave it.”
Once your dog stops trying to get the treat, praise them and reward them with a treat from your other hand.
Gradually progress to using the command with other objects, such as toys or food bowls.

Using the “leave it” command consistently can help prevent resource-guarding incidents before they escalate.
4. Teach Your Doberman the “Drop It” or “Give” Commands
Similar to the “leave it” command, teaching your Doberman to “drop it” or “give” is crucial in managing resource guarding. These commands instruct your dog to release an item from their mouth or willingly give it to you. To teach these commands:

Start by playing with a toy your dog likes but doesn’t typically guard.
While your dog is holding the toy, say “drop it” or “give” and offer a high-value treat.
When your dog releases the toy, praise them and give them the treat.
Gradually progress to using the command with more valuable items.

5. Practice the “Trade-Up” Technique with Your Doberman

The “trade-up” technique involves offering your Doberman a higher-value item in exchange for the one they’re guarding. This method teaches your dog that surrendering a resource can lead to better rewards, reducing their need to guard. Practice this technique by offering a high-value treat or a favorite toy whenever your dog is guarding a less valuable item. Over time, your dog will learn that giving up a guarded resource is a positive experience.
6. Avoid Punishing Your Doberman
Punishing your Doberman for resource guarding can exacerbate the problem and lead to increased aggression. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and reward-based training to modify your dog’s behavior. By consistently rewarding your dog for desired behaviors, you reinforce the idea that there’s no need to guard resources, as good things happen when they share or relinquish them. Remember that patience and consistency are key when working with a dog that displays resource guarding behaviors.
7. Try an Online Training Program for Resource Guarding
If your Doberman’s resource guarding behavior is severe or doesn’t improve with consistent training, it’s crucial to consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. These experts can help identify the root cause of the issue and create a tailored training plan to address the problem effectively. In some cases, medical issues or anxiety may contribute to resource guarding, and a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist can help diagnose and treat these underlying conditions.
Our 2 favorite online courses are:
1. SpiritDog’s “Stop Resource Guarding” Course
The Stop Resource Guarding training course, attended by 243 students, consists of 42 comprehensive lessons that teach you science-based, fear-free techniques to help your dog trust you around their treasures and train a solid “Drop It” cue. With lifetime access, step-by-step instructions, and a certificate upon completion, this course will transform your relationship with your dog and eliminate resource guarding behaviors.

2. K9 Training Institute’s “Dog Masterclass”
More than just a resource guarding course, this more comprehensive training course tackles any behavior problem you might face with your dog.

3 Signs Your Doberman is Resource Guarding

Growling or snarling: Dobermans may growl or snarl when someone approaches them while they are in possession of something they value.
Stiff posture: When a Doberman is resource guarding, they may have a stiff body posture with their head and tail held high.
Unwillingness to share: If your Doberman refuses to let go of a toy, bone, or another item they are holding onto, it may be a sign of resource guarding. They may even hide the item or try to move it away from others

Resource guarding in dogs is a common behavioral issue that can lead to aggression and conflicts with humans and other pets. Dobermans, like many other breeds, can exhibit resource-guarding behaviors that include growling, snarling, and biting when someone approaches their food, toys, or space. It is crucial for dog owners to identify these signs and take appropriate measures to prevent and address the problem. A variety of techniques can be used to stop resource guarding in Dobermans, including positive reinforcement training, gradual desensitization, and management strategies. With patience, consistency, and proper training, Dobermans can learn to overcome their resource-guarding tendencies and live peacefully with their families.

Note: Resource guarding can be a challenging problem for a dog owner. In addition to the tips above, you may want to consider consulting the help of a professional. Two excellent online courses we like for resource guarding are SpiritDog and K9 Training Institute.
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