Resource Guarding

by Nicole
(Virginia Beach, VA)

Is this dog aggression, resource guarding or something else?

Hello, my boyfriend got this beautiful pitbull 10 months ago in October. We started dating when he was about 5 months old. He was raised around 2 other females, one who was about 8 months when he got him and one we got as a puppy when he was about 5 months old.

He was fine around them and other dogs especially my friends rottweiler who is the same age as him and they were always together. Once I started taking him on walks and feeding him he began to get aggressive towards the rottweiler whenever I was around.

I recently moved back home and brought him with me. He is fine with my family and seems to be coping fine with the move. My mom took him to play with my sister's 2 yr old pit he was fine. They played for hrs.

A few days later I met my sister at the park to walk our dogs and my pit attacked my sister's pit when I went to pet him. After I calmed him down he walked fine with me until he saw my sister's dog then he started barking and growling, which he never has done before.

I was wondering if this is just due to the new surroundings without the other dogs and/or is he being over protective of me since he didn't act this way when my mom took him? And I'm wondering if this is going to change over time because I am afraid of bringing him around other
dogs because I do not want him to attack them.

Gale's Reply:

What strikes me as I read through your description of events is that this sounds more like resource guarding than pure dog aggression or a reaction about the move.

We all know that dogs can become possessive about things like food, toys, etc. But it's not just objects that dogs sometimes feel the need to guard. Sometimes dogs become possessive of a caretaker or a situation (like being forced off 'their spot' on the couch).

When you took over walking and feeding this dog, you became his primary resource--giver of all things good. After this shift in your relationship took place, he began attacking a dog he had formerly been friends with whenever you were around.

Same thing, it seems, with your sister's pit. Your mom takes him to meet this dog and it's all good. But when you are there and try to pet the other dog--he goes ballistic.

This kind of behavior can usually be reconditioned. But it rarely goes away of its own accord. I suggest you start by reading this award winning book on the subject by Jean Donaldson: MINE! - A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs. You may also decide you want to get professional help from a behaviorist/trainer.

Good luck. Feel free to let us know how things are going. You have a beautiful dog. Thank you for sharing the picture with us.

For information on obedience training, visit our pit bull training page.

For help with behavioral issues, check out our dog behavior training page.

Comments for Resource Guarding

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Jul 31, 2011
So glad you wrote
by: Margaret

I'm glad you sent your question in. I noticed the same thing with my pit-mix. He doesn't guard food or toys but I felt like he was guarding me as he hates strange dogs and went after a horse I was petting. I mentioned to a behaviorist that I thought that was the problem. She was of no help at all. We have been working on his issues and yesterday he watched me feed the same horse a carrot with no growling or leaping over the fence at her. Hang in there, there's nothing like pittie love.

Jan 21, 2013
resource gaurding or agression.
by: tim burke

hi wmy name is tim burke and i have a 2 yr old pittbull named gunner. he has recently gotten protectfull of his bone and dog food. he very selmdomly get bones and i feed him 3 times a day with 1 and 1/4 cups of dog food? what should i do to help fix this.Me and my wife have 7 cats and another dog. gunner is not agressive towards any of them in any form. our youngest cat hank less than a year walks right up to gunner when he is eating and eats with him and gunner has no problem with this. I am gunners primary attention giver and feeder is it something im doing wrong or is it that he feels hes not getting fed enough? any ideas or opinions will be greatly appreciated.

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