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Akita dogs are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and protective nature. However, this protective instinct can sometimes manifest in the form of resource guarding, where they become overly possessive of their food, toys, or other objects. This behavior can be problematic, leading to conflicts with other pets or even humans. As a responsible Akita owner, it’s important to recognize the signs of resource guarding and take steps to correct the behavior. In this article, we’ll explore some effective ways to stop an Akita from resource guarding, allowing you to build a harmonious and peaceful relationship with your furry companion.
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 Akita’s Resource Guarding
The first step in addressing resource guarding is to identify the specific triggers causing your Akita to display this behavior. Observe your Akita 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 Akita Against Resource Guarding
Desensitization and counter-conditioning are powerful techniques to help your Akita 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 Akita 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 Akita the “Leave It” Command
Training your Akita 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 Akita.
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 Akita the “Drop It” or “Give” Commands
Similar to the “leave it” command, teaching your Akita 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 Akita
The “trade-up” technique involves offering your Akita 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 Akita
Punishing your Akita 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 Akita’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 Akita is Resource Guarding
Here are three signs that your Akita may be resource guarding:
Growling or snapping: When an Akita is feeling protective of their resources, it may growl or snap at anyone who approaches them.
Stiff body language: A dog that is resource guarding may display tense or stiff body language. For example, an Akita that is guarding their food bowl may stand over it with their body tense and their tail stiff.
Showing teeth: An Akita that is resource guarding may show their teeth as a warning to stay away from their resources. This can be a sign of aggression and should be taken seriously.
Resource guarding can be a dangerous behavior in dogs, especially in breeds like the Akita that are known for their protective instincts. It’s important to recognize the signs of resource guarding early on, such as growling or snapping when someone approaches their food bowl, toy or bed. With the right training and management, resource guarding can be successfully managed or even eliminated in Akita dogs. It’s important to seek professional help if your Akita displays resource guarding behavior to ensure that the issue is properly addressed and managed for the safety of both the dog and the humans around them.
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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