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Resource guarding is a common issue among dogs of all breeds, including Boston Terriers. This behavior can be dangerous and should be addressed as soon as possible. A Boston Terrier that is resource guarding may become aggressive and display a range of warning signs that can be challenging for their owners to manage. However, there are many strategies that can help to prevent and reduce resource guarding behaviors in Boston Terriers. In this article, we will explore several effective ways to stop a Boston Terrier from resource guarding, so you can keep your pet and family safe and happy.
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 Boston Terrier’s Resource Guarding
The first step in addressing resource guarding is to identify the specific triggers causing your Boston Terrier to display this behavior. Observe your Boston Terrier 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 Boston Terrier Against Resource Guarding
Desensitization and counter-conditioning are powerful techniques to help your Boston Terrier 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 Boston Terrier 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 Boston Terrier the “Leave It” Command
Training your Boston Terrier 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 Boston Terrier.
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 Boston Terrier the “Drop It” or “Give” Commands
Similar to the “leave it” command, teaching your Boston Terrier 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 Boston Terrier
The “trade-up” technique involves offering your Boston Terrier 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 Boston Terrier
Punishing your Boston Terrier 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 Boston Terrier’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 Boston Terrier is Resource Guarding
Growling or Snapping: Your Boston Terrier may growl or snap when you or another person approaches them while they are near their food bowl, toys, or any other object they are guarding.
Stiff Body Language: If your Boston Terrier becomes tense, stiff or their body language changes when you approach them while they are guarding something, it may indicate that they are trying to protect their possession.
Refusal to Share: If your Boston Terrier refuses to share their toys or food with other dogs or humans and tries to keep it to themselves, it may be a sign that they are resource guarding.
In conclusion, resource guarding can be a serious issue in Boston Terriers and can lead to aggression towards humans or other animals. Recognizing the signs of resource guarding, such as growling, snapping, or biting when approached near their possessions, is essential for addressing the problem. While there are many potential strategies for reducing resource guarding, it’s important to seek the guidance of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to find the best approach for your individual Boston Terrier. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement training, it is possible to help your dog feel more comfortable and secure around their possessions and reduce their tendency to guard 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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