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Resource guarding is a common behavior among many dog breeds, including the Great Pyrenees. While it may be a natural instinct for dogs to protect their possessions, resource guarding can lead to aggression and even injury if not addressed properly. As a large breed dog, the Great Pyrenees has the potential to cause serious harm if they become aggressive while resource guarding. Therefore, it is important for owners to recognize the signs of resource guarding and take steps to address it. In this article, we will explore three common signs of resource guarding in the Great Pyrenees and discuss potential ways to stop it.
Note: Resource guarding can be a challenging problem for a dog owner. In addition to the tips 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 Great Pyrenees Resource Guarding
The first step in addressing resource guarding is to identify the specific triggers causing your Great Pyrenees to display this behavior. Observe your Great Pyrenees 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 Great Pyrenees Against Resource Guarding
Desensitization and counter-conditioning are powerful techniques to help your Great Pyrenees 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 Great Pyrenees 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 Great Pyrenees the “Leave It” Command
Training your Great Pyrenees 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 Great Pyrenees.
- 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 Great Pyrenees the “Drop It” or “Give” Commands
Similar to the “leave it” command, teaching your Great Pyrenees 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 Great Pyrenees
The “trade-up” technique involves offering your Great Pyrenees 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 Great Pyrenees
Punishing your Great Pyrenees 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 Great Pyrenees 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:
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.
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 Great Pyrenees is Resource Guarding
- Growling or snarling: If your Great Pyrenees growls or snarls when someone approaches their food or toys, they may be trying to protect their resources.
- Stiff body language: A Great Pyrenees that is resource guarding may have a stiff, tense body posture. They may also stand over their food or toys to prevent others from getting too close.
- Aggression: In extreme cases, a Great Pyrenees that is resource guarding may resort to biting or attacking people or other animals that come too close to their possessions. It’s important to address resource-guarding behaviors before they escalate to this point.
Resource guarding can be a serious issue for Great Pyrenees and their owners. These dogs are known to be independent and protective, which can make them more prone to guarding their resources. However, with proper training and management, resource-guarding behavior can be addressed and improved. It’s important to be aware of the signs of resource guarding, such as growling, snapping, or stiff body language, in order to address it as soon as possible. By working with a professional dog trainer and following effective training methods, such as positive reinforcement and desensitization, Great Pyrenees owners can help their dogs learn to share resources and live happier, healthier lives.
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.