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7 Strategies to Stop Your Papillon’s Resource Guarding

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on April 30, 2023
iHeartDogs is reader supported. Some of the links below may be paid affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on a product at no additional cost to you. 

Resource guarding can be a concerning behavior in dogs, and Papillons are no exception. This behavior can lead to aggression towards other animals or even people, making it crucial to address the issue as soon as possible. However, it can be challenging to know where to begin in stopping resource guarding in your Papillon. In this article, we will explore ways to identify resource guarding behavior and discuss some effective methods to prevent or eliminate this behavior in your Papillon. By implementing these techniques, you can help your Papillon feel more comfortable and secure in their surroundings and reduce the risk of any aggressive behaviors arising.

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 Papillon’s Resource Guarding

The first step in addressing resource guarding is to identify the specific triggers causing your Papillon to display this behavior. Observe your Papillon  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 Papillon Against Resource Guarding

Desensitization and counter-conditioning are powerful techniques to help your Papillon 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 Papillon 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 Papillon the “Leave It” Command

Training your Papillon 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 Papillon.
  • 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 Papillon the “Drop It” or “Give” Commands

Similar to the “leave it” command, teaching your Papillon 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 Papillon

    The “trade-up” technique involves offering your Papillon 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 Papillon

    Punishing your Papillon 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 Papillon’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 Papillon is Resource Guarding

    1. Growling or snapping: If your Papillon growls or snaps when you approach them while they are eating or playing with a toy, they may be resource-guarding.
    2. Stiff body language: Resource-guarding dogs may tense up or become rigid when someone approaches them while they are near their prized possession.
    3. Possessiveness: If your Papillon becomes possessive of a specific item or location, such as their food bowl or bed, and attempts to prevent others from accessing it, they may be resource-guarding.

    In conclusion, resource guarding can be a serious issue for any dog, including the Papillon. As a responsible dog owner, it is important to be aware of the signs of resource guarding and take steps to prevent and address the behavior. Whether it is through professional training or implementing management strategies at home, there are many ways to help your Papillon overcome their tendency to guard resources. By addressing this behavior, you can help your dog feel more comfortable and relaxed in their environment, and create a happier and healthier relationship between you and your furry companion.

    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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