Some dogs display excessive anxious and aggressive behaviors to protect possessions. How much of these behaviors can be considered normal?
Resource guarding can describe behaviors ranging from normal and fairly benign to pathological and risky to others. It is normal for an animal to attempt to keep a valued possession. In a situation perceived as threatening, some dogs will try to run and hide with the object, hold it tightly in their mouth, or offer submissive gestures to appease humans or other dogs. Most owners will recognize these behaviors as what they are: efforts to keep the possession. Owners may only consider the situation problematic if the dog is swallowing or hiding potentially harmful items or is excessively aggressive.
As with other behavior evaluations, two major questions should be answered first:
- Is this normal behavior?
- How much of a risk does this pose to other pets, people, or the patient?
A certain amount of resource guarding is normal. Individual cases may require a thorough history to help delineate normal from abnormal resource guarding.