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Reverse Resource Guarding 

 

Completed Behavior Looks Like: A dog that lifts her head with a fluid body and a soft, yet eager expression whenever their person approaches while they are eating.  Happy anticipation is the goal, yet honest tolerance may be all the dog is able to muster depending on her history.

 

Portion the meal into 4 varying amounts, they do not need to be equal.

 

Put one of the portions in the dog’s usual bowl in one hand and a handful of very yummy smelly treats in the other hand.  The smelly part is important. Canned tuna or rotisserie chicken work well.

 

Let your dog smell the yummy treats, while at the same time slowly lowering the bowl in your other hand to the floor.  When the bowl is almost to the floor, toss the smelly treats away from you.  Stand up, still holding the bowl and wait for the dog to return to you for more.

 

This time, repeat the sequence but place the bowl on the floor right as you toss the treats away from you.  When the dog returns, they may eat their food, or they may not, it’s not important.  If they ignore the treats, to attend to the bowl, try throwing the treats closer, off to the side or using tastier treats.

 

Upon returning, ask your dog to sit (once they have finished eating) while you drop another portion of food into the bowl on the floor.  Once, you’ve put the kibble in the bowl; throw the treats in the opposite direction of your body, so they are moving away from you to get the treat. Take a step or two away from the bowl. 

 

Once they return, take a step forward and put another portion of the food into the bowl, as well as dropping treats on the ground around the bowl, step back again.  After a minute or two, step forward again and drop treats into the bowl. 

Repeat this process once a day until your dog is no longer guarding their food bowl but happily and eagerly watching your hand to put treats and food into the bowl.

 

The dog should begin to lift their head away from the bowl with fluid body movement (no stiffness) when they see you or your hand approach their food bowl. 

 

You should only approach a dog who is eating when you have another treat to give the dog, so the dog realizes that people are not something to guard their food from, but are a source of something better!

 

Progress should be based on the dogs tolerance—if the dog seems stiff, work slower, if the dog seems fluid and wiggly, ask the dog to sit, down, spin, etc for further fun. 

 

Once trained, to maintain the behavior, give your dog a toy filled with FORSTA treats whenever you need to take your dog’s food bowl from them.  They should take the toy and walk away to work out the treats, ignoring your bowl removal!