Beagle Resource Guarding: A Complete Guide
You have likely borne witness to your beagle expressing the behavior of resource guarding.
You may not have known what was happening. However, I can assure that it is a very common behavior. We’ll discuss how you can take proactive steps to prevent and/or cure it in your beagle.
What Is Resource Guarding In Beagles?
Resource guarding is the act that a beagle (both adults and puppies) do, by becoming protective of a resource they sense may be taken away from them.
Commonly, you’ll see the most common resource guarding being food. However, chew toys, beds, etc. are not uncommon either.
You’ll notice when your dog is actively engaged in resource guarding. You’ll observe them stiffening up, growling or curling their lip when either a human or another animal approaches them, while they are occupied by the resource.
Why Do Beagles Guard Their Resources?
Resource guarding is fundamentally a primal survival instinct from their wild ancestry. Your beagle wouldn’t have been able to survive in the wild, had they been unable to protect their food and/or other valued resources.
It’s when it’s applied in a domestic environment, that it catches our attention.
It manifests itself in unconditioned beagles as a protective mechanism. They anticipate a human or animal that is nearing them, will make an attempt to compete or steal their resources.
Many beagle owners figure that resource guarding is a case where your dog is trying to exert their dominance, or that they are simply acting like a spoiled child. Either way, that is not the case.
One thing you won’t want to do is react by exerting your own dominance over your beagle. That will only reinforce the thought that they cannot trust humans (or other animals) and they much continue to protect their resource(s) that much more.
How Severe Is Resource Guarding In Beagles? Should I Be Worried?
Resource guarding in beagles, as you can imagine can be observed in varying degrees of severity.
Guarding against other dogs in the vicinity by throwing them dirty looks at them is normal. This shouldn’t be considered a problem. Human intervention would only be necessary if a physical altercation takes place.
You should consider it more severe if your beagle is resource guarding against you or other humans. You should take proactive efforts to counteract these behaviors by conditioning and desensitization — teaching your dog to accept an approaching hand.
When Professional Intervention Is Necessary
If your beagle becomes so aggressive, that they start showing their teeth and they make lunging advances — it is absolutely imperative that you have this addressed by a behavioral specialist before your dog causes any injury to themselves or others.
This is particularly important in families of young children.
Can I Just Ignore It?
Remember: Just because resource guarding in beagles may be a common behavioral trait, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to rectify or counter-condition it.
Example: Sure, you and your family may know not to bother Fido during their meal times. But one of your friend’s 10-year-old brothers, may not know — leading to potential disaster.
That being said: No, you absolutely cannot ignore it. This is potentially a safety issue.
How To Treat Resources Guarding In Beagles?
As with all training, prevention is preferable to curing a scenario. Especially if you have a puppy. For older beagles, counter-conditioning and desensitization are the norms. Yes, they may sound overly clinical sounding terms, but you need not worry. These processes are difficult to apply for mild cases of resource guarding. Newly adopted beagles and older ones will receive some benefit from anti-resource guarding conditioning.
Remember, this is only applicable to mild cases. For more severe cases, professional help is a requirement. Any attempts at addressing this issue by an inexperienced individual may result in a mishap where your dog may bite someone or something. This is extremely serious may result in your beagle being taken away — or even put down. I am trying to avoid that for you at all costs.
The key to stopping resource guarding in your beagle is conditioning your beagle to believe that an approaching human is not a problem at all. Rather — we want to condition them into thinking that it’s a precursor to something great — a chew toy or a snack, etc.
The most common form of guarding involves protecting their food. As you will want to inject into their knowledge bank, that food that comes from you is indeed infinite. That will demonstrate to them that your approach should be indicative of even more food being provided, not taken away.
As with most training, you mustn’t expect immediate results. This will be a gradual process, where you are reinforcing your beagle’s comfort levels to the point where they don’t feel compelled to resource guard against you or other people.
Method 1: Hand-Feeding
A particularly powerful go-to method to encourage your dog trusting you and recognizing you as their primary food source is hand-feeding.
If possible, begin hand-feeding them as soon as your beagle first arrives at your home. You’ll want to hand-feed them at least once a day for a few weeks. Not bad, right?
Implementing this method will teach your puppy or dog to accept your hand being in close proximity to their food. This will go a long way toward preventing food guarding even becoming a problem.
Method 2: Use Portion Of Their Meal As A Training Reward
This method incorporates rewarding your beagle with extra food at mealtime for following a command. Yet again, this reinforces that you are a source of happiness (i.e., food) and that they can earn extra food.
How do you do this? Just before mealtime, set aside a few pieces of food from their bowl for a mini-training session.
Another option is to use their food bowl as both a reward and an indicator that you are their food provider. And as such, you can be trusted. When your beagle approaches you for their food at mealtime, ask them to sit. Once they obey your command, release them from the sit, provide praise and allow them to eat.
Method 3: Add Human Food As Treats During Meals
This method uses a little leftover ‘human food’ while your dog is eating. The leftovers should be placed into their bowl as a bonus treat. Again, this reinforces that you are the provider of foods and treats.
This is something you can get all of your family involved with. That way, you can be sure that your beagle is equally trusting of all members in terms of not feeling compelled to resource guard.
That being said, this is something where any children must be supervised if they are participating in any of these training exercises. If while your beagle is eating and you attempt to provide a treat in there, and they give you a defensive look and/or they begin growling, do not proceed further.
Realize that resource guarding is an instinctive emotional response — they cannot help it. However, every time they get to this aroused guarding state, the issue is further reinforced as every time they growl or indicate their displeasure, you move away and confirm their concerns.
So how to do you correct this? In future sessions: attempt to throw the treat from a longer distance, where they will not feel compelled to resource guard. Over time, perhaps a period of days or weeks, try advancing closer and closer again to where they are rendered comfortable with you in their immediate proximity while providing the treat.
If you’ve deduced that there simply isn’t any safe distance where they’ll allow this type of training (or other methods above), then this is a problem outside of your direct control. You must seek qualified professional help.
Additional Anti-Resource Guarding Training Tips For Beagles
I just want to preface by saying that not all resource guarding encompasses food. It can be brought on by anything that your beagle desires and fear that may be taken away.
This could, of course, be motivated by things such as toys, their bed, or even having to share the attention of a family member.
Treating Resource Guarding Involving Toys And Other Objects
What seems most logical for teaching in this circumstance, is teaching your beagle the ‘give’ or ‘drop’ cue.
You’ll provide this cue and your dog will immediately drop whatever it is they are occupied with. This is the end game. Let’s talk about how to get there.
As with any type of training, don’t expect miracles in a day. Sure, it would be nice. But Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The key is observing your beagle when they have a toy or chew that they consider as a low-value (not one of their more prized resources), approach them with a high-value treat (such as a piece of steak) and give the cute: ‘give’.
Have they not learned this response? If not, guide them into it by placing the higher-value treat near their mouth. They’ll naturally drop the toy to accept the treat. Praise them immediately once this executed properly. Return their toy back to them as soon as they have finished their treat. This ensures their comfort and trust levels remain high, and you reduce their likelihood of competitive resource hoarding.
Just a friendly reminder: If children are being involved at all during this training process, they must be under supervision. Only allow them to begin interacting with your beagle in this training, once your dog has shown solid progress with you and other adults.
Treating Resource Guarding Involving Beds, Sofas, And Chairs
For this scenario, it’s logical to teach your beagle the “off” command. Just as with the immediately aforementioned method involving toys, it encompasses using treats as a reward and persuasive tool. A caveat: You’ll want to execute this if your beagle has just jumped onto the bed or sofa, not once they’ve already made themselves comfortable.
Once you observe them jumping up onto the furniture, give the “off” command – and coax them off of the future by placing the treat on the floor. Praise them immediately.
Now, if they don’t comply; coax them down by holding the treat close to their nose with a closed fist. Then slowly guide your hand down toward the floor. As they follow, give the “off” command.
Now if they are simply being stubborn, it may be poor timing. Have they just eaten? Well, they might not be as compelled to jump off a sofa for a piece or two of food.
Additional, never let them onto the furniture with your explicit permission.
Keep It Up Long Term
Finally, all of that time and effort invested in your loved one has paid off. Now that you’ve made this amazing progress, it’s time to transition into the maintenance phase of the training. It’s recommended that you gradually scale back the frequency of practicing the commands until you’ve progressed to only once or twice a month.
If your beagle does show signs of regressing back into their old resource-guarding habits, you need to go back and repeat the training again. Maintenance should be practiced throughout your beagle’s life to ensure consistency.
Resource guarding is an instinctive behavior learned from their wild ancestors.
For mild cases, the methods above build confidence and trust in your beagle, that you are a source of all things good. This will reinforce that everything is in plentiful supply, and they needn’t resource guard.
Involve all members of your family, so they will trust everybody equally. However, be sure to always monitor children around your beagle, during these training exercises. They should only be involved in minor cases.
If your beagle clearly is displaying a severe case of resource-guarding or you simply feel overwhelmed after much effort put in directly, I’d advise seeking help from a qualified behavioral specialist.
Implementing these methods and sustaining occasional maintenance, will ensure you and your beagle will coexist in that much more of a loving, easy-going family unit.
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