Resource guarding is something every living thing has experienced. Have you ever had fear of losing something you have? Silly question. I don’t think we’d be human if the answer was no.
Guard – to watch over or shield (a person or thing) from danger or harm; protect.
Resource – a source or supply from which benefit is produced. Typically resources are materials or other assets that are transformed to produce benefit and in the process may be consumed or made unavailable.
I was reminded of this simple resource guarding fact by my sweet Cocker Spaniel pup, Aubry. Anyone who knows Aubry will tell you what an absolute lover he is, however, my sweet prince has a dark side. Given a new toy, bone or chew he considers a resource, he becomes possessed. His hair raises, he moves in slow motion and begins eyeing any other living thing as enemy number one. As you can imagine, this isn’t a desired trait for any furry domestic pet.
The Instinct Issue
This behavior has the blanket term called resource guarding in the dog community and it can be difficult to remedy. Resource guarding is a survival instinct many animals have, humans included. It’s an emotionally driven reaction to fear of losing something you feel you can’t live without. We humans resource guard in a much more passive aggressive way (surprisingly, growling and biting someone who threatens your romantic relationship or meal would be wildly inappropriate in our society unless you’re cast on Jersey Shore).
Aubry’s resource guarding has only come in the form of protecting new toys, chews and bones – thankfully he hasn’t begun to guard his bed, furniture, his food bowl or me. I feel bad for Aubry because he has a life of abundance, so why the guarding? Maybe because he’s the younger dog? I could psychoanalyze the hell outta this, but I’m not convinced knowing why is not the answer.
I know enough about dogs to know they live in the moment. Sure, they can have baggage and fear from who knows where, but they mostly live in the present moment. When my dogs have a fight, they forget about it five minutes later. Now, new toys, chews or bones are given separately. If only resolving human resource guarding was so simple.
Have you found yourself guarding a resource like a wild dog? Resources for us humans can typically be in the form of careers, friendships, romantic relationships, etc. Maybe you have a boss who refuses to let go of projects and let you do your job. Maybe you are that boss? Maybe your significant other is resistant to you getting new friends. If you find yourself resource guarding food, water or toys I’m worried about you – we have too much available to us for that kind of nonsense! If you have been guarding a resource or a victim of a resource guarding human – remember, awareness is key. Now what are you going to do about it?
My favorite acronym for FEAR is: False Evidence Appearing Real.