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"Understanding and Preventing Resource Guarding in Dogs"

All Adoptions Must Complete Training Requirements

Welcome to Paws N Hooves dog training webpage! We extend a warm welcome to all new and potential dog owners who have recently adopted a furry companion or are considering bringing one into their lives. We understand that embarking on this journey can be both exciting and challenging, which is why we are here to provide you with valuable resources and guidance. Led by a certified dog trainer who works closely with our organization, we are committed to promoting positive reinforcement dog training methods backed by scientific research. Through this webpage, we aim to equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the world of dog training, address common behavioral issues, and foster a strong bond with your canine companion. With our expertise and your dedication, together we can create a harmonious and fulfilling relationship with your beloved dog.

Spruce Mountain Paws

We are excited to introduce Leona Buttenwieser with Spruce Mountain Paws LLC as our dedicated and experienced positive reinforcement dog trainer. With a focus on strengthening the bond between dogs and their humans, Leona utilizes positive reinforcement-based training methods and provides the necessary tools for effective communication. As a graduate of the Animal Behavior Institute with a degree in Advanced Canine Behavior, Training, and Nutrition, Leona has over ten years of experience in the canine industry. Her passion for dogs and commitment to their well-being are evident through her work with rescue organizations and shelters, helping less fortunate dogs find their forever families. We are thrilled to have Leona join our team and provide her expertise and knowledge to enhance our clients' experiences.


In addition to her extensive professional background, Leona's personal dedication to animals sets her apart. She is a certified canine/feline behaviorist and has been successfully running her own dog training business for seven years. Leona specializes in working with reactive and fearful dogs, and she has also trained service dogs and conducted group training classes. To further meet the needs of her training clients, she offers a range of additional pet services, including pet care, grooming, day services, field trips, and informative pupinars. With a passion for helping dogs and their owners build stronger bonds, Leona's combination of skills, experience, and genuine love for animals make her an ideal candidate for our rescue organization's training services.


Whether you are a foster parent within our organization or have adopted a dog from us, Leona is here to provide expert guidance, support, and training to ensure a successful and fulfilling relationship between you and your four-legged companion. We invite you to explore the various services she offers and embark on a rewarding journey with your rescued dog.

Positive Reinforcement Training Methods 101

Understanding the scientific basis behind positive reinforcement as the most effective method for dog training is key to optimizing the training experience and achieving desirable outcomes. Numerous studies in animal behavior and learning theory have demonstrated the efficacy of positive reinforcement techniques in promoting desired behaviors while minimizing stress and aversive consequences. 


Positive reinforcement operates on the principle of rewarding desired behaviors with something the dog finds rewarding, such as treats, praise, or play. This approach leverages the power of rewards to strengthen the association between the desired behavior and the positive outcome, increasing the likelihood of its repetition. Unlike punishment-based methods, which focus on correcting unwanted behaviors through aversive stimuli, positive reinforcement emphasizes encouraging and reinforcing desired behaviors, resulting in a more enjoyable and stress-free training process.


Scientific research has consistently shown that positive reinforcement not only facilitates learning but also promotes better emotional well-being in dogs. By using rewards and positive feedback, trainers can effectively communicate their expectations and encourage the dog's active participation in the training process. This approach fosters a trusting and cooperative relationship between the dog and the owner, strengthening the bond and creating a positive learning environment. Furthermore, positive reinforcement has been found to be particularly effective in addressing fear, anxiety, and aggression, as it helps dogs build confidence and learn alternative, more appropriate behaviors. By aligning training practices with the principles of positive reinforcement, dog owners can harness the power of science to create a nurturing and successful training journey for their canine companions.

Victoria Stilwell, a renowned dog trainer, emphasizes four key pillars of dog training that are important for inexperienced individuals and everyday pet parents to understand. These pillars provide a foundation for effective and humane training methods:


1. Positive Reinforcement:

This pillar revolves around rewarding desired behaviors rather than punishing unwanted behaviors. Positive reinforcement involves using treats, praise, toys, or other rewards to reinforce good behavior. By rewarding a dog when they exhibit the desired behavior, such as sitting or walking calmly on a leash, you encourage them to repeat that behavior in the future.


2. Effective Communication:

Communication is vital in dog training. It involves understanding your dog's body language, vocal cues, and signals to better interpret their needs and emotions. Clear and consistent communication helps establish trust and mutual understanding between you and your dog. By learning to read and respond to your dog's cues, you can effectively communicate your expectations and provide guidance.


3. Consistency:

Consistency is key in dog training. Dogs thrive on routine and predictability, so it's important to establish consistent rules and expectations. Consistency means using the same cues and commands, enforcing rules consistently, and ensuring that everyone in the household is on the same page when it comes to training methods. This helps prevent confusion and provides a clear structure for your dog to follow.


4. Patience and Persistence:

Training takes time, patience, and persistence. Dogs learn at different paces, so it's essential to remain patient and understanding throughout the process. Consistently reinforcing desired behaviors and redirecting unwanted behaviors will help your dog understand what is expected of them. Celebrate small successes and be prepared to adapt your training methods to suit your dog's individual needs.


By incorporating these four pillars into your dog training approach, you can create a positive and effective learning environment for your canine companion. Remember to focus on rewarding good behaviors, communicate clearly and consistently, maintain patience, and persistently work towards your training goals. With time and dedication, you can build a strong bond with your dog and help them become a well-behaved and happy member of your family.

The Importance of Training With Your New Family Member

Implementing positive reinforcement training methods becomes even more crucial when working with rescue dogs, many of whom have experienced past trauma or lack proper socialization. These dogs often carry emotional scars and may exhibit behavioral challenges as a result. Positive reinforcement training offers a compassionate and effective approach to helping these dogs heal and thrive in their new homes.


Rescue dogs often come from difficult backgrounds, having endured neglect, abuse, or abandonment. By focusing on positive reinforcement techniques, trainers can provide a safe and nurturing environment for these dogs to rebuild their trust in humans. The use of rewards, praise, and gentle guidance allows the dog to associate positive experiences with desired behaviors, creating a foundation of trust and confidence. Through consistent positive reinforcement, rescue dogs can gradually overcome their fears and anxieties, gaining the necessary skills to navigate everyday situations and form healthy relationships with their new owners.


Furthermore, positive reinforcement training helps address the socialization deficits that rescue dogs may face. Many of these dogs have not had the opportunity to interact with a variety of people, animals, or environments during their formative stages. Positive reinforcement methods can be used to gradually expose them to new experiences, rewarding calm and confident behaviors. This approach not only helps them overcome their fear of unfamiliar situations but also equips them with the necessary social skills to interact positively with other animals and people. By integrating positive reinforcement training into the rescue dog's journey, we empower them to overcome their past traumas, become well-adjusted companions, and ultimately save their lives by offering them a second chance at happiness and a loving home.

Understanding Resource Guarding in Dogs and How to Prevent It


Resource guarding is a common behavioral issue observed in dogs, characterized by their possessive behavior over valuable objects, such as food, toys, or even resting areas. It manifests as growling, snarling, snapping, or even biting when someone approaches or tries to take away the guarded resource. Understanding the underlying causes of resource guarding and implementing preventive measures can significantly contribute to a harmonious and safe environment for both dogs and their human companions.


Defining Resource Guarding:

Resource guarding refers to a dog's instinctual response to protect their valued possessions. It stems from a survival instinct deeply rooted in their ancestry as scavengers and predators. When dogs perceive a threat to their resources, they resort to defensive behavior to ensure their access to these essential items. While it's a normal behavior in the canine world, excessive or aggressive resource guarding can pose a safety risk and strain the relationship between dogs and their owners.


Preventing Resource Guarding of items like bones, toys, or bed:

One simple technique to help prevent the development of resource guarding behavior in dogs is by implementing the "Trade-Up" method. This approach involves associating positive experiences with giving up possessions, creating a positive association rather than triggering a defensive response. Here's how to incorporate this technique into your training:


1. Start with low-value items:

Begin by offering your dog low-value items, such as a toy or treat they enjoy but are not intensely possessive over. While they are engaged with the item, calmly approach them and offer an even higher-value treat or toy as a trade-up. This establishes the notion that giving up possessions leads to receiving something better.


2. Consistency and gradual progression:

Practice this trade-up method consistently and gradually introduce items of increasing value. Ensure that your dog willingly relinquishes the lower-value item before providing the higher-value one. Over time, your dog will learn that voluntarily giving up their possessions results in receiving something more valuable and enjoyable in return.


3. Respect boundaries:

It's essential to respect your dog's personal space and not force them to give up their possessions forcefully. Avoid physically taking items from their mouth or snatching toys away abruptly, as it may reinforce their guarding behavior. Instead, focus on creating positive associations and gradually teaching them that sharing resources leads to positive outcomes.


By incorporating the trade-up method into your training routine, you can foster a cooperative and trusting relationship with your dog. Remember, patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key. It's crucial to consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist if your dog's resource guarding behavior escalates or becomes a safety concern.



Understanding resource guarding behavior in dogs and proactively working to prevent it is vital for a peaceful and safe coexistence. By implementing simple techniques like the trade-up method, we can help our dogs develop positive associations with giving up possessions and foster a healthy relationship based on trust and cooperation. With time, patience, and consistency, we can create an environment where dogs feel secure and comfortable, reducing the likelihood of resource guarding behaviors and ensuring a harmonious bond between humans and their four-legged companions.


Now let’s talk about a dog that’s guarding you, does your dog like to sit next to you on the couch and maybe growls if any other dog or even your husband as they start to come over to the couch to enjoy the show. It might be laughted off like a joke but the truth is it’s a very common and can be very serious behavior that should never be taken lightly or not address properly. 


Apologies for the misunderstanding. When a dog displays resource guarding behavior directed towards their pet parent in the presence of other dogs or people, it's crucial to address the situation with care and without resorting to fear or force methods. Here's how you can handle and address this behavior effectively:


1. Ensure safety:

Prioritize the safety of all individuals involved, including yourself, the dog displaying resource guarding behavior, and the other dogs or people present. Maintain a safe distance and avoid any potential conflicts or confrontations.


2. Manage the environment:

Create a controlled and calm environment to minimize triggers and opportunities for resource guarding behavior. Separate the dogs involved and gradually introduce them in controlled and supervised situations, gradually building positive associations.


3. Professional guidance:

Consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who specializes in positive reinforcement techniques and behavior modification. They can provide specific guidance based on the individual dynamics and help you develop a customized training plan to address the resource guarding behavior.


4. Positive reinforcement and desensitization:

Implement positive reinforcement techniques to encourage calm and relaxed behavior around the resource-guarding situations. Gradually expose the dog to controlled scenarios where the resource is present, rewarding calm behavior and redirecting their focus onto alternative activities or rewards.


5. Counter-conditioning:

Employ counter-conditioning techniques to change the dog's emotional response in the presence of the perceived threat. Pair the presence of the other dog or person with highly desirable rewards, such as treats or play, to create positive associations and reduce the guarding behavior.


6. Gradual exposure and controlled interactions:

Gradually introduce controlled interactions between the resource-guarding dog and the other dog or person involved. Start with brief and supervised encounters, rewarding calm and non-aggressive behavior. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of the interactions as the dogs become more comfortable and relaxed.


7. Patience and consistency:

Addressing resource guarding behavior can take time and patience. Be consistent in your training efforts and remain calm and composed during the process. Consistency and positive reinforcement will help the dog understand that there is no need to guard their pet parent in the presence of others.


In conclusion, if you suspect that your dog is displaying resource guarding behavior or have concerns about it, it is highly recommended to seek the assistance of a certified positive reinforcement trainer. Resource guarding can be a complex behavior influenced by various factors, and it is crucial to have a professional with vast knowledge and experience guide you and your dog towards a positive outcome. Working with a trainer allows you to tap into their expertise and understanding of canine behavior, ensuring that you address the issue effectively and compassionately. Rather than relying on trial and error or attempting to decipher your dog's communication on your own, partnering with a trainer provides you and your dog with the best possible chance to overcome resource guarding and foster a harmonious relationship built on trust and understanding. Remember, professional guidance can make a significant difference in your dog's well-being and your success in resolving behavioral challenges.

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