Understanding and Addressing Resource Guarding Behavior in Your Lhasa Apso

As Lhasa Apsos are commonly known for their playful and affectionate nature, it can be surprising to witness resource guarding behavior in these dogs. Resource guarding can range from mild to severe and can cause concern for both the dog and their human family. If you have noticed your Lhasa Apso displaying signs of resource guarding, it’s important to address the behavior in a positive and effective way. This article will provide insights on how to understand, manage, and prevent resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos.

Understanding Resource Guarding in Lhasa Apsos

Understanding Resource Guarding In Lhasa Apsos
Resource guarding is a natural behavior that dogs exhibit to protect their valuable possessions, and Lhasa Apsos are not an exception. It might seem cute when your dog growls or defends its toys, bone or food, but it could potentially turn into a serious problem if not handled properly. In this section, we will delve into the concept of resource guarding and explore why Lhasa Apsos may display such behavior. By understanding the underlying causes and warning signs, you will be able to prevent and manage resource guarding behavior in your furry friend effectively. For a more comprehensive understanding of managing aggression in Lhasa Apsos, check out our article on Lhasa Aggression.

What is Resource Guarding?

Resource guarding is a behavior in which a dog tries to protect his possessions such as food, toys, treats or any other items that he considers valuable. When the dog senses a potential threat to their resources, they can show signs of aggression to inhibit the person or other animal from taking away the prized possession. The behavior can range from mild growling and barking to more severe behavior, such as biting and attacking.

Resource guarding is a manifestation of a dog’s natural instincts. In the wild, dogs need to protect their food and living space from other animals to survive. However, in a domestic setting, this behavior can cause problems for the dog and their owners. It is essential to understand that resource guarding is a predictable behavior that can be managed, prevented and controlled.

Resource guarding can occur due to several reasons, some of which include:

  • Genetics: Certain breeds are more prone to display resource guarding behavior. Lhasa Apsos, for example, have been known to possess a stronger tendency for resource guarding behavior than other breeds.
  • Past experiences: If a dog has had limited access to resources, he may develop resource guarding behavior to maintain possession when available.
  • Inadequate socialization: Puppies that have not been adequately socialized may feel insecure and may develop resource-guarding behavior as they grow up.
  • Stress and anxiety: Dogs that are fearful or anxious may guard their possessions to feel more secure. Separation anxiety is another potential cause of resource guarding behavior in dogs.

Understanding why your Lhasa Apso may be displaying resource guarding behavior is the first step in managing and preventing it. Additionally, taking a proactive approach to train your dog and address any underlying issues can minimize the risk of developing resource guarding behavior. For example, socializing your Lhasa Apso puppy can help prevent certain types of behavior issues later in life. To learn more about the benefits of socialization, check out our article on socialization for Lhasa Apso puppies.

Why Lhasa Apsos may Display Resource Guarding Behavior?

Like any other dog breed, Lhasa Apsos are not immune to resource guarding behavior. Resource guarding behavior may be caused by a variety of reasons, and the Lhasa Apso breed is no exception.

1. Genetic Background: Some Lhasa Apsos may display resource guarding behavior due to their genetic background. If their ancestors had to compete for limited resources, such as food or shelter, then resource guarding behavior may have been naturally selected for in order to ensure survival.

2. Fear and Anxiety: Lhasa Apsos that have been bred from fearful parents or are kept in fearful situations may display resource guarding behavior. They may feel frightened or anxious about losing their resources or feel the need to protect their possessions from strangers or other dogs. If your Lhasa Apso is exhibiting shy or anxious behavior, it may be worth investigating the possibility of a fearful breeding line. Check out our article on dealing with fearful Lhasa Apsos for more tips.

3. Territorial Instincts: Lhasa Apsos may become possessive over their territory, which includes their food, toys, and beds. They may display resource guarding behavior to defend and protect their personal space from perceived intruders.

4. Lack of Socialization: Lhasa Apsos that lack proper socialization may display resource guarding behavior. If they have had limited exposure to other dogs or humans when they were puppies, they may feel uncomfortable or threatened when someone tries to take away their resources. Check out our article on the benefits of training Lhasa Apsos for more information.

5. Separation Anxiety: If a Lhasa Apso is not used to being separated from its owner, it may display resource guarding behavior when the owner returns. This is because the Lhasa Apso may become anxious and feel like it needs to protect its belongings from its owner. Check out our article on dealing with separation anxiety in Lhasa Apsos for more information.

Understanding the Signs of Resource Guarding in Lhasa Apsos

Resource guarding can be a serious problem with behaviors that may start small but can escalate quickly if not addressed. Knowing the signs of resource guarding can help you address the issue early on. Here are some signs to keep an eye out for:

  • Growling, snarling or barking when someone approaches them while they are eating or playing with their toys.
  • Tensing up or showing aggression when someone tries to take something away from them.
  • Using their body to block access to their food or toys.
  • Biting or snapping when someone reaches for their food, toy or bone.
  • Showing aggression when someone gets too close to their bed or favorite spot.
  • Exhibiting obsessive behavior over a particular object.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to address them quickly to prevent any further escalation of the behavior. Ignoring them or punishing your dog may only make the behavior worse. Instead, try implementing some of the preventative measures outlined in the next section.

How to Manage and Prevent Resource Guarding in Lhasa Apsos

How To Manage And Prevent Resource Guarding In Lhasa Apsos
Now that you have a thorough understanding of resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos, it’s time to discuss effective ways to manage and prevent this undesirable behavior. It can be a challenging task, but consistency and patience are key when working towards a solution. Below are some tips and techniques that can help you address resource guarding behavior in your furry friend. Remember, every dog is unique, so be sure to tailor your approach to your pup’s specific needs and personality.

1. Avoid Punishing Your Dog

As a pet parent, it’s important to understand that punishing your Lhasa Apso for displaying resource guarding behavior could make the situation worse. It may cause your dog to become more defensive or aggressive. Instead, it’s crucial to use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior. The following table explains some examples of how to avoid punishing your dog and use positive reinforcement instead.

Avoid Punishing Your DogUse Positive Reinforcement
Screaming or yelling at your dog when they display resource guarding behaviorPractice patience and remain calm. Use soothing tones and body language to encourage your dog to trust you.
Physically punishing your dog, like hitting or slapping them, for exhibiting this behaviorUse positive reinforcement to encourage preferable behavior, like rewarding your dog for letting go of an object when asked to do so.
Using shock collars or other aversive training methods to stop your dog’s resource guarding behaviorUse positive reinforcement and reward-based training strategies to encourage preferable behavior. It’s important to avoid using anything that may hurt or scare your dog.

Remember, punishing your dog for displaying resource guarding behavior can make the situation worse and may harm your pet’s well-being. Instead of using punishment, use positive reinforcement by rewarding good behavior through treats and verbal praise. Practice patience and remain calm to encourage your Lhasa Apso to trust you and feel safe around you.

2. Teach the ‘Drop It’ Command

Teaching your Lhasa Apso the ‘Drop It’ command can be incredibly useful in managing and preventing resource guarding behavior. This command teaches your dog to release any items they may have in their mouth when instructed to do so. This can help prevent them from becoming possessive over items, and also keep them safe from ingesting or chewing on something dangerous.

Here are some steps to teach your Lhasa Apso the ‘Drop It’ command:

Step 1Get your dog excited about a toy or object, and let them take it in their mouth.
Step 2Hold out a treat, and say “Drop It” in a firm and clear tone.
Step 3When your dog drops the toy or object to go for the treat, use positive reinforcement by giving them the treat and lots of verbal praise and affection.
Step 4Repeat this process several times, gradually increasing the distance between you and your dog until they can drop the toy even when you are across the room.
Step 5Once your dog has mastered dropping a toy for a treat, replace the treat with praise and affection instead. This will teach them that dropping a toy when instructed is always desirable behavior.

Remember, consistency and positive reinforcement are key when teaching your Lhasa Apso any new command. Repeat this process regularly to reinforce the behavior and help prevent resource guarding issues in the future.

3. Practice Trading Games

One effective way to prevent resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos is by playing trading games with them. In this game, you offer your dog a treat in exchange for the item they are currently holding.

Here are some steps to follow:

  • Start by offering a low-value item that your dog is not likely to guard, such as a toy that they like but not one that they are obsessed with.
  • Show your dog a treat and offer it to them while saying “drop it” or “give.”
  • When your dog releases the item, give them the treat and praise them.
  • Repeat this several times, gradually moving on to higher-value items like bones or chew toys.
  • When playing trading games, make sure that the item you are offering in exchange is of equal or higher value to the item your dog is holding.
  • Never forcefully take away an item from your dog as this can increase their guarding behavior.

Trading games can be a fun and positive way to teach your Lhasa Apso that good things happen when they give up their possessions. Make sure to always praise and reward your dog for their cooperation. With consistency and patience, trading games can help prevent resource guarding behavior in your furry friend.

4. Create a Positive Association with Your Presence

Establishing a positive association with your presence is an important step in dealing with resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos. The goal is to make your dog associate your presence with good things, rather than feeling the need to protect or guard their possessions.

Here are some steps on how to achieve this:

  • Offer treats: When you approach your dog while they are in possession of something they may view as valuable, offer them a high-value treat like a piece of boiled chicken or cheese. This will help create a positive association with your presence.
  • Don’t take away their possession: Avoid taking away the object your dog is guarding as it may reinforce their behavior. Instead, leave it and offer treats or engage in positive play to create a distraction.
  • Engage in play: Play with your dog when they have something they view as valuable. This will help them learn that your presence equals fun and not a threat to their possessions.
  • Practice approaching: Practice approaching your dog while they are in possession of an item and offer them high-value treats. Gradually decrease the distance until you can approach without them displaying resource guarding behavior.
  • Reinforce good behavior: Praise your dog when they allow you to approach and pet them while they have their possessions. Make them feel secure and content in the knowledge that you are not a threat to their resources.

Remember, developing a positive association with your presence takes time and patience. Consistency is key to success. With practice and positive reinforcement, you can help minimize and prevent resource guarding behavior in your Lhasa Apso.

5. Establish Consistent Rules and Routines

Establishing consistent rules and routines is essential in managing and preventing resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos. Dogs thrive on routine and structure, and when rules are consistently enforced, they feel secure and are less likely to exhibit negative behavior. Here are some ways to establish consistent rules and routines:

  • Create a designated feeding area: Designate a specific area for feeding your Lhasa Apso, and always feed them in that area. This helps establish boundaries and routines, and ensures that your dog does not develop aggression towards people or other pets near their food.
  • Teach basic commands: Teaching your Lhasa Apso basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘leave it’ can help them understand what is expected of them. This also establishes boundaries and makes them more obedient, leading to less aggressive behavior when it comes to resource guarding.
  • Establish a consistent walking routine: Take your dog for walks at the same time every day and follow the same routes. Consistent exercise and routine can help reduce anxiety and stress, which can trigger resource guarding behavior.
  • Establish rules around toys: Have rules around toys at home, and teach your Lhasa Apso to share and take turns. This can be done by limiting the amount of toys available, or designating specific toys to specific dogs. Consistent rules around toys can help reduce aggression and resource guarding behavior.
  • Consistently reinforce good behavior: When your Lhasa Apso exhibits good behavior, consistently reinforce it through rewards such as treats or verbal praise. Positive reinforcement encourages good behavior, making it less likely for them to engage in resource guarding behavior.

By establishing consistent rules and routines, you can create a harmonious and structured environment that will prevent and manage resource guarding behavior in your Lhasa Apso.

6. Consider Professional Help

If your Lhasa Apso is displaying resource guarding behavior, it’s important to work on managing and preventing it. While there are many things you can do on your own to help your dog, there may come a point where seeking professional help is the best option. Here are some reasons why you should consider professional help and what you can expect from it:

Why Consider Professional Help?What Can a Professional Do?
Your dog’s resource guarding behavior is severe and/or dangerousA professional can assess the situation and develop a personalized behavior modification plan that’s safe for both you and your dog
You have tried multiple methods to manage your dog’s resource guarding behavior with no successA professional may be able to provide insight and techniques that you haven’t tried before
Your dog is guarding high-value items such as food or toysA professional can work with you to design a program that specifically addresses guarding of these items
You have multiple dogs displaying resource guarding behaviorA professional can help you manage the interactions between the dogs in a safe manner and develop individualized behavior modification plans as needed

Professional help can come in the form of a certified dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist. It’s important to seek out a qualified professional who has experience working with resource guarding behavior in dogs. They will have the knowledge and skills necessary to develop a behavior modification plan that fits your dog’s specific needs.

Remember, seeking professional help is not a sign of failure as a dog owner. It’s an acknowledgement that you want the best for your dog and are willing to seek out additional resources to help them. With patience and consistency, your Lhasa Apso can learn to manage their resource guarding behavior and live a happy, healthy life as a member of your family.

When to Seek Professional Help

As much as we would like to believe we can handle our furry friends’ behavioral issues, sometimes it’s best to admit that we need professional help. Knowing when to reach out for assistance can make a significant difference in addressing any problems your Lhasa Apso is experiencing. Understanding the signs that indicate a problem can assist you in deciding when it’s time to seek the help of qualified professionals. In this section, we will examine some of the reasons why you may need to seek professional assistance in dealing with resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos.

1. Aggressive Resource Guarding

Aggressive resource guarding is a serious behavioral issue that requires immediate attention from a professional. If your Lhasa Apso displays aggressive behavior while guarding their resources, such as growling, lunging, or biting, it is important to take action before the behavior escalates and causes harm. Here are some steps you can take to address aggressive resource guarding:

1. Consult with a professional: A certified dog trainer or behaviorist can evaluate your dog’s behavior and create a personalized training plan to address the aggressive resource guarding. The assessment will include identifying the triggers and underlying causes of the behavior, as well as developing a management plan.

2. Avoid confrontation: Avoid challenging your Lhasa Apso when they are guarding their resources. If you try to take away the item, it may cause the dog to escalate their aggressive behavior. Instead, create a safe space for your dog to retreat to and avoid triggering the behavior.

3. Use positive reinforcement: Training your dog to associate positive things with the presence of people or other animals can help them learn new behavior patterns. Use treats, toys, and praise to reinforce positive behavior and create a positive association with people or other animals around high-value items.

4. Keep a log of the behavior: Keep a record of when the behavior occurs and what seems to trigger it. This information can help a professional develop an appropriate training plan for your Lhasa Apso.

5. Be patient: Changing a dog’s behavior takes time and patience. Don’t give up on training your Lhasa Apso to manage aggressive resource guarding behavior. With consistency and patience, you can help your dog learn new behavior patterns and enjoy a happier and healthier life.

Remember that aggressive resource guarding can be a dangerous and complex issue. Seek professional help as soon as possible to ensure the safety and well-being of both your dog and those around them.

2. Multiple Dogs with Resource Guarding Behavior

It’s crucial to address resource guarding behavior if you have multiple Lhasa Apsos in your household. Resource guarding in one dog can trigger the same behavior in other dogs. This results in a tense and stressful environment, making it challenging for everyone, including the dogs.

Here are some tips to help manage resource guarding behavior when you have multiple dogs:

Tips for Managing Multiple Dogs with Resource Guarding Behavior
1. Separate High Value Items – When you have multiple dogs in the house, it’s important to keep high-value items like chew toys, bones, and food bowls separate to prevent fights and arguments. It’s best to supervise your dogs during meals and take away the leftover food bowls immediately.
2. Reward Good Behavior – Reward good behavior among your dogs as a way to encourage positive interactions. When dogs learn to get along, resource guarding can taper off. So make sure to provide your dogs with plenty of attention, love, and affirmation when they’re all getting along well.
3. Be Consistent with Training – Implementing and enforcing consistent rules for your dogs will help reduce the likelihood of resource guarding behavior. Training can take some time, but it’s worth the effort to ensure that all dogs are on the same page and know what to expect.
4. Give Them Space – Give each dog their space, such as a separate bed or crate which they can retreat to during meal times or when they want some peace and quiet. This can help prevent potential conflicts and reduce stress.
5. Seek Professional Help – If the behavior persists, seek the help of a professional dog behaviorist. They can provide guidance and support in managing resource guarding behavior among multiple dogs in the household.

Remember, managing resource guarding behavior in multiple Lhasa Apsos requires patience and diligence. By implementing the tips above, you can help create a positive and harmonious environment for everyone in the household.

3. Resource Guarding of High Value Items

Resource guarding is a natural behavior in dogs, but it can become a serious problem if it is not managed properly. One type of resource guarding that can be particularly challenging to deal with is guarding of high value items. These items may include food, treats, toys, or other objects that your Lhasa Apso considers extremely valuable.

What is Resource Guarding of High Value Items?

When a Lhasa Apso guards a high value item, they may become more aggressive or defensive than they would with items that they consider less valuable. This behavior can manifest in a number of ways, including growling, snapping, or biting if you or another person or animal attempt to take the item away. In extreme cases, your Lhasa Apso may become so possessive of the item that they will not allow anyone to come near it.

Why Do Lhasa Apsos Guard High Value Items?

There are a number of reasons why your Lhasa Apso may exhibit resource guarding behavior with high value items. In some cases, they may be afraid that the item will be taken away from them, so they feel they must protect it at all costs. In other cases, this behavior may be a result of previous experiences that have taught them that valuable items are few and far between. Finally, some Lhasa Apsos may simply be naturally possessive animals.

How to Manage Resource Guarding of High Value Items

While managing resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos is a process that takes time and patience, there are several steps you can take to mitigate the aggressive behavior and prevent it from becoming a serious issue.

1.Teach your Lhasa Apso the “leave it” command – this command helps your pet understand that they should not take ownership of items they are not supposed to.
2.Use positive reinforcement – reward your Lhasa Apso when they give up items they were guarding without aggression.
3.Socialize your Lhasa Apso – expose them to different people, animals, and environments to help them understand that they do not need to guard everything they value.
4.Keep high value items away – avoid situations that could trigger your Lhasa Apso to start guarding items.
5.Seek professional help – a professional dog trainer or behaviorist can help you better understand your Lhasa Apso’s behavior and develop a plan to address it.


Dealing with resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos can be a difficult and challenging process, but with the right approach, it is possible to manage and prevent this behavior. By understanding the signs of resource guarding, establishing consistent rules and routines, and seeking professional help when necessary, you can help your Lhasa Apso feel more comfortable and secure in their environment, while still ensuring a happy and healthy relationship between the two of you.


In conclusion, dealing with resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos can be a challenging task, but it is not impossible. It requires patience, consistency, and a deep understanding of your dog’s behavior. Remember, punishing your dog for resource guarding behavior can worsen the situation and cause more harm than good. Instead, focus on teaching your dog the ‘drop it’ command, trading games, and creating positive associations with your presence.

Establishing a routine and consistent rules can also help your Lhasa Apso feel more secure and reduce the likelihood of resource guarding behavior. However, if the behavior is aggressive, involves multiple dogs, or high-value items, seeking professional help is recommended.

Overall, understanding and managing resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos is essential for ensuring their well-being and the safety of others. With the right approach and patience, you can successfully prevent and manage this behavior in your furry friend.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can resource guarding in Lhasa Apsos be prevented?

Yes, resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos can be prevented with consistent training and positive reinforcement.

2. What are high-value items that Lhasa Apsos may guard?

High-value items for Lhasa Apsos may include food, toys, bones, treats, and even their favorite sleeping spot.

3. Can punishment be an effective way to stop Lhasa Apsos from resource guarding?

No, punishment is not an effective way to stop resource guarding in Lhasa Apsos. It may actually make the behavior worse and cause your dog to become more defensive.

4. Should you physically take away an item from a Lhasa Apso displaying resource guarding behavior?

No, physically taking away an item may escalate the behavior and lead to aggression towards you. Instead, practice teaching the ‘drop it’ command and trading games.

5. Can resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos be cured completely?

While it may not be completely cured, consistent training and management can greatly reduce the frequency and severity of resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos.

6. Should you allow your Lhasa Apso on the bed or couch if they display resource guarding behavior?

It’s best to avoid allowing your Lhasa Apso on the bed or couch if they display resource guarding behavior. This can be seen as a high-value item that they may guard.

7. Will socializing your Lhasa Apso prevent resource guarding behavior?

Socializing your Lhasa Apso can help prevent resource guarding behavior, as it helps build their confidence and reduces their need to guard their possessions from potential threats.

8. Can medication be used to treat resource guarding behavior in Lhasa Apsos?

Medication may be considered in severe cases of resource guarding behavior, but it should always be used in conjunction with training and behavior modification techniques.

9. Can you train an older Lhasa Apso to stop resource guarding behavior?

Yes, you can train an older Lhasa Apso to stop resource guarding behavior. It may take longer than with a young puppy, but consistent and patient training can still be effective.

10. Is it safe to have multiple Lhasa Apsos if one displays resource guarding behavior?

It may not be safe to have multiple Lhasa Apsos if one displays resource guarding behavior, as it can lead to fights and aggression towards each other. In this case, seeking professional help is highly recommended.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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