Teaching the Release – Resource Guarding Part 2

Dalmation with Tennis BallSo, you’ve taught your dog to come when called and to fetch his favorite toy.  You’ve even taught your dog to bring the toy back to you.  Congratulations!  For some dogs and owners, this is no small feat.  But, there’s just one problem; he won’t let go of the toy!  This is a form of resource guarding.  Your dog likely fears he either won’t get the toy back if/when you take it and/or, he fears the pressure he will encounter (from you or the Helper in IPO training) while he doesn’t have the object.

Trusting to Surrender

Teaching your dog to readily surrender the toy or other object of his desire when he returns to you or he’s otherwise commanded to do so, is a matter of teaching the dog to trust.  The dog must trust that he will be rewarded again with the toy.  This is accomplished by patterning your behavior in a way that teaches the dog he is allowed to possess the toy when you say so.


The dog’s behavior may be a product of your interactions with him, though this is not always true.  Take time to evaluate how your play sessions typically progress.  Do you force the dog to surrender the toy immediately upon his return to you when playing fetch?  Is this followed by teasing the dog with the toy and delaying the return of the toy to the dog?  This routine may contribute to the dog’s reluctance to surrender the toy to you.

The Training Routine

Try changing your play by adopting the following routine (Warning! At the start, this routine will take a healthy dose of patience!) It is recommended this training be done with a tug, ball on a rope or other toy that allows you to grab hold on either side.  Completion of clicker training is also necessary.  Place your dog in a flat collar with a leash attached.


  • This training can only begin when the dog chooses to release the toy on his own – have patience and wait him out. (Yes, this may take a very long time.)  When this happens, “click” and reward the dog by presenting the toy to him.
  • Encourage the dog to come to you and interact with the dog by tugging and “rough housing” with the dog. Be sure to make this as much fun as possible for you both.
  • After at least 5 seconds of play, grab the leash and encourage your dog to proudly parade his conquest (toy) around you in a circle.
  • Once the parade is complete, grab the toy on either side of the dog’s mouth. Hold the toy still without causing any physical or social pressure on the dog. This means, hold the toy in such a way as to not intimidate the dog by bending over him or staring him in the eye (social pressure) while, keeping the toy motionless despite the dogs efforts to continue the game of tug (physical pressure).
  • As soon as the dog releases the toy, “click” and reward him by presenting the toy while you praise him.
  • Repeat this routine several times in succession over the course of a few days. With time and patience, your dog should take less and less time to release the toy to you.

We Can Help

Are you looking for a better behaved, more obedient dog? Longoriahaus Dog Training provides customized Dog Training in Houston for your pet or your competition prospect.  Contact us today to learn more about our exciting program.

*image by Maja Dumat

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