Characteristics and Adoption Success of Shelter Dogs Assessed as Resource Guarders
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Received: 16 October 2019 / Revised: 6 November 2019 / Accepted: 14 November 2019 / Published: 17 November 2019
Dogs that aggressively guard resources, such as food, toys, and sleeping sites, can pose risk to people unfamiliar with canine communication. Such dogs also present challenges to animal shelters, which typically screen for food-related guarding during behavioral evaluations. Some shelters euthanize dogs that aggressively guard food, whereas others restrict adoptions. However, few studies have examined the characteristics and adoption success of dogs that guard food in shelters. I analyzed demographic data and adoption success of dogs assessed as resource guarders at a shelter in New York (NY) over a nearly five-year period. Fifteen percent of the dog population was identified as resource guarders during shelter behavioral evaluations. Resource guarding was more common in adults and seniors than in juveniles, and it was more common in small and large dogs than medium-sized dogs. While spayed females were more likely than intact females to guard food, neutered males and intact males did not differ in their propensity to guard food. Dogs that showed severe guarding were more likely to be returned by adopters, but almost all were successfully re-adopted. These findings provide a detailed description of food guarders in a shelter dog population and show that most such dogs were successfully re-homed.