A video of a German shepherd intensely guarding a live lobster has taken the Internet by storm, with multiple media outlets cooing in awe over what they called the “protective” dog trying to “save” her “lobster friend” from becoming dinner.
But everyone completely misinterpreted the video, a dog trainer told The Huffington Post.
“She knows the lobster is not her puppy. It is a living piece of food, basically,” said Andrea Kilkenny, a professional dog trainer and owner of Our Gang Pet Services, a pet training company based in New Jersey.
Kilkenny said it’s clear that Sami, the dog shown in the video, is trying to prevent humans and another dog from getting access to the lobster.
“In dog language this is ‘resource guarding,’” Kilkenny said. “She’s not protecting it from harm.”
Kilkenny explained that “resource guarding” is when a dog tries to make sure no other animals -- or people -- can take an object that the dog sees as valuable. She said dogs will sometimes guard food, toys or sleeping spots in a similar way.
Kilkenny also expressed concern that the situation could have turned dangerous. She noted that although Sami displayed “pretty good self control,” such guarding behavior can turn into aggression when people attempt to take the object away. The second dog in the room “exacerbated” the situation, Kilkenny said. She also highlighted that at one point Sami curls her lip upwards and bares her teeth at the other canine.
There's no single solution for how to deal with a dog exhibiting guarding behavior, and the right response can depend on the disposition and training of the dog involved, Kilkenny said. She noted that removing other dogs from the area is an important step. "Dogs will guard something because there is pressure from another animal," she told HuffPost.
Kilkenny also stressed the importance of learning how to recognize behavioral cues in dogs. “We love dogs so much,” she said. “It’s always interesting to me how people don’t understand the behavior of a species they share a home with. The more people educate themselves about [animal] behavior, the more harmonious our relationships will be.”
BEFORE YOU GO
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more informationTrack ballot status
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place