Most dogs have a natural inclination to guard coveted items. Just look at your dog when it sits next to a favorite toy. If you have other dogs, it may try to use visual and other cues to signal ownership of that toy. It could be a bone, a sock or almost anything that it likes -- including you.
In her book 101 Ways to Do More With Your Dog: Make Your Dog a Superdog with Sports, Games, Exercises, Tricks, Mental Challenges, Crafts and Bonding, author Kyra Sundance shows you how to train your dog to guard an object. As she astutely points out, it’s easier to teach your dog to sit on an object than it is to have your pet stay near it. With that in mind, let’s say that you have left your suitcase behind and would like for your dog to guard it.
First, Sundance instructs that you should use a treat to lure your dog on top of the object, which in this instance is a suitcase. Tell your dog to stay, and have it hold there for a few seconds. Again, reward it with a treat. As your dog is staying, walk around the suitcase, continuing to instruct your dog to stay. Although you are moving, your dog should not. At this point, you can try slowly backing up, creating distance between yourself and the suitcase. Monitor your dog to ensure that it is holding its position.
Once your dog learns this basic technique, you can replace the suitcase with other items. Often just having a watchful dog present is enough of a deterrent for would-be thieves, so this can be a very handy skill to teach your furry pal. Later, you can also train your dog to bark if someone else approaches, alerting you if you are still within earshot.