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  • Food aggression???

    My dane Hurley is now 5 months old. He is the most loving dog I've ever seen. Since he was 2 months old I've been making sure that I play with his food and sometimes take it away during his meal just to show him that it's OK for us to touch his food. I want him to know that he'll get it back and we're no threat. However, yesterday my husband tried to squeeze by Hurley while he was eating and he growled at my husband. I am the one that he listens to and follows so I just figured that's why he did it to my husband. But then this morning I fed him and tried to move his dish and he growled at me!! He doesn't snap but I don't want this becoming a bigger issue where he would bite someone in our family. He's never shown any type of aggression before. He doesn't even growl at other animals.

    Has anyone ever gone through this before??? What should I do? He's gone through the obedience training and passed that with flying colors. He really is a great dog and listens very well. This, I can honestly say, is his only issue. However, to me this is a very BIG issue.
    Any advice would be very much appreciated.
    NICKI

  • #2
    RE: Food aggression???

    >Since he was 2 months old I've been making
    >sure that I play with his food and sometimes take it away
    >during his meal just to show him that it's OK for us to touch
    >his food.

    I'm curious where you got the idea taking his food away creates a positive association with humans near his food? What you're really teaching him is that humans hover and steal the whole bowl with no warning.

    Check out the book Mine! A Guide to Resource Guarding. Better to be prepared early.

    Stop taking his food away. Holding his dish is fine but now that he has some worries, be careful. Instead of taking his food away, create positive associations with you near his food dish by adding more food or other goodies. You can even just put one handful of food in, and when he's done, add another. If the dish is causing him to want to guard, you may need to hand feed him for a few days. You want to show him people don't want his food. As he progresses it would be helpful to have your husband feed him more as well as handle other dog activities so its not just you he listens to.


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    • #3
      RE: Food aggression???

      >>Since he was 2 months old I've been making
      >>sure that I play with his food and sometimes take it away
      >>during his meal just to show him that it's OK for us to
      >touch
      >>his food.
      >
      >I'm curious where you got the idea taking his food away
      >creates a positive association with humans near his food? What
      >you're really teaching him is that humans hover and steal the
      >whole bowl with no warning.
      >
      >Check out the book Mine! A Guide to Resource Guarding. Better
      >to be prepared early.
      >
      >Stop taking his food away. Holding his dish is fine but now
      >that he has some worries, be careful. Instead of taking his
      >food away, create positive associations with you near his food
      >dish by adding more food or other goodies. You can even just
      >put one handful of food in, and when he's done, add another.
      >If the dish is causing him to want to guard, you may need to
      >hand feed him for a few days. You want to show him people
      >don't want his food. As he progresses it would be helpful to
      >have your husband feed him more as well as handle other dog
      >activities so its not just you he listens to.
      >
      >
      >
      Wow. I know this sounds stupid but I really didn't think of it that way. I was told by a friend of ours that you should play with their food so they get comfortable with having you around when they eat. I'll have myself and my husband hand feed him for a couple of days and see if that helps. Thank you for the insight. It's greatly appreciated.
      NICKI

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      • #4
        RE: Food aggression???

        Hey Nicki,
        We get posts like this pretty often and in almost all cases the people have done exactly as you have hoping to teach the dog not to be food aggressive but almost always, the opposite happens. In trying to keep the dog from being food aggressive, they have taught him to be exactly that.

        My advice would be for at least the next 3 or 4 months, leave the poor dog alone and let him eat undisturbed. After that if you want to do as Ali suggested, add food to the dish while he is eating that is fine. Personally, I would just leave him alone forever.

        Bill Carnes
        www.skylarzack.com/rawfeeding.htm

        "Unnatural diets predispose animals to unnatural outcomes"
        Dr. Tom Lonsdale

        "If you won't eat what you are feeding your dog, its not good enough to feed him either."
        Bill Carnes

        "Causing pain, either physical, mental, or emotional to an animal to force him to act as you think he should is wrong. Doing so only reflects the ignorance of the trainer. There IS a better way."
        Bill Carnes

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        • #5
          RE: Food aggression???

          All of my dogs since the day they have come into my house have been desensitized to my hands in their bowl, taking it away & giving a good treat when they relinquish it and returning it. I am of the mindset that a dog should give up their food when requested each time, every time.

          I've had my head in the bowl of every dog I've owned & trained. Especially when a dog lives with children this is imperative that they allow this. They don't have to like it nor do they have to agree with it, but they must allow it.

          I have never had one of my dogs nor my training dogs become food aggressive. I do this with bones as well and again have never had a food aggression problem. This does not mean that the dog is bugged every meal, but most definately until they are a year old some necessity exists that they may need something they consider of value removed from their mouth.

          I've seen countless pups walk through here that were resource guarding that I have worked through with them, this is one of those areas that I have no tolerance for any resistance since it's the most likely reason for a bite to a young child. If they growl they earn every piece of food that is given for 2 meals, then the next two meals I slowly add small handfuls in, then they get their next meal with my hand in the dish to start then my hand entering their dish while they are eating, if they guard we start over again.


          Mitch

          In Memory of Gabe. What he lacked in body he made up for in heart.
          http://i148.photobucket.com/albums/s...m/doofuses.jpg

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          • #6
            RE: Food aggression???

            >If they growl they earn every piece of food that is given for 2 >meals, then the next two meals I slowly add small handfuls in, then >they get their next meal with my hand in the dish to start then my >hand entering their dish while they are eating, if they guard we >start over again.

            What exactly do you mean by "earn every piece of food that is given for 2 meals"? Do I make him sit, lay down?? His last meal he just had at 11:00am(EST) and I handfed every piece. I hope that will help. Thank you for the help Mitch!!

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            • #7
              RE: Food aggression???

              My concern with leaving the dog totally alone now is that he has the idea that people are after his food. I imagine him eaing in peace thinking over when are they coming back for my food! I would want to try to get the other mindset going asap.

              Mitch, I'm sorry but stories you've told of your dogs sure sound like aggression and food aggression have been issues. I don't want to get into it but I don't think its honest or fair of you to proclaim you've never had problems.

              I do not think its wise to advise a new owner dealing with food aggression that they are creating and increasing to continue doing the same thing.

              To the OP, just try to think out in advance, in every aspect, what sort of association you are creating to the dog.

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              • #8
                RE: Food aggression???

                Thank you everyone for the replies. It's a great help. Alecia?? I did order that book you mentioned off of amazon 10 minutes ago. It can't hurt to do more research I guess. I'd do anything for my puppy if I thought it would help him. Like I said though, this is his only aggressive behavior. He really is a sweet, loving dog. I don't want anyone out there thinking that I have this big, nasty dog. He's a sweetheart, really. Thanks again!
                NICKI

                Comment


                • #9
                  RE: Food aggression???

                  Yep that's exactly what I meant.

                  Please keep me posted on how he's doing. This should be enjoyable not harsh.

                  Mitch

                  In Memory of Gabe. What he lacked in body he made up for in heart.
                  http://i148.photobucket.com/albums/s...m/doofuses.jpg

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                  • #10
                    RE: Food aggression???

                    My ONLY food issue came recently when Elliott came back from his new home starved, I hardly think that had anything to do with any treatment he had years back as a puppy. He was 3 1/2 when he left here without any food issues and came back with them.

                    I'll save you the time of sifting through all my posts, I've never had a food issue with any dog of mine minus El's stated problem stemming from his being underfed. Including mine allowing other dogs to stick their heads in their dishes and/or remove food from their mouths.

                    If you think you remember otherwise, feel free to sift, but please do not call me a liar or misleading without having facts.

                    I've been training dogs quite a while, worked through countless issues of food/resource guarding and have never had a dog not turn around with the methods I recommended and come to realize that hands going into their bowls are worth ignoring.



                    Mitch

                    In Memory of Gabe. What he lacked in body he made up for in heart.
                    http://i148.photobucket.com/albums/s...m/doofuses.jpg

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      RE: Food aggression???

                      I just got finish reading up on good manners for dogs. You might want to ask the dog to sit stay before his meal, so that way the dog understands that you are the hierarchy. In nature, the higher rank also eats first and the lower so on. It like a prelivage to eat, so you are actually rewarding for waiting for his turn to eat. Do you feed him before you eat? If so you might want the feed yourself and the family first before your dog, cause if you let him eat first he is going to think that he is the higher rank and that might be a reason why he is growling, he is saying "Hey, what are you doing, you cant take my food, Im the first one in line".

                      You can ask him to sit stay while you prepare it and before you give it to him, release him from his sit stay. You can also try hoovering over your dog while eating and drop in whats called a Bronze treat, something that he likes better than his normal dinner. So that way the dog can also understand that is okay for you to be near and in his mind he is thinking "Hey it okay, cause I know Im going to get something better." Once he is okay with that, try taking the bowl and adding whats called a GOLD treat. Something that he goes nutts for. Ask him to sit again before you put it back down. He will then understand, it okay cause he knows he is going to get it back.

                      You can also try by reading "The Loved Dog" by Tamar Geller, great book pages 100-101

                      Susanne C. Roberts-Phillips

                      http://www.streborsgreatdanes.com/si...e4-213x228.jpg

                      Life is grand, when you love a Dane. Have you licked your Dane today? :P
                      Member:
                      Macon Kennel Club
                      & Great Dane Club of the Mid-South

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        RE: Food aggression???

                        To Robin:

                        Thank you for the advice. I'll definately check out that book also. Hurley DOES sit and stay already. I hold his bowl, make him sit and stay, and then put the bowl down. He actually does not go for the food until I say it's ok to do so. He doesn't even look at the food after I put it down. He's focused on me to see when I give him the go ahead. This is why this is so confusing why he challenged me with the food. He knows it's my choice to give him food and he's wonderful with the commands.
                        Once again, everyone's been a great help!

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                        • #13
                          RE: Food aggression???

                          I have two Danes, Diesel (18 months) and Tinkerbelle (6 months).

                          With both of them, after I got them and after they knew where there "dedicated eating area" was I started hand feeding them some of there kibble, and getting my 7 year old and wife to hand feed them sometimes.

                          I would add food to there bowls and give them pets while they were eating, basically I tried to install the idea that the food was there and it was safe, they didnít have to protect it.

                          Tinkerbelle recently had some issues with a cow femur that I gave her. So I simply laid beside her and pretended I was sharing. I then took it away, got here to sit and gave her a treat. Of course she got the bone back too.

                          After the first afternoon of playing with her like this, she now stops chewing leaves the bone and comes for pets when anyone goes near. My three year old niece could take her bone away while she was chewing with no problem.

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                          • #14
                            RE: Food aggression???

                            >My concern with leaving the dog totally alone now is that he
                            >has the idea that people are after his food. I imagine him
                            >eaing in peace thinking over when are they coming back for my
                            >food! I would want to try to get the other mindset going asap.

                            Think of him being out on leash and he finds something that he wants to eat, but is dangerous. You want to be able to stop your dog from drinking anti-freeze if he finds some. What if a kid drops his ice cream cone near your dog, he thinks it's fair game since it's on the ground and grabs it, then the kid goes to get it back. I'm not saying that fixing it is mandetory, but it does prevent potential problems and allow you to be more relaxed because you know your dog is "safe."

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                            • #15
                              RE: Food aggression???

                              When Gus was around one, he was gnawing on a RMB, my daughter walked by him, tripped and fell face first on the bone, he didn't so much as make a grab for the bone, may have even licked her face (memory is a bit foggy on that part) and went back to it. Had he not been worked with as a pup, I highly doubt he would have been that okay with it.

                              Mitch

                              In Memory of Gabe. What he lacked in body he made up for in heart.
                              http://i148.photobucket.com/albums/s...m/doofuses.jpg

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