Food Aggression?

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by dignity, Oct 3, 2006.

  1. dignity

    dignity Pyr Pressure

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    I have a food aggressive Great Pyrenees. He is my rescue dog that I've had for 6 months. We thought we were making progress but he seems to have taken a few steps back (or maybe not).

    The good:

    He now allows the other Pyr to eat in a crate next to him with no problem (he did NOT allow this before).

    He allows me to take food from him. I can't say the same for anybody else. He and I have a stronger bond.

    The bad and ugly:
    He growls at company when they have food around them where I have to put him somewhere else.

    I was getting their food ready and shut the door like I always do when I getting their food together. My boyfriend went to pet him and he got growled at.


    I know some dogs are just food aggressive and people just work around it, but what can be done about this behavior? He also does show some male-male dog aggression, but it's not all male dogs... it APPEARS to be dogs that show aggression toward him first... but then he holds a grudge and hates the other dog for life. Any suggestions??
     
  2. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I would never ever in a million years work "around" it. This dog needs some serious counter-conditioning. What do you do when he growls at you?

    There's no need for the dogs to eat next to eachother. That is stressful and it is an instinct to protect the food from the other dog. Seperate them into different rooms when they eat. Eliviate some of that stress so you will be able to work on him where humans are concerned.

    Dog to dog aggression is not abnormal. Dog to human aggression is abnormal. There are some desensatizing things you can do to help with the dog to dog problem, but if he didn't have enough socialization to dogs as a very young pup, it will be very difficult. Plus, some breeds tend to be more that way than others.

    Personally, I'd get busy on the dog-human problem and then worry about the dog to dog. That you can manage by seperating your two dogs if they have a problem and keep him away from other dogs for now. The dog- human aggression needs addressing asap.

    You and this dog need professional help IMO. You need to be careful who you get. I recommend a certified behaviorist who uses humane methods who you get recommendations and referrences for. Don't let anyone treat your dog aggressively as a lot of trainers will use that angle and it can make things much, much worse.

    Sometimes I will give exercises which can be done to help young dogs who are just beginning to show a little possession/food guarding behaviors. Its relatively easy to head off with good conditioning. But in your case, this sounds more serious. The fact that he's growling at guests when THEY have their own food is over the top. He's not just growling at someone coming near his food bowl.

    Please get help asap.

    Just my .02 cents.
     
  3. Borntoleadk9.com

    Borntoleadk9.com Rescued Dogs are better

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    IMO.....

    taking food from a dog is a bad idea and only teaches them that, in fact, they should guard their food because we will take it away!

    once you give food to a dog thats it. it is now the dogs food. some things that have helped me in the past...

    1) use your hands to scoop the food in the bowl and get your scent all over the food.
    2) make the dog wait before approaching to eat. make him exercise patience. there are a few different ways to do this, and you must exercise with caution with a food aggression dog. seek professional help for this.
    3) spit in the food. your saliva is another major scent and tip to the dog that you (the alpha) was here first and now the left overs are his.

    all 3 of these have produced great results for me personally. some here will not agree with these ideas but its important to do further research on any tips you get here.

    these are basic begining steps and with this kind of issue, you will need a well credentialed trainer to assist you. never put yourself in harms way. and NEVER take food from a dog.....it only reconfirms his beleif that you will.
     
  4. britishbandit

    britishbandit New Member

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    I had the same problem with PJ when I got him at 7 months of age. It took months and months of working on it to get him over it. I worked with him myself, but I'd never suggest anyone else to do that. It can put you in a risky situation.

    I'd get a behaviorist in to work with him. It isn't something to be taken lightly, anything could happen.
     
  5. Alex

    Alex New Member

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    Not trying to step on any toes here...but again, I disagree. What happens if you drop something dangerous on the floor (medication maybe?) and the dog decides that it belongs to him? I firmly believe you should be able to take ANYTHING from your dog. Anything, Anytime. This is for their own safety.

    To the OP, in your situation, without seeing what's actually happening, and with such a large dog, I would contact a behaviorist or a reputable trainer in your area and seek professional help. Please be careful.
     
  6. Herschel

    Herschel New Member

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    I agree completely and I practice that with my dogs. If he gets something to chew on, I take it away 5 minutes later for a couple of minutes and then return it. He knows I will give it back if its good for him--if not, he knows I will replace it with something better.
     
  7. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I agree. I can take my dogs' food from them anytime and they are conditioned to know that they'll get it right back. I would pick up their bowl sometimes and move it to another place because maybe I need to wash the floor right there or maybe I decide to feed them in another room. I conditioned them from very young pups though. I handled their food, took things, (toys, other objects) gave them right back, give a treat as a trade, added extra yummy things to the food bowl, sat and petted them while they ate, picked up some kibbles and hand fed. I didn't harass them the whole time they were eating, but one or two times during the meal I would do something so the pups were accustomed to me getting around their food.

    Once a situation like the OP's has escalated to where the dog is acting aggressive even to people who already have something in THEIR possession, its time to get professional help. IMO. Its gone beyond a little mild food guarding in say, a younger dog who is starting to show signs. This dog (IMO) is showing signs of another kind of aggression, not just food guarding.
     
  8. Chul3l3ies1126

    Chul3l3ies1126 New Member

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    And a little fact, Great Pryeneese are known to bond to one person and be wary of others... it is very dangerous having him like that if there are kids and others around. I hope you found a solution. Good Luck
     
  9. Borntoleadk9.com

    Borntoleadk9.com Rescued Dogs are better

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    taking a food bowl away that we give them and taking a pill or bug or anything that they took is way different. besides, thats why we train the leave it command.
     
  10. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    Resource guarding is no joke and certainly isn't something that I would let continue. The notion that we should allow a dog to guard any item be it food, toys, space or anything else is asking for trouble.

    The old sayings "let sleeping dogs lie", or "don touch the dog while he's eating", absolutely make me cringe. Unfortunately, some people still thing that this is an exceptable behavior for family dogs....IT IS NOT!!

    I agree with Dober and the others who wisely recommended that you get qualified help with this problem. Make sure that it's someone who understands and has experience with resource guarding issues and will give you a step by step behavior modification based (not punishment based) program to help you to change the way your dog percieves his resources. If you need help, I can find someone for you who IS going to understand the importance and process of correcting this issue.

    Correcting a food aggression problem is not only imparative, its done without "stealing" so as to teach him the value in giving items up.
    I would first stop using a bowl at all for feeding and give food only for behaviors and by hand. The food bowl should only be reintroduced with total control, (pick up bowl, drop kibble in and offer while bowl is still in your hand) and only after you've seen a drastic change in his associations to your pressence with his food bowl.
    When progress is such that you can set the bowl down, you will be picking it up, dropping kibble in, setting back down...working towards eventually putting your hand in to add kibble and treats and picking it up during feeding at any time...with his tail wagging and his total acceptance.

    This is a slow, step by step process but it MUST be done. Please don't just leave your dog alone when he's eating.
    I go to so many bite cases where the parents have told the kids not to touch the dog when he has a bone, or food or even objects. The dog slowly gets worse because his guarding behavior has become so effective...
    Someone WILL inevedibly get hurt if this is not dealt with properly and ASAP.

    It also sounds to me like there are other issues with him that a behaviorist will be able to address as well.

    No high value items should be given at this time as you need to work on the food first and change the way he thinks about what he's given.
     
  11. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    A leave it command is completely different than teaching a dog not to resource guard. Every session/class/private is an opportunity to address this incredibly important potential problem, I would never just let a dog have his food.
    In every puppy class, I teach the owner how to change their dogs perception about giving up any and all items. The worst thing that anyone can do is forcibly take anything from a dog. You must instead teach a dog through positive methods...removing an item and giving it right back or trading for something else during this important learning phase. If this is not done during puppyhood, this natural instinct often becomes a big problem as the dog gets older, but it is still correctable.
    FYI, more dogs are euthanized in shelters for this correctable problem than any other behavior issue.
     
  12. Borntoleadk9.com

    Borntoleadk9.com Rescued Dogs are better

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    oh absolutley! that is a horrible reason to put a dog down. i agree 100% with everything you said. you are 100% right.

    i was talking about the leave it command in response to someones post about what if the dog takes a pill or something he shouldnt take. in this case, this is the point of the leave it command.

    the only thing i do not do is take a food bowl away from dogs. i think there are better ways to address food aggression issues and like you say, if done early, the problem will not develop.
     
  13. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    I have to ask, what is it about the food bowl that you consider "off limits"?

    You do know that general "food aggression" resource guarding tests done in rescues are always done using the food bowl..after all, it is a very high value resource.
     
  14. Borntoleadk9.com

    Borntoleadk9.com Rescued Dogs are better

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    im not sure i understand what you are asking? i assume you are asking why i do not take the food bowl away from my dog?

    i do not take the food bowl away because IMO i gave it to the dog and it is his food once i let him have it. i beleive taking the bowl away from a dog THAT ALREADY HAS FOOD AGGRESSION ISSUES only justifies his concern that we will take the food away.

    i am a dictator, but a fair dictator. if i give FOOD that was earned, it is now the dogs food.

    while i will not take the food away i will pet the dog, and stick my hand in the food and around the food while they eat to let them know that i may be a presence but i am not taking anything. this method has produced very good results for me in preventing dogs from developing food issues.

    we can get into the entire food, toy, resource territorialism but thats not the issue at hand. all these are tied together as far as i am concerned.

    the dog owns NOTHING and only earns the right to eat my food and play with my toys.
     
  15. roughcollies

    roughcollies Collie lover

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    Back on subject :rolleyes:

    I personally know both of Dig's dogs, but haven't seen them in a few months. The problem seems to be escalating since I left. I've eaten dinner at her house on many occassions and her male never once growled at me or showed any sign of aggression.

    Have you decided on a trainer yet, Digs? I know you had a few in mind. Have you thought about NILIF... or a similar approach where he learns that all food comes from your hand. Of course, then you'd be putting your hand, his mouth and food all very close together.
     
  16. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    I wholeheartedly agree that a problem such as food aggression is not something that should be "worked around". It's a serious problem that should be dealt with immediately.

    Whilst saying that, I do understand that some dogs are more likely to have food aggression.

    But, as many of you know, I'm kind of a stickler when it comes to things like bones/high value treats etc. It is simply NOT acceptable to growl.

    I know dober hates my attitude but it is what it is ;)

    EVERYTHING is mine. If I want it. I get it.

    Now of course I don't over do and force them to resource guard. But quite simply, neither of my dogs have food aggression and only a few times, in the beginning, have I gotten so much as a snarl for taking away a yummy meaty bone.

    I was just lucky that my attitude worked with my two dogs, because with any other it may have been a tragedy.

    I believe it was Doberluv that mentioned desensitizing, which IMO is the number one for dealing with almost any dog problem. Food aggression, dog on dog aggression, human aggression etc.

    In slow steps, whilst discouraging the behaviours you don't want.

    My two dogs used to share a food bowl, we never had any scuffles. Not one. They eat side by side now, high value food, wet dog food, no scuffles whatsoever. In fact when they are both done, they simaltaneously switch bowls to make sure no one left anything behind. Mind you, for the first few weeks, of feeding wet food, with them so close, I stood within a few feet of them. If the one of the dog's heads came out of the bowl and even looked in the other dog's direction, thinking about checking it out, verbal correction, and if that didn't work, redirection.

    I guess what I would do, is in slow steps desensitize, and discourage the bad behaviour by taking away what it is they want so badly. The mentality, "You don't behave. You don't eat". My harsh attitude arises MWAHAHAH! LOL

    As I moved on, I'd most likely leash the aggressive dog. If they lash out, hard, quick leash correction, verbal correction. I'd place the two animals where they couldn't reach each other, but still in each other's presence.

    Although, I must say, depending on the dogs age, desensitizing this food aggressive dog 100% may be impossible. Learned behaviours, *aggressive* now learned behaviours, can be extremely hard and DANGEROUS to correct.

    I wish you luck! :)

    Oh, and of course I wouldn't allow the other dog to push the problem further, by going near the food aggressive dog while it was eating. They would BOTH get corrected for even nearing the other dogs "personal bubble".
     
  17. silverpawz

    silverpawz No Sugar Added

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    I would never reccomend leash correcting a food aggressive dog when they lash out. I certainly believe corrections have their place, but that place is not in this situation.

    Leash for safety? Of course. Tethering for safety is a good idea as well. But physical corrections at this stage of the game would probably provoke the dog even further.

    Growling at other people while they eat is not a good sign. Not okay in any way shape or form. This speaks of a bigger issue than simple food bowl aggression.

    How is the relationship with this dog in other areas? Is he obedient? Will he lie down on command right away? Without food present? What do you expect of him daily?
     
  18. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    I meant tethering, but tethering itself will give the dog a leash correction. When the dog moves quickly for the other dog, it will get quickly pulled back, aka leash correction.
     
  19. roughcollies

    roughcollies Collie lover

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    A proper leash correction in this situation can work. It's not going to provoke the dog further if you do it right.
     
  20. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    Leash corrections really have no place in desensitizing for resource guarding.

    Correcting this behavior will not positively impact the way the dogs feels about what he's guarding. Desensitizing is the ONLY way to ensure that the behavior has truly become extinct and of course there is no correction delivered during desensitizing...EVER.

    While many behaviors "appear to be fixed" using correction, correcting for guarding will only result in an unpredictable dog who will need constant supervision with items that he chooses to guard.
     

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