Please help, food aggression problem

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by yilduz, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    6,403
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Two dogs, three cats
    Location:
    Central Texas
    OK, first of all, stop thinking of this problem as "FOOD guarding" and start thinkng of it as "RESOURCE guarding." You have said that she will guard her food bowl, as well as treats (and crumbs from treats), as well as bones. I would say she will probably also start guarding your food from the other dog, possibly water bowls, then sleeping spaces, then YOU (you are a resource), etc. It's WONDERFUL that you're feeding them meals in separate crates, but you must make sure that ALL their resources come when they are alone - NO bones, NO toys, NO training, NO getting on furnature, NO walking out doors, etc., or you will continue seeing the problem escalate.

    Also, I know that it is the first thought to punish guarding, by pinning, hitting nose, prying mouth open, taking food away, etc. But remember WHY she's guarding - because she's afraid that the resource will be taken away from her. Punishing this behavior is only going to CONFIRM that the resource will be taken away, and that possibly other bad things will happen as well, and the behavior will escelate. You're very lucky that you haven't been bitten yet - don't wait until it happens to decide to do something different.

    The book Mine! is, I think, the resource guarding bible. Jean Donaldson describes in great detail why dogs guard, what guarding looks like, what they guard, and of course, how to fix it. Basically she explains how to change the association from "bad things happen when the dog walks past my bowl" to "GREAT things happen when the dog walks past my bowl!" Note that this is different from "Nothing bad happens when the dog walks past my bowl, UNLESS I guard my food" which is what you're expecting your dog to learn if you punish the guarding.

    I highly agree with the majority of the advice above, especially the part where Athena wears a tab or leash all the time in the house. Management of resource guarding is the most important thing to do right now, that is, until you have a clear training plan in place for fixing it, and a leash is a great management tool. You can hold the leash to keep her away from the other animals if she is acting aggressively, and she will be less likely to turn around and displace the aggression to you since she doesn't directly associate the leash with you.
     
  2. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    6,403
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Two dogs, three cats
    Location:
    Central Texas
    They should avoid the problem because the pug (the problem, in essence) is only going to be around for a month, and because if there is another incident within that month, Athena will be euthanized. Even by addressing the problem, it is possible there could be another incident, and one month's worth of training is not worth the risk of Athena dying!

    But definately, work on the problem at some poing soon after the pug leaves.
     
  3. Deedlit

    Deedlit New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    4
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Home Page:
    Thats exactly what we are planning on doing, and its a lot easier for me to grasp and understand when I read the words someone else writes down, so thank you!

    We had already planned on working on the issue to make it better AFTER the other animals have left, to avoid another incident, to just take Athena away from any instance where aggressive behavior may become an issue while the other animals are in the house, but my question is, AFTER the other animals leave, how do you asses whether or not what you are doing is working if there are no other animals to determine that?

    I know I am getting ahead of myself and should be focusing on the month ahead, instead of beyond that, but I am just curious.

    (As I search eBay for that book. Thanks again.)
     
  4. Zoom

    Zoom Twin 2.0

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Messages:
    40,739
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    NILIF is "Nothing In Life Is Free". Basically means that the dog has to work for *everything* she wants. Require some sort of obedience or trick before feeding, petting, letting outside, putting the leash on, etc. You're already doing that with meal time, that's great. The idea behind this is to let the dog know in a nice but no nonesene way that YOU control all resources and it's in their best interest to do what you say.

    When my Lab first came back to me after being in a different home for a few months, she had withdrawn into herself and didn't feel the need to listen to much, because she probably figured she was going to be going somewhere else soon enough and it didn't matter. I had to, and still do to an extent, put her through Doggy Bootcamp with the NILIF just to get through to her. She didn't see me as anything more than a stop along the way.
     
  5. Deedlit

    Deedlit New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    4
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Home Page:
    I see what you mean. It's really easy for me to get frustrated because she is so high energy and I tell her to sit, before doing things like going in or outside, putting a leash on (which she gets VERY excited about), eating, etc. But my biggest thing I am learning out of all this is to BE PATIENT. heh. Its hard for me, but I know it will be the make or break for this dog. I will make sure that any and every action is earned from here on out.

    One "trick" we have been still working on is "down". She knows sit, and stay pretty well, among others. I am trying to get it so I can merely say the word "down" and she lays down. But as of now, I have to point to the floor in front of her and she does it.
     
  6. Zoom

    Zoom Twin 2.0

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Messages:
    40,739
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Dogs typically do better with hand signals over voice anyway, so that's not unusual. Another trick that I use a lot, especially with my "And why should I?" lab is to make her perform that one command in order to get her dinner. Down/wait was a harder one for her, so I started requiring it before she could eat and now it's automatic.
     
  7. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Messages:
    8,233
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    4 dogs
    Location:
    here
    Yea, many of us are still learning that end of things. Dogs will kinda force it on you. ;)

    Another thing that NILIF does is it teaches the dog that their actions directly influence whether or not they get something they want.

    Well, there's a chance that it may not be an issue after they're gone. Unless you have other animals come and go or if you take her places where there are other animals.

    I would still work on it even after they're gone, because she'll learn valuable things from it and you never know when you might be in a situation to need those skills. If you're out for a walk and a loose dog approaches, if you're at the vet's and another dog gets too close, if her resource guarding develops into being directed towards people, and just good control and obedience skills in general.

    Well, being aggressive and guardy towards the other animals doesn't necessarily mean she'll become aggressive towards people. But...

    Yea, in the heat of the moment, redirected aggression to the nearest target (you) is common. But you definitely want to be aware of the potential here for her to develop human aggression.
     
  8. Deedlit

    Deedlit New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    4
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Home Page:
    So far the rest of the day has gone really well and she did awesome on the leash. We bought her a harness, so as to have a little more control over her and so she isn't feeling like shes being choked either.

    My father called and yilduz told him what our plan was, about the books we bought and the help we have gotten from all of you and how much we have both learned in just the past 24 hours. He sounded very pleased and said he thinks we can pull it off and really hopes that we can.

    I can't even express to you all how much of a difference you have made in our lives just the past few days. All of your support has been greatly appreciated and hopefully, we can become an integral part of this community and be able to give back as much as you have given to us. Thanks again. I will make sure to keep everyone updated as the month goes on. Again, thank you so very much.
     

Share This Page