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Food Aggressive.. What To Do?!


AuroraTheSiberian
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Good morning, all! Or at least it is here now that the 90.1" of snow we have gotten this winter is FINALLY starting to melt! Hooray for Spring!

It has been a while since I posted, want to thank everyone for all of the awesome advice and suggestions a few months back on Aurora's house training and behavior with our Snow Bengal. It all has helped and Aurora is an amazing pup now! Big pup, that is.

Something new for y'all.. Ever since we got her at 7 weeks, yes I know this is pretty young for a pup to leave their mother and this may be a reason, she is always protective/aggressive with her food.. She has never bit anyone, but she growls very loud and stuffs her face into her food so you cannot get to it. Recently, I feel it is getting worse. Every day when I feed her, I pet her to let her know I am there and not a threat to her eating and she always growls and gets defensive. Last night as a snack, I put some veggies in her food bowl. As I was petting her, she jolted at me. Did not bite, but I pulled away before she had the chance. I took her food away and she wasn't upset when I grabbed it, it seems she only gets upset when I am touching her. So as she was snacking last night, I sat on the floor with her and put an oven mitt on, just in case, and rubbed her entire body gently. She growled the entire time but did not try to bite.

What can I do about this? She is now 6 months old and in the future she will be around children, I don't want her to ever hurt anyone and I also do not want her to be uncomfortable to eat around other people. She also is very defensive of her water when other dogs are around (I NEVER feed her around another dog, that would be too stressful for her)

 

Thanks everyone! I look forward to hearing your responses.

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1. Do not pet the dog when it's in an agitated state. Contrary to your beliefs this act often reinforces the behavior and could actually be one of the reasons it appears to be getting worse rather than better.

 

2. Do not allow her to get aggressive/protective/aroused over her resources- signs begin to show long before they growl. Posture is the number one indicator- standing directly over the food bowl, hunched shoulders, hair standing up, head low, paranoid glances around the room... etc... you know your dog and you likely know when it's beginning to work itself up into a frenzy- work towards stopping it before it happens.

 

3. If she enters into an agitated state, do not remove the food bowl, rather remove the dog by pushing it back with your body and than posturing yourself over the bowl in an act of possession. Removing the food bowl will often increase a dogs possessive tendencies while removing the dog helps them associate their behavior with  your actions.

 

4. It often helps if you raise the dogs food bowl up off the ground so it has less of an opportunity to guard the bowl with it's body mass- on the flip side you can also stand directly over the bowl in an act of possession and make her eat it calmly from under your own body mass.

 

5. As she continues eating, it's very likely that her arousal level will grow. Because of this, it's often a good idea to have her periodically stop eating for a short duration before allowing her to continue with the meal- it also helps her understand that you're not there to take anything away.

 

6. Create a routine around dinner time that forces the dog to earn it's dinner... everyone should work for a living... we do, so must they less the become little brats

 

7. As she improves, add in further distractions- ultimately aiming to have her share her food bowl with another dog- which may or may not ever be achieved given the dogs particular temperament, but it's still a worth while goal.

 

 

Good luck and I hope this helps!

 

Edit* an additional note for #3... be careful when pushing the dog away so that it does not bite you but at the same time... don't avoid it. It often helps aggressive dogs to calm down when they know you're not fearful- it's best to remain calm/indifferent.

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This absolutely helps and makes sense. I understand now why I should move her away, rather than her food. I did this last night before removing her dish, I ended up removing her dish because when I moved her she whined and tried to pull away from me and get around me. What do you suggest for that?

Also, she absolutely hunches and looks agitated when I am in her space while she eats. I want to try my best to get rid of this behavior and have her be comfortable instead of having to just let her be while she eats and make sure others do the same. I talked calmly to her and pet her softly but I also can see why petting her seems to be more of praising than trying to make her comfortable.

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This absolutely helps and makes sense. I understand now why I should move her away, rather than her food. I did this last night before removing her dish, I ended up removing her dish because when I moved her she whined and tried to pull away from me and get around me. What do you suggest for that?

Also, she absolutely hunches and looks agitated when I am in her space while she eats. I want to try my best to get rid of this behavior and have her be comfortable instead of having to just let her be while she eats and make sure others do the same. I talked calmly to her and pet her softly but I also can see why petting her seems to be more of praising than trying to make her comfortable.

If she whines and tries to get around you, continue to body block her, and if necessary, step towards her to push her back. The reaction she is giving you is a sign of frustration- it's to be expected during the initial stages- ride it out until she gives up before allowing her to continue with her meal. If your consistent it shouldn't take long before the outbursts decrease in duration/frequency and eventually stop all together.

 

It also helps if you have a known routine around her feeding time such as sitting, holding eye contact, and waiting patiently for a cue that tells her she is allowed to eat. When she learns her fits of frustration don't work, she'll quickly revert to her routine as a way of asking permission- which is ideal- it helps associate you as the provider and not someone set to steal her food.

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Bindi used to have it..routine for both now is sit while I weigh food..sit and wait while I put their food down in their own spot (away from each other) and then the commad go eat...I do not take their food away while eating as I would not want that happening to me (a waiter once tried it and he nearly had 4 holes in his hand)...mine always eat away from each other as I do not want them to have a " conversation " over food...

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I also don't try to take the dogs food away when they're eating, as well - why?  I just gave it to them!  I want them to eat it!  Not play with it.  I also don't like it if someone takes my food away before I'm finished.

 

Which isn't to say I'm excusing the aggression.

 

What about hand feeding her?  Combine training and dinner time.  Have her do various commands, give her food.  I know on days we've done a lot of training I need to cut back on the dogs dinners because they've eaten so much, so you could just give a decent size amount of kibble as a reward for correctly doing something, she eats, next command, next amount of food, and so on until she's eaten her dinner.  

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Hello all,

I fed Aurora last night by hand with no problems, as I assumed. It seems she is only aggressive when eating out of her food bowl... But then again, she just recently started getting aggravated when eating her carrots on the floor by me petting her. I am just afraid it will get worse, as I have heard stories of families having to get rid of their Husky because of the food aggression being so bad they bit a family member. She is so loving and sweet and happy every other part of the day besides feeding time. I'm nervous! Help!

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I might not make myself to popular but once mine have had their food, carrot, treat, it is theirs not ours to take away again just for fun but then that is my opinion.

Mine do however know the drop command and then I can take it away and for doing this they get a voice praise and big hugs...drop command I only use when they get obsessive with something.

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I don't disagree with that.  I gave it to them, I want them to have, why would I want to take it away?  It seems unfair.  I don't pet mine when eating though I move around them filling water bowls and that is fine.  

 

Sometime though, if they're eating a treat messily and I worry that the other one (Neb finishes fast, Luc is messy) will get it I'll gather up the errant bits to make sure Luc gets them.  

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I can move the dishes around and walk around her no problem, she doesn't mind that. It's only when I touch her. Maybe as you guys are saying, I just need to leave her alone? I do understand what's being said with why give and then take away, I've never had a dog before that was protective over food so this just made me very nervous. Me being in her face while she eats clearly makes her anxious, should I just leave her alone?

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I leave mine alone do not even know if they are food agressive or not Bindi could be Alpha doubt it. And if it is a treat like the deer antlers they get to chew on every now and then I just used the drop command or a small carrot to exchange...

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I tend to lean towards Rob's view on this; food goes down, walk away and leave them to it, then come back in about 10 minutes. Same when it comes to toys and bones; I wouldn't want someone taking my things from me. But, this may not apply to everyone and in some situations won't do at all. If you have kids, then I can understand the need to quell the issue. I think Victoria Stilwell made an article about this on her website (https://positively.com/). I highly recommend you have a look on there. I disagree with the need to get physical over the issue; like 'dominating', blocking etc, as I think that it may exacerbate the problem, but that's my opinion. Hand feeding however is a good idea :)

 

Honest opinion is that you should leave her alone. She's clearly not happy with it and the growl is there to warn you that she doesn't like it.

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Last night I tried pulling her away, getting her to calm down... Nope. She was NOT having it.

SHE'S not having it? Wrong mindset m8.... YOU'RE not having it.

 

Teaching your dog that there are times when you absolutely will not be swayed no matter what it does is such a integral part in establishing your role as handler. Remaining 100% indifferent during these exchanges is also a very large aspect of teaching an aggressive dog- which is why not everyone is made to handle aggressive dog problems.

 

Your own courage, patients, and determination must be greater than your dogs.

 

Like a screaming child throwing a temper tantrum... you cannot bulge under the pressure.

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My opinion. .. put an open muzzle on her (the one where she can drink and maybe eat some what).. go for a usual dinner time routine. This time push her away and don't back down... let her growl all she wants... if she puts up a fuss tell her off while keeping a strong foundation so she knows you are the dominant one. Once she has calmed down give her a treat. I had a real fight with keira when she was 6 months old.. now i can take a bone right out from her mouth without any drama.

Having said that, it's not for every one and people will say you will make the situation worse.

- You could try approaching with treats... so as she turns to guard/growl she will smell a tasty meal. Work towards creeping in and putting treats in her bowl and go from there.

You know your dog better then any one so I'm sure you will choose the right method and get through it.

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We feed 4 dogs at the same time all have different feeding habits.  The boys howl and luxs get theirs first, they are made to sit and wait. then bells and Noah get theirs. Bella scoffs hers, and so do the boys then they are hand fed.  Noah just waits till every one has finished and nibbles but no one is allowed near apart from the Hoomans.  Howler once tried to eat Noahs food and has never tried again he got told of.

 

Personally I would let her eat her food in peace; just get on and do things around her and ignore her till she has finished, hand feed her a little then take the bowl away to be cleaned. 

 

No fuss approach is the best I think.

 

I can take anything away from them at any time without aggression, but I choose not to unless it is harmful to them.

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My was "aggressive" too. = ) Well, I have mma frighted (and I really mean it) him when he was 2 months maybe for 3-4 days then he understood that I am the boss of the food :P. Now I can remove food from inside his throat.

How I did it.
You put food on the floor when he is at 1-2 meters
then you stand in front of him with behind the food - he will try to take the food uncountable times
then slowly you put your hands around the bowl and you simulate watching him that you eat it.

if he try to go over you you just give him back 360 degree.

If he try to growl to you watch him on directly on the eyes without moving underline you space.

PS: It is important the food is on the floor otherwise it doesn't work.
 

 

Other thing to do if your dog growl to you.

*with my dog growl for other reasons when he want to play, so I grab his mouth with my hands and put my face against his nose. But don't do it if you are afraid or you feel you cannot have a full fight with him. (my dog know he is an husky i am a pitbull ) so he always after give me kisses on the mouth.

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Hey everyone!

I have decided to take a little advice from everyone. I feed Rory a little at a time every time she has her meals, but she needs to ask without being asked to ask... Does that make sense? So I will stand in front of her food bowl looking at her until she lays down next to it looking at me for approval. Then I give her a little. And repeat until I don't have any more "supper" (that's her word for all meals) left. She is very sweet, she has no problem with me being around her or sitting right next to her when she eats, it's just if I am petting her while she is eating. I can take her food and she lets me. Sometimes when she has a bone or carrot and I am dilly-dallying trying to take it from her, she will growl. But she has never bit me or tried. It's only when I am being "annoying" and petting her non stop that she get's irritated and makes it known to me. Everything has worked well so far, I will walk by her and pet her quickly so she knows I am not trying to be all up in her space. I stopped bugging her and making her uncomfortable and am just giving her alone time while she eats (I get like that sometimes too.. :P )

 

Momma's wolfy girl

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Food aggression is so common in all breeds of dog, especially if you have more than one dog in the family.  Snowy was 4.5 months old when we got him and was food aggressive, this was due to him being under fed and most likely had to share with other dogs.  He would would snap and growl at other other dog and would send food flying everywhere.  So I would feed him by hand, then I would hold his food bowl and gradually touch him whilst eating, then I would put my hand in his bowl.  I would never take it away and he learnt to trust me.

 

When we got Maiya she was clearly not used to being fed with other dogs, so we did the same with her, now I feed all 3 dogs at the same time and they are all next to each other, I mean side by side. The problem I have now is they won't eat unless I'm holding their bowls and I only have 1 pair of hands :)  

 

Treats are different.  I could take them from them but don't.  It's their treat and not fair of me to take it.  With raw meaty bones I find exchanging it with something else is a good way to remove it, for example a piece of cheese or sausage.  I believe you need to earn trust with your dog, they are afterall animals and have a natural instinct to guard and protect their food, so it's up to us to teach them and this can take time :)

 

Good luck.

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  • 1 month later...

my dog used to be pretty bad. we did a leave it exercise in which we fought him to leave the food and sit down every time I walked up to him and gave him a treat when he did (usually something special, also clicking as soon as he moved away from the bowl). after he got that down without looking nervous, I started to put my hand near the bowl with a treat and clicking when he went to take it. after about 6-7 months (yes months) I started to sit next to him and pet him a bit while eating and treating him the whole time, now he is very good, we still do it every day (both the leave it and the petting+treat combo) now the only look he gives me is when he's looking for a treat. :3 (my dog was far worse then yours, he would start to growl at about 2 feet away and give the warning signs to strangers from like 5 feet)

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