Tried lots, but Zeppelin still growls when eating and we are near him - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 45 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 06:41 AM Thread Starter
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Tried lots, but Zeppelin still growls when eating and we are near him

Hope someone has a suggestion to help us. Out shepherd is just over one year old. At about 9 months he starting growling if we pet him when he was eating his food.

My husband tried a technique that I disagreed with, which was yelling and hitting him with a rolled up newspaper. Then, Zeppelin started peeing if we corrected him for growling, but yet he still growled.

We tried my suggestions, which so far include giving Zeppelin yummy treats as he is eating and we are petting him, to make him think us petting him while he eats is a good thing that results in really good food. While his has stopped peeing, the growling got even louder.

He is actually getting worse, now growling if we are even in the same room as his food, even without us petting him.

Then, we started emptying about 1/5th of his food in his bowl, making him sit and stay before allowing him to eat, then adding a bit of food every time we enter the room. In the evening he is better using this method (although he still growls when I enter the last portion in his bowl) but his growling is still really bad in the mornings.

Not sure if this makes a difference, but he is not neutered. Upon reading this forum and our vets suggestion we are trying to wait til his is 2 yrs.

We are at our wits end. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Last edited by SARAHSMITH; 10-27-2011 at 06:44 AM.
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post #2 of 45 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 06:50 AM
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Why are you petting him while he is eating? Why can't you leave him alone?
For starters, I agree that you should be able to do anything (within reason) to a dog while eating. But yelling and beating is very counter-productive if not downright mean. There are many people in this forum more knowledgeable than me who I hope will contribute.
My opinion is that you need to start over by hand feeding. There are many threads in the behavior section that address resource guarding. Please look at those.
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post #3 of 45 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 08:07 AM
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Don't pet your dog while he is eating. Would you like somebody to do that to you?

LIke Paddy said, you have to start from the beginning. Start hand feeding, quit yelling at your dog. That will get you nowhere! The dog is going to think you are unpredictable and dangerous and will want to protect himself.

The peeing was his first attempt to appease you. That didn't work and he is switching to aggression.

If nothing else, give him his food and leave the room so he can eat in peace.
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post #4 of 45 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 08:27 AM
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I would also start hand feeding him his meals one piece at a time..I also agree, when he is eating, he should be left alone/or feed him in his crate ..

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post #5 of 45 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by SARAHSMITH View Post
My husband tried a technique that I disagreed with, which was yelling and hitting him with a rolled up newspaper. Then, Zeppelin started peeing if we corrected him for growling, but yet he still growled.
Oh boy your husband put you in a BIG hole!!! Sorry but he is the one that should be corrected with a rolled up newspaper! That type of negative reinforcement can only lead to your dog protecting himself. When he does and bites someone then he, of course, will be blamed and labeled as a vicious dog.

You have a rather lengthy trip ahead of you, I agree that you need to start from scratch. Having him eat from your hand is a good start.

I would agree that you should be able to be in close proximity to your dog but there really is no reason to pet him while he is eating. Give him his space.
Good luck.

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post #6 of 45 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 08:41 AM
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We've had so much 'fun' with Woolf's fear aggression that we did not want issues with food to start, especially since there is another dog in the house.

What we did was hand feed him some of his meals to begin with, other meals just simply tossed in something good, such as some chicken or other meat we were eating, or pieces of cheese. We still toss in good stuff now occasionally.

Try the same method.
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post #7 of 45 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 08:59 AM
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The submissive peeing is the tell. The dog is very afraid of your husband and possibly you also. You have given him the impression that you cannot be trusted. A very bad thing but a fact as things stand now. You can change it, but it will take time.

Food is very important to your dog. It is something they look forward to and deserve to enjoy in peace. Everybody leave the room when the dog eats. Feed him small amounts from your hand at odd times throughout the day -- if he even trusts you enough to eat from your hand.

IMHO, if you continue down the path you are on, the dog may one day decide the world would be a better place if your husband had one less hand to smack him with.
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post #8 of 45 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 09:12 AM
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Please don't have your husband beat your dog with a news paper. That is just WRONG! Tell your husband to stop! Plus there is no need to pet your dog while he is eating. Just let him eat and pet him later. You would like someone petting you and all in your face if you were eating?? I have to feed my two dogs separately. Your making your dog scared and he will start to act out in that fear if you keep this up. I mean this firm and nicley. Your off to a good start by asking for help. Please take that advice and hopefully things will turn around for you.

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post #9 of 45 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 02:26 PM
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You should make eating time a good time for your dog. It will take a good amount of time but you will be able to convince your dog that you or your family being around while he has his meal is a good thing. hand feeding is a great start! you could feed all of his food that way (takes time but really does help the relationship).

Eventually there is no reason for you not to be able to pet your dog while he is eating or for that matter to take anything including food out of his mouth while he is eating (once he trusts you!).

And like some already said, use the newspaper on your husband not the dog next time. or at least let him see all these posts!

Good luck and expect the change to take a good amount of time but it will work!
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post #10 of 45 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 02:33 PM
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I think you know yourself that the hitting thing wasn't a good idea. A lot of focus will be put on that fact but you said yourself that it was wrong so now to the bigger issue...
Hand feeding is a good start to building up trust. You could also try using his meals during training so that he associates that all food comes from you. Placing the food in a bowl gives him a chance to guard it but feeding through out the day will prevent this behaviour. It will take time but your focus now is to build back up your relationship. If you need to feed from a bowl I would suggest you do so while he is a crate, this will help him feel safer during meal times that nobody will be coming up behind him or bother him.
Taking things slowly is now the goal with your boy.
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