The Administrator from the Great White North, eh?
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Northern British Columbia
Make your approach something positive! Walk away, then walk by him and throw him a super-yummy treat, like a piece of cheese or a piece of wiener. Don't walk directly up to him, that can be seen as threatening, walk by him, and stay out of his "growly" space. Throw him the treat without even looking at him and walk away, and leave him be. Do this for several days, and gradually get closer.
Eventually you should be able to just walk up to him and slip a treat into his bowl. He'll be at the point that he'll be wanting you to approach during meal times, waiting for a treat.
Do this every day for a couple of weeks, or longer if needed, then phase out the treats gradually - do the approaching part but he only gets a treat randomly. Eventually he'll have such a strong association with someone approaching and reaching towards his bowl, he won't care one way or another. Once all the growling behaviour has gone, when he even stops eating looking for a treat, check to see if you can take his bowl away wihtout drama. If he just looks at you with "Hey! Where's my treat?" look, or a "Huh? this is new" look, slip a treat in his bowl and give it back to him.
Then DON'T EVER MESS WITH HIS FOOD AGAIN. Don't give him any reason to not trust you, to worry about his food being taken away. Now you know, that in an emergency, you can take something of high-value away without issues, but constantly messing with his food will only increase guarding behaviour, not decrease it.
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Keeta BH, OB1, TR1, AD
Rottweiler/Hairy Dog mix?? 2004-2015