Growler during eating! Help! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Growler during eating! Help!

Hey everyone, Ghost has come a really long way in the last few weeks, hes such a good boy... but theres a few habits picked up at the shelter that i need to break...

the one that makes me most nervous is when we go to feed him.... he begins to eat, and if we are there with him, hes fine. no fuss...

but,

if we dont sit next to him, or get up and go back or just any movement near him while hes eating, he growls. shows teeth, gets defensive and guards.


what advice can anyone give to help this issue?

we try to sit with him while he eats and even hand feed sometimes to alleviate his paranoia during his feedings....

Ghost -- All white GSD/Husky, rescued at 21 weeks, weighing 36 pounds, 1-9-18
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 12:56 PM
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Just leave him alone to eat in peace. Is it important enough to you to hover over him while he eats that you're willing to fight him over it? Because he is.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 12:58 PM
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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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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 01:27 PM Thread Starter
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We dont even mess with his food.... we literally ask him to sit, we place his bowl down, and the frenzy begins, by the time we come back through the area after putting the bag away, the second he senses someone nearby (if we didn't stay and sit with him) is when the growls come...

me as the dad, i dont see it.... im never home for it, my wife and daughter are the feeders, AM and PM... maybe she embellishes a bit but i dont want a call saying theres teeth marks on skin...

Ghost -- All white GSD/Husky, rescued at 21 weeks, weighing 36 pounds, 1-9-18
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 01:37 PM
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Do the throwing treats as described - it works!

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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Castlemaid View Post
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.

I came here to write exactly this post!
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLla84 View Post
We dont even mess with his food.... we literally ask him to sit, we place his bowl down, and the frenzy begins, by the time we come back through the area after putting the bag away, the second he senses someone nearby (if we didn't stay and sit with him) is when the growls come...

me as the dad, i dont see it.... im never home for it, my wife and daughter are the feeders, AM and PM... maybe she embellishes a bit but i dont want a call saying theres teeth marks on skin...
Look at this from your puppy's perspective, even though he's not growling when you "sit with him" while he's eating, he's feeling pressured. It's not comfortable, but he's focusing on eating all the food quickly so nothing bad does happen. Why would you sit with him while he's eating? I can tell you I've never had a problem with any puppy or dog I've ever had protecting their food from me, but I don't ever pressure them while they're eating either. Stop that, and follow @Castlemaid's advice with the high-value treats and your problem will be solved!
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 03:01 PM
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I'm not saying you or the other members of the family are messing with his food, just explaining in general about how to stop food guarding. Most people's reaction to fix this, is to get the dog used to interference by stroking them while eating, putting their hands in the bowl, taking the bowl away to show that as Alpha, they control the food - these techniques are often counterproductive and only increase the guarding. Again, not saying that you guys are doing this, just giving a wider view of what to do, and what not to do.

Often, when I give an answer to a question, I try to cover different scenarios, as this forum is heavily followed by the general public, so I try to address not only the issue at hand, but the bigger picture.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 03:13 PM
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I adopted a pound puppy, who was a terrible resource guarder. I hand fed him his meal. I worked to desensitize him, so he would know that I was not going to take his food. I always gave. Never took away. It took time. He is different dog today. He is 5 now. I still don't mess with his food, not because I can't, but because I don't want to undo all my hard work. HA!
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLla84 View Post
Hey everyone, Ghost has come a really long way in the last few weeks, hes such a good boy... but theres a few habits picked up at the shelter that i need to break...

the one that makes me most nervous is when we go to feed him.... he begins to eat, and if we are there with him, hes fine. no fuss...

but,

if we dont sit next to him, or get up and go back or just any movement near him while hes eating, he growls. shows teeth, gets defensive and guards.


what advice can anyone give to help this issue?

we try to sit with him while he eats and even hand feed sometimes to alleviate his paranoia during his feedings....
My big problem with this is it can lead to bolting food, which isn't healthy. I would be hand feeding every meal. Dog gets no food that does not come from your hand. If that isn't possible or seems to be making him worse, or if he makes any attempt to bite crate him for every meal and make it very clear to people that food, treats and chews need to be given in his crate.
I owned a dog for 13 years that never ate a meal outside his crate. And I own one now who won't eat if I am not sitting with her and petting her. They are all different, and sometimes it's better to just embrace the differences and roll with it. Pick your battles.
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