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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all. I have read a few other posts similar to mine but I can't help but wonder if every case is just that bit different.
I have a 5 month old male GS puppy. My husband and I got him from a reputable breeder - he is the picture of health and is a happy, clever boy. We noticed early on that he LOVED his food. He would jump up in the air while I was holding his bowl/putting out his food and he'd dive straight on it, gulping it down and causing him to bloat up really bad one time so I bought him a slow feeding bowl. He would also growl, bark and show general signs of aggression if anyone went near him while eating. He was even worse while eating a chew/treat, and my husband has been nipped by him while trying to take the chew away from him (which I warned would be a bad idea, so he no longer does this.)
I fixed the jumping up issue as well as the diving into his bowl - he sits and waits like a good boy now and gives his paw and waits before he eats. I also fixed the issue with treats too - he'll bring chews/treats/bones to us now as he chews them, as though showing it off or sharing it. At least I thought I fixed it. The other day my mum came over, and having left the room I heard a loud bark/growl. I came back to be told by her that she had tried to stroke him while eating and he warned her off. Not only this, but more alarmingly, he is very aggressive over his food/treats when it comes to my other dog (6 year old female lab/collie). She is a very quiet/submissive dog and he is the opposite. She refuses to play or sleep with him - and I can hardly blame her as they have had a few "fights" due to his food aggression (no blood drawn, but still unpleasant and scary to see them snapping/growling at each other). Even when she walks past him while he is eating, with NO interest in his food, he'll stiffen up and stare at her while growling and eating his food, letting out a warning bark every now and then. After this, he'll growl at anything/anyone near him.
The fix seemed easy enough with my husband and I, but I'm not entirely sure what to do in regards to my other dog and other people. Of course there's always the option to feed him in a separate room forever but it feels like just ignoring the problem instead of fixing it.

If it at all makes a difference, he was hand-reared, as were his siblings after being rejected by mum.
I'm a bit at a loss and wondering if being more of a strict taskmaster with him would make a difference. I had a male GSD who died 10th May this year aged 11 (DM) and he was as docile as a pet rock, so had no aggression issues whatsoever, so this is all a bit new to me. Has anyone else dealt with something similar, and what did you do to fix it? Any advice would be appreciated.
Thank you.
 

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Resource guarding can be managed successfully but never eliminated.Insisting that he be touched by visitors and stay near another dog during his 5 minute mealtime will increase his anxiety.
 

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This is easy. Like Terri said - it can be managed but never eliminated. It's a survival instinct and possession that is just in the dog.

1. All feeding happens in a crate, both dogs in crates. Neither is allowed to bother the other. They are in a safe place where they do not feel the need to resource guard. Mine grow up like this from the age of 8 weeks when they come home.

2. Stop touching him while he's eating. I don't want people touching me while I'm eating.

3. Teach him Out. Whatever is in your mouth, drop it.

3. Trade up. Always trade UP. If you take something from him, give him something else first. This will eliminate the aggression towards you because you are building trust. I do this from the time they are babies because the one time I need to take something in an emergency, I don't want a fight on my hands.

Personal space, obedience and trust :) And then you just need to be aware as he matures of the dog you have and the pack dynamics. When it was Seger and Jax, I could have toys and chews out. They didn't squabble over things. But Faren is another matter with her high possession so Seger's life changed with all things picked up so there wasn't issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for the replies everyone. I would just like to note that we avoid touching him while he is eating (we do the whole praising him from afar and throwing him a treat and adding a little more food to his bowl by hand after making him sit and wait again). He also knows "out" but to him it's "leave it", which honestly he's not 100% on so I'll definitely be tightening that up. I'll try the crate feeding. It's just crazy for me, as when it was my late GSD and lab/collie, they could eat side-by-side and she'd even hoover up his mess without bother. They'd happily trade chews and bones. So I suppose I assumed it would or could be the same, and so I need to adapt to the situation instead of hoping for miracles.
Thank you again, I'll give everything a go and keep updating if the situation worsens or betters.
 

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Dogma, would you correct him for growling at the other dog for just casually walking past?
She may not "casually" passing by. Their signs can be very subtle and not noticed by us. I would crate them both during feeding time to prevent this. A friend (animal behaviorist, PhD) pointed out that my female Whippet was a bully. Never knew this but she bullied with her eyes. She never acted physically because she didn't have the status in that group 🤷‍♂️
BTW: none of my dogs in any group slept together, even though there weren't any aggression issues besides a few, normal. disagreements.
 

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My lab has enough interest in food that he will hover closer than is acceptable to my shepherd when he is finishing eating. They’ve always been fed separately even though I am sure there would never be an actual altercation.

We took down that baby gate for some reason and if I see the lab thinking of going into the dining room (where the shepherd eats), I remind him not to. He knows he isn’t to crowd his brother. But the desire for food will win out if I don’t keep an eye.

I’ve never had any dogs who could eat near each other and be fine. To me it’s just standard procedure that they are separated and supervised until food is gone and bowls are up.
 

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I would just like to note that we avoid touching him while he is eating (we do the whole praising him from afar and throwing him a treat and adding a little more food to his bowl by hand after making him sit and wait again).
I would just him alone when he is eating. We have two Malinois, the older one is not food aggressive. The younger one is food aggressive, she was food aggressive with us (not anymore, we got it settled when she was 4 months old). She is food aggressive with other dogs, we just manage it by feeding her in her crate. To me, that's no big deal, guarding food is a survival instinct.

We don't bother our dogs when they are eating. To me, giving him his meal, then expecting him to do more obedience commands (sit and wait again) is just creating unnecessary conflicts with him. That's like giving someone a paycheck, then taking it back, expecting the person to work some more, then giving the paycheck back to him again.
 

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leave him alone and let him eat in peace. I have 2 and one eats in the kitchen, the other in the adjacent laundry. The door is open but they each have their own private eating spot.
 

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I’ve never had any dogs who could eat near each other and be fine. To me it’s just standard procedure that they are separated and supervised until food is gone and bowls are up.
Agreed! Mine are always fed with some sort of physical barrier in between like a wall or around a corner. I still give them a treat when removing the bowl when finished. Deja brings her bowl back when she has decided she is done and releases it freely, and gets rewarded with a treat (piece of dried raw).
With the OP pup's food aggression, I would make sure the bowl is truly empty and reward him while you take it away. Maybe teach him to sit (lure in position with a treat at first) before taking the bowl to add some distance. Keep his nosy room mate away! Also no bowls on the floor in between feeding time.
 

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I would feed in crate, and walk away. He obviously feels the need to guard his food, so
“praising him from afar and throwing him a treat and adding a little more food to his bowl by hand after making him sit and wait again” just adds to the food drama.
I would give him his food in another room and let him eat in peace. After a week or so, I would approach without saying anything, and slip him a nice treat through the bars of the crate. Maybe progress to having the door open.

But no other dogs around when he eats, and definitely give treats for a completed command, with no other dogs there.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It seems to work well enough to distract him from his bowl momentarily, wagging his tail waiting for me to give him more food - but I do get what you're saying, it makes complete sense that it's making more of a big deal about the food than necessary. Will try suggestions, thanks again.
 

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Dogma, would you correct him for growling at the other dog for just casually walking past?
No.I don't want to squash any communication. I want to listen and understand the dog's point of view. From what the OP has shared so far the well intentioned attempt to "fix" it elevates the anxiety.
My latest experience with guarding was with hubby's dog when he first brought her home a couple of years ago. The other two dogs eat in the kitchen in separate spots. The new girl was very obviously growly and "whale eyed" as I was dipping out kibble. I stopped and led her to the porch, put up the baby gate.She ate her meals behind the gate for months,would run to her spot on cue,gate closed, serve the meals,Remove The Bowls,open the gate,done.The same thing when they all had a chew.When I was totally sure they were all comfortable I eliminated the gate.
They are habituated to eat in their spots and ignore each other. If I give them all a chew they all head in a different place to enjoy it in peace.If she was anxious without a barrier it would go right back up.So anyway, I like to listen to what they are telling me and help them figure out a peaceful pack dynamic. There is no one formula for every household. Listen and eliminate stress
 

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My shepherd would growl if the lab walked too near him while he is eating. My view on that is, the lab is making the shepherd uncomfortable and I should make it possible for the shepherd to eat in peace.

now on some occasions I have corrected the shepherd. He will rarely sort of peacefully guard my husband. Say the lab wants to go say hi and get pets, the shepherd will insert himself between and give a look and the lab will immediately leave.

that is not okay with me and I let him know it. Nothing crazy, I just sternly tell the shepherd to get out of there and not do that.
My other shepherd would guard and she would actually bite another dog. I don’t see my white dog ever biting his brother. But certain things I just don’t think are acceptable and coming between the lab and my husband is one.

Just because he is a big wolf and he knows the lab will back down he sort of abuses his privileges every once in awhile. I just think that’s rude.
 

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To me, giving him his meal, then expecting him to do more obedience commands (sit and wait again) is just creating unnecessary conflicts with him. That's like giving someone a paycheck, then taking it back, expecting the person to work some more, then giving the paycheck back to him again.
Actually in the context of what she gave as an example, more correctly it would be like giving someone a paycheck, then expecting the person to work if they want another paycheck....;)
 

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My dog eat in the same room but back to back and 10 feet away. That seems to be the correct distance, no drama and aren't big resource guarders but Rogan is certainly food motivated. In the early days, I would just watch and Rogan might head on over to take a look and got a little communication/growl. I kept Rogan away to be fair to Harley and generally stayed in eyeshot or between them for awhile.

Very soon Rogan ate enough that he always finishes after Harley and it's a non issue. Harley always goes over and licks out the other bowl and no issue. They can each have meaty bones without issue unless one decides the other one (identical) looks better. It's always Rogan and he never actually tries to take it unless Harley walks away. He receives a lip curl now and again but that's it.

Not everyone agrees but growling at me is another issue. I don't get growled at my own dogs for anything reasonable I've done....and I don't do anything unreasonable. I can pick them up, hold their feet, clean their ears .... and take their food. It's a safety issue as you never know when you have to take a dangerous high value item or a poison etc. Just another form of "drop" or "out" to me.

If my dog ever hit a threshold where he had to growl at me, that's on me. But that threshold has to be understood by both of us to be pretty **** high.
 

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Actually in the context of what she gave as an example, more correctly it would be like giving someone a paycheck, then expecting the person to work if they want another paycheck....;)
LOL, yes, but either way, still not a good idea. Just leave the dog alone to eat his meal, no need to bring more attention to meal time than necessary.
 

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I was once talking to a friend about these “training” methods of messing with the dog’s food. She said, “You know, if someone put their hands in my plate while I was eating, I’d stick them with my fork.” 🤣
 

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Thank you for the replies everyone. I would just like to note that we avoid touching him while he is eating (we do the whole praising him from afar and throwing him a treat and adding a little more food to his bowl by hand after making him sit and wait again). He also knows "out" but to him it's "leave it", which honestly he's not 100% on so I'll definitely be tightening that up. I'll try the crate feeding. It's just crazy for me, as when it was my late GSD and lab/collie, they could eat side-by-side and she'd even hoover up his mess without bother. They'd happily trade chews and bones. So I suppose I assumed it would or could be the same, and so I need to adapt to the situation instead of hoping for miracles.
Thank you again, I'll give everything a go and keep updating if the situation worsens or betters.
 

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I think what struck me in your response is adapting to this dog and time, what a truth that is. I think we all get used to our dogs and their relationships. When that changes by a loss or addition it sometimes hard to accept, so much easier to hope life will go on as usual. Good luck with your pair. ( I have a 10 month old, 7 year old and we lost our 10 year old in April, so I can relate)
 
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