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Next week I'll be picking up our new little addition. We have Thor, who we adopted from the GSD rescue 6 months ago. He's not food aggressive but I want to do everything right to make sure this new one isn't food aggressive either. My very first dog I got, many years ago, was food aggressive - very food aggressive and I want to do everything in my power to make sure this new girl is not.

Would it be better to "free feed" so food is out all the time so she doesn't get possive over it? But then I'm afraid Thor would eat her food. Whenever I got a new dog (after my first dog that had the food aggression) I always pet them while they ate and rubbed their heads, feet, tail and sometimes put my hands in the food while they ate. My other dogs have been fine and aren't food aggressive - I'm wondering if I should do the same thing with the puppy while she's eating, or chewing on a rawhide/toy, etc...
 

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Would it be better to "free feed" so food is out all the time so she doesn't get possive over it? But then I'm afraid Thor would eat her food. Whenever I got a new dog (after my first dog that had the food aggression) I always pet them while they ate and rubbed their heads, feet, tail and sometimes put my hands in the food while they ate. My other dogs have been fine and aren't food aggressive - I'm wondering if I should do the same thing with the puppy while she's eating, or chewing on a rawhide/toy, etc...
I would just feed them like normal. When I have a new foster, I feed Raven first and then the foster on the opposite side of the kitchen (there is a table in between them). For the first few days I stand between them to make sure that whoever finishes first doesn't go snooping in the other's bowl. I don't make a big deal about food so it isn't an issue in my home. If I want to test food problems, I do it by feeding treats side by side and not meals.

I don't believe in doing all the messing with them and their food while they are eating. I think that it can actually cause problems because at some point the dog will think enough already. I know people do it and it works for them but we've had plenty of posts recently of people that have always done that and now their dog is growling at them. I never did any of this with Raven and I can take anything I want out of her mouth even steak.
 

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Thank you for your help. I appreciate the advice and words of wisdom. I'm just trying to make sure I do everything right from the start. Even though I've had dogs for the last ...23 years...getting a new puppy is something "new" since I've haven't had a puppy in over 11 years. I know I'm going to be in for it! I better rest up now!
 

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I agree with gsdraven. I never mess with my dogs when they're eating, and I've never had an issue with resource guarding.

I wouldn't like it very much if someone came up and started sticking their hands in my face/food while I was eating a meal, so I can't imagine a dog would enjoy it much more.

One thing I did, thought, when I first started feeding raw, was hand-feed. The first time Mulder ever ate a leg quarter, he got a little defensive and tried to carry it away while giving me the stink eye. So, I held onto the next couple of thighs until he was finished, and I've never hand another problem with him.
 

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I have to agree as well. My dog is only a pup but I haven't had any issues so far and the last dogs I have had showed no issues. The issue I am having is my son who is 7, he wants to get right in the dogs face all the time. I don't see a problem but my pup is still a pup and they do nip or play bite on the lips or nose at times. Come to think of it, I think the pup listens better than the human pup?
 

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I've always fed my dogs together, just a few feet apart, and have never had food aggression issues. They also don't have a problem with me nearby while they eat.

When Halo was little I did feed her in her crate for a while because she's SO obsessed with food, and she'd wolf down hers and then try to zip over to Keef's bowl. That would have been a problem no matter how he handled it - I didn't want them to get into a fight because he tried to keep her away (rightfully so, it's his food, he should be able to actually EAT it!), or to just back off and let her have it either. Once she was a little bigger I would just stand between them as gsdraven describes, so I could body block her from messing with him.

I did that for quite a while, I'd just stay there until both of them were finished and then I'd let them trade and lick each other's bowls. Only until I was absolutely certain that they knew the rules did I move away, but I'd still stay in the room (in our case, the garage) while they ate. Only after a few months did I feel comfortable putting down the bowls, releasing them to eat, and walking away.

With Halo (and each previous puppy) I did a lot of hand feeding. I used most of her lunch kibble and maybe half of her dinner kibble as training treats. I sat on the floor with her and practiced impulse control using this game:


Backing away from the food in my hand and making eye contact is what made the food get delivered, one piece at a time. I've never put my hands in their bowls or tried to take anything out of it, but I'd talk to them, pat them on the side, and occasionally drop something yummy into it while they were eating. In the morning before work I didn't have enough time to use her food as training treats, so I'd work on being able to have her hold a sit until released when we put the food bowl down. At first the release was the second the bowl touched the floor, and I worked up (slowly) to being able to put it down and walk away before releasing. Within a few weeks she knew that if she broke and bolted towards the food I'd pick up the bowl and wait for her to sit again, so she didn't even try.

Another thing you should work on with the new puppy is trading games, where you encourage her to bring you things, give them up for a treat, and then you can give them back. If you do some of this every day you should have not problem taking away things she's not supposed to have later.
 

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I have had 2 GSD's for the last 20 years and I feed them side by side but I must say I make it a point to put my hand in their bowls when they are puppies just to show them that people can be close when they are eating and all is good. I can't think of any reason you wouldn't want to pull out a chunk of meat and put it back in their bowl while they are eating to show that it's pretty much my food until I say it's his.

I only do this for the reason of having kids or grand kids walking up to an eating dog knowing they aren't going to get bit.
 

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Thank you all very much for all your input! Great advice from all of you! My most important factor is that I have 4 small skin-kids. Their ages are 4, 6, 7, and 9. So I just can not have any food aggression/toy/bone aggression at all and I want to to the right thing from the start. Thanks so much and I'll let you know how it works out. ....I have a feeling I will need A LOT of help! lol
 

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Dogs tend to adopt the attitude of the owners. If you make no big deal out of it then he/she probably won't either. It seems you are anticipating a problem that probably won't happen. Relax and stay relaxed around the puppy.
 

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I had a very - VERY bad experience with my first dog. Grant it - I was only 13 when I got him and didn't know a thing about dogs but he had MAJOR food aggression issues. I still have the chipped bone in my hand to prove it and my husband has the scars on his hand to prove it too. So I guess that always stays in the back of my mind and I just never want to go down that road again. He was like that all his life - right up til the very end. I never put him down even though he did bite everyone in my family and my husband also (boyfriend at the time). Things are different now - I have 4 small kids and I want the puppy to be as comfortable with them as possible. This will be the first puppy we've had since having kids. It's a big change for us. I think I have to stock up on the Advil for headaches. :)
 

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If you encourage her from a very young age to give up things for better things (starting with very low value items at first) by making a game out of it you shouldn't have any trouble with guarding issues. The kids might be too young to be actively participating in that kind of training (or at least until she's totally reliable with several different adults), but they can be sources of great stuff, delivered randomly, so that she tends to welcome their presence even if she's got something valued, by tossing treats to her, that sort of thing.

As far as the food bowl, I'd make sure that you (everyone in the house) put things IN the bowl, rather than try to take anything OUT of the bowl. I see no need to ever put my hands in and mess with their food, but I can drop in little bits of something yummy while they eat.

What I like to do with chewies, (lower value, like nylabones, not super high value bully sticks or raw bones), is to offer it while continuing to hold onto one end. Then I have something even better like bits of hot dog, and stick it right up to the puppy's nose, praising when s/he lets go of the bone to eat the treat, and then I offer the bone again for more chewing. I don't actually take it away, I let them puppy release it voluntarily while keeping it right there.

Later I'll turn that into a formal "give" (or "out" or "drop it") command, but at first it's a game. Halo will actually bring us her bones to hold while she chews them because she trusts us not to take them away. We have a game where I'm holding the bone and say "can I have that?" and she'll let go, I tell her what a good girl she is and release her to take it back again. This is a game actually initiated by her:


For some reason she really enjoys this, silly girl! You can play trading games with toys, also holding onto one end of it while you offer a treat to give it up. Be careful though, you might create a monster! Halo is always looking for things to bring me, like eyeglasses, the TV remote, potholders, the kitchen towel, and even knives! :wild:
 

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We have always (7 GSD's over the years) tried very hard not to have food or toy aggressive dogs mostly because for most of the years we had a small child.

The major way we did it was to make them wait while we placed their food bowl down for them and until we said "OK" then they could eat. then while they are eating we would sometimes just reach over and hug them, or maybe take their bowl away for a few seconds and give it back or take the chew toy out of their mouth and give it back all the while talking to them in a happy light voice1

must have worked as we have never had a dog show any protest at all (except once with a 10 mo male GSD - and he only did it once in his life). We have pictures somewhere of our then 4/5 yo sone sitting in the dog run holding the dog bowl between his legs and feeding our adult GSD's one piece of kibble at a time to the two dogs!

His friends could also take anything the dogs were chewing without any chance of a negative reaction from any dog.

Well worth doing some training with the dogs to be able to do that.
 

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When I first got Ozzy, when he was eating or had a chew, I would pet him and put my hands around his food bowl and mess with whatever he had, but I wouldn't take it from him. I'd praise him for letting me mess with him then I'd leave him alone. He doesn't care, he just keeps eating or chewing on whatever he has. I'm sure he doesn't particularly like me doing it, but I'd rather get him used to it, because I don't know if he'll be in a situation when little kids are going to be around and are going to be trying to play with him while he's eating. (Maybe when I go to Arkansas in March to see my niece and nephew, who are 2 and 3).
 

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I do the same stuff as above starting from day one - they must sit and wait before the meal, and then I mess with them relentlessly while they eat. I hug them, grab them, pet them, mess with their ears, tail, legs, paws and put my hands in the bowl. I also will randomly pick it up, wait a second, and give it back to show him that the food is MINE, and what I giveth I can taketh away. This is super important especially with a GSD, I've done it with every dog I've ever owned and none of them have ever so much as looked at me wrong when I touch them/mess with the bowl let alone growl (I've had 8) and if there are kids around who are bound to pet doggie while he's eating, you've got to be sure he'll just take the abuse.
 
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