German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have an extremely well adjusted GS mix (thanks in a large part to this forum i might add) who is smart beyond belief and otherwise is now the perfect dog. I have only one problem with him now.

He growls at anyone near his food if he is nearby.. be it me, another person or another dog... he has never bitten anyone under any circumstances, but has the kind of growl that is enough to make you think he will rip your face off....

he was adopted from the Atlanta humane society at 4 months, has always had food available since then (he is 2.5 yrs now) has never had his food taken away and never had to compete for food..

this isnt what bothers me, but i think it is related to the problem...

He will stare anyone down who has food.. not really begging to me.. he will stare directly in your eyes for hours if need be.

I have tried ignoring him, telling him to leave, giving him small pieces of my food(just popcorn so far), giving him scraps in small amounts after i finished eating, and for about the past 6 months i have just told him to go eat his own food...none have worked better than the others and all still leave him growling.. I can even eat, put the scraps in his bowl and if I dont leave the area he will growl at me....with some "time out" he calms down and seems to show remorse afterwards....

how can i solve the problem of his begging and prevent any future aggression problems from protecting his own food.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,204 Posts
i'm far from an expert, but just two things that have worked for me...

begging -
ignoring and (not just telling) making him leave (to a bed, another room, a crate, etc) will eventually work. but each time you give in (even if its just one piece of popcorn) you basically have to start all over again because that one piece reinforces the behavior and he'll always think that you'll eventually give in, if he just stares long enough.

food aggression -
this has been recommended to me for each dog that ive adopted and also fostered... feed him by hand... every single thing that goes into his mouth should be from your hands, even his kibble... i generally do it for a month to establish trust & habit. i go from hands only... to hand over bowl... to hand in bowl while he's eating.

it isnt clear tho if these have been issues since he was 4mo, or if its new behavior???
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
324 Posts
Quote: food aggression -
this has been recommended to me for each dog that ive adopted and also fostered... feed him by hand... every single thing that goes into his mouth should be from your hands, even his kibble... i generally do it for a month to establish trust & habit. i go from hands only... to hand over bowl... to hand in bowl while he's eating.
Even if this works and I have seen it not work it only fixes the food aggression to you and not anyone else.

My suggestion to the OP would be to not have food available at all times and feed him once a day and feed him in his crate
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
59 Posts
I've studied this for a while, as Shep had some issues, I thought I'd mix together what I learned from various sources...
One way is through obedience. Stay commands, etc. Drop a treat on the floor then release.
After this is accomplished, move to food. Make them sit and wait while you set down the food. Pet and praise them, but don't release them.
After a minute, release them, and continue petting the back area.
Eventually, after a week or so, you can move to petting the head.
Whatever you do, do not be scared of being bit. The more scared you are, the more they'll want to bite you. An energy thing.
If you move to the head, and get the look and the teeth, don't jump back. Continue what you were doing and say things pleasantly like "don't be silly". After they're done eating, hand feed a sardine or something better than what they were eating.
I've been bit, probably others as well trying to teach dogs food guarding. Most the time it's a warning bite, it'll hurt, but unlikely to even draw blood. You've seen the chew bones, etc., if he meant to really hurt you, you'd loose a finger. I cannot stress enough that you cannot be scared to get bit.

Note: This is only for dogs that you've owned since puppy, or had for over 2-3 years. There is also redzone cases. If you pet his back or head and does more than growl or even chase you back, stand over the bowl, etc. If it's more than growling and more like an attack, back down.
It can be fixed.
First, if more than one dog being fed, no more. Problem dog does not eat with other dogs.
Problem dog no longer eats from a bowl on the floor. For at least 2 weeks, this has to be hand fed. Like a bowl on your lap, or grab a handfull and handfeed. This normally is long enough for them to understand that you're ok around the food, and you're not taking it away.

During the training period, don't take toys away from the dog that he's playing with, unless you're planning on giving it back. If he gets something in his mouth you want to take away, make sure to replace it with something equally good that he'll enjoy.
If you catch him chewing on your favorite shoe, or tv remote. Do not get him in trouble, just give him something he's allowed to have.

An odd way of training that I'd see was making a game from feeding. Doing tricks for kibble, chasing kibble across the floor.

For rescue dogs that need a quick fix, this can only be broke through obedience training. Just the basics, sit, lie down, stay and wait. Once they will listen to you giving those commands with no hesitation, you can start as the above guideline. But if the dog is adopted out, the new owner will have to do the same thing again, whichever worked.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,578 Posts
Years back we rescued and fostered a Beardie mix that had this problem. I almost lost a foot over a tamale he knocked out of my hands. It landed by my feet and he was trying to get to it before I could.

What I did with him was that I put him behind a fence (he was not crate trained and due to time this was easier) near where we ate. He pretty much had to sit there and know that we were having dinner and he had to wait to get his.

When we were done and the dishes were cleaned up, I would go in and sit by where he ate. At first I sat 5 feet away or so. I would toss good food things to him as he ate from his bowl; treats, pieces of meat, etc. Since all that was in his bowl was kibble, he soon realized that having me there meant he got a good food item with dinner. I moved closer as he got better and eventually was sitting next to him and I could hand him a good food item while gently petting his back or neck. He cringed at first. If he growled, all the food, good food and kibble got taken away and I waited 5 minutes before starting again. 5 minutes is an eternity to a dog. He did associate growling with mealtime being over though...he did this pretty quick...within days.

It all took about a month. When he was fine with me, I started in on other members of the family. When he was found a forever home, part of the adoption process was that they would come over and go through this before he could go home with them. He was fine with them almost from the beginning. They would come and play with him everynight and within a week he was comfortable enough to let them sit by him and talk and pet him while he ate within a week. Within two weeks he went to his forever home and last I heard all was well and fine.
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top