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Before I bought my rotty 12 years ago, I bought many books concerning the breed as I am doing now for my GSD. And back then it was suggested that I should put my hand in my dogs food while she is eating, I should be able to pull her away from it, remove it, etc. I believe the purpose of this was incase there was ever a time where she had something dangerous, I could take it away without her snapping at me. This worked well, and her entire life she never snapped at me, not even when feeding.

Fast forward to present day, I'm reading a book about GSD's and it says NEVER bother a dog while its eating. So of course this confuses me.

My preference would be for my GSD (getting her this weekend!) to not mind being touched/bumped/etc while she's eating since I have a 2 year old who may touch her or pull on her while she's eating.

Please share any thoughts and experiences concerning this subject.
 

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I'm in the camp that says you should condition a pup to allow you to touch food, take it away, touch them while eating, etc. For exactly the reasons you mention. Same with toys or chew treats.

I do this when they are small puppies and get them used to me being around when they eat. Hand-feeding some of their meal. Or "trading" one thing for another of higher value. With puppies, I also do the trick of pretending to eat a bit of their food before giving it to them. I think all these things help underscore that the food is MINE--but I'm happy to freely share it with them if they behave.

After I'm comfortable that I CAN touch them or take food---then I leave them alone. I don't bother Luca when he's eating now. But I know that I could, if I had to, pull something out of his mouth if he were choking, for example.

All that said, I'd still watch a 2-year-old around the dog and teach the child that pulling or poking the dog while she's eating isn't nice. A mutual respect thing. No need to push it, especially with a little person that won't understand if the pup snaps the first time or two.
 

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Exactly what Tracy said. I also handled Kayla around her food when she was young and can very easily take her food or rub her now.
 

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Ditto to Tracy & Samuel;s posts. It's especially important to start teaching them from a very young age that you being near them while eating = good things so that she never learns that she needs to guard her food bowl from you. So you can also drop something really good in the bowl while she's eating from time to time. And like Tracy & Samuel, I don't mess with my dogs anymore while they eat, but I COULD if I need to because I did the groundwork when they were young.

Trading games are an excellent idea - for everything you can think of. A toy for a bone, a bone for a treat, a ball for a toy, or simply teach her to release a toy on command, reward her with a treat, and then give the toy back. You want her to know that giving something up means she'll get something good in return. Again, no reason to guard things from you if you work on this from a very young age.
 

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Ditto the above.

When our Max came to the house at nearly two years old, you couldn't approach him while he was eating. As long as I don't startled him, I can now take his food away. I always announce to him what I'm going to do, and always start with a gentle hand on his back. I still move slowly when I do these things. I make sure that I occasionally touch while feeding, and once in awhile make sure that I take the food away (and typically return it quickly), just to make sure that he doesn't forget that that's okay.

I did discover that being able to take a food bowl away is *not* the same as being able to take a bone away. That required a lot more effort.

It's so much easier to train this right in the first place, starting with a pup. But when you get an adult dog, I think it's still important, but you have to move more slowly.
 
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