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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2 year old GSD just out of a foster home that we're keeping for a trial period....maybe a husky/GSD mix. Anyway, he was pulled from a shelter last year very emaciated and heartworm +. While feeding him today (seperately from my other dogs), I attempted to pet his head and he growled (no teeth). Is there anything else I can do with him (besides feeding seperately and petting him while he eats)? The foster home said he was doing better, but maybe he's stressed with the new enviorment? He's been around kids, but I also have kids and am concerned. He is also visually impaired, possibly blind from a trauma as a pup. Any advice? I'd really like to keep him.
 

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Lots of patience. He's been through a lot, and has obviously had to worry about his next meal in the past. I would recommend hand feeding him for a while. This is also a great way for him to understand that GOOD things come from you. If you cannot hand feed him due to time constraints I would suggest feeding him in a crate so he feels safe and nobody else (dogs or kids) can mess with him. Eventually you can slowly work up to giving him higher value treats (i.e. something he likes even more than his regular food) when you approach and pet him while eating so he understands you are not coming to take his food away but only come with good things for him. I would always recommend feeding him seperate from the other dogs, at least for quite a while if not forever.
 

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Never thought of hand feeding. I've been giving him treats by hand, and he is extremely gentle. He's a food gobbler too, so I'm giving him three small meals a day. I will try hand feeding at his next meal, although it will be messy!
The rescue had him on canned and dry to boost his weight. Thanks for the suggestion!
 

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I don't have experience with food aggression but I do with hand feeding. If you are giving a mix of wet and dry food, you can easily feed (most? some?) the dry by hand and then give the remaining dry if any + the wet in a bowl.

I've hand fed my pup part of her breakfast almost every day since I got her at 8 weeks. It only takes a few minutes and it doubles as a training session. She does a sitz, platz, etc. for every few pieces of kibble. She likes it so much that when I stop and put the bowl down she often sniffs at it and walks away. If I pick up the bowl and start training again, she'll get excited again and keep eating.

I think it is a very strong bond building exercise and I'm very glad I gave it a try. I'm not sure how/if this technique should be modified for a food aggressive dog, if at all. So sorry I can't help there.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Good idea...at least my hands won't be quite as gross! Good idea for obedience training too..Here's the guy that's causing all the trouble.....



You can see why I'm in love with him!
 

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Dogs guard their food because they're afraid someone will take it away. So the trick to eliminating the behavior is to teach him that he doesn't have anything to worry about. Do NOT take his food away, or pester him, or correct him if he growls as that will just reinforce the behavior... he was afraid something bad would happen, and sure enough it did.

Hand feeding is a great way to help build trust. Another good way is to keep a bunch of treats or meat scraps or something extra tasty sitting in a dish on the counter, and when he's eating his dinner, walk up and toss a couple pieces into his bowl. Don't pet him at first, or do anything that would elicit growling or anxiety on his part. You want him to stay totally relaxed, and show him that when you approach only good things will happen (he'll get something even better than what is in his bowl). Over time he'll continue to relax more and be more comfortable with people around him when he eats, and then you can progress to petting, picking up his bowl, putting something really tasty inside and then giving it back, etc... But be patient and go slow. If he growls, you pushed too far and need to step back a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Is it ok then to feed him in the kitchen or should I put him in a separate room? I want him to be comfortable with people and noises around him, but don't want to stress him out either.
 

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I would work everything as a progression...

1. Hand feeding in a room all by yourselves.
2. Hand feeding in the kitchen around other humans that stay away (no dogs).
3. Hand feeding in the kitchen while others start to walk by.
4. Eating from a bowl in the kitchen while you walk up and put better things in his bowl.
5. Add in petting.
6. Add in others petting.
7. Take bowl away and add better things to it and give it back.

Don't even worry about other dogs for a long time, meaning keep them away is my suggestion. Also remember to go slow, and be ready to back up one or two steps at all times. He has a lifetime to act properly, but only once to get a "first impression" of what happens at your home in regards to food and humans interacting with him with food.
 

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Originally Posted By: kelIs it ok then to feed him in the kitchen or should I put him in a separate room? I want him to be comfortable with people and noises around him, but don't want to stress him out either.
I'd definitely keep the kids away from him and also make sure the kids understand not to mess with him while he's eating...and follow Chris' advice. Small steps, once he's better, kids can enter the picture.
 

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Put an empty bowl on the floor and the filled bowl beside you. Give your pup a handful of food at a time, put it in the bowl and wait for your pup to eat it all and sit before you give more. I did this with Jedi, and it took just a couple meals before she was better eating and I could pet her while she ate.
 

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Do Not pet him while he eats! This just reinforces that his behavior is acceptable! He will get worse if you do this! Stay calm; I would first make sure he knows that you are the leader in his world. Don't know how you normally operate, but if you have to have a leash on him to start, I'd do that. Make him obey a command before he gets any treats, or his food. The leash will help you keep control over him. I would give him a quick correction, a slight snap of the collar, not to hurt, but to get his attention if he starts to show his teeth or growl. If he obeys the command, he gets the food. I would also stand there. If he starts to growl, I would make sure I had the leash in my hand and give it a smart snap and a stern vocal command, (whatever noise, or sound you want to make, that comes natural to you) I use a AAAccck! sound. I would then walk him away from the food and make him sit. Then I would wait until he's calm, and go back and do it again.
None of my dogs have ever been food aggressive, and that's partly because I always make sure they know I am the boss and the food comes from me. I can put my hand in the bowl and take food out, or put it in, and never have any problem. Don't take the food away from him, take him away from the food. There's a difference, it shows that you are in charge, in my opinion. I would also make sure when feeding treats, that you hand feed and give a command first, and then tell him to take it nicely. Good luck!
 

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