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My 4 month old german shepherd pup just recently over the last month or so is food guarding his bowl. If you walk near him he growls and will occasionally lung out to nip at you. I have been feeding him by hand and dropping a a few handfuls of food at a time into a bowl on the ground and he is good but the second you introduce a full bowl of food and go near him he goes back to guarding. Is there anything I can do?
 

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I am not a fan of that. I wouldn't tolerate it. Put a leash on him when he is eating. Correct him when he does it. I think you ought to be able to put your hand right in the bowl.
 

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Sometimes we create anxiety which leads to guarding by hovering and interrupting their mealtime.I let my dogs eat in peace and every so often I may walk by and toss in a small treat.Antianxiety:)
 

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Sometimes we create anxiety which leads to guarding by hovering and interrupting their mealtime.I let my dogs eat in peace and every so often I may walk by and toss in a small treat.Antianxiety:)
that definitely makes sense! I will try that and see how it works
Thanks! 😊
 

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In my experience, the quickest way to make an already insecure dog, who guards food, aggressive, is to mess with him when he eats.

How is correcting when he eats going to make him more secure, and make him trust you?

I am of the belief that when I give my dog his food, it is his and he should be allowed to eat in peace.

With this dog I would put the food in his crate, shut the door, and leave him alone in there.
After a while, toss something extra good in there, such as a bit of beef or chicken. I always say, “Want more?” when I do this. The dog learns that when I come near the dish, deliciousness happens.

Mealtime should be enjoyable and stress free.

I am not a fan of that. I wouldn't tolerate it. Put a leash on him when he is eating. Correct him when he does it. I think you ought to be able to put your hand right in the bowl.
 

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I am of the belief that when I give my dog his food, it is his and he should be allowed to eat in peace.
I agree...... but is a dog "in peace" when it is on guard waiting to growl at somebody who happens to wander too near its food bowl?

This topic has always been very contentious.......I have chosen a different route than you I am guessing.


SuperG
 

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That’s why I suggested feeding in the crate.
I've never used a crate over the decades....not practical in many situations......camping would be a good example. But mostly....with all due respect......I just can't imagine living with a dog for years that either holds me hostage or I have to go to certain lengths to appease the dog.

All my dogs have learned from a young age that I control all the resources.....just as they have learned I am a very benevolent human in the distribution of these resources.......


SuperG
 

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I agree with you.
No one should live in fear of their dog.
There is always more than one method, that one happened to work well for me.
 

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I think at four months old, you are very early in this dog's development. I'm not saying my following statement is true, but it is very possible this anxiety will extinguish or at least lessen with time.

I would give him a few weeks of avoiding the chance of that situation and reevaluate. Is it possible to feed by hand for that time, maybe occasionally throwing done kibble in a pile but mostly by hand? He's growing and sometimes the pup needs time to develop their brain.

That said when I've had guarding issues, I've had great success with holding the guarded food while also tossing other piles of food. For example, holding the kong filled with frozen wet food while putting down piles of dry food beside him.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So what do you do when he "growls" ?

SuperG
I usually tell him no and make him back up and sit and I take back his food and try again after a minute. I know it probably is confusing him and possibly making the situation worse by taking away his food, hence why I asked for some different options. I don’t want to bother him while he eats but I also feel I should be able to move around my kitchen without being growled at and/or bitten. I also have two cats that mingle around as well.
 

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I think at four months old, you are very early in this dog's development. I'm not saying my following statement is true, but it is very possible this anxiety will extinguish or at least lessen with time.

I would give him a few weeks of avoiding the chance of that situation and reevaluate. Is it possible to feed by hand for that time, maybe occasionally throwing done kibble in a pile but mostly by hand? He's growing and sometimes the pup needs time to develop their brain.

That said when I've had guarding issues, I've had great success with holding the guarded food while also tossing other piles of food. For example, holding the kong filled with frozen wet food while putting down piles of dry food beside him.
Thank you for the advise! 🙂
 

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The good news is that the pup is only four months old, so you can extinguish this behavior without being afraid, as opposed to letting this go until adulthood. A four month old pup is not going to be able to hurt you much, if at all. I would make the dog down or sit before he gets his food and he should have a release command so that he doesn't break the sit or down until you give the release command. Let him eat a little and then test him to see if he growls. If he does, immediately take up the food and put it up for the next scheduled meal time. Don't try to feed him a little bit later or make an extra mealtime. He has to wait because he lost his food for growling. When he gets hungry enough, he will figure out that he can't growl if he wants to eat. Tell him no when he growls, but don't make it personal or angry. When you take up the food, do it quickly and confidently and don't show any hesitation. Your pup will not starve or become malnourished.
 

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Food guarding sometimes happens if all the puppies had to compete to get their food when they were with their dam. If breeders don't be careful, one or two of the puppies may look really good and one or two deteriorated because of the competition, as said in the article below.
here's really helpful article with millions of ideas for you:
We've held Kias's bowls since he was a puppy in our lap while he eats. We never let him even come close to growling, and he's never had a problem with us touching any food he has. I believe that is because all the puppies in his litter were fed separately their own portions and he never had to compete to get it. It made him mellow. With a capitol M. That growling will turn into a major problem if it continues into adulthood, but you probably know that.
 

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Good lord.

First, if you give the dog his food then it's his. Don't mess with it. Don't touch it. Don't randomly take it away from him. You gave it to him, it's his. If you walked up and tried to take my plate away I would bite you too. NO way am I going to get bit by grabbing a bowl of food. And correcting possession rarely works. Quite often it makes it worse. Been there, done that. All you are doing is picking a fight with them. We breed these dogs to have possession and aggression and then we beat them up for it when they show it with us. There are smarter ways to do this.

Feed him in an area where he doesn't feel the need to guard his food. Mine are required to sit or down until I place their food and release them. I want them to cap their drive and wait. Then, I leave them alone. At 4 months, mine are fed in crates. Because I have multiple dogs, one that will guard and one that will try to steal, they are still being fed in crates so they can eat in peace and not feel like they are in a competition.

Start trading with him when he had treats. Give him a treat and when you want to take it, trade him for something else. ALWAYS. Why? Because some day you will need to wrestle him and stick your hand in his mouth to get something harmful and it would be great to come away with all your fingers. Teach him an Out and Leave it. So when you go to trade something and he drops what he has from his mouth, you tell him Out. He will start to associate the command. DO this when you are playing ball with him too. Drop one ball because he sees the other, tell him out and give him the second ball.

When you walk by, have a very high value food and drop it in his bowl I don't care if he's growling as you walk up. The idea is he associates you walking up with a much yummier food than is in his bowl and the growling and resource guarding will start to extinguish. (Yes, I've actually done this and it works).

Possession is very much genetic. It's a survival instinct. An emotion. You can't correct that. You counter condition it.
 
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