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When you were little, if you did your homework, your chores everything, ate your dinner and then your mother gave you a cupcake. Then took it away. Then messed with it to dare you to get mad so she can correct you...does that make sense to anyone? If your boss sometimes made good on your paycheck but sometimes messed with it, shorted it..would you work as happily for him?
I can sort of appreciate this old analogy..........but sometimes when we compare our human attitudes/mentalities to an animal's attitudes/mentalities we are speculating at best......but it makes sense to the human I suppose.

Anthropomorphism has its failings.


SuperG
 

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Austerlitz German Shepherds has some wonderful videos of raising their puppies with Puppy Culture, and resource guarding is one of the topics that is covered. I is easier to understand when hearing it explained and having a visual of the explanation.
 

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@SuperG, CometDog has a valid point:Setting the dog up to fail and using it as a training opportunity is what you are doing.It's an effective strategy for some things,for instance breaking a learned habit like chasing cars.It's totally possible to intimidate a dog to allow you to mess with his food,but the anxiety remains repressed only in your presence.He is still not safe with others.I think we have this same conversation every few months:giggle:
 

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@SuperG, CometDog has a valid point:Setting the dog up to fail and using it as a training opportunity is what you are doing.It's an effective strategy for some things,for instance breaking a learned habit like chasing cars.It's totally possible to intimidate a dog to allow you to mess with his food,but the anxiety remains repressed only in your presence.He is still not safe with others.I think we have this same conversation every few months:giggle:
Yes.....one can intimidate their dog to the point where the dog will capitulate i.e.messing with their food.....but....that's not what I am suggesting.

If it were me....I'd present the dog's food bowl after a short session of exhibited impulse control.....and if the dog growled as I am holding the food bowl while they eat.....I'd just continue holding the bowl with complete indifference......if I set it down and walk away the dog wins and I've just reinforced the undesirable behavior.

I guess it boils down to a test of wits, patience and NO emotion on my behalf in the BEGINNING......the dog is going to eat regardless.....but I believe it is my prerogative to set the standards not the dogs. All my dogs have learned I PROVIDE food......not take it away nor compete for it. My dog's have all ended up similar to how Cassidy's Mom described Halo " Halo started bringing me her bones to hold for her while she chewed them." It's almost as if the dog's meals become a social event of sorts where the human is included.......if that makes any sense. My current dog...only when we are in the motor home will eat 90% of her food and the 10% remaining on the far side of the bowl will sit there until one of us rotates the bowl so it is in the front. She'll just stop eating and start staring at us until we rotate the bowl. I guess she does this because the bowl is not up against a wall like it is at home.......so maybe because the bowl slides away from her in the motor home is what prompted this "social" reliance during the feeding "ritual"....beats me but it always makes me grin.

And yes I completely agree with your "He is still not safe with others.".......As I have stated before....the calmness and complete lack of competition my dog exhibits over its food bowl is strictly reserved for my wife and me.....If we have guests over when the dog is fed......it is always done away from our company.


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@SuperG I think I finally understand where you're coming from.No picking fights - just establishing a feeding ritual.That's funny how she'll wait for her bowl to be turned:)My dopes will chase their bowls around until the last kibble is gobbled up.
 

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So over a year ago, I had this same problem and I got all the same responses from most of the same members. Sorry everyone, but now, a year later, I have to disagree with most of y'all. Leaving him be, only made my dog worse. It spread to other things like resource guarding his balls and frisbees, his antlers, his toys, etc. It got so bad, that I was bit twice...hard, drawing blood. It really hurt. The 1st time when I reached for his frisbee while playing outside. I was shocked...didn't think what happened just happened. The second time when feeding him his dinner meal. He got me when I was in the middle of placing his bowl down. I dropped his bowl and food went everywhere. At that point I was scared that I would have to put him down. What did I do? I was determined to "fix" this and I spent almost a good portion of the past year working on it. Now I can go to his bowl, I can take his frisbees and antlers....I can do all the things that I couldn't last year. He doesn't tense up or snap at me anymore. It takes a lot of work, time, patience and determination. I may be the only one in here, but out of experience, I wouldn't leave this alone if I were you. I would try to "correct/fix" it. But just remember, once a resource guarder, always one. Your pup is only 4 months old. This is the time to be working on it. Mine was older than yours and bigger with his permanent teeth when he bit me.
 

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We had a single event learning episode when my puppy decided he was going to try and guard his Kong. Wrong.

I don’t mess with my dogs’ food bowls once I’ve verbally released them to eat, but I also will not tolerate my dog growling and guarding from me.

As SuperG said, I don’t automatically expect this deference to extend beyond my husband and myself.

My dogs are fed individually and left to enjoy their meal. But if I want something, it’s mine, period. You don’t develop this sort of relationship with a lot of nagging daily poking in their bowl / looming over their heads / etc. It’s developed over time by being consistent, not linking food to stress, never nagging, and being very very clear.

My puppy (as my others before him) does the same thing as Debbie’s and SuperG’s and brings his raw bones and benebones and other treasures over and pushes them against my leg so I hold them while he gnaws on them. His one time learning event “No you will NOT keep that from me” clarified the rules, and that was that.

There is no one size fits all, there are so many variables. But I stick by what I said earlier in this thread, it is very hard to know the extent and INtent of any dog’s behavior just by reading text.
 

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Sorry everyone, but now, a year later, I have to disagree with most of y'all. Leaving him be, only made my dog worse. It spread to other things like resource guarding his balls and frisbees, his antlers, his toys, etc. It got so bad, that I was bit twice...hard, drawing blood. It really hurt. The 1st time when I reached for his frisbee while playing outside. I was shocked...didn't think what happened just happened. The second time when feeding him his dinner meal. He got me when I was in the middle of placing his bowl down. I dropped his bowl and food went everywhere.
I don't recall anyone saying that the OP should do nothing to address the issue. I'm not sure where you got that idea from. Our dogs have always been trained to sit and wait with eye contact while we put down the food bowl, until released to eat. I provide the food, I control the bowl, it's all mine until I say it's yours, and then you can have it. The criteria is very low at first with a young puppy, I increase it as the dog matures and has more training, but they are not allowed to mug me for the food, they have to be calm and patient. One time I put down Cassidy's bowl in the garage where we feed the dogs, and she didn't hear me release her. I went back in the house and several minutes later wondered where she was, since she came in the house when she was done. I went out there and found her sitting by her bowl, waiting for the okay to eat. Oops!
 

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To me, Counterconditiong simply means,
Human hand near bowl = tasty food going in

I accidentally began a countercoundition program by putting bits of daughter’s uneaten scrambled egg in his bowl after breakfast, and now am able to stick my hand in his bowl while he eats. He trusts that my hand is there not to take, but to give. ( I actually only had hand in there to put in another piece of egg...it’s not something I go out of my way to do). Anyway I am a believer in the counterconditioning (even though I don’t have a sophisticated program like others. )

Sounds like you are making great progress with this!!
 

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I don't recall anyone saying that the OP should do nothing to address the issue. I'm not sure where you got that idea from. Our dogs have always been trained to sit and wait with eye contact while we put down the food bowl, until released to eat. I provide the food, I control the bowl, it's all mine until I say it's yours, and then you can have it. The criteria is very low at first with a young puppy, I increase it as the dog matures and has more training, but they are not allowed to mug me for the food, they have to be calm and patient. One time I put down Cassidy's bowl in the garage where we feed the dogs, and she didn't hear me release her. I went back in the house and several minutes later wondered where she was, since she came in the house when she was done. I went out there and found her sitting by her bowl, waiting for the okay to eat. Oops!
I don't recall anyone saying that the OP should do nothing to address the issue. I'm not sure where you got that idea from. Our dogs have always been trained to sit and wait with eye contact while we put down the food bowl, until released to eat. I provide the food, I control the bowl, it's all mine until I say it's yours, and then you can have it. The criteria is very low at first with a young puppy, I increase it as the dog matures and has more training, but they are not allowed to mug me for the food, they have to be calm and patient. One time I put down Cassidy's bowl in the garage where we feed the dogs, and she didn't hear me release her. I went back in the house and several minutes later wondered where she was, since she came in the house when she was done. I went out there and found her sitting by her bowl, waiting for the okay to eat. Oops!
No offense, but maybe you need to go back and reread the thread. Ok, maybe not "everyone" said it...a couple. But I distinctly remember when I asked the question over a year ago in someone else's thread (I kinda hijacked it), I got a barrage of "what are you doing near his bowl?" Or "drop it and walk away." Or "leave him be to eat in peace." "Why are you taking his bowl away?" Etc. I remember it, because I got mad about it. If I didn't get mad about it, I would've just done what most of the responders suggested which was nothing. By now, I probably wouldn't have my dog anymore...either returned to the breeder or put down because I can't have an aggressive dog in my house with my 2 elderly parents living with me. While the responses I got weren't what I wanted to hear and didn't help me at all, it did force me to do something about it
 

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No offense, but maybe you need to go back and reread the thread. Ok, maybe not "everyone" said it...a couple. But I distinctly remember when I asked the question over a year ago in someone else's thread (I kinda hijacked it), I got a barrage of "what are you doing near his bowl?" Or "drop it and walk away." Or "leave him be to eat in peace." "Why are you taking his bowl away?" Etc.
Sure, but that, to me, doesn't mean do nothing. They had alternate suggestions of things to do, other than messing with their food after it's been given to them, such as playing trading games like I described. Also, impulse control exercises with food such as the "It's Yer Choice" game by Susan Garrett, which I and others have posted numerous times over the years. And teaching an "out", and to bring toys/bones/balls for a reward, which I and others have also mentioned, and hand feeding where the owner maintains possession and control of the food bowl. Trust building games and exercises so the dog learns they have no reason to guard valued items from you.
 

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Sure, but that, to me, doesn't mean do nothing. They had alternate suggestions of things to do, other than messing with their food after it's been given to them, such as playing trading games like I described. Also, impulse control exercises with food such as the "It's Yer Choice" game by Susan Garrett, which I and others have posted numerous times over the years. And teaching an "out", and to bring toys/bones/balls for a reward, which I and others have also mentioned, and hand feeding where the owner maintains possession and control of the food bowl. Trust building games and exercises so the dog learns they have no reason to guard valued items from you.
I agree with you. I had to do a number of things to get him to where he is today. The hand feeding while maintaining possession of the bowl....didn't work. I had to do a lot of trial and error to figure out what worked best. And yes, you're right....it's all about building trust.
 

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Discussion Starter #73
So over a year ago, I had this same problem and I got all the same responses from most of the same members. Sorry everyone, but now, a year later, I have to disagree with most of y'all. Leaving him be, only made my dog worse. It spread to other things like resource guarding his balls and frisbees, his antlers, his toys, etc. It got so bad, that I was bit twice...hard, drawing blood. It really hurt. The 1st time when I reached for his frisbee while playing outside. I was shocked...didn't think what happened just happened. The second time when feeding him his dinner meal. He got me when I was in the middle of placing his bowl down. I dropped his bowl and food went everywhere. At that point I was scared that I would have to put him down. What did I do? I was determined to "fix" this and I spent almost a good portion of the past year working on it. Now I can go to his bowl, I can take his frisbees and antlers....I can do all the things that I couldn't last year. He doesn't tense up or snap at me anymore. It takes a lot of work, time, patience and determination. I may be the only one in here, but out of experience, I wouldn't leave this alone if I were you. I would try to "correct/fix" it. But just remember, once a resource guarder, always one. Your pup is only 4 months old. This is the time to be working on it. Mine was older than yours and bigger with his permanent teeth when he bit me.
tc68, what were some of the things you did with your dog to “correct/fix” that issue? Just curious as originally when I had posted about this issue, I did not believe that just “leaving him be” would make things better in the long run
 

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I can sort of appreciate this old analogy..........but sometimes when we compare our human attitudes/mentalities to an animal's attitudes/mentalities we are speculating at best......but it makes sense to the human I suppose.

Anthropomorphism has its failings.


SuperG
Oh believe me, I agree with you. I am the last to treat a dog like a human. By nature I am an instructor though. Martial arts and firearms. One thing I learned when explaining things to people who are completely new to a concept is using "known to unknown" analogies. It works. The majority of pet owners are going to apply human emotion to their pets. They just are. Now if I told them they should hug their dogs when afraid of thunderstorms...and tell their dogs it is the Angels having a bowling match with God, come at me :) Creating possessive conflict does apply to both animals. Sometimes we foster it with dogs to tap their drive, sometimes we overdo it when they need a hot minute to be a dog and eat a meal in peace.

I am actually the worst parent with overly humanizing the kids too lol While all the other parents were having issues with taking away the juice boxes from their 3 year olds, and trading tales of sticker charts woes, I broke my daughter of her habit in one day. Told her they were finding severed fingers in all the juice boxes. Done. I generally don't play.

I don't tease kids or dogs with their basic sustenance. Can a very skilled working or sport handler like you use it to shape some behaviors by handling food and asking for behaviors? Absolutely. But I don't think that is the audience here. Your average pet person is going to accidentally create more conflict by unwittingly teasing, and probably eventually getting bit. Whenever giving advice, know your audience.
 

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Your average pet person is going to accidentally create more conflict by unwittingly teasing, and probably eventually getting bit. Whenever giving advice, know your audience.
100% this. But beyond that, a lot depends on the dog too. You can make all the mistakes in the world with the right dog and it will turn out perfectly fine. I could have yanked Cava's dish out from under her nose while she was eating every day and it's unlikely it would have caused her to start guarding her food from me. That's just not who she is. But with Halo, I truly believe that tendency was there, and handled wrong she might have been a problem. Fortunately, that didn't happen. But it could have if she were our first shepherd instead of our fifth, and we'd listened to some well meaning but bad advice on the internet.

Being proactive and taking preventative steps to minimize the risk of creating a food guarder is never a bad idea, whether ultimately it's needed or not, because you're not necessarily going to know in advance.
 

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I know this sounds odd but with my last GSD, She was horribly food aggresive so I sat her down in the kitchen right next to my calm and gentle GSD and spoon fed them, a spoonful each , back and forth, to show the food comes from me. After only 5 days I began to put it in a dish, move the dish away from the other dog;s dish and make her sit and not touch the food until I said , "okay". Worked like a charm for me. You could take food right out of her mouth after that, she was 100% better.
 

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Discussion Starter #77
Hey everyone! Just an update on how Indy is doing with his food guarding. For about 2 weeks I left him alone while he would eat in his usual spot in the kitchen hoping to have him relax and not be so stressed while eating, I would have him sit and wait to be released to eat. After that I started walking by him and throwing in hot dogs and yummy snacks in his bowl. Obviously he loved this, and now if he sees me walk towards his bowl he backs up and sits waiting for a yummy treat in his bowl. No growling, nothing. SOOO happy with his improvement.
 

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Hey everyone! Just an update on how Indy is doing with his food guarding. For about 2 weeks I left him alone while he would eat in his usual spot in the kitchen hoping to have him relax and not be so stressed while eating, I would have him sit and wait to be released to eat. After that I started walking by him and throwing in hot dogs and yummy snacks in his bowl. Obviously he loved this, and now if he sees me walk towards his bowl he backs up and sits waiting for a yummy treat in his bowl. No growling, nothing. SOOO happy with his improvement.
That’s awesome!!! Congratulations
 

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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?
Do not correct him. Do not ignore it.

Lauri was a member of this site for years. She knows dogs. She definitely knows GSDs.

Do this;


For puppies and new rescues in my home, I start by dropping high value food in their bowls as their eating, so they welcome me near their bowls.

What if the dog starts choking? Should I ignore it? Be afraid to approach? I have to be able to approach always. But since your pup is already growling, do what Lauri explains step by step. Retrain your pup until he welcomes you at dinner time.
 
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