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Discussion Starter #1
I really need your help.


My dad never touches Benny. He's not even allowed to acknowledge him anymore because Benny will pee submissively instantly. He treats my practically non-existent father like the leader! And for a pup so dependent on me, he really has been treating me like crap lately!

I've noticed he's WAY more submissive with men than he is with women. Benny's dad was also very aggressive with Benny's mother, so I wonder if he's being "sexist".
My dad can stick his hand in his bowl and Benny will walk off.

I know that when they hit this age, they're trying to find their place in the pack, but he's really ripping skin over here. I've been trying so hard to stop the biting using all the methods seen here.

1. Hold muzzle, hold close to body, say "no"!
That worked for maybe a week until he learned that every time he bites, he should dodge my hands before he gets reprimanded.

Once I learned how to get to his mouth quicker, he turned from taking the punishment to going ABSOLUTELY crazy. He screams at the top of his lungs, bares his teeth, grabs anything that involves skin, and munches down on it full-force and rapid-fire like a sewing machine. My hands are full of holes now, and it's REALLY become impossible to hold his mouth.

2. Ahem, method two: hold down.
Okay, this probably would have worked if I worked on it longer, but it wasn't effective in terms of keeping my hands clear of his mouth. I use it still, but I feel I'M getting punished more than he is.

3. Cover with body.
This is something that works a little better for us, but he's also learned that if he latches his teeth around my arm, it's harder for me to cover him when I'm wailing in pain.

And of course, this all revolves around-- you guessed it-- FOOD.

Today, I was feeding him by hand. I used my other hand to rub his muzzle because that's usually what triggers the aggression. I didn't think he'd react because I was feeding him by hand! But no, he snapped and latched onto my hand TWICE.

So, today I worked on his food aggression. I donned a pair of gloves (winter gloves, really no protection at all) and started sticking my hands into his bowl, rubbing his nose, etc. He was very aggressive. I think I had to lay over him 12 times and slap him across the nose six when he grabbed my hand (which made me cry because I don't like hitting him, but it at least got the message to him quick before I would need stitches).


Over time, he went from attacking to growling, and then he was full and wouldn't work with the food anymore.
I plan to do this every day, but I can't help but feel I'm doing something wrong (especially with the slapping). I've been using NILIF, what's going on?
 

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Jen,

I just went back in your posts and see that he's 13 weeks old. He's too young for you to be coming down so hard on him! I am not a fan of any of the methods that you are using. To be honest, it sounds like it's causing more problems in your relationship because you perceive that you're involved in a power struggle and he perceives (most likely) that you've gone crazy. Clearly these methods aren't working! He doesn't trust you and you are really pissed at him. This is not a good foundation for a respectful relationship. He's just a baby! It's not necessary to hurt or restrain him.

What books are you using to train him?

I will offer a different perspective here. I'm sure not everyone will agree with me but I have been training and living with dog companions of every temperament for 20 years now and started out with the method you're using now and have found it doesn't really work that well.

What if you forgot about the dominance/submissive paradigm and started trying to see things from his pov. What do you think on his mind is going on when he starts biting you?

The food aggression stuff sounds like a battle. Is he really food aggressive or just a hungry puppy? What makes you say he's food aggressive? I think it sounds like he's frustrated because he's hungry and you're withholding his food. He perceives you--and not your dad--as a threat because you are consistently taking his food away and your dad is not. I'm sure he has no idea what's going on. Instead of withholding the food and pinning him down, what if you just let him eat? If you're worried about food aggression then pick up his bowl and trade him for something even better like a meaty bone. What you're doing right now is basically confirming his fear that his food will be taken away. Why not just let him eat in peace?

Here's what I've done with the biting stuff--and I've had to deal with it with every gsd I've had, including Rafi. When I adopted Rafi he was very mouthy. He would get excited and grab whatever part of my body is closest to him and bite. He'd do the same thing with my clothing. HE would also do this when I was doing something that he thought was uncomfortable like me brushing him or me wiping his feet or drying him off.

Here's how I dealt with the mouthy business (and this is what I've done with every one of my personal dogs and fosters): When he gets fired up and starts mouthing/biting I stop whatever I'm doing and hand him a toy. I praise him for attacking that toy but don't engage with him at all when he attacks me. I then redirect him to a toy every single time he starts going after me. Pretty soon he gets it and redirects himself to the toy because he gets NO attention from me (either positive or negative) when he's biting.

If you want some book suggestions I'd be happy to give them.
 

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I have a puppy the same age as yours. (Assuming yours is 13 weeks)

You should feel bad when you slap her because you are doing something wrong. You shouldn't slap your puppy.

Is it possible she is just being "mouthy" and trying to play rather then being aggressive?

I know that when I use my hands in away way when my puppy is mouthing me it encourages her to mouth me more. She thinks it is a game. If she bites my hand I push her away she will jump back biting harder. She isn't being aggressive, just playing. But the play is too rough and I don't want to encourage it. I have been doing the yelp and ignore thing and it seems to be working. At the same time, I hide my hands by crossing my arms so she loses her target. She figures out pretty quickly that biting me makes the fun go away.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, he's 14 weeks now. Not that it matters.

I'm just NOT willing to put up with this when he's 110 pounds of gnashing teeth, but thanks.

In his POV, it sounds like he wants to be top dog. I've NEVER taken his food from him. I only move my fingers around in his food when he eats, and he perceives that I'm challenging him for food. I speculate that maybe he was fed with his litter all at once from one bowl, maybe?

And it's not out of hunger, either. I continued training shortly after feeding him. Are you suggesting I just let him eat and if I happen to pass by and he gnaws my leg off, it's okay? That's a little dangerous.

He also has other dominance issues, but those aren't as severe as the food aggression.

I DO make him sit calmly and wait for my signal before he can eat. Would that affect him with me putting my hands in his bowl?
 

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I would go back and re-read BowWowMeow's answer. I think it hits the nail on the head.
My puppy is the same age, and pardon me but I think you are on the wrong track. I would not think that jockying for position would be necessary nor helpful at this age. Something's gone very wrong in this whole scenario, and I think the answer might involve a whole different way of looking at the situation.
BWM- thanks- I learned a lot from your post.
 

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Why mess with a dog's food? I tell you what, mess with MY food and forget the dog, worry about me! This is one thing I will just leave well enough alone. The dog has to deal with me taking all its toys and controlling where it rests and limiting this and preventing that and obeying commands, meal time is Dog Time. Renji gets fed in the crate and he is left alone until he is done. VERY rarely I will interfere, but only to add yummy things, that way Renji has associated me messing with his food with MORE FOOD! This way, if I ever do need to take something away from his bowl, I'll have some other goodie for him and he'll understand that he's going to be compensated. I also feed him in the crate so he is secure from other people. Guests aren't going to stumble upon him, children aren't going to bug him, and he'll have no need to feel protective because he's safe in his den. Conversely, when it comes time to our food, he had darn well better show us the same respect that we show him, this I make extremely clear. Two way street. If you haven't guessed by now, I'm more food-possessive/aggressive than most dogs.


Remember that what you have is both a blessing and a curse. A bitey pup can be very useful for training. Have you tried tug toys, puppy kongs, even leather rags on ropes? If you get all his chewiness out on toys, your hands will be spared and the biting and tugging can be used as a reward. Later on, this will serve to teach him that human flesh is not a chew toy but kongs and balls on ropes are! A lot of GSDs are also more toy-driven than anything else.

Try this for feeding: hand feed him, but make him EARN EVERY LAST BIT. No sit, no food. If he gets really nasty, you put the food away and move away. Once he calms down, bring out the food again. A down = food. A sit = food. Eye contact = food. Frustrated attacks at your hand that persist despite redirection = signal that mealtime is over. If you're really worried about your hands, just toss the kibble. He'll see it comes from you anyway. Stop grabbing his muzzle for now and let him associate your touch and food to good things. After he's done well with obedience for food, give him the rest in his bowl, give him a quick rub (quick enough that by the time he realizes what's going on, you're already done), then go about your business. Occasionally, walk by and toss in something REALLY good, like bits of hot dog or cheese. Make that routine- 3/4 of his meal is handfed for *fun* obedience, the rest goes in his bowl, you give him a quick scritch or pat (NOT on the muzzle), then EVERYONE leaves him be. When the pup is done or it has been 15 minutes and the food is ignored, take up the bowl. There are better battles to wage in the in the leadership "war." (Bad choice of words, it is not a war, it's a way of life.)

If he's really submissive to men, I'd have to wonder if there was a not-good male presence at the breeder's or if this pup was raised around a very harsh male influence. It's really hard to tell what's going on in your post. On one hand, some of it sounds like a very fun pup (they aren't called "furgators" for nothing). On the other hand, sounds like there could be some very real issues going on. What do you know of the parents of this pup and their lines, besides Dad being very aggressive to Mom?
 

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I have to agree with BowWowMeow. It is not normal behavior to roll over and pee. I would start by eating a meal first, and THEN putting the bowl with his food down. Then walk away.....you have already shown that you control the food, no need to come and try to keep your hands around it. I think you need to turn this around, you need to make everything fun for the dog, doing things with you needs to be better than anything. Trading is great, you could practice with favorite toys (no food) and then work up to trading food. Just be fair.
 

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Let me ask you again, other than the posts on this board (and nowhere have I seen anyone advocate pinning and slapping a puppy!) what are you reading to help you train your puppy?

I find it hard to believe that a puppy that submissively pees has dominance issues. My first gsd, Massie, grew up to be a very lean 95 pounds. She was also a very strong alpha. She also mouthed like crazy when she was a puppy and those little puppy teeth hurt! But it was clear to me that she was just being a puppy and saw me as her playmate. She wasn't trying to hurt me!

Feeding him by hand is a possibility but he is only 14 weeks old--I don't think he needs to work for every piece of food! Rafi was living on his own and skin and bones when he was found and he a much older puppy but he does not try to bite me when I walk past his food bowl. He lets me take anything from him because he knows that my intentions are good and fair.

Honestly, the foundation you are building with your puppy right now is not a good one. It is adversarial. If you repeatedly stuck your hands in my food, grabbed my face, smacked me and pinned me to the floor I certainly wouldn't want you to be my leader! You want him to trust you and you should trust him too! There is no need to rule by force! Once again, this is detrimental to your relationship with your puppy and may very well create a mistrusting adult dog like you see in the link you provided. A good pack leader (canine or human) is fair and consistent and does not take things personally. Hitting and pinning your puppy is going to reinforce his belief that you are not a trustworthy or a fair leader. He is giving you very clear signals that he doesn't trust you. You are an adult (actually I have no idea how old you are but I'm assuming you are an adult) and he is a little puppy. He is not disrespecting you, just trying to tell you he doesn't understand what you are doing and that he finds it threatening.

Please, do yourself and him a favor and check out some of these books. There's a good chance your local library may have them.

After You Get a Puppy, Ian Dunbar
The Power of Positive Training, Pat Miller
Bones Would Rain From the Sky, Suzanne Clothier
The Other End of the Leash, Patricia McConnell

Check out the Favorite Books and Video section--there are a lot of good suggestions over there!
 

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It may help to keep in mind that alpha dogs don't physically dominate or squabble with the low ranking members in general.

They don't need to. Submissive dogs roll themselves over for the higher pack members, the alpha doesn't have to make them.


Why mess with his food to begin with? Let him see you eat your food first, put his food down and leave him alone. Spend time doing short training sessions and treat the **** out of him. You want him to see you as a positive presence, fair, and a source of food GIVEN, not taken.

IMO at this point he doesn't trust or respect you, and what you're doing isn't going to fix that. Forget your current concerns for the moment and focus on that.

For mouthing/biting, redirect or ignore.

Submissive peeing is NOT a good thing. It is not a normal greeting for a dog to give the alpha. A month ago I watched my 1 yr old mix roll and pee on himself when hubby came in the room. I FLIPPED. Here, Angus had done something bad earlier in the morning when I was asleep and hubby took the 'old school/retard' mentality that smacking him was the way to correct him. He is a soft dog. Naturally submissive. A cross look and verbal correction is more than sufficient at getting the point across. -After my initial ranting, I took the time to explain to hubby why what he did was bad...the training session went well, but he didn't get any treats-

Submissive peeing is a sign that something is not right, needs to be fixed, and the pup needs some confidence boosting.

Focus on building the pup's self esteem and his trust/respect of you. Forget the food issue, for now at least.
 

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Quote: I'm just NOT willing to put up with this when he's 110 pounds of gnashing teeth, but thanks.
None of us would. The problem is you are treating a puppy the way you WOULD have to treat a 110 pound dog. And it's overwhelming and freaking him out.

Puppies main thing is PLAY. Not dominant alpha behavior. PLAY. And if everytime he invites you to 'play' by biting you hammer him into the ground....................you may think his fragile little puppy brain is getting just a bit confused. Hm, play is a bad thing cause it makes the 'Wrath of God' come down on my head.


Just because our puppies bite and growl does NOT mean it's aggression. Both play and fear look exactly like aggression and are MUCH MORE LIKELY in your case then that your puppy is actually challenging you. Sounds more like he is freaked out because you are not giving the CALM leadership it needs.

What I want for my PUPPY is to be a calm, dependable and loving leader. So as my puppy grows they will learn to look to me, rely on me, follow me (but not FEAR me). My dog isn't biting me as an adult dog cause she's afraid of me. It's because she trusts and relys on me, why would there be any biting?

If I were you, I'd very much re-think my attitudes on how to raise a confident, happy and secure puppy. Some good sites you should read up on are:

A Good Leader (click here)

It Takes a Pack to Raise a Puppy (click here)

Leadership Skills (click here)

Relationship Based Training

And don't poopoo this way to train and think we don't know what we are talking about. I have a GSD from working lines who can be a huge challenge to train, but I'd rather work it out in a smart way, not a 'forceful' way. And it keeps my dog confident and happy and working with me.

This is MY crazy dog, and she's one of the top AKC Agility dogs in the USA, so you CAN work this out and do it well:



 

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manhandling a 14 week old puppy is just ASKING for an aggressive dog.

Edited to add that I just watched the You Tube link you provided. Sounds like you (or whomever) is laughing in the background at his growling over the food?

I agree with Ruth.. why ARE you taking the food away? Let him eat and leave him alone.
 

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What you are doing now is going to MAKE your puppy be aggressive in the future. To fix what has already started with him I would feed him his meal but have him sit, down and/or eye contact THEN release him and let him eat in PEACE. After a week or so (give the pup a chance to eat in peace and get used to this new feeling) do the same thing but only give him 1/4 of his normal food. Again walk away then walk back and simply add a little more food. Walk away and come back and add more food and keep repeating until he has all of his food for one feeding. He will then begin to associate you approaching his bowl as a GOOD thing. Every once in a while add some BONUS food to his bowl like a bite of left over chicken or something extra yummy.

You need to start now treating the pup like a respected and loved baby and not as the monster that he WILL become if you continue doing what you are currently doing.
 

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Originally Posted By: JennyJenWell, he's 14 weeks now. Not that it matters.
It actually DOES matter. This is a very impressionable stage in a dog's life. Everything you do right now has an impact on what your dog will become.

Quote:I'm just NOT willing to put up with this when he's 110 pounds of gnashing teeth, but thanks.
Ok, I'm just putting it together that this video is not of your specific dog. Sorry, you didn't make that clear.. I thought you were video taping your dog (been a long day), so you can disregard my other post.

Quote:In his POV, it sounds like he wants to be top dog. I've NEVER taken his food from him.
I doubt it. He is looking for clear and fair leadership from his pack leader. Apparently, he doesn't view you as a pack leader because he doesn't perceive you as being fair and level headed. He doesn't understand what you are trying to do... and chances are he thinks you are crazy and unfit for a higher role position. Which just stresses him out because he thinks that HE has to fill it because you are unfit for it!

Quote:And it's not out of hunger, either. I continued training shortly after feeding him. Are you suggesting I just let him eat and if I happen to pass by and he gnaws my leg off, it's okay? That's a little dangerous.
No, we are suggesting that you allow him to eat his food. Again, why ARE you insisting on putting your hand in the food? I'm not sure what purpose that serves.

Quote:He also has other dominance issues, but those aren't as severe as the food aggression.
A puppy of that age is not looking for dominance... it's looking for clear and fair leadership, which you are not providing. There are many book and link recommendations here. I would suggest you review before you physically restrain your dog again so you can find a better way to be a better leader.

Quote:I DO make him sit calmly and wait for my signal before he can eat. Would that affect him with me putting my hands in his bowl?
And the purpose of putting your hands in the bowl is....?
 

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Glad you posted!

Time to turn this around for you and your puppy.

Here is a thread on resource guarding from the raw section:
http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=68798&page=1#Post68798

Are you in TN? I am trying to remember-do you have access to any trainers in your area who use positive methods? Definitely time to change the relationship before you create a total fear biter. This happened to my Bella before she was turned over to rescue at 6 months. It took a long time to undo at that point, hopefully your little guy will be able to bounce back too.
 

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Originally Posted By: JennyJenWell, he's 14 weeks now. Not that it matters.

I'm just NOT willing to put up with this when he's 110 pounds of gnashing teeth, but thanks.
Problem is, you're well on your way to a self-fulfilling prophecy here.


Originally Posted By: JennyJenIn his POV, it sounds like he wants to be top dog.
No, he doesn't. Very, very few dogs truly want to be top dog. That sort of temperament is extremely rare, and just doesn't happen in a 14 week old puppy.

What dogs do need is clear, fair and kind leadership, to understand the rules and have those rules enforced consistently and fairly. So strong is their need to know who is in charge, that some dogs will try to move up the ladder if they feel no one else in the family is taking that top spot or worthy of the position. They do this not because they *want* to be top dog, but because someone has to and if no one else will do it the responsibility falls on the dog. Most dogs will happily let someone else take that responsibility, provided that person shows that they are competent to have the position. Being your dog's leader isn't following a list of rules or performing dominance exercises over your pup. It's an attitude and a lifestyle of clear rules, confident leadership, obedience training, and most importantly building a bond of trust and respect. Not of fear.


Originally Posted By: JennyJenI've NEVER taken his food from him. I only move my fingers around in his food when he eats, and he perceives that I'm challenging him for food. I speculate that maybe he was fed with his litter all at once from one bowl, maybe?
It doesn't matter if you don't take the food away. You're harassing him while he eats. How would you like it if someone reached over and played with your plate while you were having dinner? Not very much I'd say, and the same goes for the dog.

Dogs guard their food because they fear someone will take it, or will harass them while they're eating. It has nothing to do with being "top dog". The omega in the wolf pack will jealously guard his food, and fight the alpha for it, if the alpha tries to take his food away. It is one of the few areas in canine social relations where the omega WILL fight the alpha, and is perfectly justified in doing so. It rarely happens, since the alpha's know that to harass anyone while they're eating is completely inappropriate behavior, and they don't do it. A good leader wouldn't cross that line and break one of the basic rules of canine society.

Yet you are doing exactly that. Your puppy is well within his rights to defend his food if he feels he needs to. And it has nothing to do with him not respecting your leadership. You are breaking a carnal rule of polite canine society, and he's well within his rights to tell you so.

The way to eliminate this behavior is to teach him he doesn't have anything to worry about. You're not a threat to his food and you're not going to pester him while he's eating. What you're doing now is escalating his behavior. He's afraid you'll harass him, and sure enough that's what you do. His fears are confirmed. His behavior will escalate in aggression, because you're not listening to his warning. So he has to warn louder. And earlier. What may have started with him not warning until you were right next to him will increase to him starting to show aggressive displays as soon as he catches sight of you. Because again, in his mind you're not listening to the more subtle warnings so obviously he needs to give you a firmer one to get your attention.


Originally Posted By: JennyJen Are you suggesting I just let him eat and if I happen to pass by and he gnaws my leg off, it's okay? That's a little dangerous.
Nope. But if you continue on the path you are on, that is a very real possibility. And it will be a situation that you caused because you're going about dealing with this in the wrong way.

The way to eliminate the food aggression isn't by showing him that he has every cause to be wary of you and display food aggression, as you're doing now. What you need to do is to show him clearly that there is nothing to worry about. You're not a threat, and you're not going to harass him. Unfortunately, he now has not only his natural fear, but also many real life experiences that have shown him that his fear is justified, so it will be harder to do than if those experiences hadn't happened.

Handfeeding is one exercise to do with him. But don't pet him or do anything else he could interpret as threatening, just feed him. When he's eating, have some extra special treats handy. Something better than his regular food. Jerky treats or small pieces of chicken work great. Walk up, toss a couple in his bowl, and walk away again. If he growls, ignore him. Don't touch him, don't talk to him, don't do anything other than toss him the extra tasty treats. As time goes on, he'll become more and more comfortable with your presence because he's learning to associate it with something good (better treats) and not something bad. Within time you'll be able to pet him, touch his food bowl, etc... and he won't care because he's learned that you approaching isn't anything to worry about. It's a good thing.


Originally Posted By: JennyJen He also has other dominance issues, but those aren't as severe as the food aggression.
What are the other "dominance issues"?
 

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Hmmmmmm I am certainly no dog trainer but my breeder strongly suggested that we continue what she had started with keeping our hand near Max's bowl when he eats. She started it with all the puppies when they were born and we have continued it. He totally ignores our hands and just eats no matter if he is really hungry or not...

So maybe your breeder did not start this with your pup and it is just going to take some time for him to get used to it. I agree with you that this stuff needs to be dealt with from the beginning. Because these dogs grow so quickly it won't be long before he could do some real damage if he isn't trained now.

The only thing that I can think of to do is not touch the dog in a negative way but just remove the bowl to a height he can not reach until he calms down. When he appears calm put the bowl back with your hand still one it and if he growls or bites you remove it again. I think eventually he will get that his behavior is what is taking the bowl away.
 

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Originally Posted By: maxismomHmmmmmm I am certainly no dog trainer but my breeder strongly suggested that we continue what she had started with keeping our hand near Max's bowl when he eats. She started it with all the puppies when they were born and we have continued it. He totally ignores our hands and just eats no matter if he is really hungry or not...

So maybe your breeder did not start this with your pup and it is just going to take some time for him to get used to it.
This can work to prevent problems IF it's done from the beginning before the dog has developed food aggression.

That is not the case here though. This dog already has food aggression. And from the sounds of the initial post there are some serious trust and fear issues in this pup's relationship with the family members, which are just feeding his anxiety over eating and his perceived need to defend his food.


Originally Posted By: maxismomjust remove the bowl to a height he can not reach until he calms down. When he appears calm put the bowl back with your hand still one it and if he growls or bites you remove it again. I think eventually he will get that his behavior is what is taking the bowl away.
At this point, removing the food will make things worse.

He won't "get that his behavior is what is taking the bowl away". Instead, he'll escalate his aggression to try to scare off the threat before it can get close enough to take the food away.

He's afraid of having his food taken away and of not being allowed to eat in peace. This fear has been reinforced by experiences that have proven to him that his fear is justified. At this point, anything that continues to affirm that his fear is justified and he will lose his food, will make the situation worse, not better.
 
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