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Hey! I have a 7 month old GSD and we've recently introduced him to the new joy that is a marrow bone-- turns out, he likes it enough to snarl and growl when it's time to take it from him! We've never seen this kind of behavior in him before. How would we be able to curb it? I would really like to still offer him a piece of marrow bone occasionally without fearing I will get bitten.
 

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Well, like other have told me, why are you trying to take it away? If you feel the need to do so, then offer him something as a trade for it for a moment then give it back.....Is he the same when you get near his food bowl? If so that's a different story. I am sure other have good suggestions.....but for me working with Jake and teaching him that I am in charge was first but also that I am not teasing him and soon as he "ous" he gets it back IF I need to do that...

Jake will growl or whine in a high pitched voice when I move him/bone on the "mat" but I have worked with him on allowing me to take a bone from him at any time.....he has learned that I will give it right back to him.
 

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There's a time for him to chew on his messy marrow bone (outside, with us) but when we need to go inside for any reason, we need to take it away. He is not food aggressive or aggressive with any of his toys or other treats. The trading thing seems to be a good idea-- Spencer is a sucker for carrot pieces. So I should praise and give it back right afterward?
 

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BIG EDIT: Turns out he's getting a little aggressive with his other toys too! Nothing as bad as the marrow bone, but still, there's hesitation and a little growling when I grab his other toys from him. I'm shocked! This is so sudden, I really don't know what to do about it. He doesn't care if I touch his toys when he's not playing or chewing on them, but if he has it, it's all his!

I'm trying to take his toy away with a "drop it" command, praise and treat, then give it back. Let's hope this helps with these behaviors. Any other advice would be much appreciated.
 

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It will help....keep teaching him the "drop it" command....praise him and give it back....keep doing that.
At some point Jake was growling at me when I tried to take his ball or frisbee away, I was freaked out! I took it away and told him "all done". He soon realized that that behavior meant game over.....I am in charge of how and when we play...NOT HIM.
Even today if he is really excited he will will whine and moan when I ask him to "drop it but as his reward he gets big praise and I will throw it again.
I feel it's a fine line and striking a balance....LETTING THEM HAVE CONFIDENCE BUT KNOWING WHO IS BOSS.
 

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Do you practice NILF?
 

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It will help....keep teaching him the "drop it" command....praise him and give it back....keep doing that.
At some point Jake was growling at me when I tried to take his ball or frisbee away, I was freaked out! I took it away and told him "all done". He soon realized that that behavior meant game over.....I am in charge of how and when we play...NOT HIM.
Even today if he is really excited he will will whine and moan when I ask him to "drop it but as his reward he gets big praise and I will throw it again.
I feel it's a fine line and striking a balance....LETTING THEM HAVE CONFIDENCE BUT KNOWING WHO IS BOSS.
I agree with this. And teaching him to drop it can become a great fun game.

To initially start this, I'd have TWO of whatever I was using. So 2 balls so when he drops the one he has he IMMEDIATELY gets the new one to play with. Same with a bone. Play this when you have TWO bones.

So it's not a big deal to give up something, he's getting something else. But also learning 'drop it'. So later you can have him 'drop' the bone for something less like a treat. And even later just drop it to drop it and then maybe you'll give it back to him.

I wouldn't really make this about Alpha/Boss cause he's young and this is a new bad habit. My older dog does this when another dog comes too close and she's chewing her bone, to say it's hers. So it's NORMAL behavior they mature into. But you can easily teach them it's not so much about yours or mine but just another darn 'command' that earns them mom/dad's love and praise (and maybe a treat/toy/game!).
 

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Do you practice NILF?
Yes I do, for most things. Everything he gets, even car rides (he loves car rides) he must work for. He is told to sit, wait, and then finally take his food. The only thing we're working on is him working for attention, which my family is hard pressed to agree with me on.

@MaggieRoseLee: I agree, I don't think it should be so much "putting him in his place" as it should be just breaking a bad habit. He's kinda getting into that pushy adolescent stage I guess. :p That sounds like a really good idea, I'll try that too. He's pretty good with drop it (we've taught him it when he was young) but sometimes he just doesn't want to let go. This should help refine that command as well as help deal with the aggression.
 

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@MaggieRoseLee: I agree, I don't think it should be so much "putting him in his place" as it should be just breaking a bad habit. He's kinda getting into that pushy adolescent stage I guess. :p That sounds like a really good idea, I'll try that too. He's pretty good with drop it (we've taught him it when he was young) but sometimes he just doesn't want to let go. This should help refine that command as well as help deal with the aggression.
Not sure if you clicker train but this is another perfect place for it. The clicker is so precise that it would speed up the training.

Specially listen to how she explains the difference with this training. It's not that the dog has to drop something cause it's WRONG and they are BAD. It's cause whenever you drop something the skies open and joyful music from the heavens ensues (or something like that). Who wouldn't drop stuff if the angels start to sing everytime!!!????


Another clicker method to teach the same thing...

 

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i think you should be able to take anything away
from your dog without growling. when my
pup was 9 weeks old i use to play in his food
whenever i fed him. i didn't play in his food in a teasing manner.
i also would pet him, stand over him, lift his tail,
reach under him, rub his mouth or whatever. i also
had my neighbors come over and play with his food.

i think you should teach your dog "leave it".
 

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Discussion Starter #12
i think you should be able to take anything away
from your dog without growling. when my
pup was 9 weeks old i use to play in his food
whenever i fed him. i didn't play in his food in a teasing manner.
i also would pet him, stand over him, lift his tail,
reach under him, rub his mouth or whatever. i also
had my neighbors come over and play with his food.

i think you should teach your dog "leave it".
We've done all of this. He has NO food aggression and we often feed him by hand. He is far better at "leave it" than he is "drop it", he'll wait for up to 2 minutes to get something he wants with the "leave it" command. He's known this since he was very young.

@MaggieRoseLee: We actually have a clicker, and we only used it at the beginning. We stopped since he learns pretty quickly without but this is probably a good time to introduce it again. Those videos look rather informative, thank you very much. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
EVEN BIGGER EDIT: Now suddenly he's a bit food aggressive too! Not a lot, but he'll growl if I put my hand close to his face while he's eating. This has NEVER happened before, and it's really startling to see all of this in him... Any ideas what would suddenly trigger all of this? He's got diarrhea again (we've taken him to the vet etc no ideas on what triggered it) so maybe it could be that he's not feeling well...

I feel so out of control of his health and now out of control of his behavior. This is awful...
 
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