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really need help badly!!!!

3486 Views 34 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  gsd&mal crazy1
well as some of you may know i had been in a search for the perfect pet for my family. i about a week ago got a rescue lab from this woman locally and fell in love with this boy. he is the greatest dog ever. and he is so wonderfull with the children. i mean, i absolutely love him with the kids.
just a little while ago i went to give him his food and put his bowl down. made him sit and wait and then gave him the good boy o.k. to realease him to get his food. keep in mind i did plenty of carefull watching of him and his habits and personality. i had already tested him with being food aggressive. i just switched his food yesterday and he scarfs it down in 2 minutes tops like always. well anyways my little girl(human) walked next to him while eating and he growled... i immediately went over and gave hima stern correction. we had just come in from out side so he still had on his choke collar, i corrected him and gave him a loud no. he backed off and flattened his ears, posture change...etc.... let him go for a sec and stood there little girl(shes 2 by the way) then walked somewhat close to the bowl and he growled again.another correction. this time i lifted his front paws off the floor sternly and calmly telling him NO... anothe posture change. attention definately on me and submitting ....

he then a couple minutes later did this again when she just came close to him. i removed him after a corection and put him in the room. then put him in his crate.

after feeling so comfortable with this boy. growing quick attatchment to him, ABSOLUTELY LOVING the way he was with my i feel so uncomfortable with him and the kids. this just happened and i don't know what to do now. please help...please
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I have a question. After he growled the FIRST time, why didn't you KEEP THE CHILD AWAY FROM HIM while he was eating?

I don't have any suggestions other than the above. I have never had a food aggressive dog.

I will say though, I would be carefull correcting him for growling as a growl is a warning, correct them for "warning" and they are likely to STOP growling and just go straight to biting with NO warning. The third time he growled, was he still eating?
If you use the nothing in life is free method you might break the food issue. ALL food is earned. So I always bring a new dog into the house and hand feed all food for at least a month. It is a bit timely but it works. I suggest putting the dogs daily quantity of food in a dish and everytime the dog does something to earn the food hand feed him some; the dish will go suprisingly fast over whole day. If he is really good then add something high value like meat or cheese as a reward.
I agree you can teach the dog to stop growling and that is really bad.

The end result is no warning... just action. This is one of the reasons that people say "my dog just attacked my child out of the blue!"

With that being said, you didn't know and are looking for advice which is good.

Hand feeding is excellent. Working obedience while feeding is excellent. Once you do that for a week or two, then move to putting the food little by little in the bowl while working obedience. Then, move to putting all the food in the bowl and walking up to add better treats. Then trading the bowl for better treats. Then, once his mind is in the right place (he works for his food, you control the resources but are a fair, calm and fun leader that will not steal his food and mean him no harm) involve the children in all of these steps again starting with hand feeding from the children. Food is a very powerful thing to a dog, and he who controls it fairly and consistently controls the dog.
well. after he growled i was shocked and i got a hold of him, corrected him, and then i felt like i needed to see what exactly happened. i had him on a short leash to where he could not get to her but i needed to see what he was growling at...

and as an update i have kept him on a leash with prong collar. i did bring him around her, not close, but around her, in another room, away from food. and he gave a short growl at her.

i'm definately going to start hand feeding. and he is not getting anywhere near my children in close proximity. i already make him sit and down for food. and train for some of his food portion. but the hand feeding is the next step. what else though... how can i have a dog who grwols at my 2 year old. i feel so uneasy right now. sorry
oh and no correction for his growling because then he will show no warning.... i got it.

well what then. when she walks past and he growls,,,,then what ???
She doesn't walk past.

He's new.

They need to be safe from each other.

He can eat in a crate in a room by himself until he is sure he won't have to protect his food and that he is protected. Or with you.

No kids around-can you imagine being an animal and having to eat around a huge family of kids running around while you are trying to do that? Not very relaxing! Think about where you would rather eat if you could choose- a nice restaurant or the school cafeteria?

BRB with a link for you-this is from Lauri on resource guarding- There is also a book called MINE! by Jean Donaldson.
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I know it was scary but this is pretty common and the good news is that he did growl, not snap. People have a tendency to think "but he could have bitten my child!" which is exactly correct - "could have" but didn't.

Jean Donaldson's got a good book called "MINE" about resource guarding. It is not always about dominance, sometimes it's just about a dog who isn't sure if he's going to get to keep his food. If a dog is already nervous, harsh corrections can actually exacerbate the problem because now he's doubly scared about what happens when he's eating and your daughter comes along.

Feeding in the crate is a good suggestion as is hand feeding. He is still feeling his way and finding his place. I know it's unnerving but I really do think this is fixable and I'm glad you're asking questions and looking for help.
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Dang it Jean, you're quicker on the draw!
But it's such a good book, I guess it's okay to recommend it twice!
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I second that book. And feeding your dog separately from anyone so that he feels safe. My 13 yo dog eats in the corner, away from my other dog and away from all people so that she feels safe. I do not let any children anywhere near here when she's eating, ever.

And you need to do a lot of reading yourself. I'm sure I recommended clicker trainer when you had that other dog but I'll recommend it again. What you have just done (the harsher and harsher corrections) is tell your dog that your daughter is scary. He sees her, growls and then you act like a crazy unpredictable person and try to hurt him. So she becomes something scary because she has caused you to act in this way towards him. You can CREATE very serious resource guarding issues like this.

Sign yourselves up for a class at Purrfect Paws. The woman who owns it is a behaviorist and you will learn positive reinforcement and clicker training.
Originally Posted By: gsd&mal crazy1 how can i have a dog who grwols at my 2 year old. i feel so uneasy right now. sorry
I think he growls at your daughter now because the association was created in his head (especially that you gave him HARSH correction with lifting his legs in the air) that your daughter means disappearance of food and also beating into submission no matter in what place he sees her.
o.k. i have not even read all posts yet,,, but i have to post this. he growled at her again, away from the food. why would he start this now all of o sudden after being so good.?
I'm pretty sure everyone is saying that your dog is growling at your daughter because of the association that you have created with her. When the dog sees your daughter he associates that with no food, and be harshly corrected. Please keep your daughter away from him, the dog is warning you that it's gonna bite.
Originally Posted By: gsd&mal crazy1o.k. i have not even read all posts yet,,, but i have to post this. he growled at her again, away from the food. why would he start this now all of o sudden after being so good.?
Because you have set him up to this, and continue to do so. Please read all the above posts, there is important advice given to you there. I also hope that you haven't corrected your dog again for this growl.
Originally Posted By: gsd&mal crazy1o.k. i have not even read all posts yet,,, but i have to post this. he growled at her again, away from the food. why would he start this now all of o sudden after being so good.?
As the previous poster said, he saw your daughter, then he was corrected a few times in a row. Now he sees her as a bad thing becaus he is getting corrected whenever she is around. I would imaging he associates the correction with your DAUGHTER rather than with the act of growling.

Also you just recently got this dog. Most dogs will be "on their best behaviour" at first. After they have been in the home for a while, they get more comfortable and start testing the limits, trying to see what they can get away with and what they can't.
Be careful with the prong, it can in some cases intensify aggression. You may have a dominant puppy, who has a tendency to rule the roost for the weaker packmembers. How about getting a behaviorist on board to evaluate the pup and see what is behind this? If it is anxiety, positive training methods are ideal! However, if it is dominance, purely positive food-based(clicker/treat training) methods can get you in deeper trouble with a pushy-by-nature dog as he sees you as a food machine that he controls. A great behaviorist can evaluate this puppy and situation for you and provide guidance.

Do not allow this child to stroll by this pup, pet this pup, sit near this pup, play with this pup. Teach the toddler, because the pup cannot be crated during all of the child's waking hours. The child does not need to fear the dog-- only respect the dog's space and for now especially, not interact with it.

Let us know how it goes with a good behaviorist!
Please don't assume that you have a pushy pup who has a dominance agenda. No offense, Patty, but this is a rehomed pup who has just landed in a large, active family. He is not being treated fairly!

Here is a great behaviorist, please give her a call:,com_ifportfolio/Itemid,47/
well wht i did was i had Doser on leash and i had my daughter feed him his food. he did good with this. ....well i willl call the behaviorist because some are saying positive reinforcements and have daughter feed him.. others saying no contact......

i will be doing lots of reading tonight!

"he's not being treated fairly"
we have been beign great to Doser. he has been very happy. i corrected him because of prior reading on this subject. mostly from the leerburg site. i am going to get a very rounded view on this subject from reading lots of resources. i hate for it to be said that he is not being treated fairly because i have been doing everything i know how to makae him happy and comfy. and he had been until the growl. even with that i thougth i had to correct him so he would know growlng at her was sooo off limits. any aggression is off limits as far as i'm concerned.

i feel like i can work through this. right now i'm down because i thougth things were looking up after all the hard work searching for a good pet for our family only to run into a road block like this. the one thing i did not want, aggression....but in this little time i have grown to adore this boy and so has my family. so i will work through this and hopefully we can get to a better place. so people please lend your support. I AM OPEN TO ALL dont' bash me. all i'm asking.
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I'm glad you're asking questions and open to advice. Just keep in mind the different areas of expertise out there.

If you were seeing thie behavior out of a working lines GSD that you had had since puppyhood, I think the diagnosis of "pushy puppy" would be a much more likely than when you're seeing this behavior in a recently adopted Labrador. As your dog is the latter, I think the diagnosis that the dog is unsure about the rules and how to behave, growled at your daughter, and now associates her with things that are scary is much more likely to be correct. This sounds very fear based and if so, harsh corrections, prong collar etc is just going to make the situation worse. NILIF on the other hand is a good program for both fear and dominance issues and isn't going to hurt anything.

Hopefully you'll be able to talk to Ruth's behaviorist and she can give you some good input seeing the dog first hand.
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