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I have a four month old working line German Shepherd puppy named Hades.



His old food was giving him digestive issues. I read about the benefits of a raw diet and transitioned him from kibble around two weeks ago to the frozen Instinct beef bites. When he was on kibble, I could dip my hand in his bowl as he was eating and he had no issue whatsoever, so I initially didn't even think that developing food aggression would be an issue.



Last night, I reached down near his bowl as he was eating to grab his water fountain and he growled at me for the first time. From what I understand, his new raw food is extremely high value compared to his old kibble, so he's extra desperate for it.



I have trained him from around the time he was 9 weeks old to only eat his food if I say "Eat." So, basically our routine is to pour the bites in his bowl, take him in my bedroom to play for 15 minutes while it thaws, then take him to the kitchen, prompt him to sit, then lay down, and then set the bowl on his feeding mat. He's trained to sit patiently and not even look at his food until I tell him to eat, then he eats.



What else can I do to curb this behavior?
 

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Dropping food in the bowl is a good idea, reminds him that you are the source of yummy stuff, not the one who is likely to take it away. Heck, I would growl at anyone who put their hand in my food bowl while I was eating, wouldn’t you? Probably really loudly. Especially if I were ravenously hungry. Well, okay, when my daughter was little she could get away with it, but nobody else.

I feed my dog raw, and I can touch his food while he’s eating, or grab his water bowl (right next to the food) if I need to. I think he’s ok with it because I do not make a habit of it. 99% of the time he just eats alone in his crate. I might go to him on occasion to add something to his dinner. Never to take it away unless I have to, which again, is very rare. He has never growled at me over his food.

Once, recently, Beau tried to hold onto a bone I was taking, I took it away because it had gotten too small for safety. No growling, just crossing his paws over it and holding on. I took it and gave him something tasty to replace it and he was happy - it just wasn’t an issue. I do sometimes test his impulse control by asking him to Wait after I put his dinner down. Not usually, just once in a while. Other than that, his meals are his meals, he gets to just eat in his space without any fuss.

So far this has worked for all the dogs I’ve lived with (even a food-crazy rescue who’d been starving on the streets and ate everything in sight the 1st year I had her). Maybe leaving your puppy to eat in peace would work better for him than messing with his food while he’s trying to eat it.
 

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Keep him in a place where he can’t be bothered I don’t feed the dogs raw but when I do on rare occassion as a treat. I also on occasion would drop more of the same or of higher value in their food bowl. Once our chihuahua let himself out of the crate And he just entered the kitchen not even close to the max eating his raw. Most likely he ill intentions but before i saw him he was chased out of the kitchen by max. It takes a bit more time to eat rAw kibble you don’t want them to worry about anyone bothering them. Max also seemed to put a lot of the raw food on the floor. I fed max outside just to make sure he was not bothered. I had to keep an eye on him because I saw him once Hide a chicken quarter in the woods- I was not sure what he was doing until I saw him chomping on something a few days later.
 

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I agree with giving him a secure area and letting him eat in peace. I've done the put your hands in the bowl and put yummy stuff in method before, a while ago, before I continued to learn and realized it really it only has the potential to cause issues. Aside from walking by and dropping something good in there without disturbing them, I just let them eat their meal in peace. I have little kids and they have to leave the dog alone when he is eating and the dog has to leave them alone when they are eating their food.
 

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I had a dog that showed some growling at me over her food at about this age. I tried correcting her and with this dog that just made it worse. I then tried having her do a little obedience with the bowl in my hand, then would load her in her crate, put the food in and left her alone. I could take anything from her as she aged and learned not to be in conflict with me, but if I pet her or bothered her she would still stiffen a bit. It never went beyond the stiffening and that was usually only over high value meals like pork neck (I feed raw). If I told her "out" she would always let go of anything she was eating. She is the only dog this ever proved to be an issue and I have never had any since. I have learned to do things in a matter of fact way that doesn't create conflict with the dog. They go in their crates or in their spot in the kitchen, I put down their food and they eat. If I oops and put the wrong bowl in the wrong crate I just remove the one bowl and switch. No conflict, no growling, no problems.



You could also have him work for his food by using the meals as his reward while doing obedience, though this works best with kibble. I prefer to just let my dogs eat.
 
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