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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So yes, I used the search bar, and I didn't quite find exactly what I was looking for. So if somebody can point me to a thread or give me some help, I'd greatly appreciate it.


So here is the deal, our Black Lab is 5 years old. She does this whole resource guarding thing, she growls at Killian and the cats when they come near her food or her treats.... We can walk up and take her food and treats and she doesn't react at all. My two year old can stick her hands in her food dish and take it away and she is patient as ever till she gets it back, but lord FORBID a cat walks past her or the puppy.

I know this isn't right, I've ignored it for a while now, because she doesn't snap or bite, she just growls that warning growl, but now it's just getting annoying. Is there anything I can do to stop this behavior?? Help??

Oh, I do have to add that they eat in separate parts of the house, separated by a baby gate. I have been picking up what she doesn't finish at the end of each meal so there isn't the opportunity for aggression, that and Killian doesn't get her food and mess up his stomach.
 

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You can feed her in her crate but if the other dogs are swarming around her crate know she will still growl and resource. Feeding her while she is in her crate with the other animals away is probably the best thing though and it is managing it with the other animals but if it starts with you or the baby I would get a trainer to help you in person.
 

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I know that I feed all my pets at the same time, spaced apart so they aren't annoying each other.... and then when they are done, the food comes up off the floor if it's not eaten and then saved for the next meal.

Each pet knows they have their bowl, their food, they are allowed to eat it UNpestered by the other animals. But I also don't allow mealtimes to be prolonged and protected for an unreasonable amount of time.

Their food is theirs and the others shouldn't go near them while they are eating.
 

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I don't see it as a problem. Feed her in her crate as others suggested. I also wouldn't let others get in the vicinity when she is in there eating, she shouldn't have to defend her food. Ian Dunbar (vet, trainer, behaviorist) says he thanks the dog for growling since the dog is doing the right thing by giving a warning and not just snapping or biting. We are perfectly fine around here if a dog gives another dog a warning growl when they have something. We then tell the other dog to move on. We NEVER feed any of our dogs where another dog can get to the bowl while they are eating if we aren't standing right there. For example, I feed my GSD and my Lancashire Heeler together about 5 feet apart, but I stand within a few feet and never take my attention off of them. If I am only feeding one of them for some reason, then the one who is not being fed is sent to another room, or the the one being fed is put in the crate with his food and the other one is not allowed to crowd the crate and be a butt about it. The dogs understand that I will make sure no one takes food, but that doesn't mean they won't growl if some obnoxious pup rushes right up to their crate when they are eating. So unless I'm using the situation for training or want to just get them over eating together, they are crated when eating. Same for chew toys, if it is a really coveted chewy, the dog that wants to chew has to do so in a crate or in a secure area, why risk it. Now having said that, if I decide everyone gets a chewy (like last night while we were watching a movie) then they all get one and can lay in the family room with us. If one dog decides to abandon his chewy and go stare at another dog's chewy then that dog gets separated, either to the crate or to the yard for a few. It's a matter of expectations, they are emotionally comparable to a kindergarten aged kid. They want what another dog has, and the other dog knows it since that is how he would be if the situation were reversed. Manage the situations and expect good manners but don't expect sainthood.
 

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Guarding her food from the other animals is largely a function of pack structure. When our animals resource guard from us, the training almost always involves reinforcing pack stucture and that we own the food and that we are fair and consistent leaders so there is no reason to be worried that we will unfairly take the food.

I don't know your dog, but she may be reminding the other members of your pack that she is in charge of her food and that they cannot challenge her for it(this is more likely if she is a dominant type female). My female will let out some snarky sounds to the younger males in our pack to let them know that toys/treats belong to her. It never escalates beyond the noise. If you see wolf packs feeding on programs on NatGeo this is pretty common behavior to communicate eating order over a kill. She doesn't bother with the people because she inherently understands that all people are over her in the pack.

The other reason would be that she is concerned and worried that the other dog/cat will take her food (regardless of whether they have before or not) or it's an expression of how she feels in the pack. Has it gotten worse since the puppy came into the picture? Sometimes the older dogs can feel pretty threatened and she might be trying to assert herself because of her insecurity.

Regardless, as others have said the best thing to do is manage the situation. Feed her in a closed bedroom or the bathroom so that she can eat in peace with having to worry about others. You would be hard pressed to train her that other animals coming near her is a good thing during meal time and if she does it because she's insecure you could inadvertantly create more stress during meal time by trying to force the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Guarding her food from the other animals is largely a function of pack structure. When our animals resource guard from us, the training almost always involves reinforcing pack stucture and that we own the food and that we are fair and consistent leaders so there is no reason to be worried that we will unfairly take the food.

I don't know your dog, but she may be reminding the other members of your pack that she is in charge of her food and that they cannot challenge her for it(this is more likely if she is a dominant type female). My female will let out some snarky sounds to the younger males in our pack to let them know that toys/treats belong to her. It never escalates beyond the noise. If you see wolf packs feeding on programs on NatGeo this is pretty common behavior to communicate eating order over a kill. She doesn't bother with the people because she inherently understands that all people are over her in the pack.

The other reason would be that she is concerned and worried that the other dog/cat will take her food (regardless of whether they have before or not) or it's an expression of how she feels in the pack. Has it gotten worse since the puppy came into the picture? Sometimes the older dogs can feel pretty threatened and she might be trying to assert herself because of her insecurity.

Regardless, as others have said the best thing to do is manage the situation. Feed her in a closed bedroom or the bathroom so that she can eat in peace with having to worry about others. You would be hard pressed to train her that other animals coming near her is a good thing during meal time and if she does it because she's insecure you could inadvertantly create more stress during meal time by trying to force the issue.

Thank you, you know, come to think of it she does like to be "pack leader" with the animals. Like it's her way or the highway. What you write makes a lot of sense. I don't want to force any issue in fear of only making it worse. I think feeding inside the crate in the room is just the best. We used to feed Killian in there to keep him away from her food and keep him away from interchanging foods. I think we'll switch them out. Give that a try. Let her feel secure, I didn't realize it was that sort of issue with her. Thank you very much!!
 

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The other reason would be that she is concerned and worried that the other dog/cat will take her food (regardless of whether they have before or not) or it's an expression of how she feels in the pack. Has it gotten worse since the puppy came into the picture? Sometimes the older dogs can feel pretty threatened and she might be trying to assert herself because of her insecurity.
To expand on this, there was something I read in an article or booklet by Suzanne Clothier (can't remember exactly where it was) on insecurity and distance that I thought was interesting - (to paraphrase) picture a series of concentric circles around your dog, starting close, maybe just a foot or so away, and going further out. The more insecure the dog, the larger that circle is, the bigger the area s/he feels the need to defend against encroachers who might try to steal their stuff, whatever the valued resource is. A secure dog is perfectly comfortable with other dogs close by while they eat a meal or chew a bone because they are quite confident in either their ability to defend themselves against a usurper, or that their place in the pack means that others are unlikely to try anything.

I started paying attention to my dogs after that, especially when they had high value treats like bully sticks. While both of them will issue a minor warning if they feel it necessary (a little snark, as JKlatsky mentions) if one dog finishes first and it appears to the other one that they're thinking about trying something, neither of them appear particularly threatened by each other. Halo will look at Keefer still working on his, heave a big sigh, and plop herself down a foot away, and he has no problem with that at all. If he finishes first, she lords it over him that she still has some left, like the little snot that she is, lol!
 

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I have to stand guard when I feed my three dogs together. (1) 90lb GSD (1) 52lb Golden (1) 7lb mini doxie (adopted @ 5yrs of age) . My mini doxie will very politely walk to the other dog's dishes and eat their food. There is no growling, or snarling on anybody's part. They simply stop eating and wait for her to finish! Therefore, my mini doxie has to be crated when they eat! She is the queen, and they are her subjects. What's hers is hers and whats theirs is hers.
 

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All my guys seem to have it down by themselves. They all eat together in the kitchen, all at the same time. Oskar is usually the first done (go figure, he's a piggy) and he will sort of lurk around and wait to see if anyone else leaves their bowl with anything in it. With kibble there is never any concern amongst them even if the bowls are right next to each other. When they have raw, which is much higher value to them, they with give the same little warning as JKlatsky and Cassidy's Mom mentioned if someone comes over and sniffs the bowl. But that's all it ever amounts to. I think we achieved such order, well partly because I have a very good pack in which everyone knows his or her place, and because in the beginning I was always right there to monitor and correct any inappropriate behavior.

The one thing I would caution about feeding her in her crate --- if it is hers and she knows it, then make sure none of the others have access to her while she is eating. She will be even more prone to growl and become agitated because not only is she worrying about her food, but she will also be worrying about her space
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you all so very much for your help! I'll continue to keep them separated and see if we can work on it, slowly. <3
 
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