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Puppy shows aggression when eating or playing with toys.


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#1 Gunshowgreg

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 01:53 PM

Hope this is appropriate place to ask this but my 14 week old puppy Logan is showing aggression when eating or using a chew toy. I noticed last week when I was petting him and he growled at me. Then yesterday I did the same however this time he crinkled his nose snarled at me and tried to bite me. I was pretty angry with his aggression. What's the best way to go about handling this?

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#2 Gunshowgreg

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 01:53 PM

He also doesnt like to be touched when using his food bowl.

#3 denice

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 04:13 PM

Aggression and possessiveness I feel are very different.  If you think about a litter of puppies they grumble, growl, snarl, snap at other pups in the litter when someone has toy, food ect.  This is no different to him.  He wants to keep what he has.

 

I simply do not allow that behavior.  What is mine is mine and what is yours is mine.  I would give a voice correction and take it.  If needed I would put a leash on him move him away from food/toy then take it.  With toys I hold them, look at them give them back let the dog have them a minute then ask for the toy again.  Take it do the same.  Food I start when they are little picking up their bowl giving it back. 

 

It is simply correcting his attitude/ possessiveness and showing him he can have things when he asks for them and lets you have them.  IF you fix it now it will not be an issue but remember to "take' his things occasionally and give them back.



#4 mum24dog

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 04:02 AM

Absolutely the opposite to denice.

 

I do not give my dogs any reason to defend their possessions by taking to them away. They are allowed to eat in peace and if I want something off them they get something better when training.

 

I've been able to get a bone from the back of the throat of one of mine that started off as food and toy possessive and still have all my fingers.

 

That's not to say that I won't correct an older dog that forgets himself and acts out of character, but not a dog when we are new to each other and building a relationship.



#5 Gunshowgreg

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 09:04 AM

I guess I didn't think about it as possessivnes. But that makes sense. I'll try some giving denice method a try. I wad this fixed now before he gets to be a bigger dog. I don't see any reason for him to act like that when I just merely touch him.

#6 terrecar

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 09:04 AM

Absolutely the opposite to denice.
 
I do not give my dogs any reason to defend their possessions by taking to them away. They are allowed to eat in peace and if I want something off them they get something better when training.
 
I've been able to get a bone from the back of the throat of one of mine that started off as food and toy possessive and still have all my fingers.
 
That's not to say that I won't correct an older dog that forgets himself and acts out of character, but not a dog when we are new to each other and building a relationship.

 
This ^^^
 
I can only share my own experience, but here it is.
 
I had a pup here with serious food and toy aggression. The trade-off approach worked well for him. When he had a toy, I'd have a better one to trade with him. While he was dropping the first toy and going for the second, I would repeat "give" and pick it up or take it, while giving him the better one. After a while, I could ask him to "give" without a trade-off (or a struggle).
 
With food I taught him "wait", i.e. he had to sit and wait for me to place the dish on the floor before I would place it there. If the other dogs were being fed at the same time, everyone ate in their crate to keep them from feeling they might lose their food to another dog. I also practiced sit and wait for a treat, without prolonging the wait unnecessarily. As soon as he sat nicely, he got the treat.
 
The object is to create conditions where the dog does not fear losing the resources, while also learning who controls them, and that certain behaviors will prolong his wait. I did not bother him unnecessarily while he ate. Why would I? I don't want to be pestered when I am particularly hungry and sitting down to a meal.
 
The pup in question is now a dog from whom you can take anything, including his food if necessary. No food or toy aggression. I suspect a more confrontational approach would have perpetuated the problem.

#7 Gunshowgreg

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 09:16 AM

I'm teaching him now to wait for his food. Last night he waited 35 secs before I said "ok" he does very well with that. But when I went to pet him and say good boy, he got confrontational. I just don't see how that behavior is acceptable. Am I supposed to not touch him at all when he eats? Or has a good chew toy. I feel like he's trying to controlling the situation.

#8 terrecar

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 09:16 AM

I guess I didn't think about it as possessivnes. But that makes sense. I'll try some giving denice method a try. I wad this fixed now before he gets to be a bigger dog. I don't see any reason for him to act like that when I just merely touch him.

 

You're right, he should not act like that when you merely touch him. You should be able to work up to it without a fight, though. I did.

 

I forgot to mention that, if I started to place the food on the floor and the pup got pushy, I would stand up again, have him sit, repeat "wait" then set the food on the floor when he wasn't trying to grab at it. After a few times, you should be able to touch him as you place the food on the floor; then later even when he is eating. I wouldn't flood him with it initially. Puppy steps.



#9 terrecar

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 09:20 AM

I'm teaching him now to wait for his food. Last night he waited 35 secs before I said "ok" he does very well with that. But when I went to pet him and say good boy, he got confrontational. I just don't see how that behavior is acceptable. Am I supposed to not touch him at all when he eats? Or has a good chew toy. I feel like he's trying to controlling the situation.

 

Humm.. Can you pet him as you're putting the food down?

 

 

ETA: I should add that I'm not a professional dog trainer. I am only giving you my successful experience with a very food/toy aggressive dog. Your dog may be different, and/or you may need to consult a behaviorist if you have serious concerns about his behavior.



#10 terrecar

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 09:43 AM

Am I the only one who thinks that 35 seconds is a rather long time to make a 14 week old puppy wait for his food? I just timed 35 seconds with a treat on the floor, having Hannah wait for it, in order to see how long it 'felt'. Of course she did it, she's almost 7, but I don't think I would do that length of time with a puppy, particularly if it's his meal. I don't know; maybe I'm indulgent.

 

 

ETA: I don't mean to be critical Gunshowgreg. It sounds to me as though you're approaching these problems head-on and doing what you can for this pup. I am just wondering if the long(ish) wait is not creating a bit of frustration. I could be wrong about that, though.

 

ETA2: I do understand the importance of teaching impulse control. I just don't think I'd do it with a pup's meal if the pup came to me with food aggression. I would do what denice does though.  If I were raising puppies, I would get the pups accustomed to having their bowl picked up occasionally to keep them from developing the problem.



#11 GentleLake

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 10:56 AM

I'm also in the camp preferring using "trading up" games. If you do a search of that term here, you should find how others have described the process, in addition to Terrecar's excellent outline of it.

 

If it were me I wouldn't start this with his food bowl at feeding time. For now I'd lust let him eat his food without what he perceives as provocation until he's understanding the game. And, yes, make it a game; be playful and happy; make it fun and rewarding for him).

 

I'd start it with lower value items trading up for something better. When you can do it easily with toy or something else he's picked up, replacing it with a toy he loves even better or with an especially yummy food treat.

 

When he's got this down and is trading what he has easily (he might even do it enthusiastically if you do a good job of it ;) ) then you can graduate to food items. Maybe try stuffing a Kong to with something so-so, like moistened dog food. Have something extremely high value (like meat or cheese or liverwurst, maybe in a second Kong), offer in trade. Make a huge deal of it when he switches his attention to the other Kong and then give him the first one back so he's got both of them at the same time. Do this several times a day. Consider feeding him his meals this way, but if not you may have to cut back on his meal portions. Don't pet him yet while he's got the food. Concentrate just on trading for now.

 

When trading for food's well established, you can start to use the Kong again to work on petting him while eating. Again, start with something lower value in the Kong and offer it to him while you're holding the small end of it. IOW, the only way he can get the food out of the Kong is with you holding it. When he allows this, then reward him with with an extra bite of yummy treat and let him continue with the hand-held Kong. Do this a few times before petting him while he's eating, and even start this slowly as well. One touch with no rumbles, jackpot with a super treat. Lather, rinse repeat.

 

On a daily basis, though, again I agree with Terrecar. Once my dogs are OK with me touching them while they eat, I generally let them eat in peace. :)

 

Best wishes working through this. Just remember to be patient and not to try to push this too fast. It's a process, but if you take your time you should be able to change his emotional response to people being around him when he's eating to something positive.


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#12 waffles

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 11:14 AM

What is the reason behind petting a dog that is eating and saying good boy?  Is he really a good boy just because he is eating his food?   ;)  I say that in a kind of tongue and cheek way but I have never really seen anyone pet a dog while they ate.  

 

I put my dog's food down on the ground and go on with my business.  Of course, if needed, I can take their food away because I practiced the trade up approach.  But as adult dogs in normal life, I leave them to eat in peace.  

 

I agree though that trading up is the easiest and most straight forward way to change your pups association with you approaching his food.  

 

Right now he thinks "person approaching, I must guard my food, they may take it".  Instead if you teach him that "human approaches, offers something even better, and I get my food back, what could be better!?", you'll quickly be on your way to having a dog who does not feel the need to protect his food.  Try to offer him some meat from your dinner or a smelly dog treat.  As he lifts his head give him the treat and take his bowl (or ask for a sit first).  Then offer his food back.  Remember too that he is so young and still learning how to behave in a household with humans without guidance from his dog-mom/dog-siblings.



#13 CptJack

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 02:17 PM

I don't think I have ever, in my life, needed to pet a dog while they were eating. I mean take things out of their mouths, yes, but not handle the dog while they were chewing or eating.  The concept is foreign to me and I can't imagine why I would want or need to. 


The thing to remember about resource guarding is that it's ultimately fear based - they're afraid you're going to take the thing they have.  For me, I go with ADDING things to the food bowl (extra treats, whatever), playing trading games, and generally not creating a bigger issue by making the dog afraid they're going to lose their food or chew. 

 

And yes, I've had fairly resource guardy puppies and dogs.  I also have nothing but adult dogs who I can stick my hand into the mouth of to retrieve something, if absolutely necessary - and more impressively to me that I can tell to 'drop it' and have them spit it out and walk away from.  Because if they do that, they know they're getting something better from me (or expect to).


I, personally, try really hard to avoid creating insecurity in my dogs.   I want them to listen to me, yes, and they do - and anything that sets up conflict/worry/fear about what I might do/take from them, IME, slows that down and makes other parts of life harder.  

 

Besides, they're dogs - and in this case a puppy - I promise they don't think they're controlling the situation.  He's just worried about losing his food.  

 

I already have all the power in the relationship and I just don't feel the need to prove my superiority over a puppy (or dog).   They don't have opposable thumbs and I control every aspect of their lives by virtue of being the one who opens doors, closes doors, drives the car, and puts the food and toys out to start with. 



#14 Gunshowgreg

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 02:38 PM

Obviously the action of me touching my dog while he was eating is I guess completely asinine from what I have read. The reason I petted him was because he did, In my opinion a very good job waiting on his food.

I'll do some more research on the trade up process and use what was given to me here.

Thank you all for your time.

#15 terrecar

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 03:03 PM

Obviously the action of me touching my dog while he was eating is I guess completely asinine from what I have read. The reason I petted him was because he did, In my opinion a very good job waiting on his food.

I'll do some more research on the trade up process and use what was given to me here.

Thank you all for your time.

 

I certainly wouldn't characterize it as asinine. It is unpleasant for a dog that fears the loss of his food, and therefore not necessary or helpful.

 

I have made mistakes with my dogs over the years, and I would be willing to bet that every person who has responded in this thread has as well. I applaud your efforts to tackle these problems.

 

Think about it this way, though.  You're already rewarding the good job he did of waiting for his food, by the very act of giving him his food. Access to the food is his reward.



#16 GentleLake

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 03:36 PM

You're already rewarding the good job he did of waiting for his food, by the very act of giving him his food. Access to the food is his reward.

 

Yes! I meant to include this in my post and forgot to (it got longer than I'd planned and I have a pretty short attention span sometimes).

 

Also forgot to add the bit about adding things to his bowl that CptJack mentioned. Another good way to create a positive association with your hand being near the food bowl.


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#17 rushdoggie

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 10:06 PM

I don't think I have ever, in my life, needed to pet a dog while they were eating. I mean take things out of their mouths, yes, but not handle the dog while they were chewing or eating.  The concept is foreign to me and I can't imagine why I would want or need to. 


The thing to remember about resource guarding is that it's ultimately fear based - they're afraid you're going to take the thing they have.  For me, I go with ADDING things to the food bowl (extra treats, whatever), playing trading games, and generally not creating a bigger issue by making the dog afraid they're going to lose their food or chew. 

 

And yes, I've had fairly resource guardy puppies and dogs.  I also have nothing but adult dogs who I can stick my hand into the mouth of to retrieve something, if absolutely necessary - and more impressively to me that I can tell to 'drop it' and have them spit it out and walk away from.  Because if they do that, they know they're getting something better from me (or expect to).


I, personally, try really hard to avoid creating insecurity in my dogs.   I want them to listen to me, yes, and they do - and anything that sets up conflict/worry/fear about what I might do/take from them, IME, slows that down and makes other parts of life harder.  

 

Besides, they're dogs - and in this case a puppy - I promise they don't think they're controlling the situation.  He's just worried about losing his food.  

 

I already have all the power in the relationship and I just don't feel the need to prove my superiority over a puppy (or dog).   They don't have opposable thumbs and I control every aspect of their lives by virtue of being the one who opens doors, closes doors, drives the car, and puts the food and toys out to start with. 

 

^^^

 

what she said.

 

Being resource guard-y is normal dog behavior...watch wild or feral dogs defend resources. He who keeps his resources lives. But just because its normal doesn't mean I want my dog guarding stuff from me.

 

I don't want my dog to feel he needs to defend his stuff from me or set him up to be confrontational. I do like she does and walk over and add something better than whats in the bowl (a treat, bit of cheese). I want my dog to think "hey, shes coming close to e while I am eating - awesome!" rather than worry.

 

I also teach my dogs to give and to trade so its cooperative. I have yet to not have this technique work on any of my own dogs and many fosters.


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#18 MeMeow

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:49 PM

Obviously the action of me touching my dog while he was eating is I guess completely asinine from what I have read. 

 

I don't agree with this at all! Being able to touch your dog while he's eating without stressing him out is a great goal, and if he's ever going to be around kids I think this is especially important. Kids drop food all the time, and if your dog resource guards a kid reaching down to pick up food he thought had become "his" is a perfect setup for a bite. 

 

I would just consider that there's some space between desired behavior and normal behavior. You want a dog who's going to accept gentle touching while he eats, but it's normal for a dog to feel insecure in that situation if he hasn't been taught it's okay. Your role isn't really to correct his "bad" behavior (it is normal after all!), but to teach him that you approaching his food is fun, not scary. You can get the desired outcome without punishing him for behavior that's developmentally appropriate. 



#19 Gunshowgreg

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 08:05 AM

MeMeow thanks I was beginning to think I was crazy. I have kids and that was my main concern. But also if I wanted to approach my dog for any reason I never wanted him to feel threatened by me. I understand that the behavior is normal as of now. But i dont understand why i was kinda "attacked" in this thread for wanting to touch my dog even if he was eating. Eventually I would like to approach my dog for any reason and it be a positive out look in his eyes. To each their own I guess.

#20 CptJack

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 08:46 AM

What you are perceiving as an attack isn't one - it's bafflement because frankly I don't mess with my dogs in their crates.  I have five in my house, and kids.  Dogs are fed in crates.   I don't see much reason to mess with them while they're eating.  Messing with a dog while eating can CREATE resource guarding and certainly worsen it - adding things to the bowl yes,  handfeeding absolutely, but doing things a lot of people do (hands in the bowl, removing the bowl and giving it back, etc.) can radically add to insecurity.  Which is the opposite of useful.


And honestly the advice you got about adding things still applies.  Like I said, I can reach into my dogs mouths to remove things or even ask them to drop it or bring me things and they will.


But messing around the dog or their bowl while actively eating isn't something I 'get' and never did, even when the now teenagers were tiny.   Remove all the risk of the problem and put the dog in a crate or behind a gate, they know their left alone, they gain security and confidence and the problem evaporates about 90% of the time ANYWAY. 




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