Food Agression (Treat Agression?) & where to go from here? - Page 1

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by MuchToLearn on 17 August 2017 - 19:08

Female German Shepherd, 3 years old, Unaltered (I don't know if this matters).

I feed her dry kibble and every now and then I will give her turkey, neck, wing, drumsticks, as a treat. I was putting dinner in the oven for tonight and had an extra drumstick. So, like usual, I gave it to her.

She has never had any issues with food, treat, or toy agression. With my young niece and nephew toddling around every Sunday, I put a great deal of stress on making sure that she isn't agressive with food.

Now that my neice and nephew are a bit older, and understand to leave her alone while she's eating, I have gotten lax on the subject.

Basically, I thought 'I haven't done that in a while, I should see.' I crouched down on her side, then started petting her cheek. (I was going to make my way to take it from her) She continued chewing the peice in her mouth as she looked at me, the let out a very deep quiet growl.

(Looking back, now that the adreniline is gone, that was the only time she growled.)

Honestly, I panicked. I have never had a dog do that to me before. So I took it from her. (I tried to pry her jaws apart with the handle of a spatula, but she just started biting down harder, so I grabbed her waist skin until she let go.)

Now my question is where do I go from here? I know what my mother taught me on how to stop food agression (pretty much all I did was touch her while she was eating, take her toys/bones away frequently) probably wasn't the best way to do it.

I understand that it is a high value reward, but I still can't have that around my neice and nephew. If she bites one of them I don't know what I would do.

What do I do? How do I handle this? Did I over-react?
marsiii

by marsiii on 17 August 2017 - 20:08

No, you did great and taking the food away is the correct way to stop this dominance. You should exert more effort though in establishing your status being the dog owner and your dog being a subordinate. He or she needs to find her position in the household-hierarchy. Without you nobody should feed her or else, she may think you are not his master.

I have a similar female pup who has a very strong food aggression. My female pup is a finicky eater (although she eats a lot when hungry). Even if i give her and my male Dutch the same amount of food, she wont eat if she doesnt feel like it. What she does is, she growls at my male Dutchie acting as if saying. "Dont you ever touch my bowl, grrr!" Then slumps her face on to her food gobling it making it appear shes voracious (when in fact she still eats as slow as she wants). I kind am to blame because i really wanted her to gain more substance and get her more weight. She really is a dominant and possessive (would be) bitch who nibbles at my Dutchies neck everytime i attempt to pet my Male dog. She really is possessive of me at gets so attached that she howls whenever me and my male Dutchie goes out for a run.

My rule is: if she doesnt eat her food fast and i become unpatient, Mr Dutchie gets the rest of her portion and then i'll just add more to her next mealtime. :)

Im just lucky to find a complimentary pair: a very submissive Male and a very dominant Female of different breed but goes together well with lots of play fights but does go further than that.
Jenni78

by Jenni78 on 17 August 2017 - 22:08

I will disagree politely with Marsii and say, yes, you did in my opinion, overreact, a little. Honestly, you're fortunate you were not bitten for your reaction and this is testament to her good temperament (and likely your previous good training). The surest way to create food aggression is to mess with a dog while they are eating. It sounds like you've historically done just that. No worries- we've all done things that looking back weren't the best. Moving on... :)

Allowing a child near an eating dog is not something I would ever encourage ANYone to do. Feed the dog alone and leave her alone. You got into a wrestling match with her- the wrong dog could make you rethink your outlook on that...from a hospital bed. I would instead work on getting her to "out" objects at your request so you don't have to repeat this dangerous tactic. I use "leave it" and "drop it" or "aus" and I do this with a prong collar and a leash on things of lower value. I NEVER mess with my dogs when they are eating, so that on the occasion that something dangerous would need to be removed from their mouths, they actually drop what I ask them. They trust me that I don't just mess with their food as a matter of course, and that when I say "drop it" or "aus" they MUST drop it. I realize you can't undo the past, so I would work on outs and then just feed her in a crate or at the very least, somewhere she feels secure and the children can't get near her.

My dogs are all highly food-aggressive and possessive toward each other, but no issues with me or my child. I truly believe not messing with dogs while they eat builds more trust than the "alpha" game while they're eating- you gave them the food now you want to take it?? From a dog's perspective this doesn't always sit well.

ShirosOhana

by ShirosOhana on 17 August 2017 - 22:08

I agree with Jenni in this case. I have a very food aggressive male, to the point he is snarling when he eats if another dog is anywhere near him. I have learned that it is best to leave him to eat by himself. He eats outside in his pen, away from the other pets and animals. He has never tried to snap at me, thankfully. But I do not take my chances with him. I do not allow anyone near him when he is eating. ever.

I was taught as a child to never mess with a dog when they are eating, and I never did. My parents fed our dogs outside in their separate pens always.

The dogs seem calmer and less stressed when they are able to eat by themselves. In my opinion.

kitkat3478

by kitkat3478 on 18 August 2017 - 03:08

And I think you did the right thing, except I would have grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and took the food from her demanding first that the dog drop it.
Thats one thing I will not tolerate, food aggression. and if I want or need to take something from my dog, I will not be met with aggression, and they know it
If at any time one dog growls at another when I am giving them some beef or bones, I send the growler out of the room, so they know they will lose out over that type behavior.
My dogs have plenty to eat, it's my opinion that a dog should be well fed, and not have to guard over their food, be it a treat or their meal, food is something they are 100% entitled to.
And when there are kids going to be around the dogs, all the more reason not to tolerate aggression.
I always feed my dogs all together, and when I have pups, my big dogs know the pups bowl is off limits until the puppies are done, when the last puppy leaves the dish, they can have at it.
God forbid one of the kids have something the dogs would want and think that they could, in any way shape or form be entitled to take, aggressively from them, hell no.
You can try to be sure situations like that don t arise, but both with kids and dogs, you can count on otherwise. I prefer not to take that chance and that means letting the dogs know that will not be tolerated.
I would have taken the food, told the dog in no uncertain terms that was unacceptable, put it up for the time being and gave it back later making the dog eat it from your hand with no grumbling about it.
thats just me, I don't know if anyone else agrees or not
Hundmutter

by Hundmutter on 18 August 2017 - 06:08

I just never seem to have food agression problems - and I find it hard to pin-point exactly why that is. I would always avoid moving too near, or suddenly, around Taz once I had given him a bone, because I knew that would get me softly growled at (no kids to worry about); but because, like some of you, I have deliberately never messed about with any dog's food, once they've been given their food bowl that's it, until its empty I don't touch it again. But then I do not experience any difficulty collecting the 'empties', like I have seen with some people and their dogs.

Having said that, I've always taught the peaceable and immediate giving up of ANY object, (toy, food, high-value or otherwise, human items they shouldn't have); so maybe a knock-on effect of that (separate) training has been I can (usually) get them to give up the stuff its not safe for them to have. And while Taz might growl if I went close to him when he had a bone, I could still 'assume the Boss attitude' and command him to bring it and drop it for me to take. He's been my only 'housedog' that worried about anything to do with food being taken away from him. [Maybe something to do with his previous home ?]

There hasn't been much inter-dog food agresssion in my life either. I spent 12 years feeding dogs in groups at the Farm, and can count the number of scraps about mealtimes on the fingers of one hand, just about. There have been occasions when I have fed a dozen dogs all together in the same place, all unrestricted in any way, absolutely no trouble at all between them. (Mostly it was in groups of 3 or 4). They have had bones too, with equally no problems. Much of the time until we have a conversation like this I don't even give it any thought !

Suppose, if pressed, I'd put it down to the relationship I have with all the dogs that have been under my care; I am 'pack leader'; I respect the dogs, and they respect me. I treat them as canines, I don't make 'fur babies' of them. I reward their good behaviours, I ignore or correct the 'bad' (bearing in mind the human concept of what is 'bad'/naughty behaviour in a dog is in OUR heads, it may seem perfectly natural to the dog). Doesn't mean I never stroke or cuddle them; but its on my terms and at my choice of times, and I am not always
smothering them with kisses. I think it is a common human mistake to confuse dogs by trying to relate to them like human children, and that seems to me to be where the problems start - JMO.

BTW, for anyone wanting to get their dog(s) just to eat more slowly, (which may have digestive health benefits), there are some good products available these days, bowls with moulded food traps inside, maze-puzzle plates, and so on, that work well for the real 'gulpers'. I can't say I am in favour of positive encouragement to get dogs eating more quickly. For any reason. Least of all an owner's patience.

Q Man

by Q Man on 18 August 2017 - 13:08

I too NEVER have dogs with Food Aggression...I have a kennel of Working line German Shepherds and now a Blood Hound...
First of all I NEVER feed dogs together...They're all separated in their own Run...I do however teach each dog that I can walk in and take away their food at any time without any problem...If they'd growl at me I'd take their food away and withhold until they stop...
It's part of an Obedience routine/training...but I also will have a number of dogs out together and have them all Sit and I throw them pieces of Hot Dogs...There's NO growling or Food Aggression...EVER...
I would NEVER feed two dogs side by side or give one dog the other dog's un-eaten food...If one dog doesn't finish their food then I can give it to another but I'd do it as they're separated...

~Bob~
Hundmutter

by Hundmutter on 18 August 2017 - 17:08

Bob, they never left anything to pass over to another dog ! I always had empty bowls to pick up. [If a dog was sick and off its food, it didn't go out with the other dogs.] Some used to lick out each other's empties as I was collecting them at the end of the meal, but this was never a trigger for aggro.

It was the nature of the work demanded of them and the way they were kept that dictated they had to be fed in company with others; they had big daytime kennels, 2 or 3 to a 'room', so we fed each lot of 2 or 3 dogs together in their kennel in the mornings. They went out on station in mid afternoon, so it was either feed too early, or take their bowls out to them later in the day. Regularly this meant changes to numbers as certain dogs went to specific places, some groups increased to 4 or 5, some decreased to 2, or lone individuals. Sometimes there would be events on, that demanded that all the dogs were kept out of the way, so they quite often got fed 'en masse' out in the exercise fields - as I said, maybe eleven or twelve dogs in one place, on occasion.


Keith Grossman

by Keith Grossman on 21 August 2017 - 13:08

I also agree with Jenni and have never understood why people insist on screwing with their dogs when they're trying to eat. I also agree that if you try some of the tactics described in this thread on the wrong dog, you're going to wear him/her.
yogidog

by yogidog on 21 August 2017 - 13:08

Jenni, Keith very good post. 


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