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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last night when i put Bella's food bowl down, i decided it was time to find out if she would display any signs of aggression if i slipped a finger or two in her bowl whilst she was eating. She growled at me, so i took her food away from her and made her wait a couple of minutes before giving it back to her. She started eating again and i wiggled my fingers in her bowl a second time....she went mental!! She scared the brown out of me!! I scolded her and took her food away again which resulted in a bout of the sulks. When i put the bowl back down the third time she eventually wondered back over to her food and started to eat. My fingers went in yet again and i was fearful, but she was fine and didn't seem to mind. Should i repeat this process daily?

I'm no expert and maybe i have gone the wrong way about things here or maybe i just shouldn't have interfered with her food at feeding time. I was hoping somebody here may have had some experience with food aggression and how to deal with it correctly.
 

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No, you do need to interfere. She should not have food aggression to humans. You should be able to take her food away, pet her, etc. without any ill effects.

I found this online, and it is helpful. I don't necessarily agree with the pinch or prong collar but the rest is good

Dog Food Aggression Training Techniques

Firstly, be careful. If you believe your dog poses any real physical threat to you or family members I'd advise getting professional help. Speak to a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist.

Below is a list of training techniques which could help your dog overcome his dog food aggression. Remember all of these techniques are designed to work towards reconditioning your dog to enjoy having you around anytime. Mix it up, show your dog who is boss.

* Hand feed your dogs, even stick your hands into your dogs bowl while he is eating.

* Stroke and pet your dog while he is eating and at the same time talk to him in a calming tone. All you are doing at this point is showing your dog that it is a good thing for you to be around.

* Stand at a distance your dog is comfortable with, then gradually reduce this distance over time. You can flick a few treats in (or near) the bowl as you slowly reduce the distance.

* Put your dogs bowl down with nothing in it, your dog will look back at you as though you are crazy. He'll then literally beg you to come over and fill his bowl.

* Feed your dog as normal but hold back a few pieces of his meal. When he is finished licking the bowl, he'll look back up at you, then you can come over and give him the remaining food.

* Drop a few of your dogs very favorite treats into his bowl each time you walk past it. After a while of this your dog will welcome the sight of you approaching the bowl.

* When your dog is eating, call him over to you, when he gets to you reward him, make it worth his while then let him back to the food bowl.

* While you are preparing your dogs meal put him in a down-stay or sit position, only release him from your command once you have put his bowl down. By doing this you are controlling meal time and establishing (or re-establishing) your role as your dogs leader. To learn more about how to be a strong and respected leader I recommend Secrets Of A Professional Dog Trainer.

* Work with another family member on this technique. Put your dog in his collar and leash and have him sit with your helper while you prepare the food. When you are ready release your dog and allow him his food. Again you are controlling the situation.

* Try the Trade Up Method. What you do is take away the food or toy your dog is guarding, and replace it with something better. You can use an obedience command such as give or leave it to encourage your dog to release the precious resource he is guarding. You then take this resource (the food or toy) and give the trade up item to your dog. Once your dog has finished with the new item, you can then give back the resource you took away. This technique proves to your dog that he will receive something great for giving something up, it will recondition his thinking.

* Every time you are with your dog have him in a pinch or prong collar with a leash attached. Whenever he displays any signs of dog food aggression you immediately administer a correction to your dog by snapping on the leash. What this does to your dog is build a negative association to the act of his food guarding antics. Note: I personally don't advocate this method but many experienced dog trainers swear by it.
 

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As Aliesha said, it would be very beneficial to keep working at eliminating the food aggression. One very easy way to start was mentioned in the list above: ask Bella to sit/lay and wait when you put her bowl down. I do this with both Java and Lilo--waiting until they're both calm (if you watch them closely, the food excited dogs will start to shiver a bit--wait until this subsides before allowing them to eat). I also try to encourage eye contact during feeding...I don't have any scientific reasoning behind this, but I personally feel this builds trust and a little of appreciation. Good luck!
 

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I go against the grain (in some circles) with this one.

I do not recommend interfering with a dog's food whilst they are eating it. It stresses them out, and they come to expect that you are going to annoy them whilst eating and this can aggravate food aggression. The first incident where she growled at you showed you she was warning you - the second incident she followed through with that warning. Continuing to disturb her will not cease her behaviour, but is likely to increase her food aggression.

Imagine if you were eating your dinner, and someone kept coming up to you and poking you, taking your food away, and annoying you? Would you find it pleasant or would you learn to get your hackles up each time that person came over to you? Through learned experience you know that this person is going to annoy you, poke you, take your food away and that is not going to encourage you to be comfortable with them around when you are eating.

As for encouraging eye contact WHILST the dog is eating - no way! If a dog is eyeing you off whilst its eating it is feeling threatened and keeping an eye on you because it is uncomfortable. My dogs don't blink an eye or so much as look as me when I walk by them whilst they are eating - because they are so comfortable with me that it doesn't bother them.

I let my dogs eat in peace. Before they eat is when the training is most important IMO - I use a training program called the Triangle of Temptation. You can read about it here:

http://www.k9force.net/index.html?row2col2=tot.html

My dogs must sit and stay whilst I put their bowl down, and then they must look at me, not the bowl, whilst in the stay. This is the ideal time for eye contact - you get the dog to learn to look to you for permission to eat. The dog learns that food is a resource that you control. If you implement this program, then you will find you have no need to poke, prod or take food away every time the dog eats. My dogs have never been disturbed whilst eating as part of a training program, but because they know I am the alpha and they must seek my permission to eat, I can take food away from them with no issue whatsoever. They don't see me as a threat, or a big deal - the food is mine to take.
 

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Originally Posted By: DaisysMom
* Every time you are with your dog have him in a pinch or prong collar with a leash attached. Whenever he displays any signs of dog food aggression you immediately administer a correction to your dog by snapping on the leash. What this does to your dog is build a negative association to the act of his food guarding antics. Note: I personally don't advocate this method but many experienced dog trainers swear by it.
I have no issue with prong collars at all when used appropriately, but I don't think this technique is ideal for food aggression. Get the timing wrong, and you could have a dog that develops all sorts of issues about food and eating - you are simply making eating even more unpleasant and stressful for the dog, rather than teaching the dog that you control resources.
 

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I wouldn't always bug the dog when he or she is eating but I do think it is important to every once in awhile stick your hand or a fake hand in yours dog food just to make sure there is no sign of aggression. If they do become food aggressive it very well could carry over to them being agressive with their toys and their bones.
 

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Originally Posted By: Mel14I wouldn't always bug the dog when he or she is eating but I do think it is important to every once in awhile stick your hand or a fake hand in yours dog food just to make sure there is no sign of aggression. If they do become food aggressive it very well could carry over to them being agressive with their toys and their bones.
If you are following a good training program that is guarantee enough that aggression is not going to become an issue - I can see my dogs aren't food aggressive in the way they look at me for permission to eat, knowing that I completely control any resources given to them.

I have had situations where I need to grab food out of their mouths (i.e. they are eating something dangerous to dogs) or when I've taken their bones off them for various reasons - they easily give their food to me. Watching your dog's body language when you are near them whilst they are eating is also a good indicator of how comfortable they are with you near their food. A dog that moves to look at you, or stares at you whilst its eating is a sign that it is being possessive about its food.

The fact that I have never seen any indications of food aggression, and our success/progress with our training program, is indicative enough to me that I don't need to check for aggression regularly.
 

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Originally Posted By: SmeagleAs for encouraging eye contact WHILST the dog is eating - no way! If a dog is eyeing you off whilst its eating it is feeling threatened and keeping an eye on you because it is uncomfortable. My dogs don't blink an eye or so much as look as me when I walk by them whilst they are eating - because they are so comfortable with me that it doesn't bother them.
I don't interrupt them while they're eating--I just ensure that they're calm BEFORE I put the bowl down. My dogs don't blink an eye or flinch when they're eating either. I don't think there's ONE right way or philosophy behind this either. Some methods work for some while it regresses with other dogs. Like I said, what I've done works well with my dogs. But then again, they normally show no signs of aggression in any situation or setting.
 

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Originally Posted By: Java & Lilo!
I don't interrupt them while they're eating--I just ensure that they're calm BEFORE I put the bowl down. My dogs don't blink an eye or flinch when they're eating either. I don't think there's ONE right way or philosophy behind this either. Some methods work for some while it regresses with other dogs. Like I said, what I've done works well with my dogs. But then again, they normally show no signs of aggression in any situation or setting.
Sorry if I have misinterpreted you, I was just going off the quote here:

Quote:
I also try to encourage eye contact during feeding...I don't have any scientific reasoning behind this, but I personally feel this builds trust and a little of appreciation.
You may feel it works for you, but encouraging eye contact when the dog is eating is not building trust, because if the dog is looking at you over its bowl it is feeling threatened and guarding its food. If you mean you encourage eye contact before you let the dogs eat, when you are putting their bowl down, no worries
But encouraging eye contact whilst the dog is eating really concerned me and I would never ever recommend other people try this 'technique'.

Of course there are a variety of ways to handle resource guarding but a lot of that has to do with interpretation of a dog's body language and *how* they understand things. Sadly there are some techniques and old wives tails that are still popular in training today which many behaviourists feel are outdated and dangerous - such as continuously disturbing a dog whilst its eating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
She is always made to sit and wait for my command before eating her dinner and she does this really well, but we haven't worked on the eye contact whilst she is waiting for the ok. I will start working on that today.

Bella seemed fine at dinner time yesterday. I fed her half of her dinner by hand and she sat calmly throughout. I put her bowl down for her to finish and made a fuss of her whilst she was eating and there didn't seem to be a problem.

One thing i would like to work on....when Bella eats she will not respond to me. She listens to me before the food is put down, but when i put the food down....nothing!!!! What would be the best way to work on this?
 

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Originally Posted By: BellaShe is always made to sit and wait for my command before eating her dinner and she does this really well, but we haven't worked on the eye contact whilst she is waiting for the ok. I will start working on that today.

Bella seemed fine at dinner time yesterday. I fed her half of her dinner by hand and she sat calmly throughout. I put her bowl down for her to finish and made a fuss of her whilst she was eating and there didn't seem to be a problem.

One thing i would like to work on....when Bella eats she will not respond to me. She listens to me before the food is put down, but when i put the food down....nothing!!!! What would be the best way to work on this?
I would have a good read of the link I posted above, as the article puts it into words better than I could! Here is the link again:

http://www.k9force.net/index.html?row2col2=tot.html
 

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I'm on the side that your dog should NOT growl at you even if you take their food away. Your are the leader and should be able to do whatever you please. We had to work with our two when we first got them but they weren't too bad. They do well now, although Daisy does ignore us when she's eating so that's something we still need to work on. We make them lie down outside the kitchen while we get their food ready and then when they look at us we give the ok and they can go eat. Now that they aren't growling while eating I pretty much leave them alone. Occasionally I will go over and take their food up or pet them or stick my hand in the bowl just to be sure they haven't slipped up. A lot of the time I'll get a piece of food out of their bowl while they're eating and just hand feed it to them. So far we haven't had any trouble. But I definitely think they shouldn't growl or become aggressive. Good luck!
 

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Originally Posted By: Smeagle
Originally Posted By: Java & Lilo! Sorry if I have misinterpreted you, I was just going off the quote here:

I also try to encourage eye contact during feeding...I don't have any scientific reasoning behind this, but I personally feel this builds trust and a little of appreciation.
You may feel it works for you, but encouraging eye contact when the dog is eating is not building trust, because if the dog is looking at you over its bowl it is feeling threatened and guarding its food. If you mean you encourage eye contact before you let the dogs eat, when you are putting their bowl down, no worries
But encouraging eye contact whilst the dog is eating really concerned me and I would never ever recommend other people try this 'technique'.
Yeah, going back and reading what I typed, I realize I didn't correctly describe my feeding process. Yes, the eye contact and calming exercise is done before my beagles start eating. I have the bowls against the wall, so they can't have eye contact with me anyways
 

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Originally Posted By: Java & Lilo!
Yeah, going back and reading what I typed, I realize I didn't correctly describe my feeding process. Yes, the eye contact and calming exercise is done before my beagles start eating. I have the bowls against the wall, so they can't have eye contact with me anyways
Ah, no worries, its hard to 'read' context over the net sometimes,
 
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