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Question
Posted by: Maggie | 2012-04-13

Food aggression

Food aggression

Hi there,

I need help with regards to my doggy and food aggression. She is a very friendly dog, gets on with any dog she comes across, loves going to visit my mom’ s dogs or my sisters dog or my neighbours dogs, but she is very food aggressive and I think she learnt it from my neighbours dog. They used to attack her when she went near their food bowl, but it only happened twice.

Now we don’ t have any other dogs, but when we go visiting and we have supper there (and the dogs get fed) then it’ s a problem. It’ s also a problem because we actually have cats that like to see what she’ s got for food, and she attacks them (one of our cats, our two month old kitten, is quite scared of her).

We punish her every time she does it by taking the food or treat away, but it doesn’ t seem to help (she’ s been this way for a long time, she’ s only two but it’ s been since she was about a year or so).

She is not food aggressive towards humans, never takes things from us so viciously that she hurts us. She never threatens us if we come near her food while she’ s eating, and she gets more than enough food so it’ s not that she’ s hungry.

How do we put a stop to this once and for all?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDog Behaviour Expert

Hi Maggie, I would suggest that you use a combination of management and desensitizing the dog to having other animals around the food bowls.

the trouble with this type of behaviour is as the dog realizes the reactive behaviour worked (it growled, snarled and the preceived threat left), it is being reinforced and the dog is more likely to do this again, and additionally the reactive threats can worsen and become bites.
1. From a management point of view, realize you have a dog that is resource guarding and ensure that at home it is fed in isolation where it can enjoy its food in peace and quiet. when the dog is finished eating, pick up the bowls, wash them and put them away.
2. At visitors homes, do the same thing and ask the people to also feed their dogs separately and you do the same with yours.
3. As she will not listen to you if you tell her not to act like this, I would suggest that you and family raise yourself higher in the combined human/canine hierarchy by bringing in the basic House Rules. You can find these on my free website www.friendsofthedog.co.za and start to work with them.
4. work a lot with the 'work to earn' one, in that every single piece of food she gets for a period of time is given by hand. this will help to raise you in the hierarchy and she will be listening better.
5. I would also suggest as part of the 'work to earn' that you bring in the simple 'watch me' cue as you will need a tool like this when it comes to desensitizing her to other animals being around while she eats. Please read the article on this as well.
Once you have brought the above in place, get in touch with me again and I will explain how to start to desensitize her to other animals. At the moment it is a bit pointless as you wont be able to keep her attention on you.
If you are having any problems finding the articles, please just let me know, or send me an email scotty@scottysdogs.co.za and I will forward to you. Nice to hear from you and have a great day, Scotty

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

1
Our users say:
Posted by: Dog Behaviour Expert | 2012-04-16

Hi Maggie, I would suggest that you use a combination of management and desensitizing the dog to having other animals around the food bowls.

the trouble with this type of behaviour is as the dog realizes the reactive behaviour worked (it growled, snarled and the preceived threat left), it is being reinforced and the dog is more likely to do this again, and additionally the reactive threats can worsen and become bites.
1. From a management point of view, realize you have a dog that is resource guarding and ensure that at home it is fed in isolation where it can enjoy its food in peace and quiet. when the dog is finished eating, pick up the bowls, wash them and put them away.
2. At visitors homes, do the same thing and ask the people to also feed their dogs separately and you do the same with yours.
3. As she will not listen to you if you tell her not to act like this, I would suggest that you and family raise yourself higher in the combined human/canine hierarchy by bringing in the basic House Rules. You can find these on my free website www.friendsofthedog.co.za and start to work with them.
4. work a lot with the 'work to earn' one, in that every single piece of food she gets for a period of time is given by hand. this will help to raise you in the hierarchy and she will be listening better.
5. I would also suggest as part of the 'work to earn' that you bring in the simple 'watch me' cue as you will need a tool like this when it comes to desensitizing her to other animals being around while she eats. Please read the article on this as well.
Once you have brought the above in place, get in touch with me again and I will explain how to start to desensitize her to other animals. At the moment it is a bit pointless as you wont be able to keep her attention on you.
If you are having any problems finding the articles, please just let me know, or send me an email scotty@scottysdogs.co.za and I will forward to you. Nice to hear from you and have a great day, Scotty

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