Our expert says:
Dog 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward to you. Nice to hear from you and have a great day, Scotty
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