Food Aggression and Food Guarding

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


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Barked: Sat Mar 3, '12 6:13am PST 
I have a 5 y/o Vizsla named Hunter and he has terrible food guarding and food aggression behavioral issues. Over the past 3 years I have tried so many different strategies to try and correct his behavior but with no success.

When eating from a bowl he scarfs his food, growls, barks and his hair stands on end. His typical stance is guarding the bowl with paws on either sides of the bowl. He has the same reaction whether my husband or I are in the room or across the house. He has even bitten my husband and I on several occasions; the last time was only a few weeks ago.

I have worked with an experienced handler who rehabilitates rescue dogs; her process worked with all of her food aggressive dogs, the first step involved hand feeding the dog which I did for several months; Hunter is very good with hand feeding he is excited and no signs of any aggression. The next step involved the dog being on a tether that I could control his access to the food bowl. As soon as we tried to move onto this step all the aggressive behavior came back. So we would fall back to the first hand feeding step. We never made it past hand feeding and this lasted for 12 months.

I have read the book Mine and tried the step by step guide in that book.

I have tried placing his food bowl higher up so that he can't guard it and put him on a leash so I could control him if he started growling or scarfing his food down but this is how the last bite occurred.

There are other things I've tried but this post is a novel already but these are the most recent attempts at correcting the behavior.

It seems as if as long as there is no bowl, there is no aggression. So I have been hand feeding him permanently since my last bite.

I am hoping that perhaps someone has any other methods or suggestions that they have used to correct food aggression issues.

Or if anyone in Ontario Canada has used a "professional" to correct behavioral issues I would gladly take some suggestions on who I could contact for help as well.

Barked: Sat Mar 3, '12 6:59am PST 
I have never found any of those methods to work with this type of aggression, I used to have a Greyhound who threatened to take my face off when he was eating or guarding something, I soon solved this problem and found it one of the easiest problems to solve.

How I stopped Merlin from this was to put a few pieces of kibble in his food bowl and walked away. When he had eaten it I walked past and just "Dropped" a little more into his bowl. I kept doing this until all his food was gone.

Merlin quickly realised that when I went near his dish he was given food, so quickly was happy for me to walk past. Gradually over the next few days I put bigger handfuls into his dish so cut down on the amount of trips.

After this I was always able to walk past Merlin but I NEVER attempted to take or touch his food bowl, if someone done that to me I would have taken their face off as well especially if it was my chocolate.happy dance

Away from his food bowl if he was guarding something I would just run out of the room into the kitchen saying in a very high voice, "Look what I have got". He would then hear the treat tin opening and would leave what he had and dash after me. Once he was rewarded with a treat I was able to shut him in there why I went and picked up what he was guarding.

Many people have told me that I was rewarding the guarding, that is a load of codswollop, by the time Merlin had got to me he had forgotten he was guarding something so I was rewarding him for coming after me. I always used high reward treats for this to encourage him to follow me.

The plus to this was his recall, Greyhounds are not know for having a good recall but his was 100% as long as I said"Look what I have got".happy dance

That's MR.- Momma's Boy to- you!
Barked: Sat Mar 3, '12 1:46pm PST 
We did the few pieces of food in the bowl at a time too. It really did work. Also, we used paper plates (if your dog won't chew them...) so that he didn't have a bowl to guard. We also Jackpotted parts the meal with a mouthful (or more) of kibbles when he was doing well.