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 PLEASE HELP> Food Aggression - 4 Month Old Puppy

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Female Join date : 2013-10-11
Location : East London, South Africa

PostSubject: PLEASE HELP> Food Aggression - 4 Month Old Puppy   Sat Oct 12, 2013 1:35 pm

Hello all, I'm Bree and I have a 4 month old Husky puppy named Koda. He's the sweetest puppy. He loves people and never shows any aggression at all, in fact, he's quite timid compared to most puppies I've met. He is also the smartest puppy I know, when he was 12 weeks old he was already completely potty trained, knew to come when called, to sit, stay/wait, lay down, give high fives, and to speak on command, we taught him that we humans always eat food first, and that we walk through doorways first to show him that we are top of the pack. My husband have always done things that show us as alpha's.

We got him when he was 8 weeks old and immediately began petting and loving on him when he would eat, since we have a 9 month old baby and a 3 year old toddler living in the house with us we wanted to prevent any food aggression in case the children get curious. He has ALWAYS been a messy eater and pushes most of his food out of the bowl, I always put it back in while he eats, with no problem at all. Occasionally we will call him away from his food and when he comes we would give him a nice treat, then allow him to go back to his food.

One day a few weeks ago I fed him, pet him just a bit and walked away to fill his water dish, when I returned just a minute or so later he had pushed some of the food out of his bowl, as I set his water down, he went stiff, stopped eating with his mouth still in the bowl, his ears went back and his hair stood up. As soon as I took my hand away from the water he calmed down, not thinking much of it I went to pick up the food he pushed out of the bowl, as I always do, when I put it in his bowl he did the same thing with the hair, ears and giving me the husky "evil eyes" but this time he began growling as well.
I took his food away for a few minutes, and when he relaxed and stopped looking for his food I put it back.
The next time I fed him he did the same thing. So I began looking for other ways to teach him.

- I tried taking a long stick or something to put by his face and push him away from the food, he was fine with that but as soon as a hand came up he growled.
- I tried standing, and tipping the food down to him occasionally to show that it's my food, but I'm sharing. When it seemed to be working I set his food down and tried to touch him, he growled again.
- I attempted sitting with the food in my lap giving him handfuls of food to eat out of my hand. Again, when it seemed to work, I set his food down and he growled again.
Now, ANY time he growled at me I would push him away from the food, tell him NO, and set the food up where he can't get it. When he stopped looking for it, I would take him to a different room and pet him making sure my hands were in his face, trying to make him know my hands are good. On some occasions when he would bare his teeth, I even attempted to act as a dog! I got on my hands and knees, made myself taller than him and pinned him on his back until he submitted and looked away, I even growled and bared my teeth at him myself.

The other day I had the food in my lap while sitting on the floor, and I had my hands in the dish, thinking that maybe it will work that way. Then he began eating like it was his last meal! I tried to lift the dish, but he put his paw in it, so I went to his chest sort of by his shoulder to push him away and stand up, he growled and immediately bit me, he made me bleed and when I left to go fix my hand, he growled at my husband as well. That's when I decided that I HAVE to get some help!

Now, two more important details.
1. While he is growling and everything, his tail will be wagging like when he's playing. I can call him when he's eating and his tail will wag and he'll run over to me excited to play. I can tell him to sit and wait for 5 minutes with his food in front of his face and he wont touch it until I tell him "Koda, eat."
I have read that sometimes it is best to just lock a dog in his own space to let him eat, and my only problem is that my husbands little sisters (9 months and 3 years) are running around the house, and I'm very scared that the older one might get into the room somehow and attempt to play with him while he eats.
2. I have heard that some dogs will do this when there is confusion as to where he stands in the pack. My husband and I make sure we are alpha's, but my mother and father in law along with the 2 little girls are currently staying with us, and unfortunately my in laws think of Koda as their "grandpuppy." Which I think is cute, until they allow him to chew on their arms, don't correct him when he jumps and things, and frequently slip him snacks while we are eating dinner. And that makes training VERY difficult.

I feel like this is very unusual for such a young puppy. Please someone have some advice! And thank you for taking the time to read all this!

- Bree and Koda
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Husky Collector

Female Join date : 2009-12-13
Location : South Fl

PostSubject: Re: PLEASE HELP> Food Aggression - 4 Month Old Puppy   Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:16 pm

First, I dont think he is confused of where he stands in the family. He is the dog, you are the humans. There is much more current science based training and ideaology which disproves things such as the alpha roll, dogs trying to be "dominant" and all of the Ceasar Milian type things. Some here will disagree but if I can have 6+ dogs at any given time at my house from all walks of life I think we can count it as a success.

Does Koda have a crate? It may be wise to get one since as you said there are small curious children running around. Either while Koda is rehabbing or permanently- he should have a place that is HIS space where he cannot be bothered or have his things toyed with.

Koda is uncomfortable with your hands around his food and being messed with while eating. This is NOT uncommon. Due to the CM hype everyone thinks it's in their best interest to shove fingers in bowls and rub their faces while eating. It is only stressing these dogs out and when they have had enough and give you a warning (which is the growl) 9/10 it is met with punishment by you taking the food away. The same food he was uncomfortable with you being around to begin with. So- in essence it only confirmed the dogs fears and next time (as he did) he will resort to clearer ways of showing you that he is not comfortable.

So instead of looking at this from a place of dominance/power it is best observed from a place of trust and relationship building.

Make your presence around his food as positive and non-intrusive as possible. Hand feeding is a good place to start. Since your dog has already bitten I would not suggest employing the "wait" for food release. Often this can actually exacerbate the problem as the longer the dog is waiting- the higher drive for the food is. Take a few pieces at a time and give them outstretched in an OPEN palm. Make it fun and satisfying. Do not pet or try and take it away while eating to see how he's "progressing" Just let Koda eat. Take your time- this process shouldn't be rushed. Once he is comfortable with taking food from your hand again, you can start having the empty bowl below your hand and just give the food about a food above the bowl via your hand so he's starting to see your hand, the bowl, and food all at once in a positive non-threatening light.

Slowly progress to dropping pieces at a time into the bowl. Don't put them in there- drop them. Sit next to the bowl calm and non-intrustive. Randomly you can give a nice reward of a lick of PB off a spoon. This needs to be a very positive setting. This isn't the time for poking and prodding. Start dropping more and more in at a time just INCHING closer to the bowl each time with your hand as you drop, not place, the food in his bowl. It's always nice to end the meal with a "hey good job!" And you can lure away with some PB or whatever treat he really likes so you can take the bowl without causing issue.

Like I have said- slow and steady. This should not be done in a week. This is a overhaul of the feeding ritual and should take time. If there is a time you cannot devote to this- place the food in the crate first and then get Koda and let him in. Don't put him in there and have his drive build up. We want calm meal times. Make sure at least 1 meal a day is training oriented. He needs it.

Slowly build up to more and more food in the bowl at a time. Each time you can sit near him if you'd like but don't be hovering or making him feel pushed out of his space. This needs to be a comfortable experience with him.

While not eating- using trading games is a very good idea to work on. Have either a prized toy and some good treats (again PB works so easily) and whenever it's time to drop/trade offer the PB or other high value toy/treat and once he drops give a positive praising while allowing to enjoy the other toy or treat. Slowly work up to bully sticks and bones.

I have a previously food aggressive dog, and this has worked. It takes time for sure but in the end you have an actual solution not a quick fix that just masks the problem.

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Male Join date : 2013-10-23
Location : Bavaria, Germany

PostSubject: Re: PLEASE HELP> Food Aggression - 4 Month Old Puppy   Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:24 am

I've read that huskys tend to be very possessive about their food. I don't know for sure if that is true but I've seen this type of behaviour with my puppy as well.

When I would put my hand into his bowl he would start to speed up. When I wanted to claim the food and take it away he actually growled at me once.

I did the feeding ritual from Cesar Millan and it has worked perfectly. Now when I stick my hand into the bowl he's not eating any faster and when I put my hand over the bowl so he can't eat anymore he just sits and waits calmly for me to give it back.

In this video he is showing the feeding ritual but I don't know when.


In this video he is talking specifically about what you can do when you already have food aggressions.


Not everyone thinks that this method is good, because it includes taking the food away. But from what I've personally experienced with this method is that you build trust because your showing him "I don't want to take your food away but I'm the one who is in control off it and if you stay calm and relaxed I'm more than happy to share my food with you."

I wish you all the best to get rid of this problem.
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Male Join date : 2010-11-09
Location : Stuttgart, Germany

PostSubject: Re: PLEASE HELP> Food Aggression - 4 Month Old Puppy   Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:28 am

I used the Cear Milan method too when Anubis was a pup and it worked perfectly. I always wondered why many people donĀ“t like this method.
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Female Join date : 2013-10-11
Location : East London, South Africa

PostSubject: Re: PLEASE HELP> Food Aggression - 4 Month Old Puppy   Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:36 am

I have noticed that he doesn't care if I touch or take his food. I mess with his food and he will sit and wait for me to finish. When I touch him though, that's when he starts with the aggression. And it's not just my hands. He will growl at anything that touches him, whether it's a hand, foot or stick. But I will definitely look into the Cesar way more and see if it will work. Thank you all so much for your helpful replies
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Female Join date : 2012-11-03
Location : San Antonio, TX

PostSubject: Re: PLEASE HELP> Food Aggression - 4 Month Old Puppy   Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:38 am

Many people don't like the Cesar way because it has gotten people bit when there was a way to avoid it. Taking the food away is NOT a way to make the dog trust you, which is the ultimate goal here. Would YOU want someone to mess with your food while you were eating? I know I wouldn't and I get pretty grouchy when people come between me and my food. Have any of you heard of NILIF training? This is the idea that while you are taking something that they have away, you will give them something even better in return. I did this with Karli and I take anything from her I want, because she knows she either gets it back or something better. But then again I don't find the need to take her things from her in the first place. He's getting mad when he's being touched because he thinks the food will disappear next. Positive reinforcement is the best way to build trust with your dog and Milian's way is NOT positive. Its all about control and its very unnecessary. Pushing a dog past its limits will get you bit. Instead of taking the food away, giving the food in small amounts is the best way to go about this.
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Female Join date : 2013-06-26
Location : Wisconsin

PostSubject: Re: PLEASE HELP> Food Aggression - 4 Month Old Puppy   Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:30 pm

With Loki and at 7 months he has shown no food aggression. He must sit and wait each time I give him food and water (he must do something). Now he runs to his dish when it is food time and waits. At times I add things like yogurt, chicken, or rice to his food. If he is already eating. I'll ask him once again to sit and wait while I add the goodies on top for him. I have seen no food aggression and we will do dishes right next to him as he eats or change his bowls around. Like Roxy said, he knows he is usually getting something good if he steps away.

For Lexi my shepherd mix, she was very food aggressive when I got her as a puppy. I used hand feeding and would touch her as I fed her by hand. Just small handfuls at a time. It seemed to resolve itself in a few weeks or months. Then, she was fine.

Finally, leave it is something else that you can work on with food after quilling the aggression some. Drop food on the floor and cover it with your foot some. If they take their attention off of the food and on to you, then click and treat. Once again, they are being rewarded immediately. Over time, you won't have to cover the food with your foot. Now I can throw food across the floor and Loki will look at me as soon as I say leave it.
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