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 Food/Toy Aggression

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PostSubject: Food/Toy Aggression   Mon May 19, 2014 11:07 am

Hi, my 14 month old siberian husky (Brick) is sweet, friendly and playful, but not as gentle as many other husky-owners describe the breed to be. Ever since I got him (about 5 months old), he had these moments where he would growl as if to say "leave me alone." He's gotten better with this as I would continue sitting next to him and stroke him gently to let him know that i'm not there to bother him, but he still does it from time to time.

More importantly, he gets very protective with his food and toys. This isn't ALL the time, it's only when he's either really hungry or tired or simply just wants to. In this case, we can't go near him at all or else he'll bark and growl and I'm certain he'll snap if we go near his prized possession. This is becoming a problem because sometimes he will growl and snap at other dogs in the park if there is food/toys around that he thinks is his.

What I've been doing:
-Going near him, talk softly and hand him a delicious treat every once in awhile to let him know that I have something more delicious & I'm not stealing his food
-Calling him over to me & allowing him to go back to his toy/food
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PostSubject: Re: Food/Toy Aggression   Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:34 pm

I have an almost 13 year old black lab mix that is the same way with me (not my grandparents). He's ok with the food when i pet him but he will growl at shadow (7mo) to warn him. I can't try to play with toys (unless i initiate) and even then he'll choke up on the toy and get closer to the hand (not growling) until he gets it and runs off, it's also the same with papers or garbage he gets into (which i have to bribe him to take away). Shadow has already learned this and keeps his distance ( while barking at his face Laughing).  As for shadow I have consistently pet him and worked with him with toys and food to stem any aggression, he's never been aggressive to anyone anyway but I still do it just to make sure. I haven't had a ton of experience with this but all I can say is stay persistent and keep working on what your'e doing and if it gets worse or out of control maybe contact a trainer for advice.
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PostSubject: Re: Food/Toy Aggression   Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:06 am

Nala is the same way and I am also having a hard time getting her to open up when shes eating or specially if she has a bone. She is the same way at the dog park with water bowls so I'm also interested in seeing the advice others have!
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PostSubject: Re: Food/Toy Aggression   Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:15 pm

well when my pup was little i would stick my hands in his food bowl and play with the food. the first time he growls a bit then couple times later he got used to it so he stopped growling even now if i stick my hands in his bowl he wouldn't growl at all and just continue eating. ..... n for toys i really never had issue with his toys because if he usually wants me to play with him so he gladly give his toys to me idk if that helps


Last edited by SIMBA_SH on Fri Jun 06, 2014 2:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Food/Toy Aggression   Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:24 pm

I remember hearing leaving food out is a bad idea (15-20m after its out, put it away etc.) so they can't just eat when they want. Maybe the same can apply to toys, only let them play with a toy when you want them to. Show that you control it just as with the food.
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PostSubject: Re: Food/Toy Aggression   Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:15 pm

Thanks, but what exactly should I be doing to train him, or should I continue as I have been?

I don't leave his food out. He usually eats his meals immediately, but when he doesn't, I'd take it away after 30 minutes or so. Most of the time, I'd take his toys away after playtime, but I like to leave one with him when he has to stay in his crate so he doesn't get too bored and has something to chew on. I'll notice that if I go near him then, he might start growling at me.

Last week, he picked up a ball from the park and started growling at me when I tried to take it away. I wasn't sure if I should "steal" it from him, but I had to eventually because that's not our toy and I didn't want to bring it home. Would the act of taking a toy/food away from his mouth increase this territorial behavior?
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PostSubject: Re: Food/Toy Aggression   Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:29 pm

Give him something when you take something else away. If you want him to give up a toy at the dog park exchange it with a treat so he doesn't feel like you are only ever just taking from him. Kenzi goes through hoarding periods and if I need to take a bone away from her she might growl as I walk up. I will tell her no, wait until she quiets, then give her the treat and take the bone saying good girl. If there are other pets in the house you should keep things picked up, but if he is the only and you are not just keeping the bowl full all the time leaving the food down isn't a bad thing. You could also leave some toys out too if no other animals. We rotate. She will get some toys that she can play with whenever she feels like it, then in a month when she's tired of those she gets the other set and those go away for a little while.

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PostSubject: Re: Food/Toy Aggression   Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:16 pm

I wanted to bump this thread back up as I've been working on his training for awhile now. I've been taking Brick to the dog park more often and he's starting to learn to share the tennis balls that are there and even let me give treats to the other dogs.

The issue I'm working on at home is that he growls (seemingly randomly) at me and guests. It's strange because he'll come to us for attention, then when we pet him, he'll growl and bear his teeth. He doesn't necessarily need to have a toy or a treat near him. He almost always growls when he's in his crate and we approach him. Also, if I notice he's in that mood, I'll call him over and ask him to do some tricks... he'll do all these tricks but GROWL while he's doing them. He's not a stranger to snapping and biting people either.

For the most part, he's a really good dog. We have fun and he listens to me, but I'm not quite sure how to settle these mood swings. Advice?
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PostSubject: Re: Food/Toy Aggression   Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:40 pm

What's usually going on when he snaps or bites at a person? Are they walking up to him, petting him, swinging their arms?

My girl growls at my husband when he rubs her belly. She wants her belly rubbed but she doesn't trust him to rub her belly only and to not turn rubbing her belly into picking on her in some fashion. It stems from nerves.

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PostSubject: Re: Food/Toy Aggression   Wed Nov 05, 2014 6:18 pm

There are several situations. Let's start with one where he has no treats or food.
Situation #1: person walks up to his crate when he's inside. the person isn't necessarily paying any attention to him, but he'll growl anyway. If the person proceeds to kneel down and get closer to him, he will growl more and louder. If the person reaches near his snout, he may or may not snap.

Situation #2: Brick walks up to person, seeming to seek attention. Person pets Brick, and after awhile, he starts growling. If person pets too close to his face, he may growl louder, bearing teeth.

Situation #3: He seems to be moody so I call him over. He comes and sits, but is growling, ears back and looking away. If I pet him, he growls.

If I scold him during any of these situations, he would usually get into some sort of submissive position (in a "down" position or on his back), but still growl.

People are rarely overly excited around him (never swinging our arms or jumping around) and usually if we are petting him, we don't "pick on" him... I would only scold at the moment he is growling or snapping.

Does your girl ever go further than just growling? Is it a "leave me alone" type or growl or a "i'm going to bite you if you continue" growl?
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PostSubject: Re: Food/Toy Aggression   Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:27 pm

My girl has only snapped at a person a couple times, both were when she was hormonal. She growls at my husband because in certain situations (when she is in a spot where she is blocked from escape) he makes her nervous though she wouldn't bite him, it's a leave-me-alone growl.

Situation 1: Seems to me that being blocked in his crate by a person reaching for him makes him nervous. His flight reflex has been taken away and so he acts out because he feels he has no other way to let these people invading his space know that he is uncomfortable. I would either refrain from touching him in his crate and when you must do so with a treat visible to show that good will come from this. Try moving next to the crate but don't block the door.

Situation 2: He's touchy about his face. I would tell people to not touch his face. My girl is touchy about her tail. Some dogs have trigger spots for whatever reason. He seems like he wants the attention but just doesn't know how to appropriately respond to it or to just walk away when he has had enough. If he growled, I would stop petting him and ignore him for a while even if he comes back for attention again. Then after he's had some time to calm down I would try petting him again. If he growls try putting him in a time out in another room (not crate) for a few minutes and let him cool off. You want him to growl to let you know he is uncomfortable. If he skipped growling the next step would be to just bite and that's not good.

Situation 3: Since he seems touchy about petting when he is moody I would try brain stimulation instead. If he seems moody call him over and do some tricks with him. Work on training. The stimulation will help him out of his funk, get him some exercise, and increase his bond with you. I think finding out why he is moody will go a long way in finding out why he growls so much.

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