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 Husky showing signs of food aggression

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Stone Free
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PostSubject: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:31 pm

Ugh...this is something I hoped I wouldn't have to deal with. Today I gave Aurora a bone that my grandmother bought for her...some kind of 'real meat bone'. Usually she eats her other bones in the back yard, because it gives her something to do when she isn't playing. After a few minutes, I went outside to check on her. I went up to pet her and she grabbed up the bone and started to walk away. I went over to pet her a second time and she growled pretty deep and fierce, like I have never heard her do before. Needless to say the bone is gone, and she got scolded.

I'm guessing this comes from being around my grandfather's Jack Russell mix, she was a rescue and is very food aggressive. She has to be supervised when around other dogs. I'm hoping she's not giving my dog bad habits, Aurora has never gone hungry, and certainly never had another dog, or person steal her food.

I don't know how to correct this behavior, and I definitely do not want her to do this to other people when I'm not close enough to get to her before she bites someone. Has anyone else here had issues with food aggression, and what were the most effective ways to stop it?

thanks in advance
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Me & Ghost
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:37 pm

I don't know if I can help, but I am going to try... when Ghost was little he did the same thing with his food, so we started to take the food from him after he growled, then when he calmed down we would give it to him again. We put our hand on the food and he growled, so we repeated the process over and over, till he got the idea. After the 3rd ou 4th time he stopped doing it. Now he doesn't do it anymore. I guess you can try something similar with the bone, till she gets the idea.
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mbarnard0429
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:55 pm

Take the bone away. Does she do this with other bones?

Please, do not punish for this reaction. Resource guarding is a fear driven action. Scolding will only reinforce the fear.
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:18 pm

@Me & Ghost wrote:
I don't know if I can help, but I am going to try... when Ghost was little he did the same thing with his food, so we started to take the food from him after he growled, then when he calmed down we would give it to him again. We put our hand on the food and he growled, so we repeated the process over and over, till he got the idea. After the 3rd ou 4th time he stopped doing it. Now he doesn't do it anymore. I guess you can try something similar with the bone, till she gets the idea.

thanks!

mheath0429 wrote:
Take the bone away. Does she do this with other bones?

Please, do not punish for this reaction. Resource guarding is a fear driven action. Scolding will only reinforce the fear.

that makes sense, I hadn't thought of it that way. the only time she's ever growled at me before is playfully (ie: tug of war, or chasing each other around the back yard) but never over food, and never so deep or loud. I actually thought for a second that she might bite.
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cinnamonbits
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:51 pm

You can try trading it up for something better, something that she values more than the bone (for Karli that would be cheese or a wheat thin). This way you are teaching her that even though you are taking the bone away you are giving her something even better and she shouldn't worry about the bone being taken away.
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:22 am

@cinnamonbits wrote:
You can try trading it up for something better, something that she values more than the bone (for Karli that would be cheese or a wheat thin). This way you are teaching her that even though you are taking the bone away you are giving her something even better and she shouldn't worry about the bone being taken away.

that's also a really good idea. she loves milkbones, and especially snausages. I'll try these ideas out tomorrow.
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:26 pm

Well, we went the rest of the weekend without any issues and she got her bone back. So far so good. I'm going to keep working with her on it though, just to make sure she always knows that she doesn't have to guard her food and treats.
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mcorea
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:10 pm

This may or not apply but ours has a bit of aggression towards the other dogs never to me though. We talked a local dog trainer and they recommended for her to go over the basics again (sit, down, heel, etc.) to provide mental stimulation and also longer walks for physical stimulation and then we could focus on the aggression. We didn't hire them because they were too expensive ($2500 for a week training!) but we did follow through on their advice. Since then she has been much better but similiar to what ghost and cinnamonbits were doing, there has to be a training showing theres no need for them to protect their food. That may be overkill but thats how these dog trainers were going to approach the issue
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:02 am

@mcorea wrote:
This may or not apply but ours has a bit of aggression towards the other dogs never to me though. We talked a local dog trainer and they recommended for her to go over the basics again (sit, down, heel, etc.) to provide mental stimulation and also longer walks for physical stimulation and then we could focus on the aggression. We didn't hire them because they were too expensive ($2500 for a week training!) but we did follow through on their advice. Since then she has been much better but similiar to what ghost and cinnamonbits were doing, there has to be a training showing theres no need for them to protect their food. That may be overkill but thats how these dog trainers were going to approach the issue

Wow...$2500 for a week? affraid

I've been trying to walk her for a mile or two every day, and we just did a 6 mile hike this weekend that wore her out pretty good. That helps a lot. When she doesn't have all the excess energy it's a lot quieter around here, haha. I've been debating on a bicycle, or maybe rollerblades for our walks to speed up the pace and help me keep up. I haven't decided on what would be more practical, but I think that would be a solid way to go.
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Wed May 29, 2013 12:25 pm

mheath0429 wrote:
Take the bone away. Does she do this with other bones?

Please, do not punish for this reaction. Resource guarding is a fear driven action. Scolding will only reinforce the fear.

You suggest not punishing them for this food aggression, and I can understand that this is a fear-related response, but do you have any ideas on how to correct the behavior without scolding the dog? I have an 8 month old Husky who has been food aggressive since she was a small puppy, and she has gotten much better, but is super tense and starts to growl if people walk up to her when she is eating. She doesn't growl at me anymore for the most part, but her hair still stands on end, and if I yell at her then she snaps out of it, rolls over, and looks all guilty.

Every other time, she is the sweetest dog in the world. She is Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde when it comes to food, and my fiance and I will likely be starting a family at some point, so I want to be sure this food aggression is completely gone asap. Aside from this, she is perfectly behaved, but I'm not sure what to do to stop this. Any advice would be appreciated.

Also, I see there have been quite a few people saying to play the trading game, and I have tried this, but she will make the trade, but as soon as that bowl is in front of her, she becomes possessive again...
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Wed May 29, 2013 1:51 pm

Quote :
You suggest not punishing them for this food aggression, and I can understand that this is a fear-related response, but do you have any ideas on how to correct the behavior without scolding the dog?

The idea isn't really to correct the behavior, but instead to train that you (Or anyone else for that matter) being around the food shouldn't cause any stress at all. Instead they should look forward to it or at least relax during those times because they will either be rewarded with a higher value item, or that the object(s) they are eating will remain in their possession after some investigation on your part.

In essence, Trust building exercises.

There are many ways you train this, though not one will be an over night fix. It is something you have to condition for a while before your pup will be 100% trusting.


Hand Feeding

Hand feeding one kibble, or what ever you chose to feed, at a time is a great way to build this trust. You get to control when the release the kibble and how fast / slow your pup is allowed to eat. It can help get your pup accustomed to you being around the food, and even if you are there they still get the food.

By controlling the rate and consistency you can influence behavior. You don't have to release the food until the touch you receive is polite and calm (I.E. no snapping, no teeth)


Once you have that under control you can move onto holding the food bowl in your hand while you feed. Elevating it off the ground will make it so your pup can't protect the food and stand over it or block you with it's head.

It also allows you to simply stop the feeding by doing nothing but lifting the bowl slightly. By lifting the bowl up you will straighten the head, forcing your pup to remove their mouth from the bowl. I would do this a lot while training Tika, and would only return it when she sat calmly again (She used to eat too fast for my liking when she was a pup and this was a way I could control it).


Trading

There are trading games you can play and train during normal times which can directly influence feeding time.

Teaching your pup how to drop something, can even be a toy, and then rewarding them with a very high value treat can work wonders in building trust in this regard. You go from the person "Taking stuff away" to the person "With lots of yummy treats".

They start to listen because they expect that when you request something they are probably going to get something much much better than the object they currently have in their mouth.


You can also work on Leave Its. Asking your pup to wait for a command before they are allowed anything is simply teaching manners. Even during normal feeding times teaching them to be calm and wait first before they can eat is one way to make sure they are in the right frame of mind before they are eating.





Those are the ways I deal with resource guarding. I don't attack the problem, I train the fundamentals so I don't have the problem. My Rescue used to guard food from my other dog, and even myself and my wife.

After teaching her we controlled all the good stuff in the house and if she was polite she would be spoiled she no longer has any issues at all with food.


~Chris~

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Is this about the cake problem? What's the matter with you mathematicians, cake is never a problem. - Professor Lazlo
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Greggles612
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Thu May 30, 2013 4:10 pm

Chris,

Thanks so much for the thoughtful and thorough response. I have tried some of those things before, but perhaps I didn't keep going with it enough (especially with the hand feeding). The strange thing is that I can feed her by hand when holding the bowl with no issues, and I always make her wait until I say so before she eats...with which she complies 100% of the time. Also, when hand feeding, she is completely docile and never even comes close to showing teeth or even being nervous. As soon as she has that bowl of food though, the possessiveness and nervousness begins.

last night I tried a few new things after reading your comment, including hand feeding. However, I also put the bowl down and let her eat, and then called her away, made her sit and stay, and then went and picked up the bowl. No issues there either. When I walked over to the bowl when she was eating from it, she didn't growl, but her hair stood up on her neck and on her back close to her tail...as per usual. I tried the trading for a high-level treat and gave her some raw ribeye (supposed to be my dinner!!), which made the nervousness go away.

My fiance and I have now started the NILIF method and are hoping for the best. As a life-long dog owner (but first time husky owner), I just can't believe that she would still show food aggression towards people who have never done anything but put food into her bowl and have never deprived her of any food at all. Of course, she's not a labrador like my last dog...and is much more strong willed.

It will be a challenge, but I hope we can get her aggression under control....or I suppose if we never can I could always feed her in a separate room from any children...that's just not quite an ideal situation.

Thanks again for the suggestions, and I'll be sure to come back and post if and when any progress is made.

-Greg
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PostSubject: Re: Husky showing signs of food aggression   Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:22 pm

Chris,

Since you were so nice as to provide such a detailed suggestion to correct Harley's behavior, I wanted to let you know of the progress.

I used the NILF method, and also started with the hand feeding, and then moved on to the trading up, and it has worked perfectly! It took a lot of patience (and a lot of raw steak), but she now WANTS me to go near her bowl while she's eating because most of the time when I do go near her bowl, I was dropping a small piece of red meat in there for her. The hair on her back doesn't stand up anymore when we go near her while eating, and she doesn't 'protect' her bowl anymore at all when eating. She even leaves some food in the bowl and walks away (which she NEVER did before), probably because she realizes that nobody is going to steal it from her now.

I really can't thank you enough, and I now don't have to worry about people walking past her while she's eating. Thanks again so much, and please say hi to your puppies for me wave Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy 
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