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Old 07-08-2008, 10:27 PM
yilduz yilduz is offline
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Default Please help, food aggression problem

I have a pitbull and a pug. They always get along great, in fact, the pitbull gets along with everyone. She's a happy, fun-loving dog. Other than being plain dumb, and being afraid of anything that moves or makes noise, she really only has one problem - food aggression.

She hasn't always been my dog, I kind of came into her family. She belongs to my girlfriends family and when I moved in, she became my dog, too. I do what I can to train her, discipline her, play with her, walk her, and be dominant. My girlfriend's family is very good at training dogs, we recently had a 13-year old pitbull put down because of cancer. She was an excellent dog that loved life, very intelligent, and trained well.

Anyway, to get to the point, Athena, our pitbull, is food aggressive. She apparently has always been but the family never did anything to break her of it. Instead, they avoided situations that would make her feel uncomfortable. When we feed her, she is put in a different room with the door closed. It's now becoming a problem, though. Whenever food is near her and she thinks she may get it, she becomes defensive. She is not, and has never been, aggressive towards humans, but she turns on her best friend - the pug. If the pug walks by when someone has food, she goes after the pug. Today was the second time she did it and both times, she drew blood. We're very worried about the situation and although we try to avoid putting her in that kind of situation, things happen and they happen fast.

We very badly need a way to break her of this food aggressive behavior. She's about three years old, so it's apparently not the easiest time to train her, but we have to do something. Please, can anyone help me out in any way?
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:09 AM
Saje Saje is offline
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Sounds like she really needs to see a behaviorist. You're right about the problem escalating. In the mean time I'd make sure to feed them separate. Crates are a good idea. And eliminate ALL situations where this behaviour may occur. Good luck!
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:53 AM
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E-Collar. Get some training before you use it.
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Old 07-09-2008, 05:16 AM
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Hmm suggesting an e collar to a breed that can escalate to pain.... if you have any experience with drivey terriers you will know that is not the way to go. Dog can easily decide the other dog is responsible for the shock and get 10X worse instead of better. And if it does suppress the behaviour the dog still 'wants' to aggress but fears too. Its not uncommon for dogs trained this way to have a relapse, which is often worse due to the added anxiety of fear.

I agree with a good behaviorist or trainer. Food aggression is fairly common (still scary and serious) so it is something many behaviorists and trainers (the kind that do one on one stuff) will deal with. You can ask for references before you start to insure the person you get can help with the problem...not just mask (suppress it)
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:06 AM
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I would train an out and a leave it command, as well as basic obedience. For one, even teaching her something like a dow stay for food can help. It replaces the aggressive behavior with an incompatible behavior.

I also would search the board here for resource guarding, there are some great posts on ways to address the problem.

I would keep the two dogs separated (for the pug's safety) until you get this resolved.
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelissaCato View Post
E-Collar. Get some training before you use it.
Melissa Cato, if you are going to make such a suggestion then at least have the sense to give the training advice that goes with it at the same time.

Trying to manage resource guarding through punitive methods such as an e-collar is generally not recommended, as it will tend to make many dogs MORE insecure, cause them to guard MORE, or it will remove the growl and/or body language warnings that might precede a bite, making a dog that will just spontaneously bite someone with no warning.

In particular with stoic breeds like APBTs, this would not be a recommended method of dealing with the issue.


For the OP:

1) CRATE these dogs for feeding time. Crate the APBT when it is time to prepare the food. Feed both dogs INSIDE the crate.

2) do an internet search on resource guarding, or search this forum. THere is lots of good advice on how to handle this issue.
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:33 AM
borzoimom borzoimom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedyreRottweilers View Post
........
For the OP:

1) CRATE these dogs for feeding time. Crate the APBT when it is time to prepare the food. Feed both dogs INSIDE the crate.2) do an internet search on resource guarding, or search this forum. THere is lots of good advice on how to handle this issue.
I know what you meant, but the OP might read this as both dogs are in the same crate.. Obviously they are in different crates..
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:41 AM
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Is she food aggressive at all towards people or only the other dog? And because I have to say something, there is no need to worry about dominating your dog, she is not worrying about dominating you, start thinking more along the lines of making her want to do what you want her to do, a partnership, teacher and student.

I will see if I can think up something but I need to know how severe this is first. How close does the Pug get before Athena reacts? and I don't mean snapping or growling, I mean subtle things, like stiffening, changing her eating pace, staring at the Pug etc. Will she charge the Pug from a distance or only bite when he's right near the bowl?

I agree, they should be fed separately always and not be left alone together in case someone finds something yummy in the trash, on the floor or wherever. The more she gets to practice guarding the worse it will get and it will set your training back every time.

I would recommend a behaviorist who uses positive methods (no yelling, hitting, pushing, poking, collar correcting or any other painful or scary punishment, in fact for this no punishment at all is best, why make an angry dog angrier or scared, scared dogs bite) to help you change her behavior.
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:39 AM
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In this case, I believe the E-Collar should be used to train a negative association. The dog is 3 years old and now drew blood twice on his best friend a little pug. Not good. This dog needs avoidance training.

Quote:
Trying to manage resource guarding through punitive methods such as an e-collar is generally not recommended, as it will tend to make many dogs MORE insecure, cause them to guard MORE, or it will remove the growl and/or body language warnings that might precede a bite, making a dog that will just spontaneously bite someone with no warning.
I personally disagree. This dog in question doesn't need to manage resource guarding, this dog needs a negitive association to stop completely. Period. To crate this dog with his food is only moving the problem to another area of guarding and now to include humans. Caged dog with food and known food aggression ?? Not good. Not good. Actually your building drive.

Instead of going into details in opposition to the status quo: I would suggest a professional.

JMO.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:45 AM
yilduz yilduz is offline
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So it seems seeking professional help is the most common suggestion.

We already feed them apart from each other. Athena eats in the laundry room with the door closed. The pug eats in the kitchen.

It's kind of strange, though. Athena never goes after the pug when she knows the food belongs to the pug. She never goes after the other dog's bowl. When I feed them, I prepare their bowls while they sit in the living room. When I'm finished I call the pug in and have her speak, shake, and all that stuff, then give her the bowl. Athena never does anything to her. After that I take Athena's bowl into the laundry room and set it down. I walk back into the kitchen, standing in front of the laundry room door. I call Athena over, she rushes to me and sits down. I have her speak and shake and wait and all that stuff. Then she's allowed to get her food. I close the door behind her and she barks when she's done and wants out. By that time the pug is always finished.

As far as her aggression towards humans go, it's nonexistent. She has never growled at or bitten a person for any reason, including food. In fact, I can take a cookie from her mouth and she won't snap at me. She only reacts that way to the pug.

She knows basic obedience. When I'm playing with her, I can tell her "out" or "drop it" and she does. She also knows to sit, come, go away, speak, down, box (go to your box), go to bed, back up, and some others. She also knows signs for most of those. She also knows to leave a room when there is a person eating.

I don't want to use a collar that shocks her or anything like that.
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