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Thread: How should we correct this dog behavior?

  1. #1

    How should we correct this dog behavior?

    How should we go about correcting a dog who occasionally growls and even snaps at you when he perceives you to be trying to take his food or invade his space? This is an 8 year old terrier mix; adopted from a family who kept him outside his whole life. Sweet dog other that this, but he won't stop this behavior. What should be try? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    This will take time and patience. You need to be extremely cautious if you have children around this dog.

    With time you can desensitize him, and get him to realize that something yummy is coming his way!

    Start with trading. Have something yummy - a bit of hot dog, boiled boneless skinless chicken breast, or cheese. Call to get his attention and toss it away from his dish. As he goes to get it, toss another piece of yummy treat IN his dish AND WALK AWAY. You will have to do this over and over before you can move to the next step. At the start, you will see him perhaps charge back to his dish as you toss the second piece in. With time, he is going to wait for you to put the second treat in. When you see him do this - pause even a MOMENT - for the second treat to land in his dish, smile, say "YES!" and still move away. You want to "mark" or reinforce the positive action he does. DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT while you are doing this exercise. This may take 3 weeks, especially if you are only feeding him once a day. Patience.

    Next step, you will PLACE rather than toss the second piece in his dish; and move the dish slightly. I'm talking fraction of an inch. Everything else stays the same. Tossing the first piece to make him move away (you want to be SAFE), no eye contact, "YES!" the moment he pauses, stops, lets you do what you want to do. If he growls, snaps, go back to the first step for another 4 days or more, then try again. You want to set him up for success. So if you move to a harder level and he reacts, he is not yet ready for that.

    Next, you will actually PICK UP the dish to add the second piece. At first, you may be crouched down and only picking it up an inch off the ground. Again, if he is not ready for this, revert to the prior step for a longer time. And everything else stays the same.

    The whole process could take several months. Just remember, this will pay off and you will have years of better behavior once you have calmed him. And these few months of training will fade into the background.
    Thank you Karen, for fixing my siggy!

  3. #3
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    Barking, biting, chewing are common behavioral problems in dogs. It can be handled with lots of patience and training. Dogs can be aggressive in certain cases. Try to be friendly with them and understand their problems. Don't ignore that they have an understanding behaviour that goes way beyond the usual. Experience and research. They both understand that each and every dog is an individual - a rare and valuable understanding.
    Last edited by jessewills; 05-30-2013 at 12:58 AM. Reason: add up content

  4. #4
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    Freedom and Lizbud have outlined the basic "remedy" for this behaviour very well, as always. They have an understanding of behaviour that goes way beyond the usual. Experience and research. They both understand that each and every dog is an individual - a rare and valuable understanding.

    However - I believe with a passion that the feeding of dogs has a rule. If I give a dog food then that means that I have already eaten the bits that I want and deserve as the boss. I have given them the bits I couldn't or did not want to eat so it is now food that totally belongs to them. To try and take that food back is wrong and the dog has every right to defend what he now thinks is his. That is just how it works. As the boss of the pack you decide who eats what and when they eat and they have a right to defend it once you have given them ownership of it. The idea that you have to prove your dominance or control over a dog by being able to take it's food away is unfair. You are the boss, you gave this food, in giving the food you gave the dog ownership of the food and the right to defend it. A food aggressive dog is, to me, usually playing by the rules and is in the right. Simple - put your dog in a place where you can shut the door for ten minutes while the dog eats, remove and throw any food left over and do not allow anyone to disturb the dog while it is eating. Dog is happy, nobody gets hurt and it is a natural and easily accepted method.

  5. #5
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    Freedom and Lizbud have outlined the basic "remedy" for this behaviour very well, as always. They have an understanding of behaviour that goes way beyond the usual. Experience and research. They both understand that each and every dog is an individual - a rare and valuable understanding.

    However - I believe with a passion that the feeding of dogs has a rule. If I give a dog food then that means that I have already eaten the bits that I want and deserve as the boss. I have given them the bits I couldn't or did not want to eat so it is now food that totally belongs to them. To try and take that food back is wrong and the dog has every right to defend what he now thinks is his. That is just how it works. As the boss of the pack you decide who eats what and when they eat and they have a right to defend it once you have given them ownership of it. The idea that you have to prove your dominance or control over a dog by being able to take it's food away is unfair. You are the boss, you gave this food, in giving the food you gave the dog ownership of the food and the right to defend it. A food aggressive dog is, to me, usually playing by the rules and is in the right. Simple - put your dog in a place where you can shut the door for ten minutes while the dog eats, remove and throw any food left over and do not allow anyone to disturb the dog while it is eating. Dog is happy, nobody gets hurt and it is a natural and easily accepted method.

  6. #6
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    WOW - I thought I was just reading a post by Cesar Milan!
    I've Been Boo'd
    Thanks, Barry
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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    RIP 2/28/1999~10/9/2012
    Myndi the Fuzzbutt - Mom's DOTD - Everyday
    RIP 1/24/1996~8/9/2013
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    To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
    Ecclesiastes 3:1
    The clock of life is wound but once and no man has the power
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pomtzu View Post
    WOW - I thought I was just reading a post by Cesar Milan!


    LOL, Carrie is a animal behaviorist from the UK and she is being very kind. Hi Carrie.
    I've Been Boo'd

    I've been Frosted






    Men, it has been well said, think in herds. It will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
    — Charles Mackay, Scottish journalist, circa 1841

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizbud View Post
    LOL, Carrie is a animal behaviorist from the UK and she is being very kind. Hi Carrie.
    I don't doubt that she is kind. I wasn't being critical and sorry if I came across that way. It's just that the wording sounded like CM talking..........
    I've Been Boo'd
    Thanks, Barry
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    My little dogs - two heartbeats at my feet.
    by Edith Wharton & Me
    Sparky the Fuzzbutt - PT's DOTD 8/3/2010
    RIP 2/28/1999~10/9/2012
    Myndi the Fuzzbutt - Mom's DOTD - Everyday
    RIP 1/24/1996~8/9/2013
    Ellie - Mom to the Fuzzbuttz

    To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
    Ecclesiastes 3:1
    The clock of life is wound but once and no man has the power
    To know just when the hands will stop - on what day, or what hour.
    Now is the only time you have, so live it with a will -
    Don't wait until tomorrow - the hands may then be still.
    ~~~~true author unknown~~~~

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by pomtzu View Post
    I don't doubt that she is kind. I wasn't being critical and sorry if I came across that way. It's just that the wording sounded like CM talking..........

    Hey Ellie, you didn't say anything wrong at all.
    I've Been Boo'd

    I've been Frosted






    Men, it has been well said, think in herds. It will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
    — Charles Mackay, Scottish journalist, circa 1841

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizbud View Post
    Hey Ellie, you didn't say anything wrong at all.
    Whew!!!!! I thought maybe I had opened mouth and inserted foot unintentionally. Wouldn't be the first time.
    I've Been Boo'd
    Thanks, Barry
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    My little dogs - two heartbeats at my feet.
    by Edith Wharton & Me
    Sparky the Fuzzbutt - PT's DOTD 8/3/2010
    RIP 2/28/1999~10/9/2012
    Myndi the Fuzzbutt - Mom's DOTD - Everyday
    RIP 1/24/1996~8/9/2013
    Ellie - Mom to the Fuzzbuttz

    To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
    Ecclesiastes 3:1
    The clock of life is wound but once and no man has the power
    To know just when the hands will stop - on what day, or what hour.
    Now is the only time you have, so live it with a will -
    Don't wait until tomorrow - the hands may then be still.
    ~~~~true author unknown~~~~

  11. #11
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    To be honest, without Lizbud, I would have taken your comment the wrong way - somebody a long while ago compared me to another behaviourist and I had a spent a very long time considering her problem, trying to figure out her dog's behaviour in relation to her attitude toward the dog. It upset me. It frustrated me and it, I admit it, insulted me! In retropesct maybe I should have taken it as a bit of a compliment. The person I was "following and repeating" is brilliant, does a good job and has a fantastic result in almost all cases I have heard her dealing with. BUT - we all have to keep up with research, we all have to be open to change, we all as behaviourists have to put each and every theory to our tests. Sometimes we all agree - there is evidence that you cannot disagree with. Sometimes we look at the data, test it and come up with different theories.
    I'm so sorry that you have got stuck in the middle, you seem like a concerned and inquisitive owner and should be applauded for that. I stick with what I said though, give a dog food - that is his food. There are things you can train to fairly get the dog to back off from his food, there are ways to reduce food aggression BUT being fair and understanding reduces all risk - you gave it to the dog, it belongs to the dog.

  12. #12
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    And you said or did nothing wrong on this site xxx

  13. #13
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    Carrie- I wonder, though, how do you ward off fights/snaps/bites with food, say, at a large gathering, where maybe someone left a sandwhich on the table, and a small child walks towards the table, and the dog perceives that as a threat? Or, if you have- like I do- cats that regularly walk by the dog's food bowl? I wouldn't tolerate a food aggressive dog, even if the dog was "being right". I can't risk it. I have a child and lots of cats. Thankfully, my dog immediately backs off his food bowl, if a hand, cat, or the like goes near it.

    I am not challenging you, I am seeking to understand your position better.

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