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Old 11-25-2012, 12:22 PM
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Food aggression

My wife and I have a 2 year old golden retriever. He has had a slight food aggression that seems to keep getting worse. When he was a puppy we would do the hand in bowl tricks and such and never really had much of an issue. We had another dog at the time that snapped at Graham(golden in question) and they would get into it a little. Once Graham got bigger than the other dog then the fights got worse and to the point where we gave the other dog back to my wife's parents because of the fights. I got it once trying to break a fight of theirs up. More recently my mother in law was staying at our house in September watching Graham and he was chewing on a pine cone. She went out attempting to get it from him and he attacked her. We then put him into training recommended by our vet. However we discontinued it because it was apparent that it was aggressive and more pain based and not what we wanted. So we continued working with him on our own. A couple weekends ago we had a couple situations where I tried to take a leaf from him and he went after me a bit. Then the next day we were working with him during a meal trying to get him in a more relaxed position. All of a sudden he lunged at my wife. I pulled on the leash and yelled no at him when he turned on me and attacked me. Luckily I was wearing a sweatshirt or my arms would have been much worse. At that time we were contemplating everything as we were both scared of him and his next attack. We decided on a behaviorist. She wanted us to get a basket muzzle before working with him. She had us feeding him with it on but then while he was eating nudging him away and putting him in a down stay. It was working for her but he again attacked me twice with the muzzle on although he got me again slightly despite the muzzle. She is now having us hand feeding him which is a 40 minute ordeal per session. His behavior is encouraging but we are still very apprehensive when we go back to feeding normally. I tried brushing him, which is another issue with him, today with the muzzle on and he again got a little aggressive(did not attack) again. I think we are both just on edge and worried about the next time. We both work 8-5 and we do not trust him out of his cage so he is in it for 9-10 hours a day. We are trying to get him on a couple of walks and ball play time a day. What are others experiences with these situations. Would he be better off with a family that can devote more time to him. He can be so sweet which is the most upsetting thing about the situation. His personality is so different than our other golden that we lost to cancer. Thanks in advance for your insight.
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Old 11-25-2012, 02:07 PM
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How did you find the behaviorist you are working with? Some people use this title very loosely, without adequate training. If this were my dog, I would only be using a Certified Veterinary Behaviorist. There is a big difference in training, you can do a search on the internet to find one in your area, they aren't a dime a dozen. Here is a link:

Find a Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist ACVB

Behavior | College of Veterinary Medicine


I do not understand why she would have you nudge him away from his food and put him in a down, this seems to be simply confirming his feeling that he has to protect his food. Keep the basket muzzle on him, that is good advice. Why can't you let him out of his crate with the muzzle on? Please consider looking for a Certified Veterinary Behaviorist, you should have a written evaluation and protocol from the behaviorist that you are working on with this dog and it shouldn't involved nudging him away from his food while he's eating.

Has your vet done a complete blood panel workup on this dog? He or she should have done this prior to the behavior consult.

I'm sorry that you're having these issues, please back off from the brushing and anything that seems to get a reaction from him until you have better advice from a professional. This is nothing to take chances with.
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Old 11-25-2012, 02:49 PM
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Thank you for the advise. We found the behaviorist through the Internet but she is not a certified behaviorist. As far as the blood panel work by our vet. He has not offered that and quite honestly seems disinterested in helping. He recommended the aggressive trainer that if anything made the issue worse. Other than that his only other "words of wisdom" was euthanizing.

As far as the crate when we are home he is outside is crate with no muzzle. He is in his crate when we are at work. This is because we are worried about him tearing stuff up otherwise. Has happened before. I do not think he should be roaming the house unattended with a muzzle on for 9-10 hours during the week. As you have linked it looks like the closes certified behaviorist is 2 hours or so away.
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Old 11-25-2012, 02:53 PM
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Are you still in contact with his breeder? They would probably want to know about the issues you are having with him and may be able to help you.
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Old 11-25-2012, 02:56 PM
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We tried contacting them a while back with no success. Kind of made us wonder about them in retrospect. May try again.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:10 PM
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You can also look for a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.

You have a VERY SERIOUS situation going on. I would cease any modification techniques you are using right now and feed him ONLY in his crate, that is, put the food at the back of his crate, have him go in to eat, shut the crate up and leave him there for at least 10 minutes after he is done eating. Then let him out of the crate. Alternatively, chose a reasonably large room (say a bedroom) that has a door, have him outside the room (not even close) and put his food at the far side of the room. Come out of the room and let him in. Close the door and leave him with his food for say 20 minutes. At that point open the door and call him out of the room lead him to another part of the house and you go in and remove the bowl.

While this may seem like letting him win, at this point I think it is most important to A) keep yourself safe and b) not let him practice this behavior (guarding his food). Do everything you can to eliminate any tension about eating. When you start working with a certified behaviorist you can begin to change his behaviors.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:24 PM
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Honestly he is only like this when working on food issueor trying take it away from him. We currently are hand feeding him with muzzle on and he is doing fine. Before getting muzzle we were just feeding him and leaving him alone which was working ok. The issues arise when trying to take anything he perceives as food away from him. He has not done this with toys before although we try to be as careful as possible.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:25 PM
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I hope you will consider making the drive (I assume to OSU vet school) for the evaluation or trying the idea below. It sounds like your best chance at getting the best information and advice for resolving this the best way possible for the dog and for your conscience. Please do not consider re-homing him to another family. Another family with more time to devote is not the answer.

Selli-Belle's advice on dropping everything and feeding as she suggests is really the best thing, I think, until you find a better behaviorist who is truly educated and experienced enough to help you decide what the next step is.

I know this is truly heartbreaking, I've been through a similar issue in the past and wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. For a dog loving family it is truly a nightmare to have a dog you can't trust. Please check back here for support, it is a good community.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Selli-Belle View Post
You can also look for a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.

You have a VERY SERIOUS situation going on. I would cease any modification techniques you are using right now and feed him ONLY in his crate, that is, put the food at the back of his crate, have him go in to eat, shut the crate up and leave him there for at least 10 minutes after he is done eating. Then let him out of the crate. Alternatively, chose a reasonably large room (say a bedroom) that has a door, have him outside the room (not even close) and put his food at the far side of the room. Come out of the room and let him in. Close the door and leave him with his food for say 20 minutes. At that point open the door and call him out of the room lead him to another part of the house and you go in and remove the bowl.

While this may seem like letting him win, at this point I think it is most important to A) keep yourself safe and b) not let him practice this behavior (guarding his food). Do everything you can to eliminate any tension about eating. When you start working with a certified behaviorist you can begin to change his behaviors.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:26 PM
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Oh and the behaviorist we are working with is doing the "dog whispering" techniques. She is relating this all toward leadership and pack order type of things.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:28 PM
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I'm no expert on Golden Retrievers, but it sounds as if he is spending the greater part of his day in the crate .....I guess that would be like us being confined to a small room day in & day out. I think I might grow aggressive if that was the case. Perhaps he feels as if the only thing he has control of in his life, is his food? And so he is protecting that as something he thinks he might also lose. Just a thought. My trainer is always telling us to put ourselves into our dogs' head & to try & think like a dog, in order to explain their behavorial issues or the way a dog behaves & the reasons behind it ...which are perfectly logical to the dog. She is a certified behavorialist. Dogs, like humans, need companionship & if your boy is spending most of the day in a crate, & on his own ......you say he spends time in a crate outside even when you are at home, if I have read correctly ....maybe that would explain his behaviour. My boy is four months old today, & the only time he is in his crate is between the hours of 11.30pm-6.30am, when we head off to bed. When I am working, he goes into a large pet playpen in our dining room, which has been cleared of all furniture, & our other dog stays in the same area to keep him company, though the papillon is not in the playpen. He only has to be in that for four hours until my husband is home from work, & he is free to be with him from then on. He spends every evening in the lounge with either both of us, or with my husband if I am at work. When we are at home, Loki is out of the playpen & either in the house with us, or outdoors with us, or with our adult papillon. I think a lot of the problem you are having might be due to him being cooped up for long hours on his own, but as I say, I am no expert. I do hope you are able to work through this,& it doesn't sound as if your vet is much help. I would change vets & find one who is more sympathetic. I have read on a posting on this forum, that Prozac can be helpful in situations like this .....prescribed by a vet.

Last edited by Dwyllis; 11-25-2012 at 03:52 PM.
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