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My 6 month old golden female is sweet as she can be but the minute she gets any sort of bone or food, she guards it and can growl/puff air from her cheeks or barks at me and my children if we are near her. She does not do this to my husband.

She eats 1 cup of kibble 2-3 x a day but acts ravenous. She weighs about 35 lbs and usually people will comment on how lean she looks (scrawny). Should we be feeding her more?! Is her erratic behavior because she’s super hungry? Our vet has assured us she is healthy and getting enough but she seems so desperate to eat the moment we put down the food it’s a little unnerving how quickly she eats her food.

We try to take the bowl away from her which makes her frantically eat as quickly as possible- often times choking it down. We try feeding her from our hand a little bit at a time and she literally inhales the food. If one of my children were to get near her as she is eating she would growl and bark at them to get away. We want her to stop doing this growling/puffing of her cheeks (It reminds me of a person that’s trying not to have a major meltdown and is taking deep breath’s… She literally puffs air out of her cheeks almost like a warning behavior). I am nervous that she may snap and actually bite someone. I’m sure we are not the first people to have a food aggressive dog so any tips for how you handled this issue is appreciated! Again, we have tried putting our hands in her food from day one and stopping her from eating briefly as well as tried petting her softly as she eats so she wouldn’t think we only come near her to take her food. She continues to frantically eat her food when given the chance. thank you for your help!
869985
 

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My 6 month old golden female is sweet as she can be but the minute she gets any sort of bone or food, she guards it and can growl/puff air from her cheeks or barks at me and my children if we are near her. She does not do this to my husband.

She eats 1 cup of kibble 2-3 x a day but acts ravenous. She weighs about 35 lbs and usually people will comment on how lean she looks (scrawny). Should we be feeding her more?! Is her erratic behavior because she’s super hungry? Our vet has assured us she is healthy and getting enough but she seems so desperate to eat the moment we put down the food it’s a little unnerving how quickly she eats her food.

We try to take the bowl away from her which makes her frantically eat as quickly as possible- often times choking it down. We try feeding her from our hand a little bit at a time and she literally inhales the food. If one of my children were to get near her as she is eating she would growl and bark at them to get away. We want her to stop doing this growling/puffing of her cheeks (It reminds me of a person that’s trying not to have a major meltdown and is taking deep breath’s… She literally puffs air out of her cheeks almost like a warning behavior). I am nervous that she may snap and actually bite someone. I’m sure we are not the first people to have a food aggressive dog so any tips for how you handled this issue is appreciated! Again, we have tried putting our hands in her food from day one and stopping her from eating briefly as well as tried petting her softly as she eats so she wouldn’t think we only come near her to take her food. She continues to frantically eat her food when given the chance. thank you for your help! View attachment 869985
I moved your thread to the puppy (up to 1 year) section. Hopefully this will help you get some responses. You can also search "food aggression" in the "search community" box and find several threads on this topic. She's an absolutely adorable puppy!
 

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I would suggest you stop messing with her for now as it could be making this situation worse. I have seen this book recommended
You could also have a certified trainer come in to help. As you know, it's critical to keep your children far away at feeding time. A lot of Goldens act like they are starving all the time so it's hard to tell how hungry they really are.
 

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stop taking the food midway while she is eating, and stopping her from eating, thats promotes her guarding as every time you back off when she displays this behaviour reinforces that it helps her secure her food.

hand feeding is a good option, as well as tossing a high value treat every time you are near her food bowl so she starts to realise you aren't going to snatch her food away but give her something instead.

it would really help to get a good trainer and build up the trust. you are right to be nervous as resource guarding can escalate quickly. good luck!
 

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My 6 month old golden female is sweet as she can be but the minute she gets any sort of bone or food, she guards it and can growl/puff air from her cheeks or barks at me and my children if we are near her. She does not do this to my husband.

She eats 1 cup of kibble 2-3 x a day but acts ravenous. She weighs about 35 lbs and usually people will comment on how lean she looks (scrawny). Should we be feeding her more?! Is her erratic behavior because she’s super hungry? Our vet has assured us she is healthy and getting enough but she seems so desperate to eat the moment we put down the food it’s a little unnerving how quickly she eats her food.

We try to take the bowl away from her which makes her frantically eat as quickly as possible- often times choking it down. We try feeding her from our hand a little bit at a time and she literally inhales the food. If one of my children were to get near her as she is eating she would growl and bark at them to get away. We want her to stop doing this growling/puffing of her cheeks (It reminds me of a person that’s trying not to have a major meltdown and is taking deep breath’s… She literally puffs air out of her cheeks almost like a warning behavior). I am nervous that she may snap and actually bite someone. I’m sure we are not the first people to have a food aggressive dog so any tips for how you handled this issue is appreciated! Again, we have tried putting our hands in her food from day one and stopping her from eating briefly as well as tried petting her softly as she eats so she wouldn’t think we only come near her to take her food. She continues to frantically eat her food when given the chance. thank you for your help!
First of all: STOP taking away the food bowl, fiddling with the food bowl, standing over her, petting her, doing whatever to her, while she's eating. Leave her alone.

I'm afraid this sounds like a problem you may have created yourselves, without knowing it, by fiddling around with her bowl. Put yourself in the dog's shoes: She is dependent on you for her food. Food is a basic need. You give her food, then you take it away. Of course she becomes nervous. She is afraid you will take the food away each time, so she eats it as quickly as possible. You have made her nervous. She would not necessarily have been nervous if you had left her alone from the start, during her mealtimes. Now that she is nervous about losing her food, she becomes stressed every time you approach the bowl, in case you take it away. She doesn't know you are only going to pet her; she can't read your mind. She only knows that when you are around, the food sometimes disappears. So she gobbles her food, and is stressed if you come near. She communicates her stress by growling. You're lucky that she seems to be a good, patient dog who is warning you (by growling) that she is stressed. You are right to be concerned that she might snap at someone or even bite; that would be the next step. And it would not be her fault because she has given you ample warning and you haven't listened. Please don't punish her for growling.

You have probably inadvertently reinforced her actions by retreating when she growls. So she has learned that growling gets rid of the humans.

I agree with others that, at this stage, you probably need help from an experienced trainer who teaches humans how to train dogs. In the meantime, I would suggest trying this:
1. As suggested above, stop bothering her while she is eating from her bowl. Stay away. Period. Don't even watch her.
2. Teach the children to leave her alone while she is eating.
3. Feed her a meal by hand from time to time. Not from her bowl (the association between you and the bowl is stressful for her), but directly from your hands. Do not let the children do this; do it yourself. And don't do it all the time - just an occasional meal.
4. Use this system to give her time to decompress - not just for a day or two, but for longer. Then you can start tossing the occasional really good treat into her bowl, from a distance. For example, a large piece of cooked chicken, cheese or bacon, or some kind of vegetable - something she really likes. Don't go near her - keep your distance and toss the treat into the bowl, then leave her alone.
5. Over time, as she realizes she is to be left alone to eat, you can get a little bit closer with the treats, until she has been desensitized.
6. For the time being, I would not give her any bones or other things that she might guard. Instead, I would teach her to trade low-value items for treats.

I'm afraid I'm old school on this issue. A dog takes about 30 seconds to eat, twice or three times a day. That means less than two minutes a day. IMHO he deserves to be left alone for that time. I don't know who first came up with the idea of taking away a dog's food bowl while he is eating, but it is a terrible idea. When I was a kid (goodness, I sound old!), if I got too close to the dog while he was eating, and he growled or snapped, I was the one who was yelled at, for bothering him. These days, the poor dog is labelled as aggressive.

I'm sorry, this is something I feel strongly about and I hope this post hasn't come off as harsh. You got some bad advice and didn't know this was a possible consequence of what you were doing. I hope you find someone who can help you to fix it. It sounds like you have a really good dog, and I wish you good luck.
 

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First of all: STOP taking away the food bowl, fiddling with the food bowl, standing over her, petting her, doing whatever to her, while she's eating. Leave her alone.

I'm afraid this sounds like a problem you may have created yourselves, without knowing it, by fiddling around with her bowl. Put yourself in the dog's shoes: She is dependent on you for her food. Food is a basic need. You give her food, then you take it away. Of course she becomes nervous. She is afraid you will take the food away each time, so she eats it as quickly as possible. You have made her nervous. She would not necessarily have been nervous if you had left her alone from the start, during her mealtimes. Now that she is nervous about losing her food, she becomes stressed every time you approach the bowl, in case you take it away. She doesn't know you are only going to pet her; she can't read your mind. She only knows that when you are around, the food sometimes disappears. So she gobbles her food, and is stressed if you come near. She communicates her stress by growling. You're lucky that she seems to be a good, patient dog who is warning you (by growling) that she is stressed. You are right to be concerned that she might snap at someone or even bite; that would be the next step. And it would not be her fault because she has given you ample warning and you haven't listened. Please don't punish her for growling.

You have probably inadvertently reinforced her actions by retreating when she growls. So she has learned that growling gets rid of the humans.

I agree with others that, at this stage, you probably need help from an experienced trainer who teaches humans how to train dogs. In the meantime, I would suggest trying this:
1. As suggested above, stop bothering her while she is eating from her bowl. Stay away. Period. Don't even watch her.
2. Teach the children to leave her alone while she is eating.
3. Feed her a meal by hand from time to time. Not from her bowl (the association between you and the bowl is stressful for her), but directly from your hands. Do not let the children do this; do it yourself. And don't do it all the time - just an occasional meal.
4. Use this system to give her time to decompress - not just for a day or two, but for longer. Then you can start tossing the occasional really good treat into her bowl, from a distance. For example, a large piece of cooked chicken, cheese or bacon, or some kind of vegetable - something she really likes. Don't go near her - keep your distance and toss the treat into the bowl, then leave her alone.
5. Over time, as she realizes she is to be left alone to eat, you can get a little bit closer with the treats, until she has been desensitized.
6. For the time being, I would not give her any bones or other things that she might guard. Instead, I would teach her to trade low-value items for treats.

I'm afraid I'm old school on this issue. A dog takes about 30 seconds to eat, twice or three times a day. That means less than two minutes a day. IMHO he deserves to be left alone for that time. I don't know who first came up with the idea of taking away a dog's food bowl while he is eating, but it is a terrible idea. When I was a kid (goodness, I sound old!), if I got too close to the dog while he was eating, and he growled or snapped, I was the one who was yelled at, for bothering him. These days, the poor dog is labelled as aggressive.

I'm sorry, this is something I feel strongly about and I hope this post hasn't come off as harsh. You got some bad advice and didn't know this was a possible consequence of what you were doing. I hope you find someone who can help you to fix it. It sounds like you have a really good dog, and I wish you good luck.

Thank you for all the responses. We will hire a trainer as suggested and stop touching her during her meals and keep away from her food bowl. I agree, we probably have made this worse by doing what our vet had suggested. Her growling occurs occasionally when she is lying on her dog bed-we will consult with a professional on how to win back her trust.
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ceegee

I TOTALLY agree with you on every point. I have had this discussion several times. I feed my dogs, no people especially kids around, and I don't feel the need to teach my dogs a lesson about me grabbing at the food bowl.
I have already told people "How would you feel if I walked over to you at dinner and started messing with your dinner plate?"

I am also old school with feeding. Miraculously I don't have food bowl issues. And another thing, some of the best advice you can give a visitor or children: Leave the dog alone.

I must add that my POV may not be popular but then again I do not have problems.
 

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Mine guarded and growled ONCE. as soon as he did, i taught him to sit and wait for his food until i gave him permission to eat. Then i left him alone to eat. He is a big foodie like me and i hate to be disturbed when i eat too! I give him various types of treats often as well so he knows good things come from me when he is a good boy. It never happened again!
 

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Another view....I agree with what others say here, since your pup is 6 months old.

But, we have had and enjoyed a number of Goldens over our lifetime. One thing we have always done when the puppy comes home is to put our fingers in his/her food while eating. We have never had an 8wks old puppy growl or threaten us in anyway. This good behavior has always continued. We have never had a Golden that would guard his/her food, including our newest Golden who is now 11 weeks. We have had up to three Goldens at a time. They ate in the laundry room together, with no problems...! Maybe we have just been lucky or maybe this early training technique worked!
 

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Ceegee said it great. I would also add that I always like feeding dogs in their crate up to 1 year old. This is for their benefit - not mine. The wall of the crate allows them to see that the food is all theirs and no one can "get it". It also creates an intense love for that crate as it is associated with food.
 

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I agree with stop messing with her food. I also think she is hungry. Dogs go through growth spurts and you have to adjust food accordingly. If it's 1 cup 3 times per day then that is better than just 2 cups per day. I have read some on here feed 4 cups which I think is too much but it's not my dog. I upped mine to 3 cups per day as she was growing and that helped a lot. She is almost 2 and I'm cutting her back just a little now as she was looking a little plump. I would suggest stop messing with her food and give her at least 3 cups and treats throughout the day. Treats as in fruits/veggies that they can eat. I use apples and blueberries.
 
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