Golden Retriever Dog Forums banner

1 - 4 of 4 Posts

·
Serawyn
Joined
·
253 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Ellie is 8 months now. She goes to daycare and obedience classes. She is a very well behaved dog with almost no issue, except for one thing, resource guarding.

She is extremely good about her meals. When I go to put food in her bowl, she is calm and never excited. She doesn't attempt to get any of the kibbles or sniff the bowl even if the bowl is at her nose level. I can put the bowl down and she will automatically sit, wait, and look at me to give her the "okay" signal to eat. Once she starts eating, I can pet her gently or walk around her (we feed her in the kitchen) without any issue.

My concern is that if I do put my hand near her bowl or attempt to take it away, she will growl and I know she will snap to warn me. Because she's been so excellent during meal time and we have never had to take away the bowl, she doesn't growl or snap at us. However, we are expecting our baby boy soon.

A toddler or young child may not know to not come near her food and definitely won't know not to put his hands in her food bowl. We plan to feed her outside until our son is old enough to know not to bother her when she eats. We can also feed her inside her crate, but I don't want her to transfer the resource guarding to her crate. She is very non-possessive with everything that is non food related. I can take away everything she has, be near her when she is adamantly chewing her toy, or even climb/roll on her. She's very well tolerant people. She has also been around young babies, toddlers, and children with absolutely no problem. They can pull her ears, take her toys, poke her (gently of course!), and she won't ever snap or growl.

Beside feeding her outside or in her crate, is there another way to train her so she is not possessive with food?

I know it's not a huge issue, but I'd like to see if I can get any opinion. We do plan to ask a dog behaviorist to work with us in how to introduce a baby into the "pack".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,336 Posts
I would try giving her a tiny treat as you touch the bowl. As she begins to realize that your touch is a good thing give the treat when you lift the bowl (and set it right back). If she growls, walk away and don't offer the treat. For a treat you might withhold some of her food and offer that when she has eaten what you have given her.

After she is used to you lifting the bowl offer the treat when you lift the bowl higher. Finally, after she allows you to do that without a fuss offer a treat when you carry the bowl.

One note: Nugget is our 4th golden and none of them have ever protected their food. We believe that is because we have always kept the bowl full at all times (free feeding). None of our boys (all neutered) were overweight. They ate when they wanted although it was usually when we sat down for breakfast and dinner. Food is a non issue to them because it is always there. Nugget is only 66 lbs. and he eats as much as he wants.
 

·
gone
Joined
·
1,443 Posts
I started from day one putting my hand in Bayne's bowl while he was eating, he never once growled at me or showed any type of guarding. He is possessive with a certain ball he likes but I am able to take it from him without fear of him snapping, and he will not grab anything out of my hands. Now, he goes to his food bowl but waits and looks at me until I give the ok.... I was saying down and wait but now he stops and looks at me.,,, how wonderful is this. :D

Can you hand feed for a few meals? Instead of putting in the bowl and putting it on the floor, feed from it while holding it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,950 Posts
It is a big deal and you're wise to address it now. The classic way to train this has always been to remove the bowl and then put it back so the dog learns to trust. My puppy trainer suggested a first step however, which works very well--she has people put a small amount of food into the bowl, and then keep reaching down to add more until all the food has been placed into the bowl. The puppy sees the hand arriving as a source of food. Another tactic is just to hand feed as much as possible, and to start and stop frequently.

Once your dog is comfortable with you handling her dish--removing it, replacing, refilling it, etc., it's good to have other people come into your home to replicate the whole process.

The reason I say it is a big deal is that it one of the biggest causes of fights between dogs and bites to humans. When behavior assessments are done by trainers at the SPCA where I volunteer, that is always one of the things they test for. Ellie may never be completely comfortable with people touching her food while she's eating, but she needs to learn that she has to tolerate it. Since she seems to be such a sweetie in all other regards, I'm guessing she'll catch on to this pretty quickly.
 
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
Top