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Old 10-03-2012, 05:49 PM
 
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Hi I am running out of ideas with my boyfriends dog Gunther. He's a 4 1/2 year old shepherd who is a little bit aggressive when it comes to his dry food. I recently moved in with my dog Boots who is about the same age (she's female, Gunther's male thankfully they both get along perfectly).
Gunther likes to play the food game as we call it. He will grab a kibble or two take it across the room and growl, but when he growls his tail is wagging and he'll even approach us to give us face kisses while growling). The strange thing to me is that he only does this with his kibble nothing else - treats, etc. I even gave them both femur bones today since we were both home and he doesn't care if we pick up the bone or if Boots goes towards the bone.
From what I have been told he was not the runt in his litter, he was adopted when he was 8 weeks old and he hasn't ever had to fight with another dog for food. Now what we do when Gunther plays the food game is tell him "No." when he growls and take his food away until the next feeding and then we'll give him enough time to eat, or we wait until he starts his growling game then we will take it away again. I know that Gunther is not aggressive towards me or my dog (I'll tolerate behavior problems but not aggression).
Other than calling Ceaser Milan for dog issues I am not sure what else we can do? I do not like taking the food away, but he needs to have a bit of training or something so he doesn't think it is acceptable to growl. Maybe I am wrong with the word aggression, it could be him being uneasy? He also does the same "growling" to Jason when he takes the food away.
Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.

Last edited by lostinca; 10-03-2012 at 06:19 PM..
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:01 AM
 
Location: zone 5
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I'm not sure I understand. He takes a few pieces away from the bowl and then growls. But when you take the kibble away from him, he allows that without growling, is that correct? If so, it sounds like he's just playing. It's an odd little game, but dogs can be odd! If we could see a video it might be clearer what he's doing. Anyway, if it is a play growl, I don't think there's an issue to correct.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:24 AM
 
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My dog does this. But it's not actually an aggressive growl, it's more like he's talking to me as if to say "look mommy aren't I cute?".

As a side note he has a boatload of stuffies but there are four that hold particular meaning to him. His "baby", a little brown bear that looks like a turd and he must have near him at all times (do you know how hard it is, for me, to keep up with a little brown turd?). He has his "piggy" and "bunny" that he beats the daylights out of when he knows it's bath/grooming time OR if I have company and he's feeling ignored (he alternates between these two). And last but not least, his "lovey" which is long with no stuffing in it. His "lovey" can always be found laying on his chest while he is laid out flat on the floor, on his back, sleeping.

All his other toys seem to hold no specific meaning to them.
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:47 PM
 
810 posts, read 1,490,877 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subject2change View Post
I'm not sure I understand. He takes a few pieces away from the bowl and then growls. But when you take the kibble away from him, he allows that without growling, is that correct? If so, it sounds like he's just playing. It's an odd little game, but dogs can be odd! If we could see a video it might be clearer what he's doing. Anyway, if it is a play growl, I don't think there's an issue to correct.
I'll try to get a video of him. I think you are right it could be a play growl, he does not show any other signs of aggression, and when he does growl he will have his tail wagging and he even approaches me to give me face kisses (that took a time or two before I relaxed and let him do that ).
He is a strange dog but all dogs have a little quirk or two that's what makes them great. As long as he isn't going to bite any person or any other animal I think I just need to get used to this little trick of his.
Thank you for the advice.
Gunther is the same way with one of his toys he has a red kong bone and he always has to have that toy around him he is a bit ocd with his toys.
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:19 PM
 
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Have you tried pretending to eat his food before feeding it to him....It sounds a bit like playing, but hard to know unless there is a visual. My bulldog has a different thing she does with each of us. With me it is her pretending to be aggressive, she sort of stands in front of me in the am, my coffee in hand and I'm sitting on my patio bench. She is trying to get me to try to take her plastic newspaper toy....it is a ritual every morning....If I don't initiate this she does the pretend griping at me...growly, and speaks etc. Might be his thing....
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:16 PM
 
810 posts, read 1,490,877 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JanND View Post
Have you tried pretending to eat his food before feeding it to him....It sounds a bit like playing, but hard to know unless there is a visual. My bulldog has a different thing she does with each of us. With me it is her pretending to be aggressive, she sort of stands in front of me in the am, my coffee in hand and I'm sitting on my patio bench. She is trying to get me to try to take her plastic newspaper toy....it is a ritual every morning....If I don't initiate this she does the pretend griping at me...growly, and speaks etc. Might be his thing....
I have pretended to take food and eat it from the bowl and he does growl it's just odd because he will grab just a couple of kibbles and go across the room behind the couch and growl but it does seem to be a play growl because his ears are forward, tail is wagging and he will give me face kisses while growling. Gunther's not aggressive towards either of us I think it is just the food game to him. I guess I am just adjusting to his little doggy quirks (which as we all know every dog has a quirk or 2).
Thank you for the advice.
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:36 AM
 
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Taking his food from him is being a bully. This is not food aggression. You do not say he's snapping at you or the other dog. If he was I'd say to feed him by and for a time and give him no food that does not come directly from you. I'd also say to make him earn everything he gets (food and other things) by first obeying a command. Actually NILIF is always a good idea for any dog.

If you don't want him to do this, confine him while he eats so he can't do it. Otherwise just let it go.
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Old 10-07-2012, 11:38 AM
 
Location: Penn Hills
1,326 posts, read 1,620,958 times
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He doesn't sound truly food aggressive to me, but taking his food away as punishment is putting him on the fast track to actually becoming food aggressive. That is not how you handle that situation. Ever. It exacerbates the issue.

Feed him by hand. Yes, put the kibble in your hand and give it to him piece by piece (or a couple pieces at a time). Make him work for some of the pieces with basic command reinforcement (sit/stay/down/whatever). Only give him food when he's calm.
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:16 PM
 
Location: Northern MN
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Food aggression started as a whelp looking for their favorite teat.
Competing for it with siblings
Then propagated by the breeder who feeds the litter of pups using one or two bowls.
Where they quickly learn to eat their share as quickly as they can before it's all gone.
Competitive eating.

This early lesson can fallow them all their life.
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