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Old 01-01-2013, 03:18 PM
 
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We have had Charlie(mix chihuahua and dachshund) for about 5 weeks. He is a 2 yr old pound puppy. He is very sweet and playful. We all love him. In the past week he as started to growl and bark at our daughter. It has always been food related. I was at the kitchen counter making lunch and he was standing at my feet. I called my daughter in to eat and he growled when she came to the counter. Then he was laying on the floor chewing on a bone and he barked when she walked past him. He only does this with her. He hasn't done this with my 14 yr old or my husband and I. I have read I should let my 4yr old always be the one to feed him. Any other ideas? I love the little dog but I can not live with a dog that I am afraid to let my daughter around. 98% of the time he is really nice to my 4 yr old. Thanks.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:53 PM
 
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Good for you for recognizing that this behavior has a specific trigger. The 'easy' solution is management, i.e. never having a resource (food, bone), the dog, and the child in the same room at the same time. If you want to be able to have those 3 things in the same room at the same time, it will take some training. Here are some suggestions for that:

Keep in mind that when we strongly punish growling and other "warning signals" what we often end up with is a dog that bites without warning.

When Charlie barks or growls at your daughter, take the vocal tone of "really dog? seriously?" and just tell him he's being ridiculous. The words don't matter, it is the tone that gets the point across.

This may be controversial, but I'd have your daughter toss a treat to Charlie every time she walks by him. (BEFORE he has the opportunity to growl). Once he sees her as a provider of resources and not a threat to resources, the growly barky behaviors should stop. Your daughter should toss the treat without a word, and without making eye contact. She should simply breeze past and casually drop the treat.

You could have your daughter be in charge of feeding Charlie.. Or when you feed the dog, you could withhold a small portion of the meal and once he's done eating you could have your daughter place the remainder on the ground for him and then walk away. You'd have to use your best judgement as her parent to know whether this one's a good idea.

Also, since he growled at her over people food, you will not be able to give this dog scraps. He'll have to only be fed his designated dog food and treats, never people food. (Which he may have been fed in the past). I might have removed him from the kitchen for that transgression. Just to let him know the only way you're allowed to be around us while we eat is if you are polite. If you're rude, you can hang out elsewhere.

Give the management scenario some serious thought too though. It seems daunting at first but baby gates would make it easy to put into practice. Never having food / a bone, the dog, and the kid in the same room would completely solve the problem. When we're talking about a 4 year old child, sometimes management really is the best bet.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:56 PM
 
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He probably views your daughter as his siblng and not an authority figure. I'd keep a very close eye on any interactions the 2 may have (esp. food related) and maybe hire a trainer to help any unwanted behavior. Not sure about a 4 yo feeding him, 4 is so young (even w/ your supervision), would def. feed him in his crate though and let your daughter know that's his special place when he wants to get away from things and have some peace and quiet etc and it's off-limits to her etc. Am thinking he may have felt threatened w/ her when he was eating and she came in and he may have thought that she was going to take away his food, bone etc and reacted w/ the warning growl/bark.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:53 AM
 
Location: Alaska
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One additional thing you should be working on is being able to take food away without a fight. When our dogs were pups, I would regularly take their food away, examine it and then give it back. The idea was to reduce any food driven tendencies. We've also rescued older dogs and I did the same with them, abet more cautiously, since I had no idea of their training. There was some growling at first (admonished for it), and some tug-o-war (admonished with a "give"), but they quickly learned to give up what they were eating.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:54 AM
 
Location: Fort Worth, TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuzyQ123 View Post
We have had Charlie(mix chihuahua and dachshund) for about 5 weeks. He is a 2 yr old pound puppy. He is very sweet and playful. We all love him. In the past week he as started to growl and bark at our daughter. It has always been food related. I was at the kitchen counter making lunch and he was standing at my feet. I called my daughter in to eat and he growled when she came to the counter. Then he was laying on the floor chewing on a bone and he barked when she walked past him. He only does this with her. He hasn't done this with my 14 yr old or my husband and I. I have read I should let my 4yr old always be the one to feed him. Any other ideas? I love the little dog but I can not live with a dog that I am afraid to let my daughter around. 98% of the time he is really nice to my 4 yr old. Thanks.

Keep a close watch on the dog and your daughter. Do NOT allow the dog to be around your daughter if you or your husband is not around.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:05 PM
 
1,004 posts, read 2,026,487 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akck View Post
One additional thing you should be working on is being able to take food away without a fight. When our dogs were pups, I would regularly take their food away, examine it and then give it back. The idea was to reduce any food driven tendencies. We've also rescued older dogs and I did the same with them, abet more cautiously, since I had no idea of their training. There was some growling at first (admonished for it), and some tug-o-war (admonished with a "give"), but they quickly learned to give up what they were eating.
Yeap I do the same with my dogs. I have verbal commands as to when they are allowed to eat, when to stop, and back away. These commands have came in handy numerous time especially with a pup! Plus its a great bonding exercise.

OP sounds like your pet views your daughter as a "lesser being" in household. What do you do when he growls at her? Sounds like he needs to learn his place.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:47 PM
 
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Taking food from a resource guarder is not advised. It will exacerbate the problem. The resource guarding dog views humans as a threat to his food. If we take the food dish away while he's eating, we've just proved the dog right.

Imagine sitting down to dinner. Your favorite meal. As you begin to eat, someone starts rubbing your head and patting you on the back. Then they grab your plate away and give it back, grab it away again, and give it back. You'd quickly become agitated. You'd probably not welcome that person near your meals in the future. This scenario illustrates why we should never bother a dog while he's eating. It creates food aggression, it does not prevent it.

Owners who practice these techniques and end up with non-food aggressive dogs are fortunate. The dog behaves in spite of their misguided efforts, not because of them.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:56 PM
 
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This is not directly related to the scenarios described in the OP, however since it was brought up in this thread, here is my guide for Food Aggression:

Food Aggression


A form of Resource Guarding

May develop as a result of starvation conditions / lack of access to food in dog’s past. Can also be caused by ill conceived “training” practices such as purposely taking away dog’s food during a meal or petting a dog while he’s eating.

Goal in preventing & curing Food Aggression directed at PEOPLE: Dog should see human as the SOURCE of all food, not as a THREAT to food source.

Techniques:

1) Determine total amount to be fed per meal. Let’s use 1.5 cups for example. Feed meal in 3 parts. Feed cup and allow dog to finish, never disturbing dog in any way. Approach empty dish and add another cup. Allow dog to finish undisturbed. Approach again and add final cup of food. This method is one way to show a dog that every time you approach his dish it is to ADD more food, never to take any away.

2) Fill dog’s dish with food and allow dog to begin eating. Approach and add a couple delicious, stinky, high value treats to dish while dog is still eating, then step away and let dog eat undisturbed. Approach once more before dog finishes meal and add a couple more yummy treats, allowing dog to finish undisturbed.

3) Feed dog from your hand. This can be done by literally using your hands as the food dish, or you can hold the dish in your hands and have dog eat from the bowl. This method is highly recommended for pups, dogs who have not shown marked food aggression, and dogs who have already experienced a few weeks of #1 and #2 above and have responded well.

NEVER, EVER take a dog’s dish away from him while he is eating unless it is an emergency (like you accidentally dropped a shard of glass in the bowl!) The only reason to ever remove a dog’s food while he is eating is if there is something dangerous in the food dish.

It is not wise to pet or touch dogs while they are eating. It is highly annoying and causes dogs to form a negative association with people around their food. You would not appreciate someone patting you on the head or back while you are trying to eat!


Here is the beauty of the techniques described: they convince the dog completely that having you approach his food dish is the greatest thing ever. Therefore, if there is ever a time in the future when someone does have to grab a dish away or bumps into the dog while he’s eating, the dog has a long history of positive associations to fall back on and will react positively or in a neutral way any time a person gets near his meal. If nothing bad, annoying, or threatening has ever happened when a person got near his food dish, and in fact plenty of good things have happened, the dog has no reason to object or react negatively to a person near his dish!

Keep the goal in mind always: Dog should see human as the SOURCE of all food, not as a THREAT to food source. That means always add, never take away, and never annoy!
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:25 PM
 
Location: zone 5
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^^ Great post! Can't rep you yet.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:29 PM
 
Location: Denver, Colorado U.S.A.
14,174 posts, read 23,218,153 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuzyQ123 View Post
We have had Charlie(mix chihuahua and dachshund) for about 5 weeks. He is a 2 yr old pound puppy. He is very sweet and playful. We all love him. In the past week he as started to growl and bark at our daughter. It has always been food related. I was at the kitchen counter making lunch and he was standing at my feet. I called my daughter in to eat and he growled when she came to the counter. Then he was laying on the floor chewing on a bone and he barked when she walked past him. He only does this with her. He hasn't done this with my 14 yr old or my husband and I. I have read I should let my 4yr old always be the one to feed him. Any other ideas? I love the little dog but I can not live with a dog that I am afraid to let my daughter around. 98% of the time he is really nice to my 4 yr old. Thanks.
I'm in a similar situation. We adopted a 3 year old "Chi-weenie" about 4 months ago after we had a loving dog pass (very old) and we have 4 year old twin boys. The new dog doesn't like them much at all and occassionally grows at one of our boys. I think it's mainly because he (the son) is loud and annoying, as are most 4 year olds. She's never snapped at him, but gets up and leaves the room if he comes in. We're mostly working with our son to get him to be calm around the dog. He's never touched her or been mean to her, but I think this is the first time she's been around little kids. I imagine he just scares her. The other son is more gentle, so she doesn't mind him as much.
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