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what do you think:A question about Gypsy

twinmommy
December 8th, 2004, 10:56 AM
Hi Guys!!

thanks for the warm thoughts and words!!! I have a question for you all.

We are working on the "food bowl" agression and I was told to put some treats in her bowl, hold it, let her eat the treats, remove the bowl, put some more treats in it, and then leave and let her eat her whole food bowl.

Step 2 of this is, after a few days, is to skip the first part, just put her food down, and casually walk up to her bowl and put a treat in. We did this quite some time ago, as you know we've been working on things for more than a couple months and it worked. However, she began growling at me today when I walked up and put some treats in . We had not done the excercise for about a week.

so here's my query, should I repeat the same excercise-since it worked initially--or should I try another??Any suggestions?

Rainy
December 8th, 2004, 11:06 AM
I think you should start from the beginning .I would if it was working initially.Food aggression can get very serious and needs to be corrected and maintained always.Especially since children are in the house!

Rainy
December 8th, 2004, 11:19 AM
Hi.It's me again. I keep thinking about this and i'd like to know more please.What food is gypsy eating? Wet or dry?How old are you little ones now?

mastifflover
December 8th, 2004, 11:20 AM
Since there was a marked improvement the first time I would go back and do the same thing but keep it up longer. Once she is at the point where you feel you can stop I would randomly repeat it just to make sure she is not regressing and if so start again.

twinmommy
December 8th, 2004, 11:48 AM
Thanks Mastiflover!! sounds good.
Rainy--the twins are 1 yr old, and the food right now is Iams---(i know, i know, I just found out about the animal abuse and will switch to soemthing else but havent't started the switch yet.) Why? I never thought the kind of food would be relevant...

Lucky Rescue
December 8th, 2004, 12:06 PM
Step 2 of this is, after a few days, is to skip the first part, just put her food down, and casually walk up to her bowl and put a treat in.

I would make this Step 1. Walk by her bowl and drop something really great into it. Then I would stop next to her bowl and do the same thing while standing straight. Gradually bend over to drop the treat in.

Ignore growling and stand your ground. Say something like a sharp "AH!!" and when she stops growling, give the treat. If you back down, you are reinforcing her bad behavior and she has learned that she is the boss. This is how alpha dogs behave in the wild because the other dogs back down. Has she ever bitten you or tried to bite?

As long as she shows no aggression, continue getting your hand closer and closer to her bowl until you actually have your hand in the bowl to give the treat.

I personally would NOT be taking her bowl away, as this will confirm her feeling that she has to protect her food.

By not taking her bowl and just putting treats into it, she will realize that having hands near her food is a good thing and by this time, she should have no objection to you lifting her bowl to put something better into it.

GsdDiamond
December 8th, 2004, 12:52 PM
Agreed. Diamond had food aggression with her smoked bones and would growl. Stern "NO" and taking the bone away, pretending to chew on it (use an angle to make the dog believe you're chewing it) and then give the bone back with LOTS of praise as soon as the dog is quiet. As long as she knows protecting the food isn't required, then you shouldn't have a problem.

To make sure we didn't have food bowl aggression, we'd put some food in her bowl, but not very much. We'd pretend to eat from it while she was in a 'sit' in front of us. We'd each take turns at the bowl and only when WE were ready, the bowl went down. Since there isn't much food in it, the dog would eat the food and then look to us for more. Make it fun for the dog and give them a little more, but not much. When you're finished feeding her, take the food away, walk into another room and give her a small treat.

After doing this for a number of weeks, we're now able to take anything we want from our dog's mouth, but I don't recommend you trying that unless you're 100% certain the dog won't bite.

This is what worked for us, but it seems that what you're doing works for you. I'd do as the others here said and carry on with step 1 for a while longer than what you're doing. Only when she's accepting to you doing that consistently would I move on to the next step. Make it fun and it'll work!

twinmommy
December 8th, 2004, 12:56 PM
I thought the same Lucky which is why we are where we are now, having switched step one for step two. She is pretty stubborn, and doesn't really stop growling enough to slip in the positive re-enforcement. We were ignoring the growling and not really challenging her when she gets like that--a new tactic for me, but it was working....I agree that it could encourage the agression, but the ignoring was having an even bigger impact. I can remove the bowl despite the growling and no she's never bitten anyone. I can also leave it on the floor and stir it--no problem.

twinmommy
December 8th, 2004, 01:04 PM
To make sure we didn't have food bowl aggression, we'd put some food in her bowl, but not very much. We'd pretend to eat from it while she was in a 'sit' in front of us. We'd each take turns at the bowl and only when WE were ready, the bowl went down. Since there isn't much food in it, the dog would eat the food and then look to us for more. Make it fun for the dog and give them a little more, but not much. When you're finished feeding her, take the food away, walk into another room and give her a small treat.

Thanks GSD we were doing something similar, but different versions can soemtimes be the "tweak" that you need.!! I'll let you know. Glad to know that it can take several months though....man this puppy is smart!!! :D

Rainy
December 8th, 2004, 01:18 PM
Hi Twinmommy.I was asking what kind of feed because I wanted to know if you were feeding wet,or dry or both.
What LR says is very true.I would go a couple of steps further because you have small children! The fact that she has growled at you tells me she is testing you.In the wild they do have an Alpha in the pack. Once order within this pack is established it is constantly maintained. For example,should the Alpha dog get injured,sick or die another dog must take the place as leader.There is more than one order in the pack going from Alpha down to the lowest ranking.
In your case your family is her pack.The whole family going from you,or hubby Highest rank,next the children,then the dog.
Because you have children and 3 at that!!! You need to have this pack order firmly ingrained and constantly maintained. While it may seem like tons of work (you have already been doing so much) in the end your family including the dog will benefit.
What I suggest to you is have her on the leash. Go through some commands such as sit,stay,come. I would have her come with me and sit ,watching me while I prepare her food,on a countertop and not the floor! Then I would make her sit,stay then proceed to put her food on the floor.She must stay until you
release her to eat.That is how you show her WHO controls the food.You NOT her!The reason for the leash is too maintain control if she is to growl at you when dropping a treat in the bowl.I like LR do not suggest taking the bowl away BUT I would take the dog away from the food for a moment by making her sit.Then allow her to eat again.
Has your dog been introduced to the "off" command? I believe this command is extremely important to use with children in the house.Yours are just starting to walk/or have been for abit but before you know it they will be climbing over baby gates or performing "houdini" acts to roam free in the house.You need to imagine all sorts of what if scenarios and take steps to prevent anything from happening!

twinmommy
December 8th, 2004, 06:53 PM
thanks guys for the advice, we'll be working on it..I will leave the bowl on the floor too now, once I've put it there--makes sense that it'd be reinforcing her guarding. I'll try all your suggestions and let you know. :thumbs up

One other question...Have you guys ever heard of a dog that continues growling at you even though she is lying down, rolled over on her back, paws in the air--STILL GROWLING??!!!? I have to say that this dog loves to have "the last word" if you know what I mean, and I will laugh outloud at her and push her away, but for the kids sake, how could I get her to lose the attitude ( or maybe this is not even serious, I don't know)

Rainy
December 8th, 2004, 07:45 PM
Is it actiual growling ? Or a throaty protest?

twinmommy
December 8th, 2004, 09:18 PM
what do you mean...the difference meaning teeth/no teeth??

DogueLover
December 8th, 2004, 09:58 PM
I wonder just a few things and maybe that will help. I should probably know this already but if you can just clarify this to me it may be helpful.
Is Gypsy a rescue? I just wonder if the food agression is because she was left hungry (very hungry) when she was a puppy, or that she had to fight off other puppies/ dogs at some point in her life. I had a shepherd/dane mix that was a rescue( see I did rescue dogs at some point in my life) and he had been almost starved as a young pup. He was very food aggressive and would wolf down his food as fast as he could possibly could often choking because he didn`t want to have to share it.
I also wonder about Gypsy growling while she eats. My shepherd/dane mix did that and would also do the same thing when playing, but he wasn`t growling because he was mad or aggressive( with his food he was when he first came to me until he knew there was always going to be more than enough to eat) it was just the "thing" he did. My friend has an alaskan malamute that does that very thing ( the growly thing) but almost "talks" while he is doing it.

I wonder if Gypsy is feeling startled when you walk up on her when she is eating......... just because she may be concentrating so much on eating(if she ever had to fight for food this may be a psychological thing for her).

These are just things I have thought about and wonder about with her, what does the trainer think?

I know that some dogs are more vocal than others ( like the malamute my friend has) and I wonder if Gypsy is just a vocal dog. The reason I wonder this is because you mentioned that she does the "growl" thing when she is playing.

Just a few questions/ideas for you to chew on. :)

Rainy
December 8th, 2004, 11:54 PM
thanks guys for the advice, we'll be working on it..I will leave the bowl on the floor too now, once I've put it there--makes sense that it'd be reinforcing her guarding. I'll try all your suggestions and let you know. :thumbs up

One other question...Have you guys ever heard of a dog that continues growling at you even though she is lying down, rolled over on her back, paws in the air--STILL GROWLING??!!!? I have to say that this dog loves to have "the last word" if you know what I mean, and I will laugh outloud at her and push her away, but for the kids sake, how could I get her to lose the attitude ( or maybe this is not even serious, I don't know)From the way your describing her body language it sounds like she is just communicating with you.Some dogs are very vocal.Try to really listen to the noises and you will hear the differance.It's hard to describe but i'll try! Sometimes a dog can growl while playing.They can sound like a bunch of short little growls sometimes done in a pattern. Argggg Argggg Arggggg as opposed to rrrrrrRRRRRRRrrrrr.Is her tail wagging,if so then alls good.

meb999
December 9th, 2004, 09:11 AM
I'm not speaking from experience, but I read in a training book (I believe it was one of Dr.Coren's books) that some dogs growl playfully, it is not necessarily agression. If it's not aggressive, you might confuse the dog by trying to make him stop. Is Gypsy lifting her lips when she growls? Are you holding her on her back, or is she in that submissive pose willingly?
If she doesn't raise her lips and if she's on her back willingly, it's probably not aggressive growling.
good luck

mastifflover
December 9th, 2004, 09:19 AM
I agree if she is on her back on her own she would never assume this submissive positition if she was being aggressive. But I must say when Buddy plays he is very vocal and some people think he is growling but it is just play talk and that could be what gypsy is doing listen and see if you hear a difference in the growl as long as she is not curling her lip or showing teeth.

Dukieboy
December 9th, 2004, 09:38 AM
Duke talks up a storm. When I come home he greets me with his toy in his mouth and grumbles and wiggly wiggly butt. Sometimes he sounds like a dove. If I keep him waiting for something he really wants he ,I think the only way I could describe the sound is, coooothdaaaa, then he grudgingly goes into a sit and resumes waiting.

twinmommy
December 9th, 2004, 09:38 AM
Yeah, sometimes she's showing teeth....I have to say I kind of call her bluff...we have these"conversations" if you will, where I say "Excuse me??" and she growls louder and louder, but she crouches lower and lower..?? By the 4th or 5th "excuse me??!!" we have teeth...By then I'll say "enough" "sit up" and change the subject.And run through a few basic commands. This is, I suppose, behaviour that we found hilarious before the kids... :rolleyes:

My gut feeling is agreeing with all of you that is not agressive, I just want to cover all my bases as we are working soo hard with her.