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Aggression with Food

katy82
December 28th, 2004, 10:38 PM
My question is in regards to food aggression with my 12 week old American Eskimo. She is fine in regards to her regular kibble but she gets quite aggressive with people food when she manages to get her paws on it. Today she managed to get some cream out of the fridge and she bit my mother when she tried to take the food away and clean it up. She also does this when she smells food on the table. She does the "table surfing" thing and when we try to get her down she snaps. Any suggestions on how to deal with this as well as stopping the table surfing thing. Thanks for the help!

Lucky Rescue
December 28th, 2004, 11:24 PM
Wow - 12 weeks old and already in charge!

What do you do when she snaps and bites? Back off? Pull your hand away? I know that is the normal reaction, but dogs catch on VERY quickly to "I snap - I get what I want!"

You need to keep this puppy's leash on her and start teaching her "Leave it" now.

Get her leash and a treat in your other hand. Drop something good on the floor and when she lunges, hold her back and say "Leave it!". If she stops and looks at you, immediately give her the treat in your hand but do not let her have what is on the floor. If she growls or snaps, give her nothing and repeat the exercise until she becomes calm, then treat.

American Eskimos can be stubborn and persistant, so you must be more persistant. She needs to learn her place, and this can be done without harshness or punishment. Make her earn everything she gets - food, toys, attention - by sitting first. This way she will learn that you are in control.

I also highly recommend obedience school for her.

Rottimom
December 28th, 2004, 11:27 PM
Our first, (and only) experience with Herc being aggressive with food was the first time we gave him a bone. When my hubby went near him he growled. My husband (being the Alpha) immediately took the bone away and spoke very sternly to him. We don't hit our dog, but he definitely knows who is boss. A firm voice tells him we mean business. After a while, hubby gave him the bone again, and after a few minutes, took it away again. (Keep in mind he was only a pup at the time, a few months old) When Herc didn't respond (growl, snap, etc.) he was praised up and down for being a good boy, and got to keep the bone. I guess we were lucky, he learned very quickly. We haven't had any problems since.

He is, however, quite possessive of his food/treats/toys with other dogs. From what I've read and heard from other dog owners, there is not much I can do about that, except to remove the triggers (the food) when other dogs are around. Keep in mind that dog agression and people agression are 2 different things.

I'm certainly no expert, for proper advice you should seek help from a pro (vet or behaviour therapist or trainer). This is what worked for us. As Herc is a very large dog, we had to enforce the rules very early on. People aggression is not acceptable. It can have only a bad outcome.
Good luck. Please keep us posted!

katy82
December 29th, 2004, 08:43 PM
We've already started the obedience classes. She's going for her second class on Thursday. She's responded very well to the training. I think she's learning pretty quickly that my fiance and I are the bosses! She's a very quick learner as well. We'll definitely start with the leave it command right away! I've read that american eskimos respond very poorly to negative enforcement. How can we stop her from doing bad things without being negative. Like the table surfing and bothering us when we're eating. We're first time puppy trainers so any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for the advice.

Rottimom
December 29th, 2004, 09:06 PM
Good for you! Sounds like your clever pup will do very well in obedience class. As to your question regarding avoiding negative responses, it is inevitable that at times you will need to be firm and show displeasure in order to teach your pup that his poor behaviour is unacceptable and makes you unhappy. Also, if possible, ignore bad behaviour. Don't reward it with attention. As much as possible, set him up for success and react with tons of love and praise for good behaviour. And do it immediately so that he knows what he did right!!

tenderfoot
December 29th, 2004, 09:44 PM
Positive responses for good choices are wonderful, but if my 12 week pup snapped at me he would know it was a bad choice instantly. That does not mean you have to be mean or harsh but very clear. In the real world your pup would be corrected instantly from its peers/elders, and would learn who it could mess with and who it couldn't. You, as the parent, have every right and responsibility to correct bad choices - just besure you are also ready to reward the good ones.
We have a slightly different take on the 'leave it' command - but do what works for you. We try not to use treats to reward the good choices. We put him on a leash and place something in front of him that he wants. When he starts to go for it we say 'leave it' (in a firm tone) and give a slight leash correction but go straight back to a loose leash. Essentially we are saying "make a better choice" - if he tries it again we respond the same way - maybe we add a foot stomp to startle him. A pup will typically challenge 3-5 times before he understands what you are saying. As he is successful then you up the ante and make the temptation even stronger - ie a piece of cheese, and start again working towards success. He will get it much faster this time. Then place the item between you and the dog. Ask him to come to you and he should create his own imaginary circle around the item - saying he understands that he is not to go near it.
Unfortunately he has been rewarded for table surfing by all of the wonderful things he has found there and dogs are opportunists. We say - set up opportunities for teaching and learning. So have him on the leash and put things on the table to tempt him. Use the 'leave it' command when you see him even thinking about approaching the table. He needs to know the table and its contents are yours and setting one foot too close will get a response from you - and not a good one. You are not threatening violence, but promising to pressure his bad choices. You have to use just enough energy to get the job done without intimidating him but also enough so that he takes you seriously. That is where your sensitivity comes in. Some days he will be more sensitive than others and you have to honor that and adjust the energy you use with him.
In addition to the 'leave it' command I would also do the 'drop' and 'take it' commands. These teach the pup to give all things to you because all things belong to you not him.

LavenderRott
December 29th, 2004, 09:48 PM
If she is crate trained, you could crate her at meal time. Won't hurt her a bit and will put an end to undesireable behavior.

vivilee
December 30th, 2004, 02:57 PM
Any biting requires the help of a professional. I'm glad to see that she is responding well to the obedience training. Keep it up and always be aware of the signs of her "frenzy" and perhaps block the kitchen off when you are cooking.

Schwinn
December 30th, 2004, 03:09 PM
Our first, (and only) experience with Herc being aggressive with food was the first time we gave him a bone. When my hubby went near him he growled. My husband (being the Alpha) immediately took the bone away and spoke very sternly to him. We don't hit our dog, but he definitely knows who is boss. A firm voice tells him we mean business. After a while, hubby gave him the bone again, and after a few minutes, took it away again. (Keep in mind he was only a pup at the time, a few months old) When Herc didn't respond (growl, snap, etc.) he was praised up and down for being a good boy, and got to keep the bone. I guess we were lucky, he learned very quickly. We haven't had any problems since.



Daisy growled at my wife...once. Never again. I corrected her pretty much the same way. To this day, she will still let my wife take anything from her. Every once in a while, we'll take a treat from her just to make sure that she will allow it, for both our and Daisy's sake. Even if it is a pig's ear in her mouth, she'll let us take it and then stare at us ("What? What'd I do?"). We've been very luck that Daisy has been very non-aggressive with us, but when she was younger, if she was, I wouldn't back down from her, and we haven't had an issue. I think it is a matter of showing them who's Alpha!

LavenderRott
December 30th, 2004, 03:30 PM
Any biting requires the help of a professional. I'm glad to see that she is responding well to the obedience training. Keep it up and always be aware of the signs of her "frenzy" and perhaps block the kitchen off when you are cooking.

12 week old puppies bite. That is a fact of life. Never met one that didn't at that age. Whether or not it continues to bite is up to it's owner. At this age, consistancy in correction is the key. No need for a professional trainer.

mona_b
December 30th, 2004, 05:56 PM
Also, if possible, ignore bad behaviour.

Sorry,but I have to strongly disagree with this statement.You never ignore bad behaviour.You need to teach them that this is unexceptable.If katy82 ignores the food stealing and food aggression,her puppy will turn into a :evil: dog.It needs to be nipped in the bud now.Or it will get worse.Why do you think so many dogs are in shelters.It's because they have not been trained and corrected for bad behaviour.

Please try the suggestions that LR and tenderfoot posted.

Rottimom
December 31st, 2004, 01:25 PM
Sorry, I should have been more specific. I definitely didn't meant to ignore agression or snapping, etc. I wholeheartedly agree that these behaviours have to be dealt with, from a very young age and up. I was referring more to attention seeking behaviours. For an example, Herc likes to jump up to greet people. I have been taught to turn away from him and avoid eye contact, (ignore) until he sits nicely, at which time you can praise him and give him the attention he is seeking.

LR and Tenderfoot give excellent advice and I have a learned a lot from their posts. But I also enjoy hearing from other "non pro" dog owners and what works for them. :)

mona_b
December 31st, 2004, 01:33 PM
. For an example, Herc likes to jump up to greet people. I have been taught to turn away from him and avoid eye contact, (ignore) until he sits nicely, at which time you can praise him and give him the attention he is seeking.


Yup,that's what you do.... :thumbs up

twinmommy
December 31st, 2004, 08:57 PM
American Eskimos can be stubborn and persistant, so you must be more persistant. She needs to learn her place, and this can be done without harshness or punishment. Make her earn everything she gets - food, toys, attention - by sitting first. This way she will learn that you are in control.

Yes, LR, this is a great tip!!! I am having great improvement with Gypsy since CONSTANTLY doing this!!! It works very well with the persistant dogs, because it's something that you do ALL THE TIME, before EVERYTHING!!

Yup! Yup! Yup!
12 weeks old is plenty early to let her know who's boss!!! Good luck! :D

katy82
January 1st, 2005, 02:36 PM
Thanks for the great responses. I'll definitely try all of your ideas. She's doing so well in every way other way now. Like I said the only time she is aggresive like this is when she thinks she can get people food. She's doing well in everything else. We went for her second obedience class on Thursday and she picks up everything so quickly! Even the trainer was impressed at fast she learned to lie down. When she gets a little out of control we try to get her to sit to distract her. Is this a good idea as well? We also take away her food and toys sometimes just to show that we are the bosses and she doesn't growl or anything.

twinmommy
January 1st, 2005, 07:52 PM
Like I said the only time she is aggresive like this is when she thinks she can get people food. She's doing well in everything else.

Hi Katy,

Take the time to correct this while it is only the one issue. My mistake with Gypsy was thinking that she only had one problem, because if you are slack with her--not that you are--it becomes 2 issues, then 3, then 4....you get the picture. They like to "add on" to the stuff that they can get away with, trust me I have one at home :D (lovable little bugger ;)

tenderfoot
January 1st, 2005, 08:00 PM
Good point, TM
Of the top 10 problems people contact us about - they all come down to one thing - Relationship! Fix the relationship and the problems often fix themselves. The fact that your pup thinks she can snarl at you around food is just the first indicator that she does not respect you and is willing to challenge you. This will grow to other problems as time goes on. She will be totally willing to try her snappish attitude over the next think she wants as hers and each time she succeeds it will get worse.
Just a reminder to keep things in balance, and that she needs to know that all things belong to you and only when she is nice might you consider sharing.

meb999
January 1st, 2005, 10:04 PM
When she gets a little out of control we try to get her to sit to distract her. Is this a good idea as well? We also take away her food and toys sometimes just to show that we are the bosses and she doesn't growl or anything.
yup,that's a good idea. If sitting doesn't distract her enough, you could then go for a 'down/stay'.
Have you thought about boobi-trapping the food that she likes? Dogs hate surprises...you could tie a shaker can to a bagel (it's easy to tie things to a bagel!!) leave it on the counter and when she grabs the food, the can will fall and startle her. This could make human food a little less appealing.
Good luck, keep us posted with her progress