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Food Aggression Question

May 17th, 2007, 03:41 PM
I have a pomeranian mix I am fostering he has food aggression issues and just aggression in general issues. I thought he was doing better until this morning when I went to put his leash on him and he tried to bite me he only missed because I moved quicker than he could at that point. Then he tried to bite my husband for doing the same thing. Does anyone know of anything I could do to make his agression go away or not be too bad. Because the thing is if this does not change in a dramatic way he will have to be put to sleep and I hate to see that happen. He is 7 years old by the way if that makes any difference. Thanks for reading this and I would love to hear any ideas anyone has.

May 17th, 2007, 04:30 PM
I would get in touch with a professional trainer who specialises in dog aggression, and quick. You likely either have a fear or dominance issue here (hard to tell from your description)...either way, you'll need to do some serious training with this pup to establish your role with him and address the behaviour. Best done with the help of a pro who can get the whole family involved.
Good luck!

May 17th, 2007, 07:02 PM
Has he always been sensitive about having his collar touched/leash put on? That's generally fear aggression. The food aggression is resource guarding, simple enough. Can the group you are fostering for put you in touch with a good behaviourist?

For the leash/collar desensitization, you need a bunch of really small yummy treats. Start by reaching out and gently touching the dog on his side for a few seconds--most dogs have no problem with someone touching his side, and as soon as you touch him, feed a treat. When he is fine with that, you can work your way up to touching his neck. Do not immediately grab for his collar. Just touch his neck gently for 1 second, feed a treat as you are touching. Then work up to 2 seconds, 5 seconds, etc. Move slowly. Once he is fine with neck touching, start touching the collar. Without grabbing it, just touch the collar, starting at 1 second touches again, and working your way up. When he is happy about you touching his collar, you can start holding the collar, again, start with very short 1 second periods. Gently take hold of the collar for 1 sec, feed a treat at the same time. Eventually he will look forward to you reaching and holding onto his collar. When he does, you can start gently tugging on his collar, again starting small and working up. Then you can introduce the leash. Show him the leash, and if he gets excited/agitated from seeing it, just ignore him until he calms down. when he calms down, treat/praise. Then you hold the leash a bit towards him, again wait for calm (even if it is just 2 seconds of standing still) and treat praise. Work your way up in increments until you can touch the leash to the collar. Don't attach the leash yet, just touch the clip to his collar and treat. After a few repetitions, clip the leash on, treat, and remove the leash. Repeat, leaving the leash on a bit longer each time. Once he is happy about the whole process, you can teach him to sit before the leash goes on. This process should be done over a period of time, a few short sessions a day.

The resource didn't mention whether it is just his food or also treats/bones, toys. For his food, Try hand feeding him his meals for a few days. Use the food to teach him to sit, and ask him to sit or lie down before each bite. This gets him working for his meal. After a few meals of hand feeding, introduce the empty bowl. Ask the dog to sit and put a few pieces of food in his bowl. When he eats those, ask him to sit again and drop in a few more. This way he learns food comes from humans, and humans near the dish mean food is coming. Eventually you can start giving him his meal in the bowl, but have some extra special treats, and a few times while he is eating, get as close to the bowl as you can without him showing any aggression, and toss the goodies into the bowl (or as close as you can get!) Over a period of weeks, work your way closer to the bowl until you can walk up, reach towards the bowl and drop something in. Remember to use caution and work slowly. When the dog finishes eating, show him a treat, ask him to sit, and remove the bowl and give him a treat. This way he learns to let you pick up his bowl. After he is doing well with everything, start to phase out the treats.

I recommend you do Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) with him. That means he has to ask permission to do things--he must sit or lie down before he eats, before he goes for a walk, before you pet him. Ignore any obnoxious behaviors, reward the good ones, and do some obedience work with him.

Oh, and thanks for fostering a needy dog!