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Old January 31st, 2011, 12:10 PM
Driver Driver is offline
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Aggression with Food - Help!

Hi There,
We just recently adopted a 1.5 year old female black lab mix from the SPCA. She is turning out to be a great dog, very respectful of us humans and does not pay a lot of attention to our existing 2 cats. They have been introduced and as to be expected, the cats were timid at first and batting at the dog if they felt she was too close. The dog will avoid the cats if she needs to go down the hall past them or up the stairs. Se seems really good except when there is food involved. We have the cats dishes in a seperate room that the dog cannot access with us letting her in. Well one day the dog didnt eat all her food and there was some on the floor. One of the cats went to the food to sniff and the dog lunged at him growling and snapping. Then, this morning, I was putting food in the cats dishes and the dog was behin d me and the dishes but when the cats walked in the room - the dog again lunged at them snapping and showing a lot of aggression. I cannot find anywhere online howw to correct this isuue - only find if the dog is aggressive to humans which she is not. Please help!
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Old January 31st, 2011, 12:30 PM
shirley1011 shirley1011 is offline
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I know this won't be of much help, but I used to put our cat's food on a low table whee the dog couldn't reach it....Sable would never be agressive with the cat but eat her food....in a heartbeat!
At one time I had a large carrier that I didn't bolt the door on, and put the cat food in there and she could open the door and go in and out and it was far too small for the dog to get at the food. For some reason the dog loved cat food!
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Old January 31st, 2011, 12:48 PM
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millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
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Location: Kitchener, ON
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This is resource guarding. It is very common behavior, especially in rescues
I would recommend switching a large portion of your dog's daily food servings to hand feeding and working up slowly to having the cats get closer and closer to your dog while eating.

Here's a great book if you want to go a little deeper

Good luck
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Old January 31st, 2011, 02:13 PM
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tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
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Dogs do what works and if snapping at the cats works then she will do it more.

Best to take things in hand right away, so let's teach her that the food is not hers to protect and the cats are as much of the family as she is - they can share.

I would practice the leave it drill with the dog - start with a low value items and work your way up to a higher value items. When she shows that she understands (which should take minutes not hours or days) then it is time to introduce the cats. Be sure that she is listening to your words and you are not relying on the leash or a device to impress her. Then she is ready.

Make sure the dog is on the leash so you can stop any indication of attitude. Have the dog further from the bowl than the cats are and use 'leave it' if you need to remind her. Remember that catching the thought before it becomes an action is very important. Much easier to stop a dog who is just thinking about bad behavior then to stop them when they are already acting out.

Let the cats approach the food (could be canned cat food to lure them), and if she gets upset remind her to 'leave it' and use the leash to stop her if you have to. Do not hold her back with the leash because then you are doing the work and she is not learning to hold herself back. The leash simply stops her and then goes loose again. If she gets crazed then back her out of the room, remind her about the ‘leave it’ and reenter the room. When we correct a dog for making a bad choice we have to go right back to the situation and help them learn how to make a better choice – otherwise you end on failure and that doesn’t help anyone. You might have to repeat it a few times but always return to loose leash so she can think about what she is doing. You might choose to stomp a foot at the same time you say 'leave it' to help empower your word.

She needs to get the message that all things belong to you and YOU choose who to share them with. Food is not hers to protect. As she gets the message you can move her closer to the food as the cats eat. Your leash is short but loose so you can still stop her if she forgets her manners.

When she can handle being 2 feet from the cats at her bowl then move on to the next step.

Take the food bowl with you to the couch. Invite the cats to come along – you might want a helper for this. Have the cats on one side of you and the dog (on a short loose leash) on the other side. While the dog is in a ‘sit position’ offer her a taste of the food from your hand. If she is gentle and good then praise her warmly. If not then help her calm down before she is permitted to take any food. Then ask her to ‘stay’ and direct you attention to the cats. Offer them a taste of food. While you are doing this you need to keep subtle focus on the dog. If she shows any sign of becoming agitated then you give her a reminder to ‘leave it’. The leash is there as an emergency brake if you need it. If she advances to the cats you could also stand up quickly and walk quickly towards her backing her out of your space. This is your dinner party and rude guests don’t get to stay. You can calmly invite her back and start over. She needs to learn that her assertive behavior doesn’t work and calmness does. Eventually you should be able to share food with the cats, parrots and the dogs like we do every morning.
*Note - the white spot in my hair is a downy cockatoo feather not poop!
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Old February 1st, 2011, 03:10 AM
sbtb_eman sbtb_eman is offline
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I saw a lot of dog whisperer and Cesar will get the dog lying down calm submissive state. Then he brings the other animal but facing away from the dog and he lets the dog sniff the butt. Then still keeping the dog in a submissive state, I would put a bowl of dog food next to you and the dog and put the cat down to sniff the food and then let the cat take its time and leave. If you can do all that and keep the dog on its back relaxed then it should get better.

Most of the time I think its dogs and dogs but I saw him do it with a bunny and a dog who would eat small animals and it worked.

You can even go as far as the dog ignoring the cat while it sniffed or ate from the dog food bowl.

For the cat food room, I would set a 'invisible wall' boundary further than the door so you are able to go in without the dog. Invisible wall can be done by standing tall and face your dog but no eye contact or talking. and maybe hold out your hand to the side as if to motion blocking and wait for the dog to sit down. If he runs away, there may be bigger issues, you'd have to walk after him. Eventually he'll stop because there's not much place to go and repeat the above steps of standing tall facing the dog. All this done without saying anything or physical contact or fast movements.

Hope this helps.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 06:13 AM
Driver Driver is offline
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Thank You!

Thank You all for your help - here is an update. At Dinner time last night, I fed Lucy (my dog) and afterwards I put the cat's food in their dish and as they were eating, I brought Lucy into the room with a few treats in hand. She immeadiately started to get aggressive when she saw the cats eating so I jerked the leash and put her into a "sit" position. As she continued to raise her lip in agression I found the only thing that would bring her out of it was a snap of the fingers in front of her face. Eventually (within less than a minute) she layed down and was rewarded with a treat. She then became totally submissve, lying on her back while having her belly rubbed and focusing her attention on me. We were about 2 feet away from cats and dish. This morning I fed Lucy and then brought her to where the cats were eating and she just went to a "down" position and appeared to care less that the cats were eating. Unfortunately, the cats are "once bitten, twice shy" and leave their dishes when Lucy comes into the room. I will try the canned food though as my most timid cat (Jasper) goes wild for it.
I definately think we are on the right path!
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Old March 30th, 2012, 01:05 PM
Driver Driver is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Canada
Posts: 11
update on Lucy

I guess it has been a little over a year since I posted about Lucy. A lots happened and changed over the year. I hired a trainer and he showed me some of his techniques. His method was to be very hands on and using physical touches to become the alpha as it appeared that she saw herself as the leader of our pack. While some of his techniques had some succes; it made me uncomfortable to treat Lucy that way. She would obey - but it was more from fear than respect. I guess one thing i learned from this is that Lucy requires firm action in order to have her comply.

I was taking her to the dog park but she became aggressive toward the other dogs - so I would only bring her into the park if no one was there. We also have a nice walking trail behind our house where people often bring their dogs as they could take them off leash. One day when were on the trail, a man and his black lab were coming towards us. I put Lucy on her leash and the other dog came up to her, they sniffed each other and then the man and his continued on in the opposite direction. I took Lucy off her leash and thre her ball in the opposite direction. She retrieved the ball and as she was coming back to me, she ran past me and went for the other dog. A scuffle began and once i got to her, the man and dog were running down the path, around the corner and out of site. As I turned the corner I found blood all over the path. I didnt know if it was from the other dog but I assumed it was. Unfortunately, i didn't know who they were or where they lived.
About 2 weeks later I came home from work and found a letter in the mailbox. The letter asked if my dog had got into an atrcation with another a few weeks ago. Their dog had a piece of his ear torn and went to vet for emergency attention _ $800.00 I felt ill.
So I called the number and told them that it was in fact my dog. I offered to pay half the bill - they lived right behind us.
Anyway, it was not good. We have been taking her to a kennel and we have not had anything happen, which makes me think that maybe she was "protecting me". I have purchased a muzzle to reduce risk when another dog is near.
Since all this, Lucy has accepted me as the leader. she would curl her lip if anyone came near her while she had a bone. We spent time doing scenarios that corrected the behavior.
She has overcome her issue with food. Her and the cats eat in the same room. When I set her bowl down and a cat walks up to it, she just goes to the dish and starts to eat and the cats move. She will not bother the cats when they are eating and she even doesn't try to eat their leftover food.
She obeys all of my commands now. She has become a very well behaved dog.
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