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Old August 19th, 2013, 09:28 PM
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SunGurl372 SunGurl372 is offline
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Need a little help....

I've been absent for quite awhile, but I suspect there are a few folks on here that will remember me (Hazel).

I have an 8 year old pound puppy who has been absolutely fabulous. I've since gone through another experience with a rescue that ended in a resounding and heartbreaking failure.

Decided the next time, I would skip the rescue path and invest the time and energy into finding a reputable breeder with experience and an obvious investment in the breed I chose.

I brought home an 9 week old Lab puppy with deep and proven English champion lines back in December 2012. He was neutered at 6 months, as I don't need or have the capacity to deal with a breeding male.

Aside from the normal obnoxious puppy behavior, he has been absolutely a blessing. Continues to mature emotionally, and so smart.

However.....he has just recently started to develop an unusual food aggressive posture at night. Just the one meal, and never with me. Mostly with my son, who has walked him and fed him for the last two months on summer break. He's pretty mellow on the other meals, but dinner can be a high value meal as I often will add in either a protein high canned food or some steak or chicken from the two-legged folks.

Going on for two weeks and escalated a bit tonight with my son, after he snapped a couple times and gave him a good scratch.

What the heck is going on? Talked to the breeder and they thought it was just his testosterone blooming, but he is cut so I would think that wouldn't be a big influence.

Need help.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 12:10 AM
rottysrule rottysrule is offline
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maybe take away the high value food during the night meal for a bit to help.
he could be guarding the dish from your son because of the high value food.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 08:00 AM
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Did consider that, and took him back to dry kibble only for the past few days. No change in the aggression.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 12:07 PM
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Loki Love Loki Love is offline
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Are you feeding the dogs in the same room? Has anything else (besides the addition of the new puppy) changed?
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Old August 20th, 2013, 01:35 PM
Barkingdog Barkingdog is offline
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How old is your son, I know some dogs will see a small child as a threat to their food as the child is closer to the dog's level and it bowl of food. You need to let your dog is not OK to growl at your son . I would try feeding your dog then tell him to sit and take the bowl away for a second so he will learn that he can't growl at a person . I did this with my last dog as I did not want him to be so protected of his food when my grandchild was around.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 03:16 PM
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SunGurl372 SunGurl372 is offline
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Nothing has changed at all. Other than he hit 44 weeks on August 14th.

The dogs have always been fed in the same room, several feet away from each other. I always put the puppy's bowl down, make him sit and wait, put the older dog's bowl down, make her sit and wait, and then release them at the same time. He's never made a dash to get to hers first rather than his own, and if he finishes first (if??!!) and he makes an attempt to go for hers, I can stop him with a simple correction.

Jack is going to be 13, and he's already 5'1, so significant height difference there. And he's always fed the puppy at least one meal each day, and lunch and dinner daily since he's been on summer break. That includes the days when I put in the special extras, so it would make more sense for Jet to see Jack as the bringer of really yummy things.

Jack can give him treats (dried chicken strips, etc.) with no problem, and Jet will obey his commands when Jack asks him to sit, or beg, or high five. Doesn't make any sense.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 08:13 PM
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So how is the food aggression happening? When your son puts down the food? I'm trying to understand and visualize it in my head..
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Old August 20th, 2013, 09:24 PM
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Nope, Jack can put down the food, put the puppy in a sit / stay / wait, release him calmly. But if Jack walks out of the room and walks back in, the puppy then decides to growl at him.

We did make some progress today. Fed Jet his breakfast this morning a handful at a time, and made him sit/stay/wait for release before every bite.

Bought a couple of "thinking" toys earlier today and split up his meals into those this afternoon, which also seems to be working (but realistically, it is just one day!)

I am glad that we have quickly found some workarounds, but would really like to understand the aggression if fed out of a traditional bowl with a person / people who have fed him regularly for months with no issue.

Is testosterone REALLY an issue in a neutered male when they hit the age in which they would start to come into their own, if uncut??
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Old August 20th, 2013, 09:33 PM
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Actually, as I understand it, it can be. After castration, it can take 8 mos for the testosterone to leave a dog's system... If he was approaching sexual maturity, he might still be feeling the effects of the testosterone, even though he's been neutered.

Sounds like you're getting things in hand.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 09:56 PM
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SunGurl372 SunGurl372 is offline
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Hey there, Hazel! Hope the pack is still doing well!

I had him neutered late in his six month, but I've been researching online and clearly there are other glands that produce hormones beyond the testes. It could simply be a minor surge in hormones. Driving me nuts though.

But fed his dinner in this crazy egg shaped dispenser (better than the giant Kong one with the big hole in it), and he did pretty good. I guess there will be no food bowls for him for awhile.

He's so good in every other way. Jack can give him a piece of steak, freshly cooked bacon, etc. and not a peep. I'm at a loss.
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Harley - 8 year old Beagle x Dobie
Jet - 10 month old Labrador Retriever
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Old August 20th, 2013, 10:07 PM
Barkingdog Barkingdog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunGurl372 View Post
Nothing has changed at all. Other than he hit 44 weeks on August 14th.

The dogs have always been fed in the same room, several feet away from each other. I always put the puppy's bowl down, make him sit and wait, put the older dog's bowl down, make her sit and wait, and then release them at the same time. He's never made a dash to get to hers first rather than his own, and if he finishes first (if??!!) and he makes an attempt to go for hers, I can stop him with a simple correction.

Jack is going to be 13, and he's already 5'1, so significant height difference there. And he's always fed the puppy at least one meal each day, and lunch and dinner daily since he's been on summer break. That includes the days when I put in the special extras, so it would make more sense for Jet to see Jack as the bringer of really yummy things.

Jack can give him treats (dried chicken strips, etc.) with no problem, and Jet will obey his commands when Jack asks him to sit, or beg, or high five. Doesn't make any sense.
I knew my granddaughter had to be kept away from her other grandma's
dog when he was eating , my granddaughter was small and the dog saw her as a threat to his dog .
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Old August 21st, 2013, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
You need to let your dog is not OK to growl at your son . I would try feeding your dog then tell him to sit and take the bowl away for a second so he will learn that he can't growl at a person . I did this with my last dog as I did not want him to be so protected of his food when my grandchild was around.
I agree with this 100%. All food, toys etc. belong to you at all times. You and every family member should never ever be growled at, snapped at or bitten....but this requires work to solve. Seems like the dog would never do this to you, but feels comfortable threatening your son. Likely this has worked for the dog in the past so it keeps doing it.

I guess it could be testosterone so it may taper off....but if this type of aggression occurs with food, maybe it's occurring in other subtle ways as well? And if so, this needs to change for a household to run smoothly.

I recommend group obedience training from a referred trainer from someone you trust - Jack should go with you to this training.

I like the idea of a food dispenser for now, but I really think the obedience course can help dooger see Jack as a boss equal to you.
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Old August 21st, 2013, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barkingdog View Post
ou need to let your dog is not OK to growl at your son .
I don't necessarily agree with this comment, as it implies that growling should be punished. This article sums up why growls are important warning signs that should not be suppressed, but investigated instead. http://voice4dogs.blogspot.ca/2011/0...ish-growl.html

Quote:
Don't Punish the Growl


The beginning of gardening season tends to draw people out of their homes and we realized, once again, that the houses around ours are indeed occupied. Thus, I had a pleasant chat with our neighbor’s daughter recently who is parent to an 18-month-old daughter of her own, and a senior rescue mutt named Hannah. Always interested in other people’s dogs I casually inquired how Hannah was doing, and my neighbor stated that she is great, but occasionally growls at the now more mobile baby. She right away followed that statement by saying that she isn’t too concerned and feels that Hannah doesn’t want to injure the toddler, only communicates to the adults that she has had enough of small, uncoordinated hands reaching for her. How is it, I wondered, that some people understand that a dog’s growl means that she needs help, while others envision a looming blood bath?

Many people, possibly the majority, are certain that a growl is a sure-tell sign that the dog is dominant and dangerous, and without a doubt will harm someone. And out of that fear we humans, at the core prey not predator, quell the growl and expect our dog, for an entire lifetime, no matter what circumstance, only speak pleasantly. How realistic is that, eh? It’s not – not possible for any animal.

Steve White and Suzanne Clothier, two of my favorite dog gurus, argue that a growl is communication like any other one, and always coveys that distance is sought. And they are not the only ones. Many high profile, world-renowned behaviorists agree that with a growl the still self-controlled dog is sending information that the present situation isn’t working for her, and that she needs help. The dog’s intent with a growl is to prevent a bite. It’s a good thing, cause it gives you an opening to get the queasy feeling pooch out of the situation before she becomes undone.

I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t do anything about your dog’s growling, snarling, tensing or snapping, just that subduing her is barking up the wrong tree. Labeling a dog bad and dominant, without further investigation what drives the behavior, what the root cause for the tension is, creates more problems in the long run because your dog’s mind about the worrisome stimulus isn’t changed, just the expressions suppressed.

When your dog acts out, you need to deal with the pressing moment and get her out of the situation that elicited the warning, but after that you gotta focus on what really needs your attention: the underlying issues that prompted the growls. Likely, that requires the help of an experienced, positive behavior expert, because the reasons could be many and the solutions as well. So, don’t leave the matter alone, but address in a way that is productive, and responding with an assertive correction, despite its popularity, isn’t it.

That is also true for dogs that are indeed confident and aggressive. In fact, I opine that a growl is never a submissive signal. The dog could, instead of growling, surrender and walk away. In all fairness, humans often prevent that; restrain and corner the dog, not giving her the option to depart. Even then, even if growling is the dog’s plan B, it reflects a certain willingness to be confrontational. When we adopted our feral born Will she panicked about everything that had to do with humans, yet never growled. She involuntary voided, drooled excessively, stress-panted and expressed her anal sacs, but didn’t growl, never warned us to back off.

It is understandable that you’re upset when your canine sidekick, who ought to follow and obey, challenges the hand that feeds her, but forcefully crushing that part of natural, albeit undesired by us, communication backfires in a big way.

I always wonder why intelligent people believe that adding their own aggression to an already tense situation somehow diffuses it and makes it all better for the future? Believe me, it doesn’t. It creates more resistance that, provided the handler is able to physically impress the dog, might not be overtly expressed anymore, but will boil under the surface instead. Steve White calls it “removing the ticker from the time bomb”. Now you have a dog who still feels the same about you, your kids, your guests, strangers or other dogs, but doesn’t warn you anymore that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Whenever I hear: “Suddenly she lost it” and “Bit out of the blue”, I have an idea what happened in that dog’s past. And make no mistake. A dog confident enough will explode eventually and bite you or someone else, someone weaker.

I know: dogs that warn are scary. It all sounds the same for untrained human ears, but the fact is that dogs growl for different reasons in various degrees. The one constant is that it is always a sign that she is confronted with a situation she can’t handle and that forces her to act according to what worked in the past and her abilities as a species. A dog can’t use human words, can’t say: “You (it, that) makes me nervous”, “Food is scarce and I’m hungry”, or “Boy, did you startle me”, so she growls.

Remember that you want that warning, but recognize that there is an underlying problem that needs your attention. Investigate what it is and then deal with it constructively. And don’t worry that, if you miss to respond with a punitive action of your own, you will be rewarding the dog for a behavior you don’t desire. Don’t think in terms of operant conditioning, of what you’d be reinforcing, but what your dog needs from you that eliminates tension and anxiety, and with it the need to growl.
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Old August 21st, 2013, 12:53 PM
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SunGurl, here is an interesting podcast on resource guarding that might have useful tips for your situation: http://www.dogstardaily.com/radio/302-resource-guarding
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Old August 21st, 2013, 01:04 PM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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Marko does bring up a good point here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by marko View Post
but if this type of aggression occurs with food, maybe it's occurring in other subtle ways as well?
We had a dog that began exhibiting aggressive tendencies at about the age of sexual maturity and it started with such subtle little growls and subtle body postures that we totally missed the signs until the biting began. At the time we'd never experienced such a thing in one of our dogs and there were no behaviorists except at the Universities (...yes, back in the dark, ancient days! ) Certainly, if what you're doing now doesn't seem totally effective, I'd try consulting a behaviorist--again, one with the same caveat Marko is recommending for a trainer (referred from someone you trust).

You're well ahead of that game, though, since you've spotted the problem and can monitor it to keep it from getting as bad as what we ended up with. (And, just so you know, we were finally able to get Gauge's problem under control, but it was more luck and muddling through back then than any insight on our parts. )

Quote:
Originally Posted by SunGurl372 View Post
Hey there, Hazel! Hope the pack is still doing well!
Yep, still all well, though aging...gracefully, so far, thankfully! And all the voices are doing well, too! How's about youse guys?
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