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Hey Guys, I recently got a 7 week old collie/lurcher cross puppy. She is the perfect dog, however when she is eating her food, if you go anywhere near her she will growl and snap at you. She does the same if for example she goes for the cats food dish and you pick her up so she cant eat it she will begin growling and snapping. Is this just because she is young? Or is this a problem that will follow her into adult life and therefore I need to sort this problem out now? If so, how would I go about doing this.
Thank you for any suggestions.
 

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This is definitely a problem you should sort out now. You don't want an aggressive adult dog. It is very strange for a puppy to show food aggression.

she is associating your hands with food being taken away. By starting early, it shouldn't be too hard to correct. The way that worked for my rescue Great Dane who had food aggression was the trade up method. Find a high value treat. When she goes for the cat food, instead of just taking it away, trade the food for the treat. That way, when she sees your hand she wont associate it with food being taken away, but instead associate it with a treat. Same with her food. When you walk by her bowl when she is eating, drop a treat in there. Again, that way, when she sees you near her food, she will associate it with something even yummier than her food.

I also suggest enrolling her in puppy obedience classes. A professional trainer will have even more tips for you and can help with any other behavioral problems you might come across.
 

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The trading up game is a great tool, if your pup has something they shouldn't have. So, when she goes for the cat food, you can offer her something that she really, really likes, that she considers higher value than the cat food. Eventually, you can add a cue word, like "away" or "leave it", so that she learns that if she leaves it, she may get something even better.

For when she growls when she is eating her own food and growls, I would suggest tossing a treat into her bowl every time you walk by when she's eating. That way, she starts to realize that good things may happen when you walk by, and there's no need to guard her food. Because right now, she feels like she needs to warn you off with a growl and snap, because food is important and she's afraid of losing it. It's "resource guarding".

Some people use techniques like trying to take away a dog's food when they're eating, so they get used to it, but I would not recommend that. See, if she feels like she needs to guard her food (resource) because she's afraid she will lose it, and then you really DO take it away (even if your intentions are good) you are actually proving her right, she DID need to worry about her food being taken away.

You can also try hand feeding her, and do a search for resource guarding.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I tryed the technique in which you place a treat in her food while she is eating, this technique doesnt seem to be working as she snatches the treat from my hands before I can even put it into her bowl while still growling and snapping at me. She gets that worked up about her food being taked away that her whole body is physically shaking. Im really worried as I dont want this to be a problem she takes into adult life as its quite a serious problem. Help ?! :(
 

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Are you taller than your puppy? Drop the treat from way above her head. They didn't mean to get your hand near the dish or her. The dropping of the treat into the dish will take weeks not a couple of days. This is not a quick fix matter, sorry.
 

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Yes, exactly, I said to toss the treat into her dish when you walk by. You shouldn't have to put your hand down by her dish. That would just be exacerbating the problem.

And, yes, also, it's not a quick fix. She is fearful of losing her food, you have to show her that there is no danger of her losing her food, so that will take time.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It’s a little hard to drop the treat into her bowl when her head is directly over the bowl with her face fixed into it eating , I did initially try that but it wasn’t going into her bowl because her head was blocking it. I know it’s not quick fix I have had puppies in the past and know behaviors can’t just be ironed out in a couple of days I know that! I’ve just not experienced food aggression from a puppy before so its new to me.
 

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You can also drop it next to her bowl, or bonk her on the head with the treat, or get a bigger bowl, use an old pie tin, use a plate or platter so its not a bowl.
 

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If she is still growling when you treat her, I don't think I'd use this method. You're basically rewarding her bad behavior. I would start hand feeding her meals. First start by literally having her eat out of your hand. Then start dropping a few pieces of food into her bowl at a time. Then you can start dropping treats in between. This way she'll start associating people near her bowl as a good thing.
 

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If she is still growling when you treat her, I don't think I'd use this method. You're basically rewarding her bad behavior. I would start hand feeding her meals. First start by literally having her eat out of your hand. Then start dropping a few pieces of food into her bowl at a time. Then you can start dropping treats in between. This way she'll start associating people near her bowl as a good thing.
I second this. Your pup is associating your presence with the loss of food, so instead change it. Be the GIVER.
 

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Hey Guys, I recently got a 7 week old collie/lurcher cross puppy.
Another example of why a pup should not be taken away from it's litter mates to early. Pups do compete for food at meal times and from your pups behaviour it seems he was the bully of the litter, and is still warning you off his dish.

I would go with hand feeding him all his meals. Start by putting a spoonfull at a time in your hand. Do this for a few days. If he does not growl have a higher value treat handy and give him that.

Then holding his dish, put a spoonfull at a time in the dish. Use the spoon to move the food whilst he is eating. If he growls, go back to feeding from the hand. If he does not, give him a high value treat. Build up slowly. This will take at least 2 weeks.
 
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