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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all (new to the forum) and thanks for your time in advance,

I'm a second time owner of a female Bodeguero Andaluz. Her name's Tali and she's close to 6 months old and she's always been (mostly) well behaved - ever since we picked her out of a box we found next to a busy road.

She's incredibly smart - she was barely 2 months old and she was potty trained, knew commands like sit, stay and come and also knew that when the lights went out, it was bed time - not puppy-whining time.

Now, about a month ago we started noticing food aggresion. (It may have been there for longer, but since we always had the habit of setting the food down, making her wait 5 seconds and letting her go to it, we never actually noticed.)

Basically, it turned out that one day I laid the food down, as usual, and knelt down to pick something from the floor, close to her. Suddenly I noticed her getting really stiff and growling at me, so - in an attempt to push it a little - I actually placed my hand over her head. The growling just got worse.

I have to say that originally we did (wrongly so) try to apply punishment to this behaviour, by pushing her away, shouting or sometimes - when the growling got really bad - slapping her (not hard) across the mouth. After a while, we tried to curb these punishments, realizing that it was probably counterproductive. Instead, we tried to be more gentle, applying discipline via removing the food from her if she growled or hand-feeding her until we allowed her to go to the bowl. In any case, the growling hasn't stopped and, on top of that, now she starts shaking whenever we're around the food bowl, like she's actually afraid to eat.

On the other hand, she's also started developing that growling instinct whenever we approach her while in her basket and - even worse - when she sits wih us on the couch and I try to get close to her, move or remove her while she's sleeping. This does not always happen, but I still think it's something to worry about.

Tali's is normally very well behaved and we don't have any other problems with her: she's lovely to people, she's ok with noises, doesn't bark very often and obeys all commands (even if with some delay). I have read/heard that this could be what is called a case of "Jekyll and Hyde" in dogs and I'm not entirelly sure of what to do about it, because I don't want this to evolve and I certainly don't want to have a dog that thinks she has one paw over me.

So... solutions? Tips? Halp?

If I've not clarified or specified something that you deem important, please ask.

Thanks for your time and nice to meet you all =)
 

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It will likely take quite a while to work through the 'memory' of you 'attacking' her when she was trying to defend her food. You are right that was counter productive. It is what humans instinctually do, but it is not going to fix the problem. The above link is good. Just remember its going to take longer to fix than the problem took to create. So if you spent weeks punishing it could take months of letting her know you can handle the food and be around her stuff and its ok.

I would like to point out its not dominance. She isn't trying to one up you, or take over your mortgage. She is insecure and worried. Once you can reassure her you are a fair 'leader' and she has nothing to worry about she will stop.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hello you two and thanks so much for the answers,

First, that PDF sounds interesting. Once I have a chance I'll try it out and see if it works.

Secondly - yes, I terribly regret being 'violent' with her. The problem stems from a previous dog I had, who turned out to be genetically aggresive and we had to put her down eventually. It was a great hit for me and since then I've not really been able to deal with animal aggresion without getting very anxious myself. However, I'm aware that it's still no excuse and that I should've dealt with this better. I will really try from now on and hopefully, with her being only 6 months old, I'll be in time to rectify.

On another note, what about the growling when she's on the couch or on my lap and I try to move her around or lean in close to her? Any ideas?

Thanks again for your time!
 

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At this time I am working with a food aggressive dog where I work and I found out he was by getting a good bite. It takes a long time to get them to a safe time where they are able to eat on their own. I have been hand feeding this dog for two weeks and plan on it for a month, that is both meals every day out of my hand. They have to learn that we are the ones that give them food not take it away.It is a long process but one that works. Next month he will eat out of the bowl off the ground with me holding it and I will work my way down. When he is able to eat on his own I will still for the rest of his life and for who ever adopts him will hand feed him one meal a week just to remind him who is giving him his food. If i were you I would consult a trainer even if you have them come in one time to evaluate your dog it would be worth every penny. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Talking about hand-feeding, is something I forgot to mention: we've actually tried handfeeding and when she eats from our hands, she's completely passive. She doesn't shake, she eats at a normal pace (from the bowl she eats so fast sometimes she's been on the verge of choking), and most of all, she doesn't growl no matter what you do. This, in a way, has also confused me for a while, because then... what's the problem, the bowl? If I put the food on the floor, she doesn't normally kick a fuss up either... Ô_Ô
 

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Does she have a dog bed? I would get one for her and no longer allow her on the furniture at all ever till you get the aggression thing under control! She is running you and it has to stop now because it is only going to get worse. You should also be making her work for everything she gets, toys, treats, and do not give her attention when she comes to you for it. Ignore her when she comes to you, you can go to her anytime and pet her. When you take her for a walk make sure you go in and out of the door first, she needs to start looking at you as her leader right now she is in charge and you need to change things. I also would go through all the commands she knows everyday and would look into a basic obedience class to take with her.
 

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Put a good size rock in her food bowl she will eat at a normal pace, not to big so she can still get her food but has to work at it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
That's not a bad idea (the rock). She's just going to LOVE it... xD

And about the leadership issues... here's the thing: we knew since she was a pup that she was a difficult breed, very prone to being dominant and bosy, so we geared our training towards making a point of who the leaders were (my boyfriend and I), and everything was going alright until just about a month ago, when she started growling.

Now, I know we may have done a couple of things wrong (confronting the problem with punishment or letting her on the furniture), but we still keep check of commands and having her obey us and - sans for the issues mentioned - she is a very well-behaved and obedient dog. Even when walking her, she stays next to us and does not usually try to wal ahead - a trait we know is a clear show that she's trying to be dominant by "walking us". How is it possible, then, for a dog to be so different for one thing and the other?

(Also yes, she does have a bed. We just ocasionally let her on the couch if we're watching a movie and she walks over to us, but this is only if we are on the couch, never when we're not. Should we stop letting her on period?)
 

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Put a good size rock in her food bowl she will eat at a normal pace, not to big so she can still get her food but has to work at it.
Don't put a rock in her bowl. They make dishes and interactive games you can feed an entire meal out of to create work for the dog.

Hi OP. I'm glad you're here to correct this. Unfortunately now you are a classic example of how when handled wrong resource guarding can escalate. The good news is she has not bitten any one yet and you can prevent this and work with her. I have a managed resource guarder and one getting there.

Hand feeding is not the end all be all of this, but it's a good start. You also need to start over on associating yourself around her bowl is going to mean good things, not removal of the bowl, yelling, hitting, etc. She's guarding her bowl in the first place because she's afraid you're going to take it away, so does taking it away as a punishment for her growling make sense? It's just showing her that yes, yes you WILL take that bowl away and continuing on that road may result in nothing, but eventually it may result in a bite.

Mine! By Jean Donaldson is a really great resource. It's going to cover basically every thing (good) you will hear on this topic here.
 

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Are you following the NILIF protocols where she has to earn everything? I find it helps greatly and encourages the dog to look to you for guidance. It's not the end all/Be all but definately a valuable tool.

It really sounds like you're going to have a ton of counter conditioning work to get her to trust you again. That's the problem right now, lack of trust. YOu'll need to regain that trust by heeding her warnings and rewarding heavily when she behaves appropriatly.

Two other things you NEED to do, get blood tests for her Thyroid sent to Dr Dodd as even low/normal thyroid can cause issues with behavior while showing few other symptoms and contact someone that can work with you to counter condition the existing behaviors, wither a trainer experienced in RG or a veterinary behaviorist. I can help you find a qualified person if you let me know where you are.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Again, thank you all for the great feedback.

I just want to make a point that I never actually hurt her or kicked her around when she missbehaved. Only once did I actually tap her harder than usual, but she didn't yelp or look anything but surprised. Basically, I don't want people to think I've beat my dog up - would never do that.

Even so, I do acknowledge the "wrong" I've done, considering it's still caused negative reactions from Tali.

Your points are good, ThoseWords - I'll keep them in mind and download that book to our kindle asap.

As for the NILIF protocols... I can't say I know what they are. So far, we've been training her by rewarding positive actions and attitudes with a treat, and ignoring her or isolating her when she went overboard with something (like the time I caught her destroying a very valuable piece of furniture.) The first time we ever used punishment, so to say, was when she started growling.

About the blood test, I might as well do that as soon as I go back to the vets with her. You never know.

And then, about the trainer - I would like to do that (although a part of me sees it like having to look for a trainer just reflects my incompetence as an owner...). The problem is that, currently, I'm living in Spain - a country where dogs have less rights than a tree and people still consider it appropiate to feed them leftovers and chocolate, so finding training around here could be complicated. I'm moving to England early next year with her, so I hope to find something there if the problem persists...

Bottom line is, despite my wrongdoings, is there still a possible solution to this? D:
 

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LOL it has nothing to do with incompetence, I've trained numerous (personal) dogs, some to obediance titles, but if I come up against something I've never handled beofre, I consult a professional. The fact is you (and I) don't know everyting, dog ownership is a CONSTANT learning curve. NEVER be scared or ashamed of getting more knowlegeable people involved.

Yes, there is hope, you can get her back trusting you, it's just going to take work, love and patience.
 

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I've dealt with two resource guarders. The first two guarders were similar to yours- great dogs but were growling about their food. My current boy, Gweeb, was a resource guarder of Jezzy when we first got her and he gave me a pretty good sized bite. He also is reactive to us with high value treats like bones. Now he is zero reactive to her and rarely guards a bone unless it's new which we know to ask "drop it" instead of picking it up and have him walk away from it.

I'm glad that you see how your past actions weren't right and was making it worse. A big key to this is staying calm and not giving them negative menacing energy or negative violent reactions. When you cannot feel level headed, remove the dog from the situation and yourself and just go calm down and try things again. I found having a kennel helps me (but I have dogs who need to follow me everywhere). If it isn't working I ask Gweeb to go to his kennel and lay down for a bit and we try our stuff again when I'm feeling patient and calm again.

With the former two meal time guarders- I started by hand feeding their meals for a few days and then a few days of putting some in the floor, some by hand, then some in my hand and I drop a few pieces into the bowl in my other hand then working to putting it into the bowl while me holding it then putting it down by my feet, only giving them part of the meal in small chunks. I slowly get farther away from the bowl and eventually try just moving around the kitchen doing normal things while really watching their body to see how they just eat and come every few minutes to give them a little more kibble. I sometimes would walk past with chunks of something better than kibble (usually chicken cubes or baked liver cubes) and drop a piece in their bowl while they are eating if they dont tense up so they associate me bringing food AND something even better if I'm let close to them while eating. If they were sliding back to growling or looking tense, I ask them to follow me, remove them from the situation then take a step back to the last way of feeding them that didn't cause growling and stay with that for a bit and try to move up to the way that caused them to growl again. Even without guarding issues, I always have my dogs sit quietly first while I hold food in my hand and I put it down. They wait until I say "go eat" so that they understand the concept of what they get isn't free, it's given and earned ( NILIF ). I did find for one of the dogs they did better without a regular bowl since they hoarded the food so fast into their mouth and I just couldnt get them out of that speed eating. There are "slow bowls" with these little grooves in it where you put the food so that it's harder to put their whole face in there and gulp a ton. The toy though that worked was a ball they had to rotate and it will drop a few kibble for them at a time. The dog was active so it was great mental stimulation for them. I would do the slow bowl in the morning and at night did a toy ball and once in a while would hand feed them. If your dog is a fast eater I might suggest that slow bowl or the food toys.

As for the couch, if you want to allow her on there eventually I would first set her up with a dog bed. Get her to use the bed all the time by introducing her to it and then giving her small treats for getting in it on her own. Give her things she loves like nice treats or bones on her bed. Teaching her a "go to your bed" command for when you want her to be calm and just hang out. Now once she loves the bed, move it around. My girl Jezzy lays on the couch on a thin dog pillow and only on the pillow on the couch. Gweeb lays at the foot rest part of this couch on a blanket. They are asked on the couch and are asked to leave whenever I need them to move. I tap the couch when I let them up (after and only after I sit). If we want them to move/leave we tell them "off" and each time they listened I was giving them a treat for it. Gweeb can get annoying at your feet sometimes so if we want him to move somewhere I ask him to get up and put the blanket on a different chair. It's a type of modified targeting training that has worked well with him. Target training is where you teach your dog to target a dog to touch a part of their body to a designated location (like you want them back to your side so you offer your hand for their nose and they target that to be at the proper position you want them to be or you want them to touch their paw to a light switch to shut it off). Target Training Basics So once I got Gweeb to target train I eventually made the target was to touch his blanket then I moved it to lay on the blanket. So what is his allowed area is where ever the blanket goes and the rest of the couch is mine. Now he likes blankets to be on him so I just have him sit where I want and put the blanket on his head when he touches his nose to it when I ask "Blankie?" then he just lays down tucked into it.

Hopefully that helps with some ideas. These are applications great to train outside of food issues as you can do a lot with targeting and NILIF. Remember too that counter conditioning her bad reactions with tasty treats is your friend. If she associates you with good things like ultra delicious things instead of being angry then things can slowly smooth out as she's encouraged and she can get to trust you as a good thing and not a bad thing. Try a few different treats. I used super high valued treats (liver chunks I've baked into crunchy cubes) for really hard things and simple cookies for basic commands.

It may take a long time and slow progress but she can get better. Just remember not to go back tracking to being angry at her. Also, if you're feeling a bit lost on if things are being done right, I think it's worth seeing a trainer a few sessions to get a solid plan together and making sure that the proper corrections are in place.
 

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Don't put a rock in her bowl. They make dishes and interactive games you can feed an entire meal out of to create work for the dog.

Hi OP. I'm glad you're here to correct this. Unfortunately now you are a classic example of how when handled wrong resource guarding can escalate. The good news is she has not bitten any one yet and you can prevent this and work with her. I have a managed resource guarder and one getting there.

Hand feeding is not the end all be all of this, but it's a good start. You also need to start over on associating yourself around her bowl is going to mean good things, not removal of the bowl, yelling, hitting, etc. She's guarding her bowl in the first place because she's afraid you're going to take it away, so does taking it away as a punishment for her growling make sense? It's just showing her that yes, yes you WILL take that bowl away and continuing on that road may result in nothing, but eventually it may result in a bite.

Mine! By Jean Donaldson is a really great resource. It's going to cover basically every thing (good) you will hear on this topic here.
Your so right but the rock worked great before they came out with the other training equipment:)
 

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Bottom line is, despite my wrongdoings, is there still a possible solution to this? D:
Yes. Resource guarding is something that is very natural to dogs. I see it at work between litters of very young puppies all the time. Natural doesn't make it something that SHOULD go on, but so people know their dog isn't broken and there isn't any thing horribly wrong with them. Toss out any sort of punishment when it comes to this and things should get better. My two are.

Oh, and on the punishment note something to remember, when you punish a dog for growling it's the same principle as removing the item they're guarding. When a dog growls, it's like when we tell someone to stop, or go away. If you teach a dog to stop growling with punishment, there is no interim between a verbal warning and a physical warning. You'll teach them that growling is nothing so they may as well just bite to get their point across.I know you've moved on from that but it's what I always remind people of. :)
 

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That's not a bad idea (the rock). She's just going to LOVE it... xD

And about the leadership issues... here's the thing: we knew since she was a pup that she was a difficult breed, very prone to being dominant and bosy, so we geared our training towards making a point of who the leaders were (my boyfriend and I), and everything was going alright until just about a month ago, when she started growling.

Now, I know we may have done a couple of things wrong (confronting the problem with punishment or letting her on the furniture), but we still keep check of commands and having her obey us and - sans for the issues mentioned - she is a very well-behaved and obedient dog. Even when walking her, she stays next to us and does not usually try to wal ahead - a trait we know is a clear show that she's trying to be dominant by "walking us". How is it possible, then, for a dog to be so different for one thing and the other?

(Also yes, she does have a bed. We just ocasionally let her on the couch if we're watching a movie and she walks over to us, but this is only if we are on the couch, never when we're not. Should we stop letting her on period?)
Sometimes when you are trying to make a point about who is the boss, the dog just gets sick of what seems to them like bullying.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Again, thanks to all for your comments and help. Sorry I've not been answering as quick - I'm currently on a trip in the UK (Tali's safe with my family, who she loves.)

Please keep the feedback coming. As soon as I have the time, I'd like to propose some hypothetical situations so people can tell me what exactly they'd do in those cases (such as, "imagine your dog is on the couch with you and suddenly starts growling when you try to remove him" and things of the like)

In the meantime, all I can say is that as soon as I'm back in Spain I'll start doing what everyone's suggested. Thanks a lot again!
 

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hi :wave: I am new here and (full disclosure) I don't have a dog yet. So I can't give much advice- everyone else has given some good advice so far anyway.

Since I am preparing to have my own dog within the next few months I have spend the past year trying to learn everything about training dogs (and the different styles of dog training).

Anyway, your post reminded me of one thing I read (and obviously you can't use this but maybe someone else can) - and I wish I could remember where I read it- it said that when you punish a dog for growling you risk teaching it not to growl which is bad because then you wont have a warning and it may just escalate to biting with no warning (except body language but we humans sometimes misread the signs). A growl is just the dog saying "hey I don't like this"- and sometimes it does mean "I am going to attack". I think it was in- maybe The Bark magazine or Modern Dog- I may be wrong I read a lot of information from many different places. but I thought that was interesting because our reaction to growling is the get the dog to stop when we could be doing the wrong thing.

The only experience I have with guarding was the one and only family dog I had as a child - he was a great dog (although I now realize he was insecure and overly submissive) and very loving but if you gave him a bone and so much as looked at him he would growl- but this problem was not resolved because my parents just stopped giving him bones- obviously you can't stop feeding your dog and that wouldn't be a solution anyway.

I do think that you should find a trainer who has a training technique that is similar to yours (minus the hitting :becky:) because sometimes we need help- and that's fine. I will probably be getting a trainer and I have done a lot of research- I may be the only dog-less person with so many books and magazines.
 

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Talking about hand-feeding, is something I forgot to mention: we've actually tried handfeeding and when she eats from our hands, she's completely passive. She doesn't shake, she eats at a normal pace (from the bowl she eats so fast sometimes she's been on the verge of choking), and most of all, she doesn't growl no matter what you do. This, in a way, has also confused me for a while, because then... what's the problem, the bowl? If I put the food on the floor, she doesn't normally kick a fuss up either... Ô_Ô
Just a very small tid-bit that I learned a while ago..........when you remove a food bowl from a dog you remove it by picking it "Up" and not "away" from the dog. When you move it "away" the dog believes you are taking their food. I am not sure why this works but it always has for me. I also hand feed my dogs every now and then just to keep the bond. I place the bowl on my lap as I feed them. When empty I show it to them and tell them it is "All gone." They usually follow me to the sink where I put the bowl to be washed. I always praise them for a good job of eating politely. :)

Just a thought.................
 
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