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Dog has become aggressive... Need advice

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Germaine2351, Mar 13, 2017.


  1. Germaine2351

    Germaine2351 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi guys,
    My dog has become very aggressive over the last month or so whenever I feed him. He is 2 and 1/2 year old German shepherd X boxer, and have never had problems with him. Whenever I give him his food, he will guard it as if I'm going to take it away and becomes very aggressive if I go near him, which is nearly impossible to avoid due to the layout of my house. I've never taken his food away or been aggressive towards him, and otherwise he is a very happy and friendly dog, so I really don't understand what the problem is. He doesn't seem to have any health problems, and is otherwise happy, energetic, and playful, his bowel movements are fine, and is still eating (after I leave the room..) it is only when I feed him that he seems to snap. He's been doing it now for about a month and a half, but seems to be getting worse, even though I've been trying to just stay away when he has food. This evening when I gave him his dinner, he was the worst he has been so far and actually bit me. Before today it has just been growling and protective body language, but today he began barking and jumping at me and bit my arm just after putting his food bowl down. I'm getting really frustrated now, and I can't afford to get a proper trainer round, so if anyone could advise me on how I could deal with this it would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks :)
     
  2. Mirandashell

    Mirandashell Banned

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    Germaine2351, ouesi and Lurcherlad like this.
  3. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    Hmm if this behaviour started suddenly I think I'd pop him to your vet just to make sure there isn't an underlying medical reason for it.

    He's resource guarding his food. Did anything happen about the time this behaviour started, like taking a bone or something away from him, or lifting his food bowl for some reason?
     
  4. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

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    As has been suggested by Twiggy a Vet check is always recommended to rule out anything medical. I would also suggest that you change his feeing routine completely ....what food is he on? Is it possible, instead of feeding him in a bowl to actually feed him his food during the day as rewards, by hand, for example; when out walking or specifically doing some training. There are plenty of alternative ways of feeding and as the aggression has escalated I would avoid the confrontation of meal time for a while. You could then reintroduce hand feeding at home at meal times and graduate back to using a bowl later. Perhaps feeding him outdoors or using a Kong.

    Apart from that, getting professional help would really be my advice. We can only guess at what may be the stressor for this change of behaviour.

    J
     
  5. Germaine2351

    Germaine2351 PetForums Newbie

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    Mirandashell - thanks for the link, lots of useful information there! Will try a couple of the techniques there, and hopefully can change this before it gets any worse!

    Twiggy - No, nothing has happened, which is why I'm so confused as to why he's like this now! He used to growl when he was a pup, but he hasn't done it for at least a year now. I will get him in to see the vet soon, but he is currently belting around the garden with his ball, and hasn't shown any signs of being ill at all, so I really don't think he has any problems. It is worth checking though, just to be sure!

    Jamesgoeswalkies - he's on a complete dry working dog food, and has been on the same stuff for the last year and a half ish, since I changed it from puppy stuff. Never had any problems with it. Being such a big dog, it would be a nightmare trying to feed him by hand, but if the positive reinforcement style techniques don't work then I may give it a try...

    Saying all this though, I just gave him half a bowl at the same time as I had my dinner, and didn't get a single growl! (Rewarded him for being nice with my leftovers...! Haha) There is hope yet...!

    Thanks for the advice, much appreciated!
     
    #5 Germaine2351, Mar 13, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
  6. leashedForLife

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    QUOTE,
    ...
    Being such a big dog, [hand-feeding] would be a nightmare... but if the positive reinforcement style techniques don't work, then I may give [hand-feeding] a try...
    ...

    /QUOTE
    .
    .
    Hunh?
    Hand-feeding **is** 'positive reinforcement'. If he's snappy, offer the food from a distance - tether him so he can't lunge, put a spoonful on a saucer, push the saucer toward him with a long-handled wooden spoon, he eats, retrieve the empty saucer, re-load, repeat.
    Feeding any dog their entire meal doesn't take that long - U can combine it with something else [like PF-uk] & work on whatever in between retrieving, loading, & delivering the saucer. He gets regular prompt small amounts, & practices tolerating his 'bowl' being taken away TO BE FILLED & returned to him - what a nice pattern! :)
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    Germaine2351 and Twiggy like this.
  7. ouesi

    ouesi Guest

    Hand feeding is a good suggestion.
    We had fed a great dane working through his resource guarding. It’s totally doable.

    Let me just caution though, ideally you would be working with a professional who can help you read subtle body language of comfort and discomfort. You may actually have to start by just dropping food near him instead of letting him take it out of your hand. Use his comfort levels as a guide. If his body language is comfortable, continue where you are at, if he starts showing discomfort, back up a step or more.

    There is a great book on resource guarding called “Mine” by Jean Donaldson. Worth a read.

    I still wouldn’t rule out the vet check either. Some medical conditions can exacerbate behavior ones. It could be that he was mildly resource guarding before and you just didn’t notice (subtle body language like using his body to hover over the bowl, slowing down or speeding up eating when you approach, there are early signs). If it there is a medical issue as well that could have tipped the mild RG in to becoming more pronounced.

    Also please bear in mind that once a dog has bitten without intervention, he is now much more likely to bite you (or someone else) again and with less provocation and will likely do more damage on the next bite. Please note I said *without* intervention. I should add, without *effective* intervention.
    When you go in for a vet check, also ask for a referral to a qualified behaviorist to help you with this :)
     
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