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Puppy growling if toddler touchers her while eating...Normal or warning sign

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by LolaPup2013, Aug 22, 2013.


  1. LolaPup2013

    LolaPup2013 PetForums Member

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    Hi everyone. Just looking for some advice as im confused.
    My puppy is a black Lab and is almost 12 weeks. When we feed her and my.almost 3 year old son likes to help shes absolutely fine with being given her food and i encourage my son SOMETIMES to take her bowl away make her resit and then give it back just so shes used to being interupted and things. Shes also fine with him/us touching her back/softly clapping her but if he touches her ears/paws she growls quite loudly - doesnt stop eating or actually snap etc. Im in no way saying he should do this as he needs to give her peace i just dont want to ignore some signs and have a full grown lab and maybe another child who just pets her and is bit etc. Im sure this is just her way of saying eh back off im eating this as shes not aggressive with the actual food at all.

    Any advice/tips?

    Thanks xx
     
  2. paddyjulie

    paddyjulie PetForums VIP

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    My stomach just sunk, please don't allow your child to take her food away, you are taking a huge risk here and he may be bitten through no fault whatsoever of your labs.

    Let her eat in peace, she is being polite at the moment and telling you she is not happy, take no heed and it may escalate into a bite
     
  3. simplysardonic

    simplysardonic Moderator
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    Please, please don't get your son (or you, or anyone else) doing this, it doesn't teach them about interruption at all, but will instead teach her that her high value item is being taken away & she will not understand why. She is already telling you & your son how uncomfortable she is (by growling) with being pulled around whilst eating.
     
  4. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

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    Can only agree with what the others have said, please stop taking her food away, just let her eat in peace. All stealing a dogs food while it's eating does is teach it that it has every need to guard it against people because there's a good chance it will be taken away. She does not need to "get used to" being interrupted while eating. Think how you'd react if someone kept taking your meals away. You'd get pretty annoyed and probably snap at them ;)

    If you want to teach her to be comfortable with people around her food then drop extra tasty treats next to her while she's eating rather than take her food away. You also need to teach your son that the dog needs to be left to eat her meals in peace.
     
  5. LolaPup2013

    LolaPup2013 PetForums Member

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    Ahhh im SO glad i posted this now. I actually got told that advice by the first vet we took Lola too, i cant remember why it came up. I thought it was quite harsh. So what is the best way to feed her? We usually do it in kitchen. So sit, stay, then eat in peace but while we go about our business not touching her at all? Is this best way?

    Thank you all so much. I will defo be keeping my son at bay now and just leave her in peace. I didnt want to have her eating in peace then a visitor or someone thinking their doing no harm and clapping her and getting bit :(

    Xx
     
  6. Meezey

    Meezey Slave to the Black & Tans and the Trundle Bugs.

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    Your teaching your puppy to guard her food, she escalated to growling because she now thing anytime he's near her food he's going to take it.

    It's not fair.. Teaching a dog a solid leave to drop food etc is fantastic, but never understand why people want to take food away from a dog just because, this teaches your dog " I have to guard it because they might take it", the idea is making your dog comfortable round you eating food, they won't feel the need to guard if they know you won't take it.

    Your now going to have to teach her, that having your child round her food is nothing for her to feel uncomfortable about, and she has no reason to resource guard because you have no interest in taking it..

    Let her eat in peace :(
     
  7. delca1

    delca1 PetForums VIP

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    If someone kept taking my dinner plate away while I was eating I would be well cheesed off.

    :)
     
  8. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

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    I just have mine wait to be released to start eating (more because I can't be doing with a dog trying to wolf down its food before I've even managed to put the bowl down than anything) then leave him to eat in peace. Occasionally I toss a couple of chunks of chicken or garlic sausage or something in his direction while he eats just so people near him while eating means something good is coming. On the odd occasion I step over him while he's eating he just wags his tail and carries on, perhaps with an expectant look to see whether I've brought him anything extra.

    If visitors are round they should be told to leave her alone while she's eating too. It should be common sense really to not disturb a dog while it's eating but so many people are told to take the dogs food away to "show them who's boss" that it's sadly not and people will actually even try it with other peoples dogs :huh:

    ETA: I step over him coz he's in the way, not to try and prove anything. Usually when he's eating something big and someone rings the door bell or something.
     
  9. Meezey

    Meezey Slave to the Black & Tans and the Trundle Bugs.

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    Cian is fed raw and fed in this crate for his own comfort, so that we can stick to his feeding times no matter who are what is in the house, and also because the cats (Issy) can not be trusted not to try and steal his food...

    We have no issue at all with him and such high value food as he knows it's his, he will leave if asked, but we rarely do that only if he tried to bring it out of his crate when he want to p.. Again we don't take it, it's left in his crate until he comes back :)
     
  10. LolaPup2013

    LolaPup2013 PetForums Member

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    Thanks so much guys. Now im talking about it - its all so obvious. Im glad i asked now. For the next few days now and then she will get peace but il get my son to drop some tasty treats on floor beside her/treat her through day so she has a good relationship with him. Apart from that - peace and quiet while we do what we must around her, cleaning, washing etc.
     
  11. Hopeattheendofthetunnel

    Hopeattheendofthetunnel PetForums VIP

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    Your vet's intentions were good....but his advice about HOW to prevent a dog from food guarding were totally incorrect.

    The GOAL, eventually, is indeed to have a bomb-proof dog who doesn't blink if someone interrupts her meal, takes her bowl, walkes past, gives her a pat whilst she eats, etc, etc..

    But to achieve this goal, it involves a process consisting if lots of steps. The general idea is that your dog will gradually learn that people approaching her bowl means getting even more and even yummier food.

    If she was mine, for a week or so I would just let her eat her meals undisturbed. Make sure your son is otherwise occupied or just sitting down and watching her eat. But definitely doesn't interrupt her in any way.

    As to "where"...just pick a quiet, out of the way, corner of the kitchen or dining room for her. Somewhere your son can't accidentally run into her.

    For Step 2, I would give her a tiny portion of her meal. Once she has completely finished eating that, let your son add another small portion to her bowl. Step back, wait for her to finish...and then add another portion. And another portion. Until her meal ration is finished. Once it is all gone, for the grand finale, let him put something super yummy in her bowl. A piece of ham, some meat, or chicken...something out of the ordinary.

    Eventually, in a month or two, when it is well ingrained in her mind that anyone approaching her bowl means MORE food is coming, you can lift her bowl while eating...but ONLY to add something fabulous to her meal. After which you give her her bowl back. I don't mean on every meal, just occasionally.

    Personally, I would NEVER allow a child to disturb a dog when eating. Please supervise closely even once she is completely happy with him adding food to her meal. Kids are kids, they do erratic things, so please drum into your son that she is never to be touched or fussed whilst she eats.
     
  12. dandogman

    dandogman PetForums VIP

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    With my dogs, I like to occasionally touch them when they're eating, drop some cheese/meat into their bowls to get them used to me being around their food. I think it's the most responsible thing to in a family household. Otherwise an accident could happen.

    Hand feeding is also good for preventing guarding I've heard.
     
  13. LolaPup2013

    LolaPup2013 PetForums Member

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    Great advice thank you guys. Yeah i believe the vets and our intention was right it just wasnt explained in enough depth. I defo want to make her as bomb proof as possible as i dont want to encourage us to always disturb her i just want to be able to have the ability if i needed to too remove her bowl or check something on her, i know realise the right way to do this is to encourage her and make her realise we arent coming to pester her or take things away from here but to give her goodies and be kind to her.

    I will from now on leave her for a week on monday with eating in total peace, i will do an activity with my son or entertain him. Then i will half her meal give her the first half then allow my son or us if he isnt here to put the second half in her bowl then once shes finished ill allow him to put an extra tasty treat in her bowl. I will do this for 2 of her 3 feeds a day as/when we have time. I was also of thinking of just randomly getting him to shout her through the day and then treat her something small but tasty so she associates him with good things as hes so young and noisy i sometimes swear i see her roll her eyes at him thinking deary me arent u in bed yet? lol

    Thanks so much for the advice. Im so glad ive been told the right info now at only 11.5 weeks instead of when shes 1/2yrs old.

    :p
     
  14. Finnboy

    Finnboy PetForums Member

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    Hi Lolapup

    I just wanted to add here that I too had been told to remove Finn's food every now and then to make sure he didn't behave this way if some one came near him and we have been doing that up until I read your post.....not very often but every now and then and only the person who gave him his meal and made him wait for it in the first place. Luckily it hasn't initiated any guarding behaviour in Finn and having read all these replies I can see the logic and we too will stop doing it.

    However.....there is a difference I think between allowing them peace during their mealtimes and trying to make sure your children are safe as much as possible around them when they have something in their mouths. I was very badly bitten by a neighbours dog when I was about 6, it was a Labrador and we had been in their garden playing with it, there were four kids and we all went off to swing down the garden and the neighbour gave the dog a bone.....I went back to the dog to stroke it again and he bit my wrist and ragged me round the garden.

    I have a nasty scar but luckily no fear of dogs....sadly the dog was put to sleep...I know why he did it of course so when we got our last dog and I knew he'd be around children we worked quite intensely on removing things from his mouth whilst he was chewing and playing with them (not his meals though) and yes at 14 weeks when we started this he growled a few times so we sternly told him no and repeated the training until we could take anything out of his mouth at any time without a protest from him. I know that was never a guarantee that he would be safe with children but it the best we could do and in almost 13 years he ever worried us once with little ones.

    Just thought I'd share that as I understand what you were trying to achieve. :)
     
  15. Owned By A Yellow Lab

    Owned By A Yellow Lab PetForums VIP

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    A growl is the safest warning any dog can ever give. A growl signals that the dog is unhappy, unsure, uncomfortable.

    The danger in stopping a dog from growling is that the dog may then feel it has no choice other than giving a more urgent warning - it could be an air snap but it could be a bite.

    LOLAPUP - rather than taking things out of the dog's mouth, why not work on teaching a solid 'let go' or 'leave'?
     
  16. Finnboy

    Finnboy PetForums Member

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    But would that not only train the pup to drop on command?

    A small child may well just reach for the mouth so is it not possible to train the pup to accept that hands in his mouth removing things is nothing to be feared and the item maybe removed and replaced by a tastier treat and lots of praise if the pup didn't growl immediately?

    We only had to stop growling a few times and granted that was when he was approached from behind and probably startled but there is every chance a child could do that at some point no matter how much you try and watch them?
     
  17. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

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    But by keep removing things from the dogs mouth and telling it off for growling you actually increase the risk of the dog biting, not decrease it. If a dog has never felt the need to guard its food and taught that its warnings won't be heeded it's highly unlikely to go straight to a bite but would first give a warning. A dog who has been taught that warnings will not only be ignored but actually punished on the other hand...well that's the dog likely to bite as it feels there is no other option available.
     
  18. Meezey

    Meezey Slave to the Black & Tans and the Trundle Bugs.

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    Rather than forcing and getting into conflict train a solid leave?

    A dog getting to the growling stage is them escalating their warning to you when you have ignored every visible sign they are uncomfortable and unhappy with the situation, you tell them off for a growl you skip a huge part of their warning sequence :(

    All my dogs have been brought up round children, for them having children round their food meant more yummy stuff not that things would be taken from them, or if they were asked to leave then it meant they were getting something nicer!
     
  19. Meezey

    Meezey Slave to the Black & Tans and the Trundle Bugs.

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    I would wonder why a small child would be left unsupervised long enough with a dog to get it's hand in dogs mouth?
     
  20. Finnboy

    Finnboy PetForums Member

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    Very sorry to hijack your post Lolapup but I just wanted to ask a very quick growl related question....if I chase off and scold Finn for eating turf, ripping plants etc he growls and barks at me then I in turn tell him off for growling and barking at me....I assume he's just narked at being chased off the plant rather than scared or warning me but should I be handling that differently too. I am now officially "growl confused"! Lol!
     
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