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Thread: Rescue dog hysterical about food!

  1. #1
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    Mar 2010
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    Default Rescue dog hysterical about food!

    My recent rescue dog Missy, a 10 year old chihuaha cross has what can only be described as hysteria when it comes to mealtimes, she was starved for 6 days in the pound because she had mouth full of severely infected teeth and was given hard biscuits only! So she could not eat for some time.

    So when it is coming up to mealtimes she starts whining and barking and moaning and goes on and on and on, until she is fed. She is not food aggressive at all, I can put my hands in her bowl or take her food away, there is no problem there, and she is not dominant in any way in the household, its more like a sort of hysterical carrying on and on to get at the food its obviously a huge anxiety for her.

    When I point to her to sit and be still she calms a little but only a little and tends to whine more softly, but is still constantly whining until she is fed.

    Any ideas anyone??

  2. #2
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    Jan 2012
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    I can't really help you.. But have you tried not giving it to her until she is completely silent? It would take some time for her to get used to it.. But giving her the food while she is doing it is just encouraging her and saying it's okay to do.

    I hope some one else can help you more!
    No one loves you like your dog does.

  3. #3

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    That's a great suggestion Kelpielover

    Also, over time she will realize (hopefully) that she wont be in the situation she was in at the pound.
    My dog used to gulp his food down in a few seconds until he came to realize that I would always give him plenty if he wanted it (within reason).

    She will get there, just like humans need time to be able to trust each other.


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  4. #4
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    That's true.
    Some dogs realize anyway... a friend of mine rescued a dog from bad situation years ago and he still stuffs his face like he has never been fed. I think he was starved bad then and in bad condition. But yeah. It's amazing how much a dog remembers even after being rescued and well and truly spoilt and loved.
    No one loves you like your dog does.

  5. #5
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    could you try instead of giving her a meal as such, getting a few toys that you can stuff food into, and put all her food in the toys for her to eat gradually through the day? Or you could try changing her meal time around so she doesn't associate a certain time with being fed. Not sure if this would work, but you could try preparing the food and leave it on the bench, then go and do something else completely unrelated until she settles, and once she's given up and calmed down then quickly put the food in front of her so she doesn't have time to get worked up about it?

  6. #6
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    Cant offer much advice but I just wanted to say that your awesome for adopting a 10 year old! I also hear about people giving up their older adult dogs and this gives me hope that someone might adopt them...your a legend!!!

    If its any consolation, my old dog who I had for 17 years, who had never gone hungry a day in her life always carried on and scoffed her food down...I just assumed she was a little piggy lol I never really corrected her because even though she was a little piggy she always had good manners.

  7. #7

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    Not feeding her until she is quite is a good idea and will eventually quiten her down but, it may not if this behaviour has been allowed to be a constant in her life. If it has, then you may need to put her away in another room until the food has been prepared and is ready for her to eat.
    Nev Allen
    Border River Pet Resort

  8. #8
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    I would look at desensitising her to the preparation of food at food time.

    After you have given her her food, maybe 30mins, start "preparing" her dinner again in the same way you normally do. Once she reacts in any way, stop the process and put what you got out away again and go about your business as usual. Do this a few times every day. This will make her see that the "preparation process" doesn't necessarily mean there is food coming. It's the same process you use to calm a dog down when out on walks. You need to start with the use of the word "walk" (can you say it without your dog going crazy), can you put your shoes on, can you get their lead, can you walk to the door calmly, an so on.
    I say after dinner because she is LESS likely to be as reactive to the idea of food prep if she has food in her tummy already.

    I would also look at using the "lower and raise" technique (that's not the technical term )
    Come down to ground level and hold the bowl high. As you lower the bowl, she must stay back away from the bowl (no head dives). If she moves forward then you lift the bowl again. Once she moves back again then you can lower again. This will take time for her to get used to, but after a while, she will realise that sitting/standing back calmly lowers the bowl and over-excitement and moving forward raises the bowl.

    You can do this with her meal in small portions and/or perhaps look at feeding her 2-3 times a day to give her more sessions to practice the behaviour.

    Is she generally calm besides this behaviour or is she excited/anxious at other times?

  9. #9
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    Thank you all for your kind replies, I think not feeding her until she is quiet is the best way to go also desensitising her to mealtimes. Ill keep you posted as to how we go. She is very gentle and well behaved in other respects, just this overwhelming food anxiety, also hopefully time will also make her realise that she will get fed every day : )

  10. #10
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    Frosty is a nut job when it comes to meal times. And I have to be really careful when trick training with food rewards - not to reward barking. The easiest way for me to get her to be quiet - was to ask her to bark - easy job at meal times, and then start rewarding the pre-bark which is much quieter.

    We also practice sit stays for dinner. But I start with really really short times and then vary up and down by tiny amounts, how long I expect her to do what I ask before she can have her dinner. Ie first time - I only expected her to be quiet for a fraction of a second...

    You could also use this opportunity to teach her to "sing" on cue.

    I think it could take a month or so for her to get over her bad experience in the pound and figure out what you want her to do at meal times, so be patient.

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