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Thread: Help! Starting to Food Guard!!

  1. #1

    Default Help! Starting to Food Guard!!

    Quick question for everyone.

    I have a 20 week old am staff x pup. Last week I gave her a chicken wing to munch on while I got ready for work and kept her in the same room as me to make sure there were no issues while she was eating it ie: chocking because she tends to swallow food quite quickly. Anyways she got most of the way through it and she was doing really well she wasn't trying to eat it too quickly she was ripping off the meat and then trying to break through the bones, anyways I leaned down to pick up a few little shards of bone that were lying around and one of her teeth which had fallen out (she was losing her milk teeth at the time) and as I reached in and picked it up she growled a bit, I thought maybe I heard wrong so I reached down again and lo and behold she growled and sort of barked in her throat at me, she has NEVER EVER done this before. She also growled a bit at me last night when I was giving her a pat while she ate her dinner, only when I patted her on the head though.

    I have another dog Keira who I haven't had this issue with, she has never resource guarded and she is now 3 I can take food and bones off her with no dramas at all. I have made a point to do the same thing with Phoenix as I did with Keira because it worked. I also follow what my trainer says to do. IE: I will hand feed her or give her her breaky/dinner in a kong toy so she has to work for the food. If I am giving her something which I have to give to her in her bowl I can put it down and she won't touch it until I give her the OK. And I make a point of never taking food from her and if I have to take a bone off her I will trade ie: I will give her a chunk of steak and swap her for the bone.

    What am I doing wrong? Or what can I do stop this?

    I don't want a dog that will bite me if one day in an emergency I have to take something off her and don't have time to get something to swap it with. I have taught her leave it and can drop food on the floor without her touching it until I say so or give her something else and pick it up. But dogs are not fool proof and I cannot guarantee one day she won't grab something she shouldn't and I will have to act quickly to take it from her or if I am not there someone else has to.

    Suggestions? Criticisms? All welcome. Thanks

  2. #2


    You may be doing nothing wrong so do not beat yourself up.
    Keira may just be a different personality to this dog.
    Can you tell me alittle more about the dogs temperment in general, like how well he responds to general training, past upbringing before you etc?
    Your trainer uses what sort of methods?
    I am sure it's probley just a case of a tennager pushing boundries & seeing just what they can get away with. You will most likely find he will try it on in a few other ways over the next 6mnths also.
    I will await your answers till I say much more or I could be off base with my advise..........

  3. #3


    Hi CD

    Phoenix is well behaved, responds well to training, is very switched on, doesn't take her long to pick up new things. She sleeps in a crate in my room and spends her days between being indoors with my family or in her pen outside. She tends to be happy to follow me around the house when I am home, very loving dog. Comes when she is called 90% of the time the other 10% happens when dinner is being prepared or someone has food because she is highly food motivated. I got her at 9 weeks old from what I now believe to be a BYB (parents were in Bundaberg, accidental breeding, apparently parents have now been desexed) but she seemed happy was with 4 of her littermates, 3 other pups (2 BCs and a runt SBT) and 1 older BC x ACD. They were allowed inside and outside the house there.
    My trainer uses only positive reinforcment methods. Basically he told me to try to hand feed or make her work for her dinner ie: freeze her food in beef/chicken stock or give it to her in a kong if not hand feeding, as I said I do this sometimes but bowl feed her if I am giving her something like fish.

    She does sometimes push boundaries ie; I make her stay on a mat while we eat dinner she will stay there but every now and then she will get up and try to come over in which case I send her back to the mat until everyone is finished. The odd time at training she has barked at me to get me to give her food (I ignore her) and my trainer has pointed out that she is trying to bully me into giving her something.

    I hope this helps you help me LOL

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010


    I am not sure what the best way is to stop food guarding, but I always do the following with my pups from the minute the minute they get home.

    I stick my fingers in their mouth while they are eating. I play with the food in the bowl while they are eating. I stick my hand over the bowl while they eat. I remove the bowl and give it back. I pat them while they are eating...all that kind of business.

    I found it quite interesting that when you remove food from the dog you swap it with another piece of food. Is there a reason for that (I am not a trainer etc so am interested to hear the theory behind this)? I personally, do not swap. If I remove food from my dog I just take it. They don't argue with me or try and keep it because that behaviour is not allowed at our house.

    The way I do it might not be the way others do it but with all 5 of our dogs we have never had an issue thus far so. However, it is probably not helpful to an older pup who is already displaying some guarding (probaby best not to put your fingers in her mouth or over her bowl lol).

    I am sure you will get some fab advice in here from th emany experts. Good luck in dealing with it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    I play "give" and "geddit" with my dog, and "thank you" (drop what you've got).

    The thing about "give" and "geddit" is the dog has to be fairly confident that giving up what it has is worth it, ie you're going to give it back or hand over something better. It's a bit rude to say give and then put the thing in your pocket - though i do that sometimes too - I try to make up for it with a game or something else like a treat or a chew.

    It's something to practice every day - though I don't mess with the food bowl. Once I've given her permission to eat, I do not stop her or make it into a game. I do mess with toys and treat-chews and the squirrel dude.

  6. #6


    Helps heaps.
    I doubt you will have a too hard a time getting Phoenix back on track & that yes he is trying to bully you & push the boundries which is quite natural for an inmature dog to try. You just need to get a handle on it & not allowing the food aggression & bulling to continue will do that I beleive.
    So in respondse to the food aggression the trainer has not advised you directly on how to deal with food bowl possivenes? I agree with making dogs work for a % of their daily food intake but I also think feeding times in bowls is a very good oppertunity for training many things. I would make a rountine of her working for say 40% of her diet with the food being used as treat training & say 20% for enviromental stimulation putting in cubes & kongs for dogs to manipulate & roll around to get the food & I like to shallow bury bones , liver treats
    & cheese cubes in different spots like their sandpit & at the base of a tree say. The last 40% I would use for food bowl training by feeding it either once or twice a day at a set dinner time where both dogs are feed & do as you are by putting the food down & making them wait till told to eat. How dose Keira react to his growling at you? As long as you can have her ignore his reactions I would have them both present but if she will overact to his misbehavour or you think it could start a fight don't unless you can have them both on leads & someone there to hold 1 for you. If he tries to take the food before being told take it straight back up(if your at all worried he'd lunge for you whilst you picked it up, kick the bowl away with your foot first) untill he will wait(always put a dog into a sit before even getting the bowl or asking him to wait when it's sat down & keep 1 eye on him always & if his bum leaves the ground remind him to sit) then after he starts with your permission use your foot or a broom if at all worried to push the bowl aside & bend down & pick it back up if he's good put it straight back down & reward him like mad with whatever you know is his fave reward be it a specail(cheese) food treat or just you going nuts over him. If he so much as changes his body posture or growls use your deepest most stern voice & say a very strong but no yelling NO! I find I use a deep grunt noise that all my dogs & most others seem to understand I mean buisness so if NO isn't for you practise in the mirror with growls, grunts & sounds & it really helps you see what makes you sound & look the strongest is the 1 to use. Strong dose not mean angrey though.
    It's important to really study his body posture & tiny little mannerisms that you'll learn to see is lending up to him growling because once you can see it before it actully happens you can correct it by using your stern noise & make your body posture betray strength also by standing tall & straight. The longer the dog goes without growling at you the less likely it is to happen at all because you have to keep repeating a learned behavour to reinforce it & keep it being a respondance to a certain situation. So the longer you can go without him growling when his food is removed the new reation becomes the learned behavour.
    Dose this make sence to you?
    You know your dog better than me but if at all worried he may follow through & do more than growl start the feeding time routine on lead untill you feel your right without it.

  7. #7


    Hi Lala,

    The reason I swap is because that is what my trainer teaches. Basically his theory (sorry if this makes more sense I am sure he explains it much better) that by taking food (or toys etc) from a dog and not giving them anything back exacerbates guarding behavior because they then feel like they need to guard it from you because you may take it away from them, by swapping for a higher value item they do not they need to guard it because they are always getting something better. Basically what Hyacinth said, take something and give them something back for it.

    He also explained it can be dangerous because a dog who guards is likely to swallow an item if it feels like you may take it whether that be food whole or in a case he describe a dog swallowed a kids mitten(glove) whole and he had to reach down the dogs throat to stop it from choking (this was at a play group they run).

    Thanks crazydog. Trainer advised on hand feeding, freezing food in stock, and putting in kongs or similar toys for feeding that was just in general during class I haven't yet been able to speak to him about her growling at me but we have play group this weekend so I will ask him then. From day dot I have always made Phoenix sit and wait before allowing her to feed (ie: she wont eat until she is given the ok). I don't feed Keira and Phoenix together at this stage as I did try once and Phoenix was jumping in Keira's face and licking her and she ended up getting a nip from Keira, so I feed separately. I will start to do the 40/40//20 thing and see how we go, someone else suggesting feeding in a crate and getting close and dropping food into the bowl as well so will put all this into practice this week and see how we go I general use a very firm "argh" if she does something undesirable and ignoring her isn't appropriate so if she growls at me again I will try that. She always seems to be crouching over her food which to me seems very protective or guarding, don't know how to stop that though.

    On a good note when the cats are being fed she won't go near their bowl until they have walked away from it even if I tell her OK she still won't
    Last edited by Keira & Phoenix; 01-05-2011 at 04:18 PM. Reason: replying to crazy dog

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    likely to swallow an item if it feels like you may take it whether that be food whole
    My dog did this yesterday - apparently a big bit of bone is not as good as the little bit she had. So she swallowed it, and I'm still waiting for it to come out. Though I may have missed it - there's a bit of a jungle down the back.

    No more bones for her, sigh. I thought, stupidly, that if she only had it for five minutes she wouldn't break it up into bits, but I was wrong.

  9. #9


    My dog did this yesterday - apparently a big bit of bone is not as good as the little bit she had. So she swallowed it, and I'm still waiting for it to come out. Though I may have missed it - there's a bit of a jungle down the back.

    No more bones for her, sigh. I thought, stupidly, that if she only had it for five minutes she wouldn't break it up into bits, but I was wrong.
    Haha she probably thought if she swallowed the little bit she could have the big bit as well!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Moggill, Queensland


    When my dog was young I played with my dog's food while he ate (best with dry food =D), taking it out. You can also pretend to eat it, as supposedly it tells the dog that this is your food, you're just sharing it.

    My dog has at one stage growled a bit while I was patting him while he ate, so I took his bowl off him, made him sit still for 10 seconds or so and gave it back. I've not had an issue since.

    However, I never trained my dog to deal with other people taking his food (since no one else in this household cares too much about him), and my brother, who's six, knows not to be around him at all while he's eating.

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