Puppy food aggression/resource guarding and kids

posted 2 weeks ago in Pets
Post # 16
211 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2022

I have a half lab, half golden now 10mo. I think you’re doing all the right steps! Lab are voracious eaters and can be food aggressive at times (I’ve had 4 labs in my life). I would keep doing what you’ve been doing +  suggest the following that I did with mine:

– teaching patience with food: if the pup jumps/barks/runs when food is being prepared/putting on the ground, say ah-uh (or whatever your ‘no’ command is) stop all actions and walk away. Next step would be to have him ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ until you give the ‘ok’ command to eat.

– teaching drop it and leave it very very early on: start by playng together with a toy and ask her to drop it. when she does reward with high value food she only gets for dropping/leaving it commands. Do this a few times a day to make it part of play. I reinforce it on walks when he picks up low value sticks/stones. I ramped it up by offering a long lasting treat like a bully stick and asking him to drop it. After I pick it up, give him the cheese, give the bully stick back. This way he knows it comes back. Eventually you can take and not give it back. 

– you can also try a vibration or beeping collar with a remote. when she snarls, give her a vibration so she gets distracted. this worked wonders for mine and jumping on people. 

Consistency is the key – everyone must follow the same rules and you need to enforce it. My pup never has issues with me taking food right out of his mouth or waiting up to 10min to get the ‘ok’ to eat (nevermind the puddle of drool) BUT my fiance will take food from him and forget to give it back or pretend to eat it and the dog used to snarl, but now rapidly eats or picks it up and hides in the crate whenever he sees him get close. Correct immediately – when a new person approached him when he had a treat and he growled, I immediately ah-uh him and take away the treat to let him know it’s not ok. I also agree while you’re in this teaching phase to teach your kids to leave the dog alone when she’s easily triggered. 

Post # 18
1327 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

It’s obvious that you care a lot and are trying to do the right thing! You did a great job with the food situation and she is no longer reactive. Hopefully, the behaviorist can put you at ease and help you move forward.

I am sorry for saying in her face, I should have said in her space instead.

I am in no way saying she should be isolated. My dogs are family members so while they have to listen and obey and have good manners we also respect them and their space. When the dog has a bone, treat ect, “kids respect her personal space and leave her alone,” isn’t isolating. That can be in the living room with the whole family. The puppy was perfectly fine until she was repeatedly bothered and then she didn’t bite she merely growled to let them know she wanted to be left alone. “Hey, the pats were nice but please leave me alone now.”

The puppy was perfectly fine in the living room with the bone and the kids and being touched multiple times so I don’t think you will have a dog that will attack anyone that touches her. After multiple times being bothered she growled. Which is her only way to communicate. My reaction would have been, okay kids, that’s enough she is telling you to leave her alone now, you need to listen to her she needs her space and then redirect the dog to take her bone and move away from the kids and remove herself from the situation that is bothering her.

I redirect the dog to leave the situation when she gets annoyed…as that’s giving her tools to handle situations she is uncomfortable with and what are her other options?

It seems like you were testing her and waiting for her to react and the way you reacted to her growl influenced her over the top reaction.

The last thing you want to do is punish for growling as this stops the growling which is her warning system, the way she communicates. This creates very dangerous unpredictable dogs!

A growl is a dog’s cry for help. It’s your dog’s way of telling you he can’t tolerate a situation – as if he’s saying, “I can’t handle this, please get me out of here!”

“So, what can happen when you punish a growl is that your dog will learn that growling doesn’t work, and they will escalate to the next step. If you’re lucky your dog is very socially tolerant and offers many protracted warning signals, trying to avoid escalation. You punish the growl, so your dog moves to a snarl or snap. If you’re unlucky, you will have a less tolerant dog with less warning signals and may go from a growl directly to an out right bite. Now, you have a dog that bites without warning. These are some of the most dangerous dogs to live with. And it’s difficult if not impossible to get that growl back.”


Google punish a growl. It’s an overwhelming no no.

“Never punish a growling dog. You can punish away a growl, sure, but all you’ve done is make a dog bite more likely. If your dog learns that growling to express their discomfort at your approach results in an aversive (such as yelling, hitting, a “tap” from a shock collar), and the loss of the item they were guarding, the next time you reach for it, they’re more likely to skip the growl and go straight for a bite.”

Here’s a good resources.




Post # 19
211 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2022

View original reply
@IcedTulips:  she’s still very young and for what it’s worth it took between 4mo to 6.5mo for me to be 99% confident they are no longer food aggressive. 

The touch factor is a new one for me. and 100% true that she needs to be able to get over this because accidents happen all the time. How does she react to accidents? Like if something scares her on a walk, a loud sudden sound etc? 

Here is the collar I bought: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VCFJHYQ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It does shock, vibrate and tone. I only use the vibrate option and it works great for indoor controlled training. He stopped jumping on people after 2 days! But outside it’s a hit and miss. He stopped eating at mud puddles but if he’s reallllly interested in a dog, no amount of calling or buzzing will make him come back. Even potential treats – but it’s something 😀  

Post # 20
211 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2022

also, it was $25 when i bought it so I suggest using camelcamelcamel to make sure you hit it (or any other product) when it’s cheaper

Post # 21
135 posts
Blushing bee

I’ve never had this issue with my dog, but from the beginning I would occasionally approach her bowl while she ate to drop high value treats in. I read to do this so the puppy associates a hand coming near their bowl with good things. She’s grown now, but to this day I still do it sometimes with my hand practically inside the bowl when I release it. Again though, I’ve never had this issue.

Post # 22
9237 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I think Elodie gave some excellent advice but I would just add, where is the dog’s safe space? We don’t use a crate anymore but our dog’s beds are sacred. My kids won’t get in trouble for much but if they crawl on the bed or touch him while he’s there it’s always a time out and then they have to apologize to the dog for being in his space. If the kids are annoying him he goes there and knows he can be left alone. He also knows that if he wants snuggles he can leave the bed and come chill on the rug with them so it works both ways. 

Post # 23
1617 posts
Bumble bee

View original reply
@IcedTulips:  most of what you are doing is great. However we need to associate  the kids with something good and yourself as the provider of goods. 

Reward positive interactions. Have the kids tell her to sit. When she is calm a reward and a pet. She needs to earn rewards from those positives and associate the kids with good  stuff. And not just with being punished. 

Also yourself trading a toy for a treat. A toy for you, a toy for her.  Trade a  treat for toy etc redirections. 

Positive reinforcement. Redirection. Planned ignoring if it’s useless behavior just for attention. 

Post # 24
8028 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2010

View original reply
@LilliV:  I agree with this. My kids know they don’t approach the dogs in their beds because that is their safe space. If the dogs go to their beds they are off limits. 

Post # 25
2234 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: City, State

View original reply
@IcedTulips:  Checking in, Bee. How did the behaviorist appointment go? 

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