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ok so since oliver appeared at our house ginger has started growling towards me when i feed her. she is fed out of her crate and oliver inside his crate. i usually tell her to sit, then go get her food, put it down, ask for a high five or beg, once she does that i tell her ok and she starts eating. i would pet her until she took 3 or 4 bites and then walk away. now when i put it down and ask for high five she growls showing teeth but she will do the high five growling. she will growl if i try to pet her while eating. but as soon as pick up her dish she's all happy and tail wagging....as soon as i put it down again she growls. oh and i wanted to add she eats fine out of my hand and if the bowl is in my lap and i pet her neck. but she doesn't like when her bowl is on the floor and i pet her...she growls along with her tail kinda tucked and her hackles up.

anyone know anything i can do about this?
 

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with the tail low, i'm guessing the behavior is fear and anxiety based.
does she have good reason to be afraid that you may take her bowl away at any given moment while she is trying to eat? and when you take the bowl away, do you put something extra yummy in the bowl? or do you just give it back as is?

some dogs are more vocal than others, and sometimes groaning, grumbling sounds are more an indication of the dog trying to deal with their own stress than it is about the dog trying to intimidate another individual. anyway, that's my opinion. you know your dog best. if you feel that there is something more serious going on, please contact a qualified behaviorist.

edited to add: it's possible the teeth showing might be a submissive grin.
 

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luke from georgia said:
with the tail low, i'm guessing the behavior is fear and anxiety based.
does she have good reason to be afraid that you may take her bowl away at any given moment while she is trying to eat? and when you take the bowl away, do you put something extra yummy in the bowl? or do you just give it back as is?
at the beginning when i noticed it started i would call her to me (which she happily did), give her peanut butter and then she would happily go back and eat the rest (i was able to pet her then). now i can have a piece of hot dog, let her smell it, she sits on her own, give her a piece, pick her bowl up put some in it, make her high five, down or any other command and she starts growling. its like as soon as the bowl is on the ground. also when i'm putting peanut butter or hot dogs in her food, out the corner of my eye i see her shaking a little? but not all the time. am i rewarding her growling behavior by mistake? when is the correct time to give her a treat? what would bring this up all of a sudden? nothing in my routine has changed.
 

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i don't have any clue why she is doing this suddenly, but generally, any behavior that is repeated is behavior that has a reinforcement history. she finds some rewarding aspect to the behavior, whether it's self rewarding (relieves stress) or you are somehow rewarding it, i couldn't tell you.

how about try using a different bowl in a new location? and once you put down the bowl, walk away. try that for a couple of days. see what changes.

my dogs don't have any issues around food or other resources. i require them to wait for their release to dig into their bowls, but other than that, i don't try to interact with them while they are eating. occasionally, i put extra food into their bowls or i might touch or bump into them as i'm walking around the kitchen, but those are generally unplanned and infrequent events.

too much touching and talking, trying to interact with a dog focused on eating is more like harassment, IMHO.
 

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ok i will try a new bowl and location. also i will not talk to her while she's eating...i didn't think of it as harassment. maybe i should start giving her hot dogs after she finishes her food instead of during?
thanks!
 
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