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I have a 5 1/2 month old chocolate Lab who showing signs of food aggression. Its seems to be getting progressively worse with time. It started out with just the food in his bowl and now he growls and lunges with food in his bowl and any treat he really seems to enjoy. Example: Flavored bones and rawhides.
He has actually bit my boyfriend and punctured his skin. Other dog owners have told us this behavior needs to stop right now which my boyfriend and I both agree with. My question is what is the best method to use. I was thinking the E-collar.

Any Suggestions....
 

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I'm sure others will have more to say, but the very first thing to do is to start practicing NILIF RELIGIOUSLY! Everyone in the house has to do this. You can do a search on this board and find references to it. It will establish you as the "top dog."
 

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And what do you expect to achieve with an e-collar?

Not to be disparaging, but really. You're going to take a food-aggressive dog and ZAP him from afar? To achieve.... what?

NILIF is a good start. Hand-feeding is also an option. Do not take this lightly. Is he in obed training? If not, I'd get there ASAP and tell you instructor what your issue is. Is he dog-aggressive in general? You might want a couple of 1:1 sessions w/a behaviorist.

Good luck!!!!!
 

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i had a foster dog with food aggression. there is no quick fix for resolving this kind of behavioral problem, but it can be resolved. it took us over 6 months to get to the point where the dog could relax near his food bowl with me nearby. we eventually got to the point where he welcomed me being near his food bowl.

i would start a training regiment where i teach/train my dog that my presence and my hands are not a threat and pose no danger to their hunger. teach your dog that human hands brings tasty treats, more food, or other goodies. human presence near the food bowl is wonderful! dog learns to welcome humans near the food bowl, not fear and guard against it.

first, relocate your dog's feeding area and get a brand new, different looking bowl. get a fresh start. don't do training for at least a week. let your dog eat in peace without being distrubed. when you are ready for training, begin with hand feeding kibble for at least a week.

when you feel like you might be ready, give food in the new bowl, and while dog is eating, casually walk by and toss hot dogs into the food bowl. repeat a few times for several days. once the dog is comfortable with the walk bys, walk directly towards the dog while eating and offer hot dog treats. the goal is to get to the point where your dog becomes comfortable and enjoy you being near the food bowl.

when the dog is comfortable with you being close, you can pick up the half finished food bowl, and put a spoonful of canned dog food, cottage cheese, or other tasty treat on top of the kibble, and put it back down. dog learns that it's great when humans take food bowl away! :)

with training, the dog can become conditioned to stop guarding their food bowl, even when you have no hot dogs or other tasty treats to offer, because by that point, the dog has learned that food guarding is unnecessary.

punishing the dog for food/object guarding can sometime have the effect of validating the anxiety that caused them to guard the food in the first place, and results in the aggressive behavior getting worse and harder to resolve.

also, please read this booklet by jean donaldson:

http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB740
 

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It would be horribly counter productive to use an e-collar for this purpose... or any "aggression" issue in my mind. I'd use the NILIF also. No question. Perhaps a vet check is in order also as I find that very unusual behavior for a pup that age. Also, get him to an obedience class!!!!!

You need to be able to set a bowl, bone, etc, down and be able to take it away. Think baby child in the house..... -Anne
 

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You absolutely DO NOT need an e-collar for this or anything else for that matter IMO. You will make the problem far worse. :-\

You have been given fantastic advice from luke from georgia. I hope you put it into practice with your girl. Good luck.
 

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I hope whomever suggested an ecollar was kidding.

Please use Luke from Georgia's advise and train through this.
 

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If you're dealing with any real issues with a 5 month old puppy, you really should consult a behaviorist asap...especially aggression!
 

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JacksAndLabs said:
If you're dealing with any real issues with a 5 month old puppy, you really should consult a behaviorist asap...especially aggression!
TOTALLY!!!
But make sure they are legit, around here pretty much anybody could call themselves a "behaviourist" - ask for references!!

You are right in that this totally needs to be addressed NOW!!

(p.s. can someone tell me what NILIF is?)
 

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I have actually pondered an e collar for training off leash at the park. You see, Payton knows the come command, but when he's playing with the other dogs and sees a dog in the distance being walked by their owner, he will bolt after the other dog to say hi! Many people don't like this and I don't blame them, but I thought it might be a way to correct him if he starts running off! Anyone try that for this matter?
 

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If you only use Luke from Georgia's advice (which is GREAT by the way!!) and don't go to a behaviourist, I just have one thing to add..

Make sure that when you approach them at the food bowl you do it with a calm, relaxed, confident demeanor, DO NOT let yourself be scared or nervous, if you find that you are, do not approach!! Dogs can sense these things, and the behaviour will intensify if they do...
 

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Baloo317 said:
(p.s. can someone tell me what NILIF is?)
Nothing In Life Is Free. Its a method of training that reinforces that everything comes from you and is earned.
 

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right right.. ok, thank you!

I didn't recognize the acronym :-[
 

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JacksAndLabs said:
If you're dealing with any real issues with a 5 month old puppy, you really should consult a behaviorist asap...especially aggression!
To be totally honest, I seriously doubt a 5.5 mo old Lab pup has an "aggression" issue. A health issue, a bratty "Attitude", yes, but aggression???

I too fostered many rescues here, including other breeds (like Chessies) that are known for food aggression/resource guarding. Once the dogs learned there were RULES in my house to live by (a foreign concept to many "brats" and rescues, I may add), I had no issues.

This is why I suggested taking the pup to the vet to rule out health issues, and to a good obedience class. Puppies need to be socialized with people and other dogs. Skipping this step is a huge mistake. Working with a behaviorist is fine, as long as that pup also gets to work around other dogs, and learn that it IS, in fact, a DOG. Some dogs think of themselves as human because their owners treat them as such. Not saying this is the case here, but just throwing it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you for all the great advice...
I will def look into the NILIF Training.
I was just nervous because my dog, Rocco is 5 1/2 months old and weights 67 LB. I dont want him to reach full growth and attack someone. I picked the Labrador breed for their great temperment and was shock that he was growling and biting when it came to eating.
 

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Lots of great advice! Please read the above, NILF has worked for me with Dryf (he was very food agressive and probably would have bit us if we had not been careful). But as the others have said; he is quite young to be AGRESSIVE. Have you discussed this with the breeder?


Bolts21 said:
I have actually pondered an e collar for training off leash at the park. You see, Payton knows the come command, but when he's playing with the other dogs and sees a dog in the distance being walked by their owner, he will bolt after the other dog to say hi! Many people don't like this and I don't blame them, but I thought it might be a way to correct him if he starts running off! Anyone try that for this matter?
How old is Payton? Have you practice recall? If so, how did you go about teaching it?

First step is to get your recall 100% on leash. Then 100% on a long leash. Then you START introducing distractions....slowly. Do not move up until he is 100% at each level. And 100% doesn't happen over night. IT takes weeks and months of practice at each level.

You may want to start a new post with your question as others will have more advice.
 

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l also recommend NILIF training (Nothing in Life is Free, AKA NFL -- No Free Lunch).

In this (as I've used it -- you can Google to get other protocols) all food for each meal is fed from my hand, a few kibbles at a time, and after the pup obeys a command [e.g., sit, down, stand, stay, come, etc.]

It makes a mealtime a 15 minute long exercise but it's very efficient training.

I'd also recommend to you to NOT use an e-collar for this.

I think you're probably considering using the e-collar to punish the undesired response?

While all animals can learn some things through punishment, it is the most difficult of all consequences for a trainer to apply precisely. You can much more precisely and quickly train the desired response (non-aggression) with a reward protocol such as NILIF or what Luke suggested.

Punishment is like letting lightning out of a jar -- you never know and have little capacity to guide what it will attach to and diminish -- your presence? time of day? that bowl? that food? eating?

I strongly recommend 3 resources to you:

#1 Read "Culture Clash" by Jean Donaldson. This is scientifically sound, follows standard learning principles specifically geared to dog training, and will help your training in many areas.

#2 Visit the site for wwwdogsbestfriendtraining.com. Dr. Patricia McConnell is a legitimate, world recognized behaviorist and dog expert. She has many booklets on common problems -- scan through those for one which addresses your problem or ask her to develop a protocol for you to employ.

#3 Before buying an e-collar, buy and read a book on how to train with an e-collar such as "Tritronics Retriever Training" by the Dobbs. They describe the method of collar conditioning the dog before ever starting training. You really should buy, read, and thoroughly understand "Culture Clash" first because an e-collar is not a magic wand, does not automatically confer on you greater expertise in learning principles. It makes it much easier to quickly screw up your dog permanently if you do not know well enough what you're doing. "To a man with a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail."

I DO use an e-collar, a Dogtra 200NCP Gold. It has a "Page" function which gives a vibrating buzzer stimulus. We walk offleash for an hour early each morning in a nature preserve where we may encounter skunks, moving park dept. trucks, other dogs, people, etc. An absolute 100% reliable recall was essential. We'd used a 50 ft check cord/long line for a couple years but Puff was sometimes too far away to use that.

I was VERY hesitant about using one (for reasons of the hammer saying) although I've taught learning priniciples to graduate and undergraduate students for many years and had previously trained Bess.

But Puff has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). [She originally had ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) but graduated from that.] I find that using the "Page" function works adequately 99.999% of the time. It's sometimes a couple months between the times I ever use a mild "Nick" to get her attention.
 

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Bob Pr. said:
I was VERY hesitant about using one (for reasons of the hammer saying) although I've taught learning priniciples to graduate and undergraduate students for many years and had previously trained Bess.

But Puff has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). [She originally had ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) but graduated from that.] I find that using the "Page" function works adequately 99.999% of the time. It's sometimes a couple months between the times I ever use a mild "Nick" to get her attention.

LOL, Bob Pr. 8) Not wanting to get into the E collar debate, suffice it to say that Bob's resource, along w/ Evan Graham's SmartFetch are good ones to read prior to even THINKING about using a collar on a dog. If you use one, use it wisely and it will be no more pressure than a properly used choke chain or prong (or verbal NO to some dogs!). It is not supposed to HURT them. -Anne
 

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I have actually pondered an e collar for training off leash at the park. You see, Payton knows the come command, but when he's playing with the other dogs and sees a dog in the distance being walked by their owner, he will bolt after the other dog to say hi! Many people don't like this and I don't blame them, but I thought it might be a way to correct him if he starts running off! Anyone try that for this matter?
I'm going to bite the bullet here and say that while you could use an e-collar for this, you could also do it the "old fashioned" way -- by training and hard work. ;) E-collars should be used as a last resort. Your dog is not doing anything wrong here. He simply hasn't been trained to come back when called which is YOUR problem, not his. He is being a normal socialable Labrador. You can't "correct" him for a command he doesn't know. You will only confuse and upset him.

Read the 'Our Best Advice' thread and build up his recall in steps. First in your house and yard with no discrations, then with distractions, then out in a public place with no distractions, then with distractions, and so on. In the mean time, when you take him to the park, pop him back on his leash as soon as you see another person or dog.
 

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Absolutely Trickster! I have 6 dogs, ages 12 yrs to 6 mos who ALL go on 3 mile offlead walks on private (safe) property. They tend to get off on birds or sage rats, bunnies, whatever, and yet I have NO problem. Blow the whistle (3 tweets) and they come BLASTING in... lord save my knees! Why? Because that whistle has been ingrained in their minds (even the baby) as something GOOD. They get a treat for coming fast... I always carry dog cookies and give little bits of them as reward. It's been a good long time since any have worn an e-collar and that was mainly due to them wanting to roll in horse doo (neighbor dumps his stall bedding out in the one field) or major digging :) But they were collar conditioned so understand what the correction means too (they blew off my come whistle!). If not properly conditioned, a dog may bolt... and good luck getting him back. -Anne
 
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