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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Preventing Food Aggression

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
Food Aggression Starts when
Your Dog Thinks She Owns the Food
I guess this is one of those days when I'm going to get all Cesar Millan on you. You may laugh, but he's got the food thing down. Teaching your dog that the food belongs to you, right from the start, will assure that you will never have a snarling match when you take a table scrap or dog bowl away from your dog.

I may not be an expert, but if my 3 dogs could talk, they would tell you that I own the food. I started with adding my scent to their bowls by rubbing my body oil (from my forehead) onto the outside of the bowl. Then, when I place their food in the bowl, I handle it with my bare hands, making sure my scent is mixed in well.

Asking my dogs to sit or down and then STAY, I place the food in front of them and tell them to leave it. The length of this exercise depends on the age and experience of the dog. Oliver, the youngest, is not quite as patient, yet can still manage 2 minutes when hungry enough. They all know that if they make a move toward the food, the dish goes up on top of the refrigerator. Nothing is worse than that!
When given permission to break their stay with my "All done" command, they understand that they may get up, but still wait and watch for the final grant. Permission to eat comes when I say Take it. Tanner is still tentative about this. He likes a tap on the shoulder, sort of a "go ahead" before he takes it. He will drool all over the floor until I give permission. What a good boy he is.

If I reach for the bowl, he backs up and sits again. When done eating, he remains in his spot until his housemates have finished eating, at which time I probably break the rules. I give him permission to Do the Dishes. He licks out the other bowls, followed by Oliver. Sometimes they do the dishes together. I am still able to take those dishes, though, even when they are still licking. The understanding here is that I am the pack leader, which means I own the food. I like it that way, and they respect it. That is the most important part. No arguments over treats, meals or bones--ever.

Want to know more? This guy is the master. Start with Season I and work your way through.

Tanner is back in the pool at Organic Journey Online, where Woofing Wednesday continues to be a popular post each week. As usual, he is up to his favorite pool game: fetch. Stop in and have a look around. You can subscribe easily, just by typing in your email address at the top right.


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