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Food Aggression

(11 Posts)
needrawhelp Thu 09-May-13 14:29:15

We have 2 dogs, a 14w old Golden Retriever (had since 8w) and an 18 month old rescue Golden who joined us 2 weeks ago. They have bonded really well and the rescue dog who was ferral to begin with is settling beautifully and responding to training amazingly well.

We had an incident last week (completely my fault) where I fed them side by side rather than separate rooms as we'd done the first few days (they'd been happily sharing and swapping bones in the garden) Puppy finished his food then dived into big dogs bowl...Big dog attacked and pup got a bite across the muzzle which bled but didn't need treatment. Since then we've fed them separately.

Yesterday I put them into the garden with a bone each (while I cleaned up after big dogs random marking incident...hopefully a one-off...) They happily munched, swapped and swapped again while I got on with washing the floor. Cue blood curdling yelping and when I got out big dog was in a frenzy on pup who was still yelping. I shouted 'NO!' and he retreated...Pup was still screaming in fright / pain and holding his front leg up. He also had a bite puncture right through his cheek.

I took him to the Vet who gave anti-biotics and painkiller. They will re-assess tonight as to any xray etc. He's still limping but getting a lot better and no longer yelping so hopefully just strained...Been a stressful day of standing guard as big dog hasn't got a clue that he's hurt his friend and is trying to play and body-slam him as usual...pup for his part wants to join in...

Does anyone have any experience of this? It's going to be an awkward life together if they can't even relax in the garden together with a treat sad As I said, the big dog is a rescue (overseas) and has spent his life locked up, with no training until we got him and questionable care / food so I understand his issues...I really wish we hadn't taken him on but I wont give up on him. Poor guy deserves a chance and is learning so fast but at the smae time my pup deserves to be safe...I feel so, so sad and hopeless...

Sorry for the long post.

Lilcamper Thu 09-May-13 14:45:36

Best thing to do is manage their environment and never give them high value treats unless they are in different rooms.

GROOVEYCHICK Thu 09-May-13 14:54:03

We have a 2 year old golden retriever and a 5 month old husky and the retriever will. Sometimes show food aggression with the pup even though the pup is no where near him just starts randomly barking and growling
He will also try and take anything off the puppy that he had finished and the pup is still eating

topbannana Thu 09-May-13 16:40:46

Feed separately at all times. It can be a bit of a faff but once you are in the habit it becomes second nature and the dogs will trundle off to their own feeding stations smile
It may be that you can consult a behaviourist or trainer to help alleviate the problem but personally, given the injuries to your pup and your rescues dubious background, I am unsure whether I would ever trust them together.
It's not the end of the world, keep smiling smile

MelanieCheeks Thu 09-May-13 16:44:26

I've 2 dogs. I learned quickly to feed them separately, and also that they don't understand the concept of sharing - you can't leave them with a bone each! Or even a selection of toys, they'll both want the same one.

I did find the smaller dog's eat had a scratch on it this week - I think the bigger dog is just showing her who's boss.

MelanieCheeks Thu 09-May-13 16:44:42

ear, not eat.

needrawhelp Thu 09-May-13 19:20:27

Thank you all. Yes, will be feeding separately and will give bones only when they're crated. The Vet doesn't think there's any long term damage with the leg... I'm so cross with myself for being all 'oh lovely, they're sharing their bones'...Silly cow!! I'm experienced with dogs, although this is my first rescue. Hind sight is a wonderful thing and this little lesson cost £100 at the Vet and pain for the poor pup...Thanks again for the responses.

ginauk84 Fri 10-May-13 12:58:31

How about feeding the older dog in a dog crate with the puppy fed in the same room, that way the older dog learns that puppy isn't a threat to it's food and should get used to puppy being around when big dog is eating.

Callisto Fri 10-May-13 13:43:08

Don't beat yourself up. Lots of dogs do share quite happily. And older dogs usually tell younger dogs off without doing any damage. It wouldn't even occur to me to feed separately unless something like this happened.

Booboostoo Fri 10-May-13 21:43:37

With aggression it's always best to get a professional in to see the dogs, assess them and help you out.

Having said that, the following may be helpful if you judge them to be appropriate:

- Remove the trigger: as suggested never let both dogs have food together. If one dog is crate trained this helps a lot and they can both enjoy chews, just not with access to each other.

- Time out: if they do get in a fight, say nothing, take the aggressor (when safe to do so) and put him in a neutral room (e.g. a bathroom) and leave him in there for a few minutes. Then let him out, still saying nothing. This communicates a message to the dog "When you behave like this you are on your own". Most dogs respond very well to this. If the aggressor is difficult to remove, take everyone else (human and canine) and leave the room.

- NILIF: this seems to calm down stressed and anxious dogs (often a source of aggression). It stands for Nothing In Life Is Free. The dog has to do some behaviour, e.g. a sit, before getting anything. So before giving food as the dog for a sit, before openning the door ask the dog for a sit, before letting the dog in the car ask him for a sit, before petting ask for a sit, etc.

- try an Adaptil colar it works really well with some dogs.

- teach a good 'leave it' command. It won't work immediately during a fight but it might eventually if you keep reinforcing it in less demanding circumstances.

Good luck!

needrawhelp Sat 11-May-13 15:18:31

Thanks again everyone. Other than these 2 food related episodes the dog is fantastic and is learning so fast he's eager to be trained and is thriving with really not much work at all- his original 'family' have no idea what a great dog they've dumped (for daring to not stay a fluffy pup...)

The biggest problem is our pup who despite these 2 tellings off would rather literally risk life and limb for a share of his big Brother's food! There's no food aggresion at all towards people . We'll see how we go with all the suggestions and a friend has given me details of a local behaviouralist if we need more help.

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