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Lab's food obsession leading to aggression

(13 Posts)
doglover Wed 19-Feb-14 18:33:09

As the thread title suggests, our beloved male lab is steadily becoming more and more obsessed with food. We've had labs for years so are completely aware of this trait of greed but our current dog (he's 8 and we've had him for 4 years) is becoming really worrying.

We never leave any food on any kitchen work surfaces because he is agile enough to jump up and snatch it. Over the last couple of weeks, however, he is trying to grab food whilst we're preparing it. Tonight, he was growling at us when we tried to move him away. I felt scared of our usually docile, loving dog.

Please advise us how to curb this behaviour.

Lilcamper Wed 19-Feb-14 18:48:15

Get him checked out by a vet to rule out any medical causes in the first instance.

Goldencity1 Wed 19-Feb-14 20:43:07

This sounds beyond the normal lab greed, I would get him checked over by the vet.

doglover Wed 19-Feb-14 20:57:38

Yes, I completely agree. We've had 6 labs over the years and have never experienced this frantic aggression.

WimbledonDogs Thu 20-Feb-14 09:45:15

I agree with the vet check.

In the interim, manage him to stop further incidents. Keep him out of the kitchen while food is prepared, eaten and tidying up completed. If you have children, do not let them wander around with snacks if he is in the same room.

SpicyPear Thu 20-Feb-14 10:34:11

Yep vet. This is a change in behaviour that might have a physiological cause. Sure you've considered this but just in case, is he up to date with his wormer?

NumptyNameChange Thu 20-Feb-14 10:38:29

very un-lab-like ime.

you can remove anything from my labs mouth or get her to drop even the most treasured chew and let you have it. my little lhasa on the other hand has taken a lot of work to be able to get to the stage of her not growling if you go too close when she's got something.

has anything else changed at home? you haven't got a second dog for example or changed something major?

NumptyNameChange Thu 20-Feb-14 10:39:37

i definitely can't leave anything on the kitchen sides when i'm out of sight though hmm she just can't resist food left out anywhere.

LEMmingaround Thu 20-Feb-14 10:46:37

Do get him checked by the vet if this has happened out of the blue, i would be worried that there is something wrong.

In the mean-time he just needs to be banned from the kitchen when food is being prepared. Is he the same with chews etc? if so, don't give them to him. Otherwise you could give hiim a chew to munch on while you are prepping dinner and put him out of the room. Don't be tempted to give him any tidbits and only feed him at dinner time. Food needs to be stressfree so no making him sit and wait etc, just put his food down and let him relax and eat it. I am sure you are probably doing these things already. I have experienced a food aggressive dog (rescue rottie) its scary - it just took time and relaxing around him and food to settle down, obviously he came with these issues and with time, he got over them. I remember he would even take the food from my bloody plate when we first got him -bloody thing smile

doglover Thu 20-Feb-14 13:11:36

Many thanks everyone. We are following all the usual doggy rules for food etc. No nothing has changed within our family recently - although we did move house over the summer - that might spark this current aggression.

I agree with Numpty that all our previous labs could have food removed from their mouths - the dogs would be unwilling but would give it up - but our current dog growls and runs away with it in his mouth. His bed is like a trolls cave of packets and wrappers of food that he's swiped!!

I will make an appointment with the vet and keep you posted.

TippiShagpile Thu 20-Feb-14 13:15:02

Definitely go to the vet. We've always had labs and although greedy they've never stolen food once grown and certainly never been aggressive around food. That must be very worrying.

I hope it's something that's easily sorted OP.

LEMmingaround Thu 20-Feb-14 13:37:54

Do mention to the vet the house move, it might have no bearing on he situation but it might - if that is suspected ask about DAP products (dog appeasing pheremone). It worked wonders for our rottie when we first got him and he was scary dog from hell, if your dog is anxious then it may well come out in aggression. The hoarding and unwillingness to give things up do indicate anxiety. Some dogs can be a bit possesive of their toys and bed which has always made me dubious about crates and beds that belong to the dogs and have let my dogs on the furniture rather than give them a bed that's theirs, i am probably unusual in that approach though smile

It is awkward because sometimes you NEED to get something out of the dogs mouth - i remember when i first got my rottie, being horrified when he picked up a rotten fish carcass on the beach and all i could do was look on in horror as he munched up up as there was no way i was going to get that from him. We couldn't even be IN the kitchen when he had his dinner. We tried EVERYTHING, and spent £££'s on doggie shrinks - what worked in the end was stepping back and thinking, oh well, when he has his food hes to be left in peace - over about six months he chilled out and it was fine. He would always sort of hold his head over something he had and i'd gulp before i had to take it away from him grin

One thing that i found that worked was positive swapping - so, dog has ball - i have new toy. Dog has biscuit - i have sausage. I would occasionaly, when things were improving give him extra treats during his meal, so that he associated me approaching him when he was eating with something positive, i might just throw it next to his bowl and walk off, or call him and give it to him. But what worked most of all was chilling out and backing off. Scatter feeding didn't work, dog would just get stupidly stressed and would be frantic.

NumptyNameChange Thu 20-Feb-14 15:04:09

yes - even basic 'leave it..... TAKE it!' stuff might be good. as in high reward treat that the dog only gets when it holds back and waits to be invited to take it. that builds trust i guess that the food IS given and never stolen but that behaviour must be good around it?

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