Dog Traumatized While Eating Dinner

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Dog Traumatized While Eating Dinner

This is a discussion on Dog Traumatized While Eating Dinner within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I have a terrier mix who is dealing with some PTSD when he eats his food. About 2 months ago, I switched his name tag ...

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Old 08-17-2018, 05:16 PM
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Dog Traumatized While Eating Dinner

I have a terrier mix who is dealing with some PTSD when he eats his food.

About 2 months ago, I switched his name tag on his collar to the tag with the rubber rim to cut down on the jingling. Well, he was eating dinner and his tag got stuck under his food bowl (aluminum bowls in a metal holder), and it lifted up and made a huge clanking/crashing sound that scared the poor guy to death. Now whenever we go to feed him, he is super cautious around his food and stops multiple times to whine and look for encouragement. He even stops eating and wanders around the house to find myself or my fiance. We have to tell him he will be okay, and walk back with him to his bowl and stand there until he starts eating again.

We bought him a new bowl and moved it to a different part of our kitchen to see if that helps. He is slowly getting more confident as he eats, but will sometimes regress back to his nervous eating habits.

Do any of you have ideas of what I could possibly do further to help my pup? I feel helpless because he is highly food motivated. It's awful to see him so scared doing what he loves most (besides snuggling with mom and dad, of course)!
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:03 PM
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Sounds like you are doing it right if your seeing improvements. I had to sit with my dog when she was frightened of her bowl, I switched to a plate & patted her & told her yummy! She came right & will eat without this but it took a while.
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:07 PM
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Single Event Learning

This is a phenomenon called single event learning – meaning that it only takes one experience to result in an intense, permanent emotional reaction to the trigger that caused it. It makes a lot of survival sense in the wild, when a young wolf needs to steer clear of a dangerous predator without requiring multiple near-death experiences to teach the lesson. But in our pet dogs, this peculiar little “glitch” in the brain’s memory processing system can have devastating consequences. (Excerpt from:The Dark Side of Socialization: Fear Periods and Single Event Learning – Dr. Jen's Dog Blog)

I commend you for understanding about your dog's PTS event, and for getting a new bowl and changing location of bowl. A great start!!


Anyway, what I would do in this case where your dog is feeling uncertain/anxious about eating from the bowl is to make the bowl a super awesome fun times treat dispenser!!

Many times a day go and drop amazing small food bites in the bowl. Call your doggie over and say "treat" in a super happy fun voice, or whatever word/phrase you like. Use highest value food bites like cooked chicken or meat, cheese, hot dogs, stinky wet canned dog food, hard boiled or scrambled eggs, warm homemade chicken soup, etc. Whatever your doggie LOVES. Use many SMALL bites, not big ones. The idea is zillions of repetitions so your dog re-learns that a dog bowl brings happy times, not trauma.

If you worry about your dog gaining weight, we just short my dogs breakfast or dinner according to how much food or treats they have eaten during the day, as we train throughout the day for various life lessons and manners.
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:30 PM
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Yea & make sure there's not more loud noises during his eating time. This can happen by mistake if youre cooking & drop something or there's loud noises elsewhere.
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Old 08-20-2018, 01:01 PM
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That's a great idea! Thank you!!!
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Old 08-22-2018, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by ZuluFoxtrotWhiskey View Post
That's a great idea! Thank you!!!
Which idea do you like?

Thank you for helping your dog to feel less stressed! I am always so happy to hear when people are genuinely willing to try new things to help their dogs
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