Food Agression/Attacked my Other Dog

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Food Agression/Attacked my Other Dog

This is a discussion on Food Agression/Attacked my Other Dog within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I have a 1 year old lab mix. I don’t know what he’s mixed with. He began showing resource guarding a little bit ago over ...

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Old 05-09-2018, 12:48 PM
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Food Agression/Attacked my Other Dog

I have a 1 year old lab mix. I don’t know what he’s mixed with. He began showing resource guarding a little bit ago over bones only. He would scarily stiffen and sometimes growl if my other dogs would walk up to him while he had it. I was never sure what to do about that as people told me different things. Fast forward a little and once in a blue moon he began aggressively/scarily snapping at one of my dogs when they’d stand next to each other when my family and I were eating our dinner at the table. Specifically when it is meat is what I’ve observed. Like if we’re eating chicken or steak, for example. He’s done this a few times. He only seems to do this with bones and a select few foods like meats. It’s weird. He doesn’t do it with other foods. Fast forward to last night now. He viciously went after the same dog he always goes after when food is involved (I had steak on the counter and gave them all a piece). When I turned my back, my lab mix attacked the other dog. It was the worst of anything I’ve seen with him. He wouldn’t stop and I pulled him off which some people say I shouldn’t have gotten involved for my safety, but the dog that he went after wasn’t doing anything or even fighting back so I couldn’t let it happen. The dog that was attacked had zero bites or blood. Is it possible this was just an intense threat and he wasn’t intending to bite? He’s never shown aggression toward me or any humans, really (except he growls for a little if a stranger comes in the house). It’s only with food and bones. I know I should have taken him to training earlier, but I thought it was something I could fix until the incident last night. I’m taking him to training this week now. Does anyone have experience with this? I couldn’t sleep last night because people were putting into my head that he could get worse and maybe go after me (but he’s never shown me aggression). He loves me to death and listens to me. He’s a good, happy dog despite all of this. Like an absolutely sweetheart at any other time. Do I need to worry a lot? Is this something that can be fixed with training? Do you think he could turn on me one day even though he’s good to me? I’m just scared because I’ve never witnessed an attack like that between two dogs right in front of me. He’s also really strong so he could do damage if he wanted to.. Thank you.
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:50 PM
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Aggression like that can be scary, it is so loud and sudden and intense. However, since you mentioned no injuries, it sounds as though it was just a very intense threat. We've always had a lot of dogs in our household and so we've seen it all. The growl and the sink-eye, the snapping, the lunge, the threat attack, and the full-blown "I want to hurt you" attack (which you can often tell apart by how ferocious it is). Only one of our dogs has ever shown real aggression towards us and it was not over food, it was because he has fear issues. Food aggression towards other dogs can turn into food aggression towards people, but that is certainly not a given.
Going to a trainer is a very good idea, especially if it is a good one who knows what they are talking about and a variety of possible techniques to try.

Sometimes it is as simple as not giving out treats in the kitchen. That can be hard, but often dogs feel the need to chase others away when treats are being handed out. My 13-year-old dog does it. He sort of stops when I tell him no, but only begrudgingly. He snaps, chases, barks, and snarls but has never come close to hurting another dog, it is all just a threat to show he means business.

The attack tended to happen between our two Golden Retriever mix brothers. Rax, the more dominant brother, would attack Arby over their food dishes, even though we fed them across the room from one another. We had to start watching them, but it was never anything serious. We broke it up just because it could become serious without someone to tell them to chill. Dogs can get worked up, and sometimes need to be de-escalated.

Again, dogs can looks scary when they fight, and it is always good to catch it early, but I wouldn't get too worried about him getting dangerous as long as you nip this in the bud and start working on it. Teaching patience, lots of exercise, and keeping in control of situations involving food can all help.

By the way, we've always had to give out bones in separate rooms because our dogs never learned to feel comfortable around one another with bones. It was just too tense a situation. They never really fought, but Rax would always force them to give up their bones to him, which wasn't fair.

I hope this helps!
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Old 05-16-2018, 06:25 PM
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Since there wasn't any injuries I'd also say it was a threat. I do think you can train him not to act this way though. Going to a trainer is great, but make sure it's a real trainer that knows what they're doing. Also check videos online about what to do for food aggression. Elevating his food dish and putting it on a short stool or even a pillow can help because he can't "guard" it like he can when it's on the floor. Have him do something before giving him food. Like sit and be calm. Or lay down. Only feed him when he's calm, not when he's excited at all. Wait him out and he'll learn that he needs to listen and calm down to get his food.
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Old 05-17-2018, 07:31 PM
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Feed him in a kennel until he gets over this behavior. Teach him leave it as well as your other dog. When he is in the kennel and you or the other dog walks by and he growls tell him to leave it and keep walking. All behavior is a learned response be it positive or negative. He has learned this from the past humans in his life. You did nothing wrong pulling him off. In cases like this, I recently experienced with a roommates dog attacking mine, I used the kennel as a time out and cool down place for the dog that attacked the other.

I would stop giving them tidbits of meat unless the one is in his kennel at the time.
We teach patterns and we also have to avoid setting the dog to continue an undesired behavior. If you are aware of a behavior specific to an action don't do it until taught differently.
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