Originally Posted by 33socks
In the past she's barked and growled at my cousin. That's what I meant by "doesn't like." Now she's gotten to the point where she pays her no attention (unless my cousin has food. Then attention is definitely paid). I meant to ask if I could stop constantly rewarding her every time she looks at my cousin because I felt like that might confuse her. Are you saying that I shouldn't and I should keep doing what I was doing?
Is the attention she pays your cousin when your cousin has food the same growling/barking she did previously? I guess I'm trying to determine if it's a fear/aggression reaction or if it's begging for food or attention seeking kind of reaction, because in my unprofessional opinion, different types of reactions might require different methods of mitigation. What's her body language like when she's reacting to cousin with food?
If it's a fear/aggression thing, you'll want to keep doing the CARE protocol. When your cousin is around and has food, keep your dog far enough away so that she's under her reaction threshold and reward her so that she learns cousin with food is acceptable and doesn't require a reaction. Again, this requires the dog to be under your control at all times so that you can make absolutely she she stays under threshold and doesn't have a chance to practice reacting to your cousin whether cousin has food or not. She can't be roaming freely. If you can't keep her under control and below threshold because you're cooking or entertaining guests, the dog needs to be put somewhere away from everyone else.
Because this reaction involves the qualifier of food (the reaction is to cousin with food and not just cousin) I'd be wary of inadvertently rewarding her for begging by giving her treats if she's already reacting or even if she's just intently focused on cousin's food.
How is she around other people when they have food?
It might be helpful to train her to go to and stay in a specific spot "go to place/go to bed" while people are eating. Or train a solid "leave it" command so she learns to ignore whatever food cousin has that she wants, if that's what's going on in her little doggy brain.