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Hi all,
I am new to the forum, and I'm excited to potentially get some help with an issue we are experiencing.

We have a pomeranian/corgi/shelti mix named Cooper. About a year ago at his annual vet exam, we were told that Cooper needed to lose some weight, and that we should give him approximately 1/2-3/4 cup of food twice per day, in the AM and the PM. We did this, and everything was fine-- he was obviously more excited to get his food when we gave it to him, but he never whined for it... Up until a couple months ago.

Now, it's like a flip was switched. We feed him after we get up and ready in the morning, and from the time we wake up and finish showering, he's whining at us and barking at us to give him his food. He starts upstairs, then eventually heads downstairs to wait for us, barking/whining the whole time. He does this constantly, until we give him his food, and after that he's fine.

It's the same issue in the evening. We usually feed him after we've cooked up and served our own food--- then put his food in a dish and he "eats with us." Again, the second we head to the kitchen to start cooking, he's whining and/or barking constantly until we give him his food.

We have not given in and fed him any earlier than we were before, but I know that by giving him the food, we're reinforcing the behavior. THe problem is that there is never a point where the STOPS the barking/whining, where we can give him the food as a reinforcement for being quiet. It's just constant.

Any thoughts? It's driving us crazy, and is especially annoying and embarrassing when we have guests over... I'm just not sure how to approach it from a training standpoint. I know it's bad to acknowledge the behavior, but I don't know how to get him fed when the whining is constant, and giving him his food is rewarding it.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you have!!

Sarah
 

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Best thing to do is wait it out. Buy some earplugs, get a book or something to do while you wait, and then set up camp to wait for 5 seconds of quiet. Right when you get those 5 seconds start putting the food down, if he makes noise while you are putting it down then go back to waiting. With my hyper active, I'm going to jump and vocalize during meal prep, boy I've had to wait 30 minutes or more for those 5 seconds, it's nerve wracking, annoying, and frustrating as can be to wait them out, but it does work and they do eventually shut up.

Some other things you can try is breaking the pattern of getting fed so that he's not anticipating meal time. If your heading to the kitchen to cook triggers the behavior, then figure out the best way to mix that up. Maybe prep his food, take him on a walk, feed him, then cook your dinner.

Try feeding him out of kongs, you can prep them in advance, stick them in the freezer, and pull one out so that prepping his food is cut out and he's not anticipating that and getting himself worked up. Mixing the kibble with something wet like yogurt, canned 100% pumpkin, kibble soaked in homemade chicken broth or water, then freezing it will force him to take longer to eat.

Try giving him something like green beans, or carrot sticks, to help him feel full during the day. Both are low cal and good for dogs that cannot have extra calories.
 

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I'd agree with giving him low calorie snacks during the day. I also think it would be a good idea to introduce kongs into his schedule.

Other than that- is there a reason you don't want to feed him earlier before he starts the behavior? All three of those breeds in his mix are pretty vocal breeds that tend to find barking super rewarding in and of itself. It may just be his way of expressing his excitement- some dogs do a wiggle dance for dinner and others bark incessantly.

Barking can be a particularly difficult behavior to break, so if you can head it off then that might be easier.

Waiting it out if the only other option that I can think of, but like I said those are all breeds who find barking behavior to be very rewarding and tend to vocalize when super excited, so I can imagine this being a road plagued with frustration.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the advice, all. We're going to try and start feeding him at different times when he's not barking. My husband and I are such creatures of habit--- perhaps we've become too predictable. I'll try a Kong, as well.

It's odd, because despite his breed combination, he's never been a big barker until now!

Thanks again for the help!
 
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