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Discussion Starter #1
I have a one year old corgi named Dolly and she has been food aggressive from the moment we brought her home. She has never snapped or bitten my husband or I, but she will bark and growl and her hair stands up on her back, as well as just being very tense and protective of her food.

We have had her since she was a puppy and the first night we fed her she growled. So we did research and talked to trainers or others who experienced the same things and we started to implement different things to try to help. Fast forward a year and nothing has made a difference.

I feel a bit desperate now. A trainer came to the house and told us to feed Dolly in her crate and to sit by her crate. So we did that for quite some time, but it didn't seem to make any difference what so ever, and its a huge inconvenience to have to sit by her crate twice a day every day.

Lately she has been super annoying with her behavior. If she doesn't finish her food in her bowl, she will come out and start playing with her toys and bones in another room, but as soon as my husband or i get up, she frantically sprints ahead and then instantly starts eating her food. Then once my husband or I are back in another room, she comes back and starts playing again and does the same exact thing.

We have NEVER taken her food away from her. Ever.

I am at my wits end with her behavior and fearful for when we bring kids or other pets into our family. I don't understand why she is like this?? I am desperately looking for help!

Premium Member
4,613 Posts
I'm sorry to hear that you're having some problems with your dog.

There is nothing more upsetting than when our dog growls at us, it is scary and terrible. I do what you to know, Resource Guarding is SO common in dogs, and while in normally occurs between dogs, it is also common between dogs and humans.

If she was showing intense RG even as an 8 week old puppy, I would imagine there were some issues with feeding her as a puppy. (Or maybe you just fed her the good stuff ;) )

May I ask what kind of stuff you've tried?

556 Posts
Tried hand feeding? Its a pain but can help. I might would also put her food up when she walks away and doesnt eat it all. I dont mean take it while she's guarding it, but if she walks away from it, just pick it up and put it away for awhile. Set it down again and see if she finishes it. Does she guard her toys also?

1,885 Posts
Hang in there


I know this will seem like a review of every failure U've had, but could U please explain briefly what specific things U've tried? :eek:
If we don't know what's been done, we might either suggest it again, or not realize that some of those past attempts have certain kinds of fallout, which could be worsening the current situation. If we know what sort of B-Mod has already been tried, we have more information to help us think of new things to try, or possible remediation for past ones.

The good thing - hard as this might be to believe!, given how long it's been an issue with Ur dog - is that RG is among the most-treatable chronic problem-behaviors. I would never lie or exaggerate, when i'm talking about B-Mod:
a research study followed a group of dogs, ALL labeled as food-aggro by their respective shelters, placed with adoptive families who'd applied to adopt them. Every adopter was given a simple list of things to do, to help reduce their dog's anxiety about her or his food. // Follow-up was by phone, at 3-days, 3-weeks, & 3-mos post-adoption, & owners could call at any time, if problems arose, or they had Qs.

Preliminary Investigation of Food Guarding Behavior in Shelter Dogs ...
by H Mohan-Gibbons - ‎2012 - ‎Cited by 16 - ‎Related articles
Aug 3, 2012 -
food, resource, possession, aggression, shelter, guarding, adoption, ASPCA ...
The objectives of this study were to (1) identify adult dogs that exhibited food bowl guarding behavior in the shelter, (2) place dogs into adoption without structured training sessions around the food bowl, (3) evaluate ...
Abstract · ‎Materials and Methods · ‎Results · ‎Discussion

Food Guarding in Shelter Dogs | ASPCApro
Important research conducted by ASPCA experts provides a compelling argument against euthanizing dogs in shelters who display food guarding. The study shows that this behavior is easy to modify: An in-shelter protocol of free feeding combined with post-adoption support helps keep food-guarding behavior from ...

The adopters were not particularly dog-savvy & had minimal past experience in modifying problem behaviors; some had not owned a dog before.
Yet the return rate / adoption-failure on these "problem" dogs, who'd all bitten the Assess-A-Hand in the shelter during a [provoking] test, were less likely than the average adoptee to be returned to the shelter as unwanted. // A questionnaire was used to assess all guarding behavior in the home, each time they called to update their files on the adoptees.

"6 adopters reported at least 1 incident involving guarding in the first 3- weeks; only one was around the food bowl.
By 3-mos, those adopters reported no guarding behavior - except one new occurrence, of a dog guarding a rawhide, reported in the third month.
For dogs identified as food-guarding, the return rate to the shelter was 5%; it was 9% for adult dogs who were not [tagged as displaying] guarding behavior.
Adopters did not comply with at least one aspect of the program, so it is unclear why so little guarding was reported. The key finding is that dogs that guarded their food bowl in the shelter were not guarding their food in their new homes."

this is the "food protocol" that the APO adopters were given, when they applied to adopt an RG dog:
As your adoption counselor discussed with you, your dog displayed food guarding while in the shelter. This means that your dog may be more likely to show aggression around his food than some other dogs. Food-aggressive dogs may bite when they perceive that someone is trying to take their food. Food aggression is both manageable and controllable. We highly recommend you follow the plan below, beginning the moment your dog enters into your home.

The Plan:
- Food time should never be made into an event.
Do not get the dog riled up for dinner.

- Be sure your dog sits and waits for the food bowl.
For the first few days, you might want to keep the leash on the dog for this exercise. As the dog sits, you will bend toward the dog with the bowl. If the dog gets up, stand up and have the dog sit again. Repeat until he can stay seated while you lower the bowl.

- Put small amounts of food in the bowl. After the dog finishes the first few bites, put more food in the bowl.
Feed the normal amount of food, but do so by small amounts.

- Feed one-half of the dog’s food from a food-dispensing toy, such as the Buster Cube.™ This will not only help with food issues, but will also help keep your dog busy in body and mind.

- When your dog interacts with the food-dispensing toy or eats food from the bowl, you can teach him that when he leaves the bowl or toy to look at you, he will get something even better. This is a very important & fun exercise!
Begin by placing dry kibble in the bowl or food-dispensing toy.
Let the dog eat for a moment, then walk over with a tasty piece of cheese or another highly-desirable food item. Say the dog’s name. If he lifts his head, praise him, & give him the food item.

- "Trade"
While this game is similar to what is written above, here you not only ask the dog to lift his head, but to let you have one object, in exchange for another, more-desirable one.
Place a tasty treat that the dog loves in your pocket, & begin by giving the dog a boring toy - one the dog finds only mildly interesting. (We want the dog to quickly understand the game as well as avoid any aggression, so we must begin by giving the dog something that is not highly desirable.)
Once the dog has this item for a moment, take the tasty treat from your pocket and calmly say 'Trade'. Draw the dog toward you with the treat, & let him nibble the treat while you pick up the boring toy. When he's finished with the treat, have him sit, & return the toy to him.
We want your dog to learn that you always have something better, & that he can trust you.


If you are unable to do the preceding exercises, we suggest you choose another dog to adopt.
We want you to be safe, & the dog to have the opportunity to be able to work through her or his issues.
Please take the time to ask yourself if you are ready to take on a dog that will require more time & resources than other dogs we have available for adoption.

All of these dogs had signs on their kennels, indicating that they were in the free-feeding / food in bowl 24 / 7 program, b/c when tested, they guarded their food; they weren't applying to adopt a pig in a poke, they knew their prospective pet had 'an issue'.

If Average Pet-Owners [APOs] can "rehabilitate" dogs with known RG in a matter of weeks, using a simple list of Things to DO & Things Not To Do [& every adopter of 96 RG dogs failed to comply with one or more of those bans], RG is very fixable. :)
Don't give up, yet.

- terry


2 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Things we have tried so far have been: Hand feeding, feeding in smaller portions, making her sit and wait until we tell her she can eat, sitting by her crate and telling her NO if she growls (a trainer told us to do that), and dropping treats in her bowl as we walk by.

Every once in awhile she will have an okay day, but then she just switches right back to her old self.

The thing that puzzles me the most is that when we feed her, she won't always eat her food and will come and start playing where my husband and I are at. Then as soon as we get up or move around she runs over to her bowl and starts "eating". She also will approach my husband or I and act like she wants to be pet, so we will start petting her and then she will growl. We won't even be near her food and she approaches us.
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