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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, my puppy has become very food aggressive in the past month or so. When I feed my cats, the minute I start walking over to their bowls with their food, he eyes the cats in every direction, growls and lunges at any cat in the vicinity. He's never hurt them, but I'm always ready to pull him away. However, he lunges at their face, which has started to scare me. I don't like feeling anxious when I feed them because I don't know what he'll do if I left him to his own accord. He does the same thing when I feed him his food-if the cats are around, he'll lunge at them. And same goes for any food I'm making for myself because he thinks I might feed some to them.

On a related note, I also believe he also resource guards me. One of my cats loves to cuddle with me, and anytime she comes near the couch and/or starts to jump up on me, he chases her away. I think a lot of it's just a game for him, since he's always chasing them around anyways, but it's become so obvious that he does it every time a cat want to be close to me.

Does anyone know how to stop this resource-guarding behavior??? :eek:
 

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First, separate the cats or him when you feed. Prevent and manage. Second, contact a certified trainer who uses positive reinforcement only, meaning no force, choke chains, prong collars, shock collars, or corrections, and they will guide you through working on his resource guarding.

Resource guarding is an easily managed behavior, but best to seek advice from a certified trainer who can meet with you in person and guide you.
 

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The easiest and safest thing to do is to separate them for feeding times, you can crate puppy (and make sure they cats can't loom outside his crate making him feel defensive- either keep them away or cover the crate so he can't see them) to eat his meals, and ideally feed the cats somewhere he can't get to them to guard their food, unless they eat timed meals, in which you can crate him while they eat as well. Since his behavior is progressing, it would be best to seek advice from a trainer or behaviorist. Cats also make it difficult because IME, they have zero respect for a dog's sense of space, and are likely to make the problem worse by just being cats :) Mine are always poking around the dogs while they eat or chew toys/bones, so when I give my resource guarding dog (only with other animals) a bone or other high value food item I shut the cats out so they can't bother him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi, I started to crate him when I feed the cats, but I feel like that's just avoiding the problem? I mean I could technically feed him upstairs and keep and feed the cats downstairs. Ideally, I'd love to feed them all at the same time with all 5 bowls down on the ground. If he doesn't get aggressive, the cats graze their forever, so anything that's left he'll eat. Maybe I'm just a dreamer thinking this should work?

Also, the chasing part is near to impossible to stop. He always has his eyes on them, and the minute they move, he's on their tail (literally). I call him back every time to his bed, give him a treat, and hold him there for a bit. But the minute I let him go, he's back at it...

I really can't shut the cats out because they all live on the same floor...
 

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Get the book Mine by Jean Donaldson. In the meantime, manage the situation so he doesn't have the opportunity to practice this behavior. Feed the cats in a separate room with the door closed.
 

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Hi, I started to crate him when I feed the cats, but I feel like that's just avoiding the problem? I mean I could technically feed him upstairs and keep and feed the cats downstairs. Ideally, I'd love to feed them all at the same time with all 5 bowls down on the ground. If he doesn't get aggressive, the cats graze their forever, so anything that's left he'll eat. Maybe I'm just a dreamer thinking this should work?

Also, the chasing part is near to impossible to stop. He always has his eyes on them, and the minute they move, he's on their tail (literally). I call him back every time to his bed, give him a treat, and hold him there for a bit. But the minute I let him go, he's back at it...

I really can't shut the cats out because they all live on the same floor...
Would you rather he act aggressively towards the cats? Separating IS avoiding the problem. That's the whole point. The more he practices this behavior, the more he learns it works, and the better he'll get at it.

Also, is there any reason you cannot contact a trainer to resolve this behavior, as was suggested?

You certainly could shut the cats in another room while he/they eat, even if it's all on one floor. Or utilize the crate as you are now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I really can't separate the cats because I don't want them on the carpets upstairs, and the downstairs is 1 big room (nothing to separate). But I could feed the dog upstairs I guess.

I have put him in the crate while the cats eat, but he makes so much noise barking and crying that I don't want the neighbors to have to listen to it. Though I guess if I did it enough he might settle down eventually. It also seems to help if I cover the crate so that he can't see them eating. Would it also be advisable to feed him his food in his crate while I feed them?

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I pulled out a rawhide for him last night and the cat was on the kitchen table above him. All of a sudden he directed his attention toward her, started this loud, nasty growling/snarling at her that sounded like a dog fight, lunged at her face, and I hardly had time to even realize what was happening (since I hadn't seen the cat was even there). When I did finally realize it, I pulled him away and put him in his crate and covered it. The cat wasn't even acting interested at all, but for some reason that's a trigger for him. I didn't like his reaction AT ALL. Had I not intercepted, he might have gone for her. And I don't know what he'd do around dogs since he's the only dog, but I don't want it to escalate...
 

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I pulled out a rawhide for him last night and the cat was on the kitchen table above him. All of a sudden he directed his attention toward her, started this loud, nasty growling/snarling at her that sounded like a dog fight, lunged at her face, and I hardly had time to even realize what was happening (since I hadn't seen the cat was even there). When I did finally realize it, I pulled him away and put him in his crate and covered it. The cat wasn't even acting interested at all, but for some reason that's a trigger for him. I didn't like his reaction AT ALL. Had I not intercepted, he might have gone for her. And I don't know what he'd do around dogs since he's the only dog, but I don't want it to escalate...
Yeah, he's definatly being defensive, but it does sound like he's outnumbered 4 to 1. I would ensure that he's not being harassed in some way by the cats while working with a trainer on his behavior.

I would utalize the crate and cut out all treats for now. I would also be aware of what the cats are doing--you say you didn't see the cat until after and she was "disinterested". I know that one of my families cats was very covert about torturing the family dog. The dog's favorite spot was between the back of the couch and the wall, only accessable by squeezing herself under the end table. The cat would even crawl under the couch bat the dog (getting her upset) Crawl quietly out and appear to be lounging happily in the middle of the living room floor. Having finished squeezing herself out the dog would then lunge at the cat "unprovoked". It took us months to figure out what the cat was actually doing and why our normally docile dog would "sometimes" go for the cat. My dad then but a barrier so the cat couldn't crawl under the couch.

The point is that besides going to a trainer for resource guarding I'd take a look at the cat's behaviors to make sure that they are not instigating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That's a good thought. You know, I've never seen any of the cats instigate anything-Oliver is the one who starts the chase. Sometimes they go up to his food bowl and smell it, but now it's gotten to the point to where I haven't even set it down and he's defending it. The one that he lunged at last night is one of the most scared of him. I've never seen her go after him, but if he goes after her, she usually just runs to the kitchen under the microwave cart or onto a high place. However, if he gets too close she'll swat him...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Does anyone have a good recommendation for a trainer? OR know if Zoom Room can deal with this sort of a problem during a private training session?

I'm becoming more nervous about giving my cats any treats when he's around, and even preparing my own food when him and 1 or more cats are in the kitchen. Last night, I had to crate him because I had my plate of food in front of me on the coffee table-he was on the couch next to me and when my cat approached, he gave out a nasty growl and wanted to go at him. He did that same thing when the 3 of us were in the kitchen; I bent down to pet my cat and my cat jumped up on my shoulder for attention. Oliver did not like that...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So I have been curious if he'd act the same way around other dogs and food. So yesterday when I took him to visit my Grandma's 2 dogs, I fed them treats. I pulled 2 treats out, had him and Markus in a sit, and gave them each their treat; it worked just fine the first time. However, I pulled out a second treat for each of them, and before I could even get them in a sit, Oliver gave out a really nasty growl and snarl at Markus and lunged at him. It was pretty scary! This is not behavior that I want to continue.

I used to take him to puppy socials, where the instructor would always have us get the puppy's attention with treats. There was always a dog on either side of Oliver that was also receiving a treat, and he had no problem with it. For some reason this behavior has developed as an adult. But it makes me afraid to bring him to any more training where there will be treats or ever board him if I have to. I'm definitely getting in contact with a trainer next week.
 
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