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Hi all,

I'm starting to notice an unwanted behaviour with my pup (5 months) since I've started her on a raw diet.

She's only been on raw since saturday so it's only been a little over 2 days but she is very protective over her food now. With kibble I could touch the bowl and put my hand in there and she wouldn't even blink an eye.

She will let me hold her (raw) food while she chews on it (chicken feet and small fish). I don't want her to swallow chunks and choke so I don't let her eat those on her own.

I've been making her sit, do a "focus" training thing where she keeps eye contact for 3-5 seconds and I say "ok go!" then she can eat her food. I've always done this with anything I give her.

I got her a big raw knuckle bone yesterday and she was really enjoying it however she kept pushing it off the mat so I tell her to sit and wait while I adjusted the mat and put the bone back on the mat. Boy, she did not like that, started growling etc. (but I did this while standing in front of her). I could walk around her, even wipe the floor around her and she won't even blink an eye. It was only when I was kneeling in front of her to move the bone back onto the mat that she would growl.

Eventually what I learned to do was sit behind her on the side. If the bone got pushed off the mat I would call her back to me, she would sit and wait and I would move the bone back onto the mat. After a while, if the bone slipped off the mat she would sit on her own, look at me and I would move the bone back. Yay! Training success! lol

However....this morning she was getting growly at me again.

The first time was with her breakfast. I put the food bowl down and asked her to sit. It was a half a$$ed sit so I repeated myself and she started to growl. I walked in front of her (between her and the bowl) and slowly used my feet to make her back up and she growled even louder. I picked up the bowl, made her lie down (which she did with a bit of reluctance), asked her to "focus" on me (I put my finger to my nose so she can focus there and not on the bowl) and then I will put the bowl down. Even once I put the bowl down she still looks at me and waits for me to say "ok go!" before eating.


Then, when I'm about to leave for work she did it with her interactive treat toys. Our daily routine is that I will fill her interactive toys with kibble, put it down in front of her and she will wait for my command before she goes at it. Today, I probably put it down too early because I was still searching for my keys after I put the toys down so she was waiting a little longer than usual, so she started growling at me. And also these ones are no longer filled with her kibble, its new food/treats that she hasn't had before. Again, I put myself between the treats and her and she started growling louder. But every time I pick it up and tell her to "lie down" she complies. She will always still wait for my command before going to it.

I'm not sure how to address this behaviour. Will it eventually go away when she realizes that this is her regular food now? Is she just acting like this now because this is new food that she hasn't had before and its WAY better than her kibble? lol

*note: I have bought a bigger mat that has a rim and grooves so that should help prevent the bone from moving off the mat.
 

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One of my rules with dogs is don't bite the hand that feeds - and don't growl at me.

I feed the dog, if the dog growls, he doesn't get fed. i'll put the food on the counter and simply walk away, ignore. Try it again an hour later, if they growl, they go hungry for a while more. They will get it.

Bones are the same for us, dog growls, the bone goes away. If the food is the issue, remove the food.


If people feel that's being mean, can't help you. The food is mine until the dog finishes. Problem dogs eat on my terms.
 

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One of my rules with dogs is don't bite the hand that feeds - and don't growl at me.
Ditto for me...it goes against typical RG training but when Pax would RG anything...he immediately lost it. He is pretty smart and got the hint real fast with a zero RG tolerance policy and all play time got shut down.

That may not work for all dogs and may reinforce the RG underlying issue, but I could see Pax's face go from growl to "Hey!...What the...?, Awwww, man!"
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ditto for me...it goes against typical RG training but when Pax would RG anything...he immediately lost it. He is pretty smart and got the hint real fast with a zero RG tolerance policy and all play time got shut down.

That may not work for all dogs and may reinforce the RG underlying issue, but I could see Pax's face go from growl to "Hey!...What the...?, Awwww, man!"
Yeah this did cross my mind so I will see how it goes. When I play tug of war with her, if she growls for too long I will make her drop the toy, sit and wait before I give it back to her because I don't want her to fear me taking something away from her and then never giving it back.
 

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I'm from a big family.
If people randomly meddling with food that I really, really enjoy or even take stuff from my plate I also resource guard.
It's a natural reaction, that when you learned that people will take things from you, you'll make sure you let them know to stay away from it.
as long as you're not enforce it to the point that no one can walk by there's nothing abnormal about it.
the raw food is probably higher value than dry food and that's why she's more protective of it.

Instead of randomly play around with their food, I'd try ot teach her that you being close means more (high value!) food falling into her bowl.

You can also train trading a higher value treat with the object it's guarding with your dog, for the case that you need to take things from it to keep er safe.


perhaps this video is of help to you. I liked it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nyt2WLdQGs
 

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I'm a bit like Mathilda (probably worse). My husband tried (only once in jest) to steal chocolate cheesecake (I believe it was called Chocolate Explosion) off my plate and nearly got a fork in his hand. My hand moved before I could even think about it, so I have great respect for resource guarding dogs.

How about reintroducing that raw food a few pieces at a time?

Empty bowl placed on floor, raw food in your possession, your pup earns small handfuls dropped into the bowl. Never more food than can be taken up easilly. That way, it is yours to give and there is nothing in the bowl to 'guard'.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm from a big family.
If people randomly meddling with food that I really, really enjoy or even take stuff from my plate I also resource guard.
It's a natural reaction, that when you learned that people will take things from you, you'll make sure you let them know to stay away from it.
as long as you're not enforce it to the point that no one can walk by there's nothing abnormal about it.
the raw food is probably higher value than dry food and that's why she's more protective of it.

Instead of randomly play around with their food, I'd try ot teach her that you being close means more (high value!) food falling into her bowl.

You can also train trading a higher value treat with the object it's guarding with your dog, for the case that you need to take things from it to keep er safe.


perhaps this video is of help to you. I liked it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nyt2WLdQGs
Actually, she is ok with me standing in front of her, around her etc. Even when I was cleaning the floor around her she ignored me. It was when I asked her to sit and wait so that I could put the bone back on the mat that she would growl.

I hand fed her a chicken foot for lunch today and she was okay with that. I held it the whole time (so that she wouldn't swallow it whole cuz she's done that before). She growled a little near the end and I just said "no!" and she just continued to eat the foot until it was gone.

Yesterday when I removed the bone, I gave her a piece of dog pepperoni as a trade so I will continue with that.

Thanks for the youtube link! I will check it out when I get home from work!

I'm a bit like Mathilda (probably worse). My husband tried (only once in jest) to steal chocolate cheesecake (I believe it was called Chocolate Explosion) off my plate and nearly got a fork in his hand. My hand moved before I could even think about it, so I have great respect for resource guarding dogs.

How about reintroducing that raw food a few pieces at a time?

Empty bowl placed on floor, raw food in your possession, your pup earns small handfuls dropped into the bowl. Never more food than can be taken up easilly. That way, it is yours to give and there is nothing in the bowl to 'guard'.
That's a good idea. I should try that. Thank you :)



She is very obedient and will wait for me to give the command before eating. She will look up at me and wait. Sometimes I can see her little body trembling while she waits to be allowed to eat it.

What does it mean if she's growling at me while she's waiting for me to giver her her food? like while I'm preparing it, she'll sit and wait but sometimes she'll have this grunt or low growl.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So she growls at you when on a bone, and gets a piece of pepperoni?
Oh nono, sorry that probably wasn't clear. For example, after 3 hours of chewing on the bone I wanted to put it away and take her out for a walk. So I called her name and had her come over to me (away from the bone) and sit and wait while I put the bone in a bowl. She didn't growl so I gave her the pepperoni. Once the bone was out of sight and she ate the pepperoni, I put on her leash and she immediately forgot about the bone because she wanted to go out.

The other times when she growled, I made her step back and wait while I was standing in front of her, between her and the bone. Probably not the right way to deal with the situation. I should have just put away the bone but I was afraid that that would encourage the resource guarding. I've never dealt with a dog that was protective over their food so I wasn't sure what to do.
 

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Just wanted to add:

The bone situation wasn't too bad. After a while she got better and learned that I only wanted to move the bone back onto the mat. If the bone moved off the mat she would sit and look at me to get me to move the bone back onto the mat.

The behaviour that got me a little concerned was when she was waiting for me to let her play with her food toys. What I did in the past was put her kibble in there and right before I left for work she would be allowed to get at it. Its a way to distract her from me leaving.

Usually she only waits a couple of minutes because I'm already at the door ready to leave but today I couldn't find my keys and I had already put the toys on the floor in front of her. I guess she was waiting longer than normal so she started to growl at me (I wasn't even close to her, I was a few feet away in the kitchen looking for my keys, she was sitting in the foyer). She's never done that before, but also the food in the toys was new.

As well, today when I made her sit for her food, she only did a half a$$ed sit so I said in a firmer voice, "Mia, SIT." and that's when she started growling. When I asked her to step back she growled louder and I picked up the bowl and she immediately sat in front of me.
 

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One of my rules with dogs is don't bite the hand that feeds - and don't growl at me.

I feed the dog, if the dog growls, he doesn't get fed. i'll put the food on the counter and simply walk away, ignore. Try it again an hour later, if they growl, they go hungry for a while more. They will get it.

This is how I handled it, too. I've ripped a meal out of his mouth once because he snarled at me for and it went back in the fridge. Not happening. The next meal time, he was a lot nicer.


I actually posted a video of it when it was happening and people tried telling me it's because I was feeding in a cage. I feed them in cages because for one, they are slobs and like to drag their food around the house or they're mad another dog is in their personal space and they move or gulp because they're worried the other dog is going to take it. In the past I have broken up dog fights over food and it's not pretty. When it got to the point where it was a quick meal and I thought I could leave the cage door open...he would be a bully and eat the other dog's food. My point is...the cage was never the problem. Raw isn't the problem either other than they really really like it and it means more to them than kibble.


She will let me hold her (raw) food while she chews on it (chicken feet and small fish). I don't want her to swallow chunks and choke so I don't let her eat those on her own.
You don't have to do that. Some dogs are gulpers and some aren't. It's easiest with puppies because in general because they naturally regulate themselves rather than a dog who is 11 years old and discovering raw food for the first time in his life.

Cut the food up you are worried about. You're not really doing anything for their teeth anyway by holding it because it can only fit in their mouth a certain way. It also may seem to her like you are teasing her or making eating time a game and it shouldn't be a game. Or, feed bigger pieces. The more a puppy has to chew the better for teething. 5lb dogs can handle chicken thighs or chicken ribs and again, they tend to self regulate and will stop when they're full.

If there are certain food you don't like..don't feed it. Many people don't like fish because of the spiny bones. It does not matter if you are holding it. You should read more on raw feeding...or join a raw puppy group. Dogs aren't designed to "chew" like humans so holding a fish isn't going to matter. They crunch, break pieces down and swallow. Their digestive systems are different than ours. Cows chew. Dogs rip and tear.

You don't say what kind of dog it is but even tiny breeds like shih-zus can handle a chicken foot on their own. You might be encouraging gulping because she thinks you're taking her food from her so she may try to eat as fast as possible.
 

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. I guess she was waiting longer than normal so she started to growl at me (I wasn't even close to her, I was a few feet away in the kitchen looking for my keys, she was sitting in the foyer). She's never done that before, but also the food in the toys was new.

As well, today when I made her sit for her food, she only did a half a$$ed sit so I said in a firmer voice, "Mia, SIT." and that's when she started growling. When I asked her to step back she growled louder and I picked up the bowl and she immediately sat in front of me.
Huh? Is it a mean and nasty growl or a talking to you kind of growl? I mean, my dog growls to tell me when he wants to go outside..which is what it sounded like you're saying that she was waiting too long. Some dogs cry, some dogs grunt-growl.
 

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Bonnie has always eaten out of the same bowl as Kris. The only time she has growled was the first time I put some green beans in the bowl for Kris as she was getting a little fat. Bonnie went over and would not let Kris eat the beans. As I really don't need Bonnie to eat the beans as she is a puppy and needs real food, I just feed Kris the beans separately.

My dogs all growl when they are playing tug and I never discourage them. I have some very vocal dogs so are you sure that the growling is not just their way of "talking" to you?
 

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I would be very cautious about taking away bones, food, etc. in response to growling...
Sure, may suppress resource guarding in some dogs. But it doesn't make them any comfier about people handling these items. Plus ignoring the warning and pressing forward is a potential bite risk.
https://wildewmn.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/why-growling-is-good/

In the moment, the safest thing to do is diffuse the situation.
At the most, if safe I would freeze and look down and to the side (still able to see the dog in my peripheral) and wait. When the dog stopped growling and relaxed a bit, then I would back away. If unsafe, just avert your gaze and back away slowly.

As you are a raw feeder and need to be able to handle high value foods with ease, I def recommend that you seek the help of a pro.
http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/finding-trainer-behavior-consultant-behaviorist-113946/

It's likely a pro will have you come up with a management plan to be followed in combo with training. Sounds like you have already started some which is fantastic! The tray with raised edges to help keep the bones in place is a wonderful idea. And trading games are likely to be on the list of training options as it teaches dogs to drop and give up items willingly as well as increases comfort with people handling food, toys, etc. :)

To give you and idea of other options out there, I would expect a really good trainer or behaviorist to also include something similiar (automatic drop-it with attention) to this video into a behavior mod/training plan for you to tackle the bone situation. Again I recommend working with a experienced pro for safety reasons as well as their ability to come up with and help you through a individualized plan towards you to your end goals.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
You don't have to do that. Some dogs are gulpers and some aren't. It's easiest with puppies because in general because they naturally regulate themselves rather than a dog who is 11 years old and discovering raw food for the first time in his life.

Cut the food up you are worried about. You're not really doing anything for their teeth anyway by holding it because it can only fit in their mouth a certain way. It also may seem to her like you are teasing her or making eating time a game and it shouldn't be a game. Or, feed bigger pieces. The more a puppy has to chew the better for teething. 5lb dogs can handle chicken thighs or chicken ribs and again, they tend to self regulate and will stop when they're full.

If there are certain food you don't like..don't feed it. Many people don't like fish because of the spiny bones. It does not matter if you are holding it. You should read more on raw feeding...or join a raw puppy group. Dogs aren't designed to "chew" like humans so holding a fish isn't going to matter. They crunch, break pieces down and swallow. Their digestive systems are different than ours. Cows chew. Dogs rip and tear.

You don't say what kind of dog it is but even tiny breeds like shih-zus can handle a chicken foot on their own. You might be encouraging gulping because she thinks you're taking her food from her so she may try to eat as fast as possible.
She's a APBT/Am Staff mix, 5 months old

The last time she had an chicken foot she swallowed it and threw up at 4am, 3 times..once with chunks of bone, twice afterwards, white foamy stuff.

If I hold the chicken foot she chews the whole thing. She's never had an issue with me holding her food while she eats. If I cut it up in pieces she will gulp it all. She is not a chew type. More like a chew-chew-gulp type.


Huh? Is it a mean and nasty growl or a talking to you kind of growl? I mean, my dog growls to tell me when he wants to go outside..which is what it sounded like you're saying that she was waiting too long. Some dogs cry, some dogs grunt-growl.
It was a low growl, I was too far away to see if her lip curled or not but the time when she had her bone and I asked her to sit and wait while I moved the bone back onto the mat, she growled with a bit of a lip curl.

If she's waiting for me to take her out to go potty she will whine to tell me to hurry up. She's never growled.


Bonnie has always eaten out of the same bowl as Kris. The only time she has growled was the first time I put some green beans in the bowl for Kris as she was getting a little fat. Bonnie went over and would not let Kris eat the beans. As I really don't need Bonnie to eat the beans as she is a puppy and needs real food, I just feed Kris the beans separately.

My dogs all growl when they are playing tug and I never discourage them. I have some very vocal dogs so are you sure that the growling is not just their way of "talking" to you?
Honestly I don't know because I've never owned a dog that was vocal. My Shiba is very quiet, doesn't even bark and he's never growled at me.
 

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Thank you @kmes! Mia is taking obedience classes and her trainer also feeds her dogs raw. I will ask her for some insight or if she can recommend a professional if she cannot advise.
 

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I have to hold Bandits meals too, at first it was because if I didn't hold it he didn't quite figure it out of it and wouldn't eat would just get bored and walk away and now it's because last time I tried to give him a chicken leg and just let him do his thing with it he swallowed it whole and I had to basically reach down his throat and pull it out before he choked on it. I haven't had a problem with holding his food. The only issues I ever have is if I hold it wrong (come from over him instead of eye level with him) he has a hard time judging where my fingers are and catches them.
 

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@Doppelganger0337 thank you for the reassurance. I was starting to feel a little crappy about doing that...thinking I just made the situation worse. I have to hold her antler chew sometimes when she gnaws on it so maybe that's why shes ok with me holding her chicken feet and small fish.

Ugh that's something Mia would definitely do. If shes able to swallow a whole chicken foot she will try with a chicken leg. She already tried with a turkey neck. Watching her choke and gag was very scary!
 
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