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Food-Related Growling


Guest cvdrumsta
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Guest cvdrumsta

Hi again everyone.

 

So for the very first time today, Moon went to town on a rawhide bone. In fact, she's still doing it. Anyway, I've noticed that when I put my hands near her, she growls. She seems okay with me petting her head, but encroaching in the 'bone zone' elicits aggression.

 

I know this is a pretty common dog behavior problem, but I was hoping to get some greyhound-specific advice. I'm sure she's had food taken away from her in her past, so I want to approach this carefully.

 

Much appreciated as always.

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Most dogs would consider bones to be a high value treat, one which will elicit a growl if you try and take it away. Greyhounds are crated at the track when they receive bones so no one disturbs them while they are chewing on them. If you want to remove the bone, I'd offer her something else, such as a cookie, liver snack or something like that and when she goes for the treat, remove the bone. I definitely wouldn't be petting or touching her while she's chewing on it if she's new to the home.

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Guest Wasserbuffel

I wouldn't actually consider it a behavior "problem". Especially since she's not even warning you away when you pet her head.

 

It's good to be able to remove high value items from your dog's jaws, in case they get a hold of something they shouldn't have. For that you should work on trading up. Begin with something lower value than her rawhide. Do a search on "trading up" for good advice on how to go about it.

 

 

Also, you shouldn't assume that she's guarding her treat because someone in her past took something away from her. She's a dog, and most dogs don't appreciate the thought that someone would take away their food. In fact, as a greyhound she's far less likely to have had anyone ever take anything away from her in the past. Which can make it pretty shocking for a grey when someone tries.

 

I can take away most treats from my dog after three years, but there's no petting her when she's eating a raw meaty bone. If I need her away from it, I can call her away, but it would cost me a hand if I were to grab for it, and I would get snarked at for trying to pet her. I accept that, and only give her raw bones in a specific spot of the kitchen where she won't be bothered until she is finished.

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Guest cvdrumsta

It's not so much that I 'need' to take it away as it is that I worry that this could develop into a more serious behavior problem.

 

Should that not be a concern? If I just leave her alone with her goodies, she won't develop some broader form of aggression?

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Guest Wasserbuffel
Should that not be a concern? If I just leave her alone with her goodies, she won't develop some broader form of aggression?

 

She's not even being aggressive as is. She's just communicating her discomfort with your proximity to her super treat. You probably don't appreciate her nose in your plate, and would let her know that she needs to back off. Fortunately for you, you have more communication tools at your disposal, she can only growl.

 

It's when humans don't listen to this type of warning that trouble can begin, and it's not the dog's fault. Her limited communication can only escalate from a growl, to a snap, to a bite. It won't move past a growl if you don't persist in "threatening" her food. (Trading up is used to teach the dog that she doesn't need to guard her food from people).

 

No, this will not develop into a broad form of aggression. If she's not already an aggressive animal, that won't happen without a really compelling reason such as illness or abuse.

Edited by Jayne
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If you'd like to have a tool to help you manage her resource guarding, you can do a command like "leave it" or "drop it." Both will shape a behavior so that your dog *should* leave or drop whatever they have when you ask. The trick is to begin with a lower value item and work up to the *really* good stuff slowly. A search will show you lots of threads about "trading up" and training for "leave it" and/or "drop it."

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Guest cvdrumsta

Wow Jayne, that was such an incredibly reasonable response that I actually feel like a moron now, because believe it or not, I generally have a pretty good understanding of dog behavior. In fact, I just explained to a friend that if Moon growls when you touch her in a certain spot, she's not being aggressive, she's just saying she's not comfortable and she wants you to stop.

 

I guess I'm overreacting because my previous dog didn't do this, and so I viewed it as anomalous or 'bad.'

 

Thanks so much for the reassurance.

Edited by cvdrumsta
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Guest Wasserbuffel

Ha, it's understandable. We all get to overreact when we get our brand new greys! My poor DH was a bit afraid to walk the dog at first since I'd been so hardline on the never off leash issue that he didn't want to risk an accidental drop or anything. (Part of which was brought on by his family's habit of off leashing their dogs, I wanted it known that this dog was NEVER to be off leash).

 

I learned the hard way about taking food from my dog, although in my defense I'd never owned a dog before. In theory I knew you shouldn't take a bone from a dog, but Jayne had been so compliant with everything else, that I just reached for her bone one day when I wanted her to move. Next thing I knew the bone was on the ground and my arm was in the dog's mouth instead. She didn't bite so much as lay her teeth on my arm as if to say "One more inch and you'll lose this appendage, Woman". Point taken!

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Please note that many of us here do not feed rawhide (a bit off topic but still important). Also, is she growling when you pet her head. I just don't want this to be confused with rewarding her (petting) for growling.

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Guest RMarie

James growled at DH on the very first night. He was guarding a stuffie, I think. We worked on trading up, as described above, with food. Food outweighs ALL! I worked on it so much with his antler that I think he now expects a treat for chewing on his antler. :hehe

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Guest cvdrumsta

Please note that many of us here do not feed rawhide (a bit off topic but still important). Also, is she growling when you pet her head. I just don't want this to be confused with rewarding her (petting) for growling.

 

Why no rawhide?

 

No, she didn't growl when I petted her, and from now on I'm just going to leave her alone when she's chowing down.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

few reasons:

1) rawhide can be a choking issue

2) most greyhounds get terrible gas from rawhide

3) cheap rawhide from China may or may not be bad for them - China does not have the same standards for producing food as we have in the USA

 

 

Jayne,

very nicely put!

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Guest cvdrumsta

few reasons:

1) rawhide can be a choking issue

2) most greyhounds get terrible gas from rawhide

3) cheap rawhide from China may or may not be bad for them - China does not have the same standards for producing food as we have in the USA

 

 

Jayne,

very nicely put!

 

Ah, okay. Well, I was with her; she didn't seem to have any choking scares. As for the gas, that remains to be seen. And fortunately, these particular bones come from the USA.

 

What kind of long-term chews would be better?

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Ah, okay. Well, I was with her; she didn't seem to have any choking scares. As for the gas, that remains to be seen. And fortunately, these particular bones come from the USA.

 

What kind of long-term chews would be better?

 

I give my guys rawhide, and it's fine. You just need to check and make sure it's made in the US, which it sounds like you've already done. One piece of advice, I give my dogs rawhide rolls, which which are sheets of pressed rawhide that are rolled into tubes. They last longer, and it presents less of a choking hazard. A lot of people on here also say "no dehydrated bones," but we've had excellent results with those too. You just need to supervise and make sure you're dog isn't an aggressive chewer.

 

As for your original question, resource-related guarding is definitely very common and normal behavior for new greys. Search for "trading up" on here. The basis for the training is that your dog learns that a hand near his food/toy/bone/resource is not a bad thing. It means that something better is coming. Once they get used to that, it's much easier to work on "leave it" and "drop it" without using another incentive. It's a very good sign that she's allowing you to touch her while she's working on her chew. Many new greyhounds wouldn't allow that.

 

ETA, these are the rawhide rolls we use.

http://www.samsclub.com/sams/rawhide-dental-rolls-15-pk-3-7-lbs/116676.ip

 

Edited by a_daerr
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