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Possession & Food Aggression In New Grey


Guest KathCecilia
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Guest KathCecilia

Hello! I'm new to the site and to Greyhound ownership. I adopted my 3 yr old retired racer Vincent Price about 2 weeks ago. He has been off track 2mos and was in foster care before he came home to me. I'm so very proud of him, he has been a delight and is already deeply loved. However Vincent has been showing signs of possession and food aggression. The first incident happened when we were playing a game of toss. I threw his toy, he retrieved and when I went to pick it up to throw again he growled at me. Startled, I quickly backed off and walked out of the room..not knowing what else to do. The second incident occurred when he stole a muffin out of a bag and ran it back to his bed. I followed, tried to take it from him and he growled yet again. This time I did not run away I told him "no" and diverted his attention away from the stolen goods. His previous foster Mom is the adoption groups coordinator and was not at all alarmed by his "outbursts". She feels he is simply overwhelmed, stressed by his new surroundings and was guarding something "really good" that he did not want (or know how yet) to share. I agree and by no means feel that he is needing to be rehomed. I'm just curious if anyone else has experienced aggressive expressions in their new Greys? What did you do to alleviate the problem? This has been so heartbreaking..I want to trust him & want him to trust me but am now questioning if I will be able to accomplish that. If you have any advice please share..thank you for your help!

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Guest sireltonsmom

You want to be his pack leader so I don't recommend backing off. It tells him you can be intimidated. You could feed him some food by hand and take some from his dish to show him you are in charge of his food. A firm no when appropriate is good too. Racing dogs are often responsive to "knock it off!" Most tracks use that statement.

 

It took my girl and me a long time to get the concept of release so I could throw it again. Sometimes we tug a war and she growls thru the whole exercise but it's play to her.

 

As he gets comfortable being with you, all this should work out. If not, talk to his foster mom again. Most want to mentor new adopters thru the first weeks. Good luck.

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I disagree with the above comments...if he growls I wouldn't be taking food from his dish because I'd be at risk for a bite. He's resource guarding and needs to be taught about trading up or drop it. There are lots of threads on GT about this if you do a search.

 

And the pack leader mentality is a myth that never seems to goes away. Dominance is not a trait in dogs, rather it's a behviour dependent on the situation. I'm not trying to sound abrupt, rather these have been addressed many times on GT so a search should provide lots of different answers. Giselle has posted lots of wonderful helpful information so try to find her posts. I could never begin to explain it as well as she does. She also has lots of videos with helpful instructions. Also Neyla's mom is a greyt resource.

 

Diverting his attention was great since you were able to show him what was acceptable, i.e. you can't have the muffin but you can have (insert object here). Trust takes awhile, but eventually it will happen through positive reinforcement training, patience and practice.

Jan with precious pups Emmy (Stormin J Flag) and Simon (Nitro Si). Missing my angels: Bailey Buffetbobleclair 11/11/98-17/12/09; Ben Task Rapid Wave 5/5/02-2/11/15; Brooke Glo's Destroyer 7/09/06-21/06/16 and Katie Crazykatiebug 12/11/06 -21/08/21. My blog about grief The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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I agree with Jan. Everything in baby steps. He is very new to your home and doesn't know what is expected of him.

Irene Ullmann w/Flying Odin in Lower Delaware
Angels Brandy, John E, American Idol, Paul, Fuzzy and Shine
Handcrafted Greyhound and Custom Clocks http://www.houndtime.com
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MANY greyhounds show this in the beginning. They have never had to share, no different from any dog who wasn't trained as a puppy to understand the concept.

 

One of the easiest ways is to teach "trade-up." Basically you need to find something more interesting than the toy (roasted chicken/steak works here). Gradually work on trading up items, starting with those of less interest. Most greys aren't truly "aggressive" at all, almost all of the growling people see comes from either fear, anxiety or just a lack of knowledge about what is expected of them. There are very specific instructions here on trading up, I am sure someone can direct you to the info :)

 

Never (unless you want to get bitten) grab an item away from a dog that doesn't want to give up. If you do your training right, you will be able to get them to voluntarily drop it for you.

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Guest grey_dreams

Just want to add, a growl isn't aggression, it's their way of communicating that they are uncomfortable with what is happening. Best to learn to respect their space, and help them learn that they don't have to worry that you will take their one and only prize away, and there will be other prizes in the future.

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Right, a growl can be nervousness, uncertainty, or outright fear. I disagree with the "showing who's boss" approach as that can cause an increase in the behavior, possibly escalation to a snap or bite. Trade up is a great way to work on this issue. It teaches trust and that you are the giver of good things. I hope you stick around Grey Talk. There's a wealth of information here and a great community of people who can offer great insight and advice!

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Guest MnMDogs

Just want to add, a growl isn't aggression, it's their way of communicating that they are uncomfortable with what is happening...

 

Yes, a growl is something you should listen to. It's really the only way they can tell you that the situation isn't cool for them. We have a grey who doesn't grow, she just attacks/bites. We now know her triggers, but I would be thankful for a growl...

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I disagree with the above comments...if he growls I wouldn't be taking food from his dish because I'd be at risk for a bite. He's resource guarding and needs to be taught about trading up or drop it. There are lots of threads on GT about this if you do a search.

 

And the pack leader mentality is a myth that never seems to goes away. Dominance is not a trait in dogs, rather it's a behviour dependent on the situation.

 

Diverting his attention was great since you were able to show him what was acceptable, i.e. you can't have the muffin but you can have (insert object here). Trust takes awhile, but eventually it will happen through positive reinforcement training, patience and practice.

 

Yep, I agree. :nod

 

Rather than try to take food from a growling dog's dish (which would not be sensible, in my opinion) what I always do with a new dog who shows signs of food possessiveness is to ADD something to their dish while they are eating.

 

The aim is to show them that being interrupted while they are eating can be a very good thing indeed, but you need to lead up to it in stages.

 

What I do first is to get the dog used to a light touch on the shoulder whenever I pass by them, or they pass by me. I just let my hand touch them or my fingers trail over them as they pass. Couple of days later I progress to a more positive touch, but still keep it fairly light. Each time you touch them, say something soothing in a low voice. 'Hello Vincent!' will do.

 

The next stage is to touch them on the shoulder as you put their food dish down for them. Keep talking as you touch them, even if it's just 'good boy!' or 'who's a beautiful dog?' The next stage is to keep your hand on their shoulder until they start eating. Keep talking, but don't push it, that's ALL you need to do. As soon as they start eating, back off.

 

At the same time, whenever you offer them treats, make sure you have some kind of contact with them before they take them - the hand on the shoulder or anywhere really, but not the top of the head. If they are long treats (like a little stick of cheese, or a piece of bacon) hold onto them just long enough that he can feel a bit of resistance before you let him have it. If they break so that he's getting little bits at a time, that's great - it keeps him in contact with you.

 

Once he's happy about being touched while you put his dish down and while he's being fed treats, you can toss something good into his bowl while he's eating. You don't have to say anything, but you can if you like just to let him know you're coming. Toss from a distance so he doesn't feel threatened. It doesn't have to be far, a couple of feet will do. If you miss, it doesn't matter, it's still training him to let you close while he eats. You can get closer over time. :)

 

The aim is to get him to understand that being touched and talked to while he's eating are actually very good things. It might mean that something tasty, like a piece of cheese or ham or warm chicken will be added to his meal. Eventually, with time and patience, it's possible to get a growling, food possessive dog to allow you to take his food away without a murmur - I've done it myself. Jack would growl ferociously if anyone went near his food when we first got him, but in less than two weeks I could remove his dish, or take chicken bones out of his mouth if he found one on a walk.

 

I'm sure Vincent will be fine. Most are! There are one or two that can never be touched while they have food and you simply have to be careful with these dogs. However, your adoption co-ordinator is right: most are confused, unsure and simply trying to make some order in their new world. If you show them you can be trusted, they are usually more than willing to trust you!

 

In my opinion, taking food away without going through the training is not a good idea, and may well lead to a bite.

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  • 4 months later...
Guest KathCecilia

Update, Vincent's issues with food/toys dissappeared over time and by working on some trade-up exercises. He hasn't growled in quite sometime. I think he just needed to adjust to his very new home & learn to trust. The trade up work we did really helped with bonding as well! We're as happy as can be now, I also learned how smart greyhounds are! Thanks for the advice.

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Great to hear! Some of them just need the time to feel comfortable with the people around them. :) Trading up is an excellent exercise that I've needed with Ozzie, just for high-value items like turkey necks. I'd given him one and he had taken it to the couch where I had a sheet to protect the couch. His heavy jump rumpled the sheet and he was chewing over an unprotected surface. All I was doing was moving the sheet so it'd be UNDER him but he got growly.

 

He knows the treat cabinet and it only opens if he is getting a treat, so, even though the turkey neck was of higher value, he let me have it to get a cookie. Once he finished the cookie and I had fixed the sheet, I gave him back the turkey neck.

 

All of that to say - those that are very food motivated are sometimes more excited by the constants in their life (cookies, kibble) than special "every now and then" things. Or maybe Ozzie is just weird :lol

Kristin in Moline, IL USA with Ozzie (MRL Crusin Clem), Clarice (Clarice McBones), Latte and Sage the IGs, and the kitties: Violet and Rose
Lovingly Remembered: Sutra (Fliowa Sutra) 12/02/97-10/12/10, Pinky (Pick Me) 04/20/03-11/19/12, Fritz (Fritz Fire) 02/05/01 - 05/20/13, Ace (Fantastic Ace) 02/05/01 - 07/05/13, and Carrie (Takin the Crumbs) 05/08/99 - 09/04/13.

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Guest k9soul

Update, Vincent's issues with food/toys dissappeared over time and by working on some trade-up exercises. He hasn't growled in quite sometime. I think he just needed to adjust to his very new home & learn to trust. The trade up work we did really helped with bonding as well! We're as happy as can be now, I also learned how smart greyhounds are! Thanks for the advice.

 

Wonderful update! :thumbs-up

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Good update! Yes it takes them some time and patience on our part to make the comfortable.

Kyle with Stewie ('Super C Ledoux, Super C Sampson x Sing It Blondie) and forever missing my three angels, Jack ('Roy Jack', Greys Flambeau x Miss Cobblepot) and Charlie ('CTR Midas Touch', Leo's Midas x Hallo Argentina) and Shelby ('Shari's Hooty', Flying Viper x Shari Carusi) running free across the bridge.

Gus an coinnich sinn a'rithist my boys and little girl.

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Guest Lillypad

Just read this post.... This is why I love GREYTALK!!! Members are so willing to take you by the hand and lead you on. The advice of Silverfish is spot on.

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