Bone and growling

Discussion in 'Labrador behaviour' started by Kelsey&Axel, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. Kelsey&Axel

    Kelsey&Axel Registered Users

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    I am so upset right now. Axel growled at another dog who was chasing him while he was trying to chew on a bone. I kind of wrote that off as I assumed it was because he was being chased. But tonight we gave him a raw bone and my husband gave him a pet while he was chewing it and he growled at him.

    How do I stop this behaviour? When I went to take it away I used treats in exchange for the bone and said leave it. It took a few times but he did end up leaving it but then ran back to his bone right away but we had already picked it up.

    I don't know what to do. I'm just so upset. Never having him growl once since getting him. And then having him growl at us... It's so so upsetting. :(
     
  2. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Growling is fine, honestly. It's just him saying that he doesn't want his bone taken away from him. I know it sounds scary, but it's honestly not aggression, and you should never tell him off for growling (not that you even hinted that you did, but it's a common reaction for lots of us) because it's an "early-warning system" you don't want to lose if he's ever in a situation where he's scared or in pain.

    The main thing you want to work on is having your puppy understand that you're not going to take his fabulous things away from him (except in an emergency, but that will be such a rare occurrence that you not taking things from him will be the norm). Here is a great article that might help: http://www.thelabradorsite.com/how-to-stop-your-dog-growling-over-food/
     
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  3. Boogie

    Boogie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Growling is dog language for 'keep away'. So fear not. It's best to always give high value items like bones separately to avoid any arguments. When the dogs know each other very well and have been trained to it they can eat bones side by side. But, even then, they relax and enjoy it better if they know the other dog can't get to them :)


    ..
     
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  4. Boogie

    Boogie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Never pet a dog while it's eating and, if you need to take food away, be sure to 'swap' it for something even better (I keep smelly tripe sticks for this purpose). That way they learn that you are giver of food, never taker away.

    :)
     
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  5. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    I don't think growling is fine (unless in play etc). I don't mean you should try to punish or stop a dog growling, but rarely should a dog find himself in a position where he needs to growl and certainly not just around the home.

    I would leave a dog alone when it is eating a bone, don't mess with it and feed small meaty bones that are gone quite quickly so you never have to remove them. The article that Fiona pointed to above is great. The idea is that the dog becomes confident you will never take his food away from him (so don't) and therefore becomes relaxed with humans around his food and so safer. The idea is not that your dog becomes ok with you taking his food away.
     
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  6. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Yes, probably clumsily worded on my part. I meant what you said :D
     
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  7. MF

    MF Registered Users

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    It's interesting to hear that people say leave a dog alone while eating, don't pet him. We were given the opposite advice when Snowie was a puppy, and not knowing any better, we followed the advice, which included: touch him while he's eating, put your hands in his food bowl while he's eating, basically get him used to your being around. The objective was: if a child happened to be around him while he was eating -- and kids often want to put their hands into everything -- that he would not be bothered by this. I am happy to say we succeeded: Snowie couldn't care less who's around, person or dog, or even if you take the food away. I used to often practice Leave while he was eating, pick up the meaty bone, and then give it back to him. I never took anything away permanently unless it was dangerous.

    It has come in very handy. This morning on our off-leash walk, for example, he found a bone he wanted to chew. It would've meant standing around while he was chewing, and I wanted to finish the walk. I didn't mind the bone, so I told him to Drop, which he did, and then carried it in a plastic bag, which he accepted with no fuss and continued running around and sniffing. Having the bone came in a very handy at the end of our walk when he wants to go directly to the park and I want to go home -- usually it requires a lot of coercion! I showed him the bone and he trotted perfectly at heel all the way home where he got his prize.
     
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  8. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    It's all about thresholds though. If you're working on desensitising a puppy to having hands in bowls etc while they're very young you're probably working below their threshold as they haven't yet got into being possesive (possibly I make no promises about whether posessivness is hard wired from birth or not, that's another debate) However if your dog is growling they are at or over threshold and you absolutely must take heed of their communication and work out how to keep them below threshold. This could be a desensitisation programme or it could be simple management i.e. leave them in peace when they're eating or have a bone.

    Whatever you choose to do, proper thought and understanding must be involved and great care if you wish to avoid escalation and potential aggression.
     
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  9. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    It certainly depends a lot on the dog. I'm very lucky with mine, in that I've never had this problem. I don't take their food from them, but I do sometimes get close to them when they're eating prized things, like raw meat - but this is almost always because I'm giving them another chunk, so they don't mind, even the occasional time when I don't have anything extra to give them. I am also able to hold onto things I don't want them to chew while they work on them, such as marrow bones, so I can turn them into a position that allows them to lick out the marrow, rather than chew the bone. They are more than happy for me to do this, and will even push my hand into place so they can get the best angle.

    This is not to say they are ambivalent about their food, though - when we first brought Shadow home, they were very wary of each other when eating raw meat and, if one finished first and got too close (or, even, if Shadow looked the wrong way at Willow when she was still chewing), there would be "language". We managed it by having Willow in her crate for raw food, and Shadow the other end of the room and, at kibble meals, I stood between them to create a barrier if Shadow tried to steal Willow's food once he'd finished his own; staying with his litter mates longer had instilled the knowledge that if you didn't finish your food first, you got yours taken off you - which he'd obviously been mostly on the receiving end of, because he was a skinny little monkey. He very quickly learnt, though, that a) no-one was going to steal his food and b) he wasn't going to be allowed to steal anyone else's, and that transferred over to the meat, too. They still go to the opposite ends of the room to eat their meat, but there's no hint of guarding between them now, because they have learnt their manners and so know that their food is safe.

    I think, as Barbara says, you may be able to work on this from an early age to prevent it ever becoming an issue (or you may just be lucky at having a pup with the kind of temperament that doesn't resource guard), but if you have a pup that has started guarding, it's a matter of understanding their fears and working to alleviate them.
     
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  10. Boogie

    Boogie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Sorry for the triple post (lack of edit button plus my slow bt
    Exactly :)


    ...
     
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  11. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Once a dog is growling over food it's a long road before you should try to pet him while he is eating, although that is the intention of the article that Fiona posted - to get your dog safe enough around food so (eg) a child could wander over and the dog wouldn't react - but it's a safety thing to train.

    Training a young puppy depends on what puppy you've got - I still wouldn't start off by petting a puppy, I'd start off by throwing food, and seeing how the puppy was etc. And I'd never just try to 'test' a dog by just removing his food, only reinforce 'humans approach my food, even more food appears'.

    I'm perfectly confident I could take a raw bone off my dog without any problems, but why do it? Why not leave the dog to eat his raw meaty bone in peace, I say.
     
  12. Cath

    Cath Registered Users

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    Fred will let anyone eat his food, Annie, the cats. He just no that bother, he looks at me like to say, They are doing it again :rolleyes: So now I feed him on his own so he gets some :D
     
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  13. Kelsey&Axel

    Kelsey&Axel Registered Users

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    Thank you everyone, this calmed me down. I read that article posted above and it gave me hope that we can work through this. I tried step one tonight. I stood a few feet away and threw food towards him while he ate his kibble. He didn't growl once. So I'll continue working through those stages.

    I gave him his bone again and gave some rules to my husband. No petting or talking. Basically explained to him that if he doesn't like Axel coming up and going on his lap while he is eating dinner than he shouldn't bug Axel while he eats a yummy bone either. So this time we just left him to chew. After about 45 mins I called Axel to me (he left the bone and came to me which shocked me) and gave him lots of treats. No growling and we went inside.

    We will keep working on this!

    Thanks again everyone. I love love love this forum. Everyone is so kind and helpful!
     
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  14. Cath

    Cath Registered Users

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    Well done :)
     
  15. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Good news! :)
     
  16. NickyW

    NickyW Registered Users

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    That's interesting... my two sisters are quite happy to eat alongside one another, and will only go to check out each other's bowls when the other has finished... just in case there's anything left! I admit that I thought it was a good thing to be able to take the food away without them growling, and then give it back (not that I'd make a habit of it... how annoying it'd be if you're having your dinner and someone nicks it!), but the girls seem fairly chilled around food. Years ago I was told to feed the 'top dog' first (I'd rescued two dogs, 8 months apart, and they were fighting), but I never do that now. I guess I put the food bowls down together, and, if there are titbits or treats for recall, either one of them might have it first. I imagine, being litter mates, that they've sorted all those issues before they came to us, so I've not seen anything concerning, although, when they have a marrowbone, they do tend to take it to different parts of the garden, putting a bit of space between each other with a highly-prized food item, but I am able to take the bones away from them with no grumbling. Lucky to have good temperaments, I guess.
     
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  17. NickyW

    NickyW Registered Users

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    Painting pictures with words... love the idea of poor Fred having his meal taken by the cats! He sounds lovely! When I had my last rescue dogs (lab mix) they acknowledged that my hens came higher up in the pecking order than they did, and would stand aside whilst the hens pootled into the kitchen to eat the cat food. My new girls would have different ideas, and the chicken would likely be dinner!
     
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  18. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey Registered Users

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    my old ginger boy cat was a terrible despot . The dogs were all scared of him but he loved to feed them he would just knock stuff off the work surfaces for them.
     
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  19. NickyW

    NickyW Registered Users

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    Isn't it wonderful how animals interact? Love the story! :D
     
  20. Ski-Patroller

    Ski-Patroller Cooper, Terminally Cute

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    With our Labs I have always been able to approach them when they were eating or had a bone or bully stick. They would never argue about kibble, and with a bully stick or similar, they might pick it up and move away but would not growl, and I could take it away if need be.

    My Malamute was different. He did not particularly like kibble so that was not an issue, but if I gave him a fresh raw bone, he explained in no uncertain terms that it was now his bone and I should keep my distance. I did not like it, but we came to an understanding. If I gave him a super high value thing, it was now his and I should leave him alone with it. That is one of the reasons we have Labs now, not Malamutes.
     

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