Snarling & Growling over treats and food - Hungarian Vizsla Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 08:41 AM Thread Starter
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Snarling & Growling over treats and food

Our puppy is almost 5 months old. We originally had problems with giving him rawhide bones and not being able to take them away. He would start growling and snarling at us and then would snap and bite when we took control over him. And by "taking control" I mean I would grab his collar and say "NO" and put him in his kennel or lay him on his side until he stopped growling. This morning when I fed him I started petting him and putting my hands in his food dish to ensure he wasn’t doing this over his food and it was only over treats (kong with pb, pigs ears, rawhides, bones of all types). He was fine the first time I did it. I gave him a minute and started to do it again and he started growling and snarling and showing his teeth. I immediately put him down in a submissive position until he stopped and looked away. I let him up and hand fed him the remaining portion of his food. The food growling just started. It was mostly just over long lasting treats. Are we not feeding him enough? Does anyone have suggestions on how to correct this behavior?
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 09:06 AM
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Snarling & Growling over treats and food

You're going to get a lot of different responses but here's my opinion. Taking these away to prove to yourself and the dog that you can, can encourage resource guarding especially in a mor dominant dog. This has been my experience. However you should be able to touch these things without reaction in case you NEED to remove it at some point. Personally I would hold any treat you give him and hand feed him until he learns to relax during these things. Then after you let him "take it" periodically walk by him without doing anything. Maybe drop other treats in the process. So he learns that every time you come by is not a threat to his resources. Eventually pet him while he has these things and touch the treat/food/toy. We routinely need to reinforce this with Dozer and I think it's bec we did the take away thing with him when he was little. Penny in the other hand will come find you to lay down and gnaw away right next to or on you.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 01:52 PM
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Re: Snarling & Growling over treats and food

It's normal, they are dogs and that's how they communicate.
There are different ways to teach them. Main point is not to reward any behavior that you don't like.

I never corrected my dogs harshly because it was not necessary. I did use a wire crate to domesticate my dogs, though. The privilege of being free had to be earned (the fact that your dog is snarling at you is because he earned too much freedom early on)

1. There was no reason to snarl at me or any member of the family because Sam was inside the crate.
2. Next he was on a leash tied to my waist.
3. Later he earned the right to a daybed on a leash tied to a post.
4. Next he was on a daybed off leash but was not allowed to run around.
5. Last he earned the right to roam freely inside the house and make his own decisions.... it's a work in progress (17month old).


PS ... training never ends but following these steps got us a dog that doesn't need to be neutered because of territorial behaviors like marking inappropriate places (peeing on people, peeing inside the house on plants or humping out of control, growing, snapping, barking, chasing bicycles, chasing kids...)

If you want the best seat in the house ... move the dog
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Snarling & Growling over treats and food

I think we need to take away his couch privileges but my fiance feels differently. We already took away him sleeping in our bed. I think the couch should be earned. If he didn't behaving how we would like him to then he shouldn't be able to snuggle with us on the couch. But it's really hard to say no to that cute little puppy face. Does allowing him to be on the couch add fuel to the fire?
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 04:11 PM
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Re: Snarling & Growling over treats and food

You should search the forum for the "nothing in life is free" method. It has been described a few times by several people on here, and was reccommended to us by a behaviorist to help with all sorts of behavioral problems, including resource guarding. It is similar to what datacan describes below.

I would reccomend, as part of this approach, to start ONLY feeding your puppy by hand. He shouldn't get any food out of a bowl or at his leisure. It should all come from you, when you decide he has earned it. We have been doing this for about 9 months now, and even if we put food in our Vizsla's bowl or give him a bone, he will not even touch them until we say "it's okay", and he freely gives them up to us as well.

Also, careful punishing him harshly, because you may reinforce his guarding instincts- he'll learn that when you take stuff away from him, bad things happen! This may, in his doggie-mind, give him even more reason to get upset when you come to take away his goodies. At least, that is one theory
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 04:12 PM
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Re: Snarling & Growling over treats and food

I am going to second moving strictly to hand feeding for a while. He needs to know that food comes directly from you. I would also recommend that you walk through all doors before him. Before giving him water, praise anything he desires, I would make him sit, go into a down or do some other trick he knows. He should be working for everything.

The couch is tricky as your fiance wants him on there with you. I personally, don't think the couch is that big of a deal, as long as he doesn't jump up on it on his own accord, but gets permission first.

When you do decide to reintroduce the food bowl, I've heard that first walking by and just dropping a treat in the bowl gets the dog associating you walking by while he's eating with treats. You then, pause and drop the treat, then get lower and drop the treat, continuing in small steps until you are putting your hand in the bowl and putting in a treat, then eventually taking the bowl away and putting it back with the treat in. You want him to be excited when you are coming over as he thinks something good is happening. Eventually, he will just let you take the bowl, treat or no treat.

A similar approach with the kongs/rawhides may work better than the taking control approach. Also telling him what "to do" instead of what not to do. instead of just allow you to grab his treats, maybe you should tell him to sit, drop it, crate or couch. Get him to do something he is good at and is incompatible with chewing on the bone. Reward him for doing the positive behavior and simply pick up his bone.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 05:24 PM
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Re: Snarling & Growling over treats and food

although Ruby has never growled when I've taken food/treats away I started by making her sit, put her food bowl on the floor and not letting her have it till given the "take" command. If she moved before the command the bowl was lifted and put away for 5 mins,,,she soon got the message that it was my food that i was sharing with her

"never argue with stupid people, they may drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience"..Mark Twain

Ruby's d.o.b. 21/6/2011,,Lyharr Grouse Shot d.ob. 7/01/2015
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 06:07 PM
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Re: Snarling & Growling over treats and food

We have not had this issue with Gracie -- no guarding with us or the kids whatsoever -- but it seems that when these problems arise people often recommend this book:

Someone please correct me if this is not the right title....
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Snarling & Growling over treats and food

Alpine is my puppies name by the way
Alpine will sit and stay before I feed him and he'll wait for me to say "okay" then he'll eat. I make it a point to go through doors before him and I've read about the "nothing in life is free" theory and I make him do something every time before I give him anything. I'll start feeding him by hand now and see if that helps with guarding part. I like the treat in the dish approach and I'll start to try that once I've noticed him advancing with hand feeding. Tonight I tried to give the kong treat, give a cookie and take the kong treat. I tried to pet him with the kong treat and he started snarling. Then he bit me and drew blood. Perhaps it's my yelling when he starts growling. I'm trying hard to be calm but's hard. So it's probably my fault he's angry since I taught him to get angry with my anger. I guess at the moment I'm thinking I need to be louder to flush out his growling and intimidate him. I need training.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2012, 10:27 PM
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Snarling & Growling over treats and food

My breeder told me any puppy wouldn't want to share anything if it's always taken away.

Her advice was to take things from the puppy when very young but give them right back, so the dog is always happy to share. Toys, bones, everything, as a kind of play training, and to make it fun.

I have done that and my puppy will put even the most deliciously disgusting stuff into my hand because she knows that I very rarely take fun or pleasure things away.

I even treated and rewarded her for giving me a dead mouse instead of yelling "No" or punishing her for not wanting to part with something she really likes.

Uma (DOB 02/22/2012)
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