Puppy being aggressive during feeding. Help!?

So she’s a Choc Lab cross Collie. She was the biggest of the litter (3). Me and my partner have had her since just before xmas.

Now we made the mistake of not establishing ourselves as the pack alpha when we had her as we thought nothing of it at the time (I’d never had a pet before Millie, and my partner was only a child when she had pets). She potty trained great and we got her into the habit of sitting then begging before allowing her to get at her food.

After a few weeks I mistakenly bumped into her, and she snapped at me. I knew it was very unacceptable even then and took the food off her to calm down but after this one instance it got worse and would continue every feeding time. I tried for the first 2 weeks of making her sit and wait and took food away whenever she started to snarl/show teeth, but she didn’t change. The next 2 weeks I then tried feeding her while I was holding the bowl and intermittently took the bowl away (which she growled at) whilst giving her an extra treat to show I’m giving her double her worth back, but she didn’t catch onto this. She has snapped a couple of times, and both times she was put in her pen, away from us, without any food for that mealtime.

We’re now down to the lowest low, feeding her from our own bowl so she recognises it’s ours, with a spoon in her pen. We’ve been doing this for just over a week now however if i put the food down, she starts to get all possessive/aggressive.

We’ve established it isn’t out of fear she’s growling but believe she doesn’t respect me/my partner as the alpha of the pack due to us not doing it from the start. We also gave her free roam of the house when we had her (after trusting her not to wee/poo anywhere), and gave her her toys whenever she liked. Wrong move, we know that now and have since kept her in her pen whenever we’re at home and only give her toys occasionally. We also tend to ignore her while in her pen so she realises we’re the alpha but to no avail.

Should I stick to hand/spoon feeding and keep trying to put the food down for her until she doesn’t growl, or is there any other method we can try? I’ve read up on a lot of stuff but some of it seems a bit over the top.

PS. Sorry for the long essay, but figured it would be best with more details than just "HOW DO I MAEK MY DOG STOP BARK WHILE EAT".

Thanks for any help.

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3 Responses to “Puppy being aggressive during feeding. Help!?”

  1. High Dude says:

    Used to have the same exact problem except my dog would try and bite me.
    What I would do when it was feeding time is take a handful of dog food and let her eat it out of my hand.
    And then put some into her bowl. Then grab some more and let her eat it out of my hand. And then put some in the bowl. And did it one more time, but this time when I put the food in the bowl I would pet her back very gently so she would know we are in control of the food. It works. I even trained my aunts dog and my grandmothers dog with this method.
    You have to do this everyday for at least 2 weeks and you’ll never have to worry about it again.

  2. Marcus Hubrich says:

    He has a behavioral/territorial problem. You need to train him while he is still young or else you will have a hard time in the future.

  3. eharri3 says:

    First, In my opinion you are handling it all wrong by taking away food. Think about it for a second from your dog’s perspective…you’re being aggressive due to some irrational belief or fear that your handler is like another wild dog in the pack, who’s finished their piece of the kill and wants to come take some of yours now because they’re still hungry. If the handler’s response involves something OTHER than taking the food back once they’ve let you have it, you could over time learn to get over your food aggression. If the handler keeps taking the food back, it confirms that they’re out to take it from you. It makes you more frustrated, and makes you want to try harder to guard it next time.

    Wanting your dog to not guard his food does not necessarily translate to taking his food away repeatedly as a solution. I believe once you’ve sent all the right signals and gone through the proper food rituals, once a dog has earned food, it’s theirs. PERIOD. PEt the dog a bit, move your hand around the bowl or through the food a bit to let him know you can be near it and not be threatening, then step back and let him eat. A dog with this issue should probably eat in a crate with the door closed. Once he’s finished, call him out of the crate and make him go to another room before getting the food.

    Create a more comprehensive solution for earning the dog’s respect rather than working on just a couple symptoms of a larger problem. Because you’re right, food guarding and snapping when you bump them is obviously a sigh of disrespect. You sound like you’ve realized some of the mistakes you’ve been making and have started on the right track. Check leerburg.com for further information on how to deal with dogs with dominance issues. You will see that you will need pack structure groundwork, structured obedience training from the ground up, and will likely need to learn to properly administer a physical corretion. Dogs with dominance issues lack respect for you. Educate yourself on the stages of obedience, the learning phase, the distraction phase, and the correction phase. Develop hard, fast, consistent rules and stick to them and THAT in and of itself should start to make a big difference.