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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone have any experience? Creole is just completely confusing me and his food aggression is getting worse, not better.

We've been handfeeding him for weeks. Prior to that, he (just like Gumbo) had to be in a down and wait before eating, to keep control over the food in my court. While handfeeding, he has to wait for the okay before he can take what's in my hand and be lying down the whole time.

He has to do something before he gets anything, he willingly gives up a toy, he knows 'go lay down', goes in his kennel on command, knows the basics sit, stay, etc. I started training as soon as we got him to avoid this and it's just getting worse.

He has gotten vicious the past few days at meal time and nearly bit me yesterday. At breakfast today I reached and pet him with my other hand and he nearly lunged at me, teeth bared.

I don't know what else to do. He's getting neutered on Tuesday and getting his left rear leg x-rayed to see why he's limping. After he heals from the neuter my plan is obedience classes but I'm not sure that's really going to help since he already knows basic commands and it isn't affecting the food aggression.

Christi is coming to visit with the kiddos next month and the only choice I see is to board him (which he does fine with because it's a playgroup setup). I can't trust him with them, which really scares me if we have kids in the future.
 

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I'd say obedience training is exactly what he needs. Feeding by hand actually does nothing, it only makes the dog associate your hands with food. Most aggression in dogs is a result of feeling like there is no leader so he must take the top spot. Food is also a resource, so if he's resource guarding food, chances are he's also guarding other things. Once you take control and are top dog, most (though possibly not all) of the resource guarding will disappear. When he's playing with a toy, reclaim it every once in a while, also make him look at you and give him permission before he goes through doors,(door ways are also a resource, we are not sure why but they are) If you own everything you can give him what he needs and he'll be happier. Dogs really don't like being the top dog, they really are happier being lower in th pecking order. So when feeding it is a good idea to keep the dog in a stay while you prepare food. If the aggression is a problem with another dog, feed them in separate rooms, or facing away from each other. Also when you feed pick up the food if he decides to leave. Leaving food to come back to leaves the dog too much control. So if he leaves, pick up the food, and he gets no more until the next feeding time. This way he'll start to pay more attention to eating it than guarding it.
I hope I don't sound too bossy, and I know this is a lot of information. I just know how severe food aggression can become.
As for visitors, boarding might be a good idea, but you can't keep running away from this problem, at some point there will be a holiday or something where kennels are full and there will be no space. So I'd say start working on the problem now... Just make sure there is no food on the floor, and all play times with toys are monitored. Keep the dog in the crate when you can't watch him. And everything should work out fine.... any ways, good luck!
 

· Poo dont scare me!!!
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I really have no helpful ideas, since everything I would suggest, you are already doing...I hope that the obedience classes help...but like you said, he already knows how to be obedient...so Im not sure if that would help anyhow...Sorry I have no input that even offers suggestions or anything! I just hope that you can get it figured out!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Food is also a resource, so if he's resource guarding food, chances are he's also guarding other things. Once you take control and are top dog, most (though possibly not all) of the resource guarding will disappear. When he's playing with a toy, reclaim it every once in a while, also make him look at you and give him permission before he goes through doors,(door ways are also a resource, we are not sure why but they are) If you own everything you can give him what he needs and he'll be happier. Dogs really don't like being the top dog, they really are happier being lower in th pecking order. So when feeding it is a good idea to keep the dog in a stay while you prepare food.
Jade said:
Prior to that, he (just like Gumbo) had to be in a down and wait before eating, to keep control over the food in my court. While handfeeding, he has to wait for the okay before he can take what's in my hand and be lying down the whole time.

He has to do something before he gets anything, he willingly gives up a toy, he knows 'go lay down', goes in his kennel on command, knows the basics sit, stay, etc. I started training as soon as we got him to avoid this and it's just getting worse.
We're already doing this ...

leplake said:
If the aggression is a problem with another dog, feed them in separate rooms, or facing away from each other. Also when you feed pick up the food if he decides to leave. Leaving food to come back to leaves the dog too much control. So if he leaves, pick up the food, and he gets no more until the next feeding time. This way he'll start to pay more attention to eating it than guarding it.
He would rather die than leave the food. We feed twice a day and he doesn't seem to go after the other dog's food, nor does it make a difference if the other dog is in the room.

leplake said:
As for visitors, boarding might be a good idea, but you can't keep running away from this problem, at some point there will be a holiday or something where kennels are full and there will be no space. So I'd say start working on the problem now...
:lol: Obviously. I mentioned it because that's just a few weeks away and the problem won't be fixed by then. It was more of a demonstration of severity than a solution. I've been working on the problem already, it isn't something I'm inclined to let go.
 

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I know how you feel:( I have a miniature pinscher, and he can get pretty nasty when he has something in his mouth that hes not supposed to have, but luckily he doesnt have aggression towards me when I pet him as hes eating or anything, only when he gets something from the garbage:(
 

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My parents little cocker spaniel was having some food aggression problems and they were told to make her go down on the floor before you put the food bowl down, then put it down, make her wait a few minutes, then say "OK" to signal that its ok for her to go to the food.

She's very well behaved now. You don't even have to tell her 'down' when your feeding her, when she knows shes getting food she automatically backs up and lays down and waits for someone to tell her ok. And no more food aggression!

I wonder if maybe it's the handfeeding that's making Creole worse? I don't know anything about hand feeding them but I would think it would give them the idea that everytime you have food in your hand that it's for them. So maybe he's seeing you holding food at your meal times, thinking it's for him, and gets mad when he doesn't get it? I don't know though, it's just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My parents little cocker spaniel was having some food aggression problems and they were told to make her go down on the floor before you put the food bowl down, then put it down, make her wait a few minutes, then say "OK" to signal that its ok for her to go to the food.

She's very well behaved now. You don't even have to tell her 'down' when your feeding her, when she knows shes getting food she automatically backs up and lays down and waits for someone to tell her ok.
This is what I do with Gumbo and how I started to train Creole. Even now, Creole knows to lay down and wait for the ok to eat when I go to the pantry.

Putting it in a bowl makes him start guarding it immediately, hackles up, growling if you come near, which is why we went to hand feeding, trying to get him to see that I control the food and I give it, not take it away. The research I did suggested to start there and work up to slowly reintroducing the bowl. Even a pile of food on the floor sets him off.

:shrug:
 

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I'm glad to see you on the right track, I was just thinking that if the only aggression is with food, than keeping him there with visitors really shouldn't be a problem, as long as children are not around when food is down. You mentioned he had a sore leg, did all the aggression start before or after it became sore? I have a lab with bad hips, and on days he's sore he tends to be rather moody. So things may change if that's the problem...


If he's resorting to aggression as quick as you say with the bowl, it sounds like you need a personal behavioralist along with intensive training.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm glad to see you on the right track, I was just thinking that if the only aggression is with food, than keeping him there with visitors really shouldn't be a problem, as long as children are not around when food is down.
I have no way to know whether this could translate into more right now, so I'm not going to take a chance with the kids. I'm not worried about the other adults I have coming to visit in the coming weeks, just the kids.

leplake said:
You mentioned he had a sore leg, did all the aggression start before or after it became sore? I have a lab with bad hips, and on days he's sore he tends to be rather moody. So things may change if that's the problem...
I have no way to know this, I got him with two broken legs. He had surgery to repair them at about 9-10 weeks old. I had the same thought, though. He is on Rimadyl to try and keep him comfortable while we figure out how it'll heal as he grows.


If he's resorting to aggression as quick as you say with the bowl, it sounds like you need a personal behavioralist along with intensive training.
That's what I'm thinking. :( I'm having trouble finding a behaviorist around here in my prelim searches, unfortunately. Plenty of 'dog trainers' but I'd much prefer someone board certified like we had at the clinic I used to work in.
 

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Hmm...

Where does Creole stand in the 'pack'? Is Gumbo more or less dominate then him? Or are they about equal?

You have to somehow teach him that while humans are the top dogs, he will not suffer from lack of food and does not have to fight for it.

Does he act dominate in any other ways then the food aggression? Will he roll over and show you his belly? If you stare at him directly in the eye, does he look away or stare back? And on the other hand, is he overly submissive at all?

I'm just thinking - because I know with wolves, usually the only ones in the pack who will show a lot of food aggression are the alpha dogs, and the 'outsiders'. The alphas do it to show that they're the boss, but the outsiders do it because they usually can't get food any other way except for by force.

So just because he's food aggressive doesn't necessarily mean that more training will help. Training asserts your dominance over him, but the problem could be that he feels that his position in the pack is low, and he needs to fend for himself when it comes to food.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hmm...

Where does Creole stand in the 'pack'? Is Gumbo more or less dominate then him? Or are they about equal?

Gumbo is top dog.

You have to somehow teach him that while humans are the top dogs, he will not suffer from lack of food and does not have to fight for it.
This is what I'm having trouble with, I think.

Does he act dominate in any other ways then the food aggression? Will he roll over and show you his belly? If you stare at him directly in the eye, does he look away or stare back? And on the other hand, is he overly submissive at all?
He'll roll over for belly scratches, he looks away when we make eye contact ... he's definitely not overly submissive. The only other time he gets dominant is if he's sleepy and we try to get him up off his bed.

I'm just thinking - because I know with wolves, usually the only ones in the pack who will show a lot of food aggression are the alpha dogs, and the 'outsiders'. The alphas do it to show that they're the boss, but the outsiders do it because they usually can't get food any other way except for by force.

So just because he's food aggressive doesn't necessarily mean that more training will help. Training asserts your dominance over him, but the problem could be that he feels that his position in the pack is low, and he needs to fend for himself when it comes to food.
Hrrm. That's a new way of thinking. I wonder how to correct that, though?
 

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There are also things to consider outside of basic training that teach a dog that humans are alpha. Certainly obedience training is important, but there are also habits like making sure you never allow the dog to walk in or out of a door ahead of you, not allowing them on the furniture, especially the bed, or other special places that are just for people. Don't share people food with them, don't give them attention when they beg for it but only on your terms.
 

· Can't Stop Touching Her Eyes
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Do you think it has anything to do with Charlie coming home and then leaving again? When Charlie came home Creole probably felt he was the leader of the pack. Now that Charlie has left maybe he is challenging you for that ranking?
I think you should just continue to be firm with him. It really sounds like you make him show respect. Maybe if you can fit in a little more time with basic commands right now. I think that classes are a wonderful idea after his neuter. Frank learned a lot in classes. He learned the agility equipment. You may not want to have Creole jump the high jumps but I would think he could do the ones Frank did - he could walk over those. And Frank learned to walk in a heal off leash while staring at me. If I stopped he stopped. If I turned he turned. He was so good! I am saying past tense because if you don't keep out they get out of practice.
I do feel the classes really put my rank above him. I feel he would have been awful without them. He is strong willed and I know I would have had problems with him if I hadn't done them.
And if the problem is with Charlie leaving - he could be feeling your uncertainty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
There are also things to consider outside of basic training that teach a dog that humans are alpha. Certainly obedience training is important, but there are also habits like making sure you never allow the dog to walk in or out of a door ahead of you, not allowing them on the furniture, especially the bed, or other special places that are just for people. Don't share people food with them, don't give them attention when they beg for it but only on your terms.
:yes: We do all of that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Do you think it has anything to do with Charlie coming home and then leaving again? When Charlie came home Creole probably felt he was the leader of the pack. Now that Charlie has left maybe he is challenging you for that ranking?
I think that's a cause of the escalation, yes. But the problem has been present for quite a while. We thought it was improving, but he tried to bite several weeks ago so we went back to handfeeding and that just doesn't seem to have made a difference.

I'm going to enroll in obedience class regardless of whether it helps this particular problem. I also think I'm going to seek out a behaviorist, even if I do have to drive the 5 hours back to Charlotte to find one. :sigh:
 

· Salamander Burgermuffin
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I wonder if it would help any to serve him in a new dish, or even just on a paper plate?

I don't have much advice on this, Allie can be very aggressive at times, but never over her food.. but she knows her food has always there.. she gets aggressive over milk bones, or busy bones.. special treats, that she doesn't get very often, and worse she will hide them, and has lunged at me when i went to pick her up once, cuz i didn't know David gave her one.. she worries me sometimes, but i fear theres really not much we can do besides not give her treats anymore, or hold them and let her eat them. I would not trust her with a child. and usually either put her in her kennel, or lock her in the bedroom if a child comes to visit.
 

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Steph, you are doing all the right things with Creole. I did a search on the pit bull forum I belong to and we have a few dog behaviourists that say to feed each morsel of food by hand. As you know, any type of aggression coming from a pit bull (I know Creole is not a pit bull) is a huge problem so we take that kind of behaviour very seriously. I didn't read all the information on this link but one of the members posted this: Possession Aggression Your next step is to see a behaviourist. That type of behaviour really worries me as I know it does you.

I forgot to ask, what do you do when he tries to bite you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I very loudly tell him no and just take whatever he's going for (usually my hand/arm) out of reach without backing down or too far away, as well as try to make eye contact. I don't want him to think that being aggressive is the path to getting his way, but I'm not certain I'm doing it right either. :shrug:

Yeah, I'm looking seriously for a behaviorist. The trainer where they board sounds ok, but I'm not sure I want to go with someone who isn't board certified.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Also, the thing that confuses me is that he isn't possessive with bones or toys. JUST food. He's also not possessive if I put food in one of the rolling treat balls. :shrug:

Edit: I've read the link you posted, Denise. :yes:
 
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