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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20275
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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When my dog is eating he is fine if I touch his bowl or his

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When my dog is eating he is fine if I touch his bowl or his food but as soon as u try to pull him away he snaps, what's the best way to stop this problem?, thanks!
Hi Jacustomer,
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
How old is your dog?
What breed is he?
How long have you owned him?
Has he always done this?
Has he had any obedience training?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Scamp is 14 months old, he is a Minature Schnauzer and we have owned him for 11 months. I think he has always done this, we only found out one day when my daughter stroked him whilst he was eating. We did take him to puppy training, but haven't been for a while as he didn't seem to learn much more than the basics.
If you try and move him whilst he is eating out of his bowl he growls then tries to snap at you. My daughter not long ago tried to cuddle him when he had a chew and he scratched her face with his teeth. We desperately need to get this under control as we would like to keep him, but if he does anything else again to a child then he will have to go.
This is a very common issue in dogs and is called resource guarding. It can be dangerous if not addressed correctly sue to the fact that the dog does bite. I have to tell you that it is best addressed in person with a professional behaviorist. However many owners are able to help their dogs overcome this unwanted behavior with lots of patience and hard work. The following sites go over this in great detail. The last site give many different ideas and techniques to help resolve resource guarding.
If you have taken the time to read the above sites you will notice that the owners gained their dog's trust by not taking things from them unless they gave them something even better. In the case of food, I've found that hand feeding gets the dog used to you being around the food. So I suggest that you start hand feeding him.
When hand feeding, you should talk softly to him. Initially you won't want to touch him but as he starts eating from your hand regularly, you can start petting his back when he is taking food from your hand This will get him used to you touching him when he is eating . I usually progress to putting the food in the bowl and just hold the bowl continuing to talk and pet them. Once the dog is used to this, I will put the empty bowl on the floor and put food in the bowl piece by piece if necessary, so the dog knows that I control the food, not him. Additionally, you might have some really tasty treats in hand and as you get close to the dog start dropping these so the dog is associating you with giving more tasty treats rather than just approaching his food. Once he sees that you are adding food to the bowl and not taking it away, he shouldn't feel the need to growl at you to warn you away from his food. At this point, you want to have an extra tasty treat like hot dog slices and have them in one hand to distract him from his bowl. As he takes the treats, lift a handful of food from his bowl and then put it right back. Be sure he sees you put it back. This teaches him that just because you take the food doesn't mean it isn't coming back.
I start taking food away from puppies and giving it right back when they are just young puppies. If you frequently take things your pup enjoys but are dangerous like cooked bones, stinky socks, etc, without giving something better in return, you dog might think that you are planning on taking his food away. You can use the leash to provide some negative reinforcement such as a quick tug and firm low toned "NO" when he growls as well, so he understands that it is not acceptable behavior. This would mean having him leashed when he gets food or treat. Just remember tat you need some positive reinforcement when he is acting the way you want him to which is not growling.
I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
Start back with obedience training. It isn't just to learn commands but to keep the dog seeing you as boss The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
Just train daily with him as well. Once you can handle his food consistently, then have the next person work with him on the problem. It is always best not to involve children in this training as many dogs do not see children as having any standing in the house. So have adults work with him at first and once he seems totally comfortable with adult around his food, then you can start the child just tossing him a special treat from a distance if he doesn't growl at her when she walks by the food area.
Of course, no treats other than the ones in training initially. You also have to train any children around him as well. There are various things that children should know about being around dogs and not touching their food is one of them as well as not hugging a dog. Here is a site that goes over this.
In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques mentioned about you may have to consult a professional behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.
I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
We already are able to feed him treats by hand and he is really gentle, does that change the way we should start things, or just start doing as you have out down?
He expects you to feed him his treats by hand. You need him to learn that you will feed his food to him by hand now. Once he is used to that then you start taking the food and putting it back but at first you only do that when you have a tasty treat to distact him from the initial taking of the food. So basically still follow my suggestions.