Monday, January 22, 2007

Food Guarding

This is from an exchange I had with a puppy owner regarding Food Guarding...
Sounds like you worked through the food thing on your own. Maybe I can do a better job as a breeder in articulating to my puppy families to ALWAYS feed them from your hand, throughout their lives, so they don't feel they have to "guard" their food. I also implement the sit and wait to be released for ALL my dogs once they are out of the "litter" environment. I was taught the philosophy that nothing is free, everything they do they have to earn by doing a command/behavior. So, when I have scraps (and Luna loves vegetable, bananas, etc...) I make Luna do her sit, or down, or sit stay, or down stay. She thinks it's fun because she's getting food and all Swissies are food driven. In the process, she's learning basic commands. She's not 100% on the down by any stretch, but she's perfected her sit! I also spend the first entire year of their life feeding them meals every now and then entirely from my hand. I'll sit in the living room with their food bowl and make them eat every morsel of the kibble out of my hand, and we all take turns. By the time they are a year old, we are all gods and godesses to them because they regard their "human" pack as their source of food. I've NEVER witnessed and/or experienced a Swissy that was food aggressive or growls. If I did, I think quite honestly, I'd knock the shit out of them and they wouldn't know what hit them. I have witnessed them being growly towards each other when they eat all together and someone finishes early and comes to see if there is any extra in the bowl. I don't discourage dog to dog vocalzing, ever, as it always maintains who is who in the pack and pecking order. I've never had one have to reprimand the other to "go away when I'm eating" except to stop chewing and growl. Luna figured out damn quick not to bother Rixey, her mother, when Rixey is eating. As puppies they all try to eat her food while she's eating and she'll absolutely demolish them and pin them down until they scream bloody murder. There's never any bite wounds and never any blood drawn, and they only have to get nailed once or twice to realize....."don't try to get mom's food while she's eating." I've learned a lot of my dicipline boundaries from watching all my mothers discipline their own brood. It's amazing how firm they are, without injuring. They instill a sense of respect in their own puppies. Sorry to hear about Boone growling, but it's imperative that you do some of the hand feeding, often, to make sure that never escalates into the dog on the show. I haven't seen the episode, but Cab's owner taped it for me.

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