Dog growls over food | Fundacja PSI LOS

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My dog growls over food…
To survive, a dog needs to protect its food against other predators, as well as members of his own pack. Thus, growling over food stems from the survival instinct. Can we than teach our dog to stop this kind of behaviour? The program of desensitization aims at changing the dog’s attitude during feeding. To begin with, we get rid of the old bowl and give all the food to our dog by hand. Next, we change the scenery completely: instead of a metal bowl we take a large plastic one and serve the meal in a different room. We sit by the plastic bowl and put the food inside in very small portions. If the dog reacts calmly to our adding the food, we raise the difficulty level by starting to move slightly. Next, we change our position,  e.g. squat.  Gradually, we start moving faster (remember that the dog needs to be calm at the moment of adding food). When we are able to walk around the dog freely while he is calmly eating his meal, we move to the next phase. We exchange the large bowl for a mixing one and repeat the exercise step by step. When the dog is quiet over the mixing bowl, we exchange it for a new dog’s bowl and repeat the steps. Over the next days, we move the bowl slowly towards its desired position in the house. Remember that it should be different from the place where the bowl used to stand. The new place should be away from the bustle of family life.

Most frequent mistakes:
-  raising the difficulty level too fast

You cannot feed the dog between sessions, in the former place or in the old bowl. Handing the food is allowed only during training sessions. The change of surroundings and a bowl should let the dog abandon old habits. It is vital to change the room where we feed the dog, in some cases even the flat/house (ask your neighbour for help), because some dogs perceive the whole house in terms of their kennel and will present undesired behaviour all over it.