Is your puppy growling at you? Does your puppy growl when eating his dinner or if you touch his bowl? In this article I’ll show you how to cure growling permanently. In safe and easy stages.
It is very upsetting when your Labrador starts growling at you. But don’t panic. Guarding food, or growling when someone approaches his food bowl, is a common problem in all breeds of dog. It doesn’t mean your dog is vicious or aggressive. Don’t be tempted by quick fixes or punishment solutions for growling. They can be very dangerous, especially where there are children in the home.
If your four-legged friend starts growling over food, it is quite understandable that you might fear the worst. And wonder if you have a the makings of a vicious dog on your hands. Happily, this is rarely the case. And in most cases, this is a problem that is fairly straightforward to resolve. If you go about it in the right way.
The wrong way to behave around a growling puppy or dog
Sadly, despite the fact that we know a great deal about resource guarding and how to treat it successfully, I still frequently come across reports of trainers that are tackling puppy growling the wrong way. Using force and dominance based techniques. You may have seen television shows where dogs that growl are punished, and dominated. This can and sometimes does, end in people being bitten, and in dogs becoming increasingly distressed. Fortunately there is a better way, as we shall see.
The scared dog
The old fashioned assumption was that the dog who guards his bowl is trying to be ‘in charge’, to dominate his owner. We now know that this is not true. In fact quite the reverse. The dog who guards stuff is a scared dog. He is scared that humans are going to take his food away. In this article we will look at what causes this ‘food guarding’ behavior and how to stop your dog growling in easy stages.
Three stages to success
Treating this problem is achieved in three distinct phases. The three phases are:
- Stage 1: Don’t make things worse
- Stage 2: Understand the problem
- Stage 3: Behavior Modification, step-by-step
Stop your dog growling Stage 1
The first stage is to make sure you don’t make the problem any worse. Food guarding often starts whilst dogs are still very young. Do not be tempted to punish a labrador puppy for growling, we will explain why below. Until you have read and understood the following, stay away from the puppy whilst he is eating and make sure other members of the family do the same.
Read Stage Two to understand the underlying problem, then read Stage Three and follow the six steps to stop the growling and permanently improve your puppy’s behavior.
Do not be tempted to punish the dog!
Dogs that guard their food have two problems. One is that they believe you are going to take their food away. The other is that they believe you won’t give it back again. It is possible to punish a puppy severely enough to stop him growling at you whilst he is eating. However, this is a very bad idea for the following reasons
- Growling is an important ‘early warning’ device
- Punishment tends to be specific to the punisher
An important warning
Normal healthy dogs growl a great deal before they bite. Growling is a polite warning. It says ‘back off! If you don’t, I am prepared to fight…’. Even the best tempered dog will growl at some point in his life, perhaps when injured or severely frightened.
Dogs that are not permitted to growl when they feel threatened may bite without warning. All dogs should feel able to give a warning before they bite, this helps to make them safe citizens. Preventing the growl, is NOT the same thing as preventing the bite.
Growling at others
Another reason not to use ‘growl prevention’ techniques is that whilst you may be successful in teaching your dog not to growl at you, that does not mean he will stop growling at others.
He may well continue to keep growling at others when he is eating, including at children, and especially in your absence. This is not appropriate behavior. You need to get to the very source of the growling in order to fix the problem effectively
The right approach
To successfully treat growling we need a system that removes the growling at its root cause. The correct treatment is to teach your puppy that people in general are well meaning, and not in competition with him for food. With young puppies this is often surprisingly easy and quick to achieve.
Stop your dog growling Stage 2
Food guarding belongs to a group of behaviors known as resource guarding. Some puppies will only guard food, others may attempt to guard their toys, bedding and even you.
Food guarding is the most common of these behaviors, and understanding what causes it will enable you to cure the problem effectively and without punishment. It is not uncommon for puppies to attempt to guard food. It is a very natural behavior designed to stop other puppies or dogs from stealing his dinner. In the wild, puppies who ‘hand over’ their food will starve. Many domestic dogs have lost this guarding instinct. They don’t need it because we make sure that they get fed. However a substantial number of puppies from all breeds still instinctively guard their food.
It is important to emphasise that food guarding does not necessarily mean that your puppy is going to be vicious! What it does tell you, is that he may be a little anxious and need his confidence in the good intentions of ‘people’ building up. The more anxious the puppy is, the more distance he will need between his dinner and passers by before he feels comfortable enough to stop growling.
The purpose of the behavior modification techniques outlined below are to build that confidence. The third stage is modifying the behavior of the puppy that guards food. Because the food guarding dog is afraid his food will be taken away, it is very important that you do not do this. On the contrary, you are going to do the exact opposite and add to his food whilst he is eating it. Which brings us to Stage Three
Stop your dog growling Stage 3
The behavior modification process outlined in the six steps below is for treating the problem puppy who is guarding his food. If you are unsure of how to proceed, or have an older dog with an established problem, treatment is best attempted under expert supervision.
If you are concerned about your dog’s temperament or health in any way, or if this process does not seem to be going smoothly, it is important that you contact your vet for advice and further information. It is also a good idea to have a vet check over your dog before starting this treatment in order to exclude any health problems.
Your objective is to be able to actually put your hands in your puppy’s bowl whilst he is eating without him becoming at all unhappy. His tail will be wagging throughout. You will need to be patient and break this process down into small stages. Each step will probably take two or more days. The older the puppy, the longer it may take. Don’t proceed to the next step until the dog is comfortable, and not growling, with the step you are working on.
If you can break the dog’s daily food allowance into four or five meals, the learning process will go faster than if he is only having one or two meals per day. If at any step you feel you are not making much progress, ensure that the food in his bowl, is fairly boring compared with the food/treats you are going to add to it.
Step 1: ‘Stand and Throw’
To begin with, each time you feed your dog his dinner, you will put only a small amount of food into the dog’s bowl. The rest you will have to hand and whilst he is eating you will stand two or more yards away and throw little pieces of food towards his bowl. How far you stand from the dog, depends on him. Your job is to make sure you do not trigger the growling. Do not go so close that he feels the need to growl.
Over the next few mealtimes bring the distance you can stand near the dog down to about a yard. Don’t go closer until he is able to eat without growling at each distance. If you are struggling to find any distance at which he won’t growl at you, use very tasty treats to add to his bowl rather than his ordinary food. Don’t worry if you are not a very good shot. The food doesn’t have to go into his bowl, just near to it.
Don’t go to stage 2 until you can stand a yard from the dog and drop food into his bowl whilst he eats.
Step 2: ‘Walk and Throw’
The next step is to walk about whilst throwing the food. Your movement will worry him as he does not know what you are going to do next. This is very natural, even people don’t usually like someone moving around near them whilst they eat. So back further away, and take your time with this stage.
If walking around at three yards from the dog worries him, go further away. Find a distance at which you can move without him growling. If you can’t get this far away in your kitchen, try tiny movements (e.g. just shifting your feet around) to begin with, taking larger steps as he gets used to this. All the while you are throwing yummy bits of food into or around his bowl whilst he eats.
When you can walk all around the dog at a distance of one yard whilst he is eating, and when he is so relaxed about this that his tail will wag whilst he eats and you praise him, then it is time to move on to Step 3.
Step 3: ‘The First Touch
The next step is to be able to touch the rear half of the dog whilst he is eating, without him growling. Each dog is different so think about the kind of contact your dog enjoys. Keep your hands away from his head, mouth and bowl for the time being. You may be able to lightly touch his flank or stroke his rump. Keep the touch brief. Follow each touch by dropping a tasty bit of food in his bowl.
If he starts to growl go back to Step 2. Get as many repetitions of touch/treat as you can into each mealtime. When you can touch the dog freely on the rear of his body many times whilst he is eating, whilst his tail wags, and he is happy, move on to Step 4
Step 4: ‘Touch with Confidence’
This step will bring you to the point where you can stroke your dog’s head whilst he eats. Just as in all the previous steps take it slowly. If at any point the dog growls or displays pre-growl behavior, go back to Step 3. Put some food in a bowl as usual, and give it to your dog.
If the dog is happy, touch your dog lightly on the shoulder or neck and immediately drop a treat into his bowl. If the dog is still happy, tail wagging, move your hand higher and touch the top of his head. Work up to light strokes interspersed with frequent additions to his bowl. If all goes well, you should be able to thoroughly stroke and praise the dog in a normal manner, whilst he is eating, by the end of this step. If he seems unhappy at any stage, go back to the previous step.
Step 5: ‘No more growling’
This step is complete when you can actually trail your hands in the dog’s bowl whilst he is eating, touch him anywhere on his body, step over and around him and generally do all those things that other people, especially children, might one day do to your dog whilst he is eating.
Proceed in the same cautious manner as for all previous stages. Hold your hand a little closer to his bowl each time you drop a treat in, until you are actually holding your hand in the bowl. Observe your dog very carefully at all times. Stop and ‘back up’ if he seems unhappy, or if he stops eating and stiffens his body.
As long as he is happy, try lifting the bowl very slightly off the ground with one hand as you add treats with the other. If this goes well you can lift the bowl up a few inches, add a few treats and put it back down. If the dog is happy, repeat lifting the bowl a little higher each time, always replacing the bowl with more food in. When you can lift the bowl right up onto the work surface, putting more food in and return it to the floor you have nearly achieved your goal.
You don’t need to keep testing him by taking his dinner away constantly, and when you do remove his bowl, it should always be to add something nice to it. You want him to believe that anyone anywhere near his bowl is a very good thing.
Step 6: ‘Trust in Everyone’
The final step is for you to supervise a repeat of the whole procedure with each member of your family in turn, and then with any friends/visitors/passers-by you can rope in to help.
Over the next few weeks, make certain that you ensure anyone approaching your dog whilst he is eating has gone through these steps and take care to ensure they observe the rules on when to back off, very strictly. You will find this a much faster process than your initial one. This last step just finalises the training and teaches your dog that all people near his bowl are an excellent thing.
What you need to do now is to make sure that he will behave in this nice relaxed way even when there are very nice treats in his bowl. If not, then back up and go through the above steps with treats and other high value foods in the bowl.
Growling when eating is a common problem in puppies and some older dogs, caused by lack of confidence and fear of losing the food. Old fashioned methods of treatment using punishment and are dangerous and ineffective as they perpetuate and deepen the dog’s mistrust of people.
Food guarding is effectively treated by removing the fear and building up the dog’s confidence. During this whole procedure, especially with young puppies, you may find the dog quickly loses all his anxiety and forgets to guard his bowl at all, even to the point of leaving the bowl and repeatedly approaching you to beg for treats. This is ideal.
Remember that it is important to avoid touching a growling puppy, a bite from even quite a young puppy can be nasty. Access to the dog whilst eating should be restricted to adults who understand the treatment system. If you are not confident in following the instructions above without help, do consult an up to date behaviorist.
Check out our Labrador Behavior section for more help and advice on managing behavioral concerns in your Labrador
For a complete guide to raising a healthy and happy puppy don’t miss The Happy Puppy Handbook.
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Food aggression in dogs is very persistent. Since it is based on very ancient instincts for the protection of the obtained food. And it is often difficult to correct. It is very common in adult abandoned or lost dogs. Who knew what hunger is. The food bowl guard is independent of the size of the adult dog. And this can be encountered both among small breeds and large ones. Therefore, you need to be ready for this and treat it with understanding. Indeed, in a pack, and your family is a pack for a small puppy, this behavior is considered the norm. This is a kind of growing upstage. The puppy thus tries to understand at what hierarchical level he stands. And is it possible to rise higher? After all, the leader has all the best, and all the tasty pieces belong to him.
So fed up with the assumed “he” pronoun. It’s the 21st century.
Seems like you don’t read anything else from the website. They are very good about equally switching between he and she pronouns. For reference: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/feeding-your-labrador-puppy/
I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT, whenever I take him for a walks, we have problems. He hates other dogs and sometimes even growls at us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!
Very useful in understanding the causes. Unfortunately, the solution will not work for us. The dog, although not the youngest, is our sixth (the pack has grown from 2 to 6 over 12 years, all rescue dogs).
This latest dog is about 3 and really nice natured but, in the past few days, has started growling over food and, whilst all the dogs know their own food bowls and would not touch one of the others’ until they have finished eating, to feed one, as described, would not work.
Strangely, I can touch the bowl and he is fine. He growls if I touch him.
The useful thing is to know that kindness rather than discipline is the answer.
This is the same issue I am having. Mine growls only if I touch him, not the bowl.
I have a lab pup that is now 17 months old. His resource guarding seems to have gotten worse over time. He will eat from my hand happily. When I put fur in a bowl or now even on the floor is is very hit or miss. Often gets VERY aggressive. It’s like a switch in hsi head flips back and forth. Growling, then wagging his tail happily and sitting. Very scary. I have tried throwing a treat from a distance but it doesn’t always keep the growling down. I probably have not been consistent enough but I have been working at this for months. I am sure it vaires by dog, but what is a typical time to turn around a dogs behavior. We have grandkids and I am concerned. He also guards certain treats and just recently got aggressvie when i touched his feet to trim them. Ears back, growls, etc
I’m going to begin this with my labrador puppy as soon as we get her. I think that if we pre-empt the growl stage and she allows us to do the above steps before she even has a growl problem it will be better.
I have a 12 month lab pointer mix, hes coming on in leaps and bounds but he has a severe problem with growling when he has his bone or when he has stolen an item from us, slippers, underwear, teddy bears and we go to get it off him he growls and today went for my husband.
When we got him, we showed him that growling when he had a bone wasnt acceptable, he was only allowed it if he didnt growl, he was happy chomping away on the sofa with my girls 9 and 11 next to him. Over summer my 8 year old niece came for a week visit and her favourite game was to take his bone and throw it so he could run after it and eat it. After she left he started showing signs of agression and growling if the girls would sit next to them whilst he was eating his bone. we would remove the girls or his bone, but lately the agression is growing, I troed to remove a piece of clothing from him and he nipped me he didnt draw blood but I wasnt happy. We like to give him chew bones for his teeth and he enjoys them, hes so excited when he gets one. My niece is due for christmas but I would like to help him with this before she gets here, Im also going to be giving her some training as well. Im not sure if I can use the above as a cure, I sit next to him whilst he has his bone and stroke him and tell him he is a good boy, I have got my youngest to do the same but he growls at her Please help it only happens when they are sat next to him on the sofa, even though he is the one who chooses to sit next to them
Thanks so much for your website!! I had been advised by supposed experts to use the whole alpha dog thing, it all just felt wrong, so am very glad to have found you!
We have a 10 week lab x whippet, she is great and already come to us all on command, my only concern is that she growls when she has a dried tripe chew (she REALLY likes tripe!! yuk!). She is fine with her food in a bowl but these tripe sticks seem to be triggering her food protection…..we have children and I really dont want an aggressive dog: I have been stroking her and reassuring her as she eats, is this ok? she tenses up when I start but does relax after a while…..
Hi , please can you help my 4 year old pug is very soft and so sweet. He never stops eating and guzzles his food I feed him twice a day. But if at any point of the day if you drop some form of food say a biscuit for example he will no way drop it and if you try to take it from him he turns into a different dog he growls. So I just let him have it and tell him off after which he can bark defensively it’s getting quite worrying. Please can you help.
Did you ever get help? My pug just started this, and he’s 8 yrs old. Have always feed him a vegetarian diet and he got a hold of some meat and almost bit me. He swallowed the entire bone. (Biscuit not real bone). I’m so mad at him.
I have recently got a beagle mix that’s 3 months old. He is a great pup, usually disliking being alone. He frequently plays with toys (tug toys, plushies) with my kids and he has, in no way, harmed them. I just got him some tasty dental biscuits and a bone to help with his teething issue. I left him with the bone for a few minutes and then I went to pick it up. Unexpectedly, he growled at me, nearly biting my hand. This shook me, because he has never directly growled at me/tried to bite me. Therefore, to get the bone away from him; I look his leash and walked him across the room (which he did without a struggle) and took the bone that was left on his bed. I think this is weird behavior because he DOES NOT do this with his toys, or even his bowl. Only treats & bones. Any specific suggestions/directions to help my puppy & I? Thanks,
I have an 11 year old German Shepherd. She has just started growling at me when she has food. She has never done this before. Why would she start this now?
We bought our dog ( Lab x golden retriever) when he was 2 months old…he is now two. The first time I gave him a small meat bone he snatched it out my hand…I immediately snatched it back and made him wait. After that I started to make him wait before he could have his meal. I did that for a couple of weeks until he simply sat when I put his food in front of him and then he would eat. He was always rewarded with a pat and a ‘good boy’ thrown in.
He has never growled for his food nor does he protect it. Except when our cat is in the vicinity… He is a beautiful animal.
Hi I read your article and i have a one year old lab that we have had since he was 7 weeks old. It’s only with a rawhide chew that he seems to growl at and he hasn’t done it in a while but when he was asleep I stroked him and he growled got up with his chew and growled at me again. His tail was wagging but it unsettled me a bit. Could you give me any advice please?
just like to say this is a fab site very helpful.
further to my email above I believe I am making good headway with regards to feeding from brodies dish and doesn’t growl at me at all. My partner is now going through the process. My issue is still with large treats which take Brodie a while to eat. Even after finishing it he continues to growl at me and my partner. Firstly hel come up to us show us what he has will cry with excitement. The minute he then starts to chew on it he becomes possessive. I thought that maybe I could try giving him smaller treats while he has the larger one to show Wer not going to take it away. Hes such a bright dog loves learning so could I use a game to help? Even thought of a treat ball so that he rolls it around and not hiding under the table with treats? Any advice would be much appreciated. Many thanks
I have. 4 and a half month lab Brodie. he is very loving marvellous with children but still a purple wary of dogs and strangers. I have trained him from 8 weeks he sits gives paw stays turns around and speaks and was toilet trained by 3 months. When it comes to food its a different matter. He will sit and wait for his food and will usually eat it and aliiws me to touch the bowl and his head. however if he has something really tasty or a treat he becomes possessive growls and has even been to the point I thought he’d snap or bite. this is upsetting to see as he is such a good dog and iv seen this side of him. I’m concerned as we do have children in the house and obviously I font want this behaviour around them. He doesn’t growl when giving him small treats from anyone’s hand it’s only a bone etc something that takes longer to eat. I’m conscious he’s getting older and really want to stop this behaviour. Can you please help . Thanks rhian
Totally agree with your points but want to ask you something.
My Labrador is not healthy, so it looks very weired, any home remedies for creating fat?
Thanks in advance
Hi Pippa hope you can help. I have a 7 months old yellow lab retriever. She is normally fantastic but recently whenever we go for a walk she managed to find some dead rabbit or a bird. Then she goes mental start growling running away from me or who ever walking her. Yesterday she found a piece of chocolate bar and when I try to take away from her she bite me. I just don’t know what to do?
Ps: when she have her food at home she does let me touch her even play with her. Why she is so obsessive over the food that she find.? And how can I stop her from this habit?
Hi, I have a collie x lab, he is 6 yrs old. He is showing some very weird behavour. He is fine with the family very loving etc but in the evening when he goes outside (not all the time) he will sit in the garden and he will growl if i try and call him in. I thought perhaps he had a bone but i have tested this when he does have a bone and he has no problem me coming close to him. He did use to do it with the bin in the kitchen but i have got him out of that by calling him away and then dancing round the bin (crazy perhaps) but basically to show him its my bin not his. In the past when he has got growly with food i have managed to call him away from the food and then tell him when he can go back to it. So im a bit confused as to what is going on, Im more worried if he gets snappy with the kids. Any suggestions?
Thank you for this article. It makes so much sense. My two year old lab cross has just started growling when i touch her if she is eating. I will apply the above principles and let you know how she does. I am also working on separation anxiety. Thank you, Laura
My black lab Bella is really funny with my husband. If he fetches her a treat she growls at him until he gives it to her even if he’s still un wrapping it , also if he asks her for a kiss or he comes in to a room where she is with me she really growls at him it’s quite scary sometimes she doesn’t do it with me or my son and I’m frightened she might bite my husband ,he is the one who walks her and I know she loves him because when he goes out she sits sulking at the gate until he comes home, I can’t work out wether she is guarding me or just sees herself above him in the pack
My 9month black lab pup, which I rescued when he was 5months, never looks happy when he is eating his dinner, his tail is between his legs and his body is all tensed up, he doesnt have a problem with me or anyone else going near him or indeed stroking him when he eats his dinner, but the way he eats his dinner you would think he’s been starved. I bought a bowl that has compartments so as it slows him down, but I don’t think his food touches the side of his mouth lol. My problem is, he has a beautiful temperament is very loving, but looks sad quite a lot, he growls when anyone goes near him when anyone goes near him whilst he chews a raw hide chew. He never growls or even barks any other time. This worries me cause it seems to be out of character for him. I have no idea what type of home he came from or how he was fed before I got him, I feed him dried food. I would like a bit of help with this problem.
Hi Liz, he is tense and bolting his food because he is worried you might take it away. Work through the instructions above to get his tail wagging again 🙂
Thanks pips, I solved the problem with his food, by using the instructions you advised, he is now 22 months and he resource guard’s his raw hide chews and any bone that has stuffing in it help!
I have a 1 year 7 month golden retriever who just continues to growl and seems so stressed when I have his bowl with food in it. If I waited until he stopped growling it would definitely take a lot of time before i actually gave him the bowl. It’s just my husband and I and he seems to really only do this towards me. Any advice?
Hi Elaine, follow the steps in the article above 🙂
Hi my Labrador puppy is very over protective with her food she is 5 months old and she only growls at me but not other members of the family. However when she isn’t eating she is perfectly fine she plays,runs and other stuff that is just the one thing she is naughty about.
My labrador puppy has just turned 9 weeks. I live in Sri Lanka.i I’d like to know the right quantity to feed my pup. For breakfast she is given Nestum Cerelac (red rice cereal), for lunch I give her home cooked food which includes rice dhal pumpkin and sometimes meat and green leaves. She gets yoghurt at around 4pm and for dinner she is given Eukunuba (processed dog food). My vet said this diet is okay for my puppy owner I’m confused with the quantity.
I have a 3 year old springer, but recently adopted a 1 year old Golden lab from my daughter, the novelty of the andrex puppy wore off and she hadn’t trained him very well. How ever i have hi toilet trained now, he still at the chewing stage and he has selective hearing but we getting there. The problem is feeding time, they are both male and not neutered my Springer suddenly became aggressive and attacked the lab a few times. I started seperating them at feeding time, but i don’t like doing this i would rather they got along. I know it may be the springer thinks his food is being taken from him, and they get along fantastic otherwise. Any advice on this problem???
Hi Dianne, feeding them separately is the way to go. Pippa
I rescued a dog 3 months ago. she’s 2 yrs. old and other than growling about almost everything she’s a well rounded and social w/ other dogs. The problem I have with her growling is that there is no reason for the trigger of the growl. she is normally not protecting anything like a bone, toy or food. She does not growl at me, simply because I would not tolerate it from the start and corrected her immediately. However, she will growl at anyone that comes near her (male or female) at random. Just this eve she’s laid next to my husband and the minute that he moved she growled. If she’s lying on the floor, relaxing w/ no bone or toy next to her, and someone (besides me) walks past her, she growls. I cannot always be near her to correct immediately I’m at a loss as to what to do. I would like to “share” my life w/ her completely which means visiting w/ neighbors and such but I need to stop the growling first. PLEASE HELP me and my girl.
As you have discovered, correction does not cure growling, it just inhibits the growling in front of the person administering the correction, in this case you. The article also explains why it is very important NOT to correct growling. I think you would find it really helpful to re-read it, and to seek help from a behaviourist that uses modern methods.
Our dog (spaniel not lab) has a food guarding issue which we’ve been working on for some time with some minor progress. He’s also shown resource / toy guarding when in the company of other dogs. He nicked a toy from my father in laws dog and sat out in the garden with us all two days ago. No one noticed he had it until he started growling, snarling and then he bit my wife’s boot and then on the arm when she went to get it off him; concluded with a couple of stitches in A&E. it all happened very quickly and has unsettled us quite a bit. We’d really started bonding with him since getting him at a year old last year and in every other way he’s absolutely brilliant, around the house and his gundog training is spectacular. We spoke with an aggression specialist who concluded that it was a vicious attack (without asking what happened in the lead up) and that there was nothing that could be done to ‘remove’ this vicious streak only to manage it in the knowledge that he could choose to do it again over any resource he chose to value in the future. We’re in bits but are committed to his welfare and helping him in any / every way possible. Any help, thoughts, guidance, recommended contacts would be gratefully received.
Very best wishes, and great sites, book and blogs.
Thank you for your kind comments. What a very upsetting and worrying experience for you and your wife. You don’t say how old your dog is, but I am assuming that he is an adult. As you have discovered, trying to take an item from a growling dog is not a good idea. In the short term, you need to swap the item for something that he values more. Usually some tasty food is the best option. However, in the long term, you need to decide whether or not your dog represents a danger to your family and the wider public. And whether his resource guarding can be treated successfully. This is something that needs to be decided by an expert after spending time with your dog.
Ask your vet to recommend a qualified behaviourist. If he cannot help you, The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour has a register of certified practitioners.
I hope you are able to get some help for your dog soon. In the meantime, I am sure you will be taking steps to ensure that those around him are aware of his problem and that he isn’t put in a situation where he might hurt anyone.
Thanks Pippa. We spoke with our vet this morning and will be taking him in for a check over on tuesday to make sure there’s no underlying health issue. He had a drontal the day before and he was a bit nuts for the rest of the day/night. Highly likely we’ll be referred to langfords vet hospital / behaviour centre in bristol for assessment / help. I strongly suspect that it can be worked through and he only bit as he was approached and ‘challenged’. Nevertheless, one attempted bite and one actual bite does escalate the seriousness even further and as you say, he won’t be in a position with any family or members of the public. Very much looking forward to helping him. Thanks again for your help.