Aggression around his food! Please help :(

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jesn
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Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby jesn » Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:03 pm

Hi, this is my second post so far and I'm really finding this forum incredibly helpful! There are no chows in the area where I live and I can't seem to find anyone who can help me with my first chow. I'm so afraid its something that I'm doing wrong that is promoting all this bad behavior from my dog! First off, Pumba (my chow) has always been a really really independent dog. He likes being around me and my bf but he never whines or barks if we leave to go to the bedroom or outside. He's really obedient in the house but when we bring him out for a walk and off-leash in certain areas, no amount of calling or really tasty food will get him to come back with us! It makes me really sad because I think he is happiest off-leash in dog parks but I can't bring him to an offleash dogpark because he doesn't pay attention to us outdoors and he never comes when called! We're enrolled in a puppy obedience class and all the trainer suggested was repeating "come" commands indoors where he is successful before bringing him outdoors... but we've been practicing this command for the last 2 months! and it still has zero effect outdoors because exploring takes a much MUCH higher priority than food to him..... indoors... we don't even need food and he comes when called. I don't know how else to train him!

Secondly, today when my bf approached his food bowl to add food to it... Pumba growled and bit him!!!! This has NEVER happened before. I've always been able to handle his food and bowl without him voicing an objection. But recently, because he hasn't been eating his usual kibble, we've started adding chicken soup stock (boiled from scratch and without any salt) to his kibble and he loves it. I think it might be that he values his new meal TOO MUCH and now he's guarding it so closely. But it really really upsets me that he would go to the extent of biting someone he loves. My bf and I share equal ownership of him and my bf does a lot of his training, walking and feeding so its really unusual that he would bite someone so familiar! I'm really upset because it seems that despite all that we've done for him, Pumba doesn't seem to owe us much loyalty!!! He's a sweet dog indoors with us, but outdoors, nobody can tell we are the owners! And when we have visitors, he loves playing with them to the extent of ignoring us when we call him... I don't get this! We've never ill treated him, we feed him the best kibble with homecooked meals twice a week, we train him to do a variety of commands and we regularly take him out to play! I decided on the chow breed because I read that they bond tightly to their owners and they are incredibly loyal but so far I haven't seen any evidence of that! Please share your advice with me.... Thanks!

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby Victory » Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:49 pm

When you wrote the first time a month ago he was 4.5 months old. So he's between 5 months and 5.5 months old now, right? Okay. Your boy thinks he's the boss of you and your bf and he's showing it. Some of it is his age, a male chow doesn't really mature intellecutally until he's 2.5 to 3 YEARS old, so don't expect complete obedience now. So first of all forget the off leash stuff, at his age, off leash means, "there is so MUCH to see, who are those people calling me and why are they bothering me." If you want him to have more freedom, get a 20-25 foot lead and use it in the dog park, that way when you want him to return, call him, if he ignores you gently pull on the leash, if he still ignores you, reel him in. all the while calling him to you. give him a treat when he gets to you. pretty soon, he'll get the idea, "oh yeah when I go to them, they have treats!" You have to make yourself more interesting than the dog park.

Ok, now for the more serious matter, food or resource guarding.. this is really serious. Biting, mouthing, is NOT ALLOWED!! Not ever, for any reason. I'd say his bite hiption is seriously lacking. in a few weeks he'll have his adult teeth, a couple of months after that he'll have nearly adult strength in his jaws. You have to stop this behavior now. So, here is how you do it. Time to begin NILF, (nothing in life is free) for a treat he must do something, lay, sit, give a paw, something. For his real meal, he must sit and wait. You tell him to sit. You make him stay sitting and then you put his food on the floor, once it's down he has to wait until you say, OK or something to let him go to his dish. If he moves from the sit before you put his bowl down, lift it again and make him sit again. At first don't try to take it from him again, but walk around him, like normal if he growls, correct him, I use a sound, "aut!" (it's not quite the word, aught, but close) I don't know what it is about that sound, but it lets them know that you're not happy. Once he's ok with you walking around him normally, start touching him, just a gentle pet, he can turn and look at you, but no aggressive behavior, again use the sound if he does, remember to look him in the eyes when you do, he has to back down, and go back to eating. When you can pet him without him moving or reacting, then try removing his dish, (keep your face away from his at this point) remove the dish, hold it for a moment, then give it back. Once he learns that you aren't going to take his food permanently he should be okay with it. Remember, you are his boss, he has to do what you say. NILF for treats, and if he's really stubborn for any and all affection and attention until he learns that you and your bf are the ones from which all good things come. And to get the good things he has to obey.

Male chows are stubborn, (all chows are, but I really think the males are worse) you have to be more stubborn, patient, firm and fair. He has to learn not to mouth or bite without thinking about the consequences and chows do think. There is a thread in the training section on bite inhibition, I really suggest you read it.
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Shortcut to Bite Inhibition

Postby Jeff&Vicki » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:02 pm

Bite Inhibition is in "BEST of TRAINING" here: viewforum.php?f=29

Here is an article off site by Ron Hines DVM PhD
"When Your Dog Bites - Understanding and Correcting Aggressive Behavior"
Part One: http://www.2ndchance.info/aggressivedog.htm
Part Two: http://www.2ndchance.info/aggresive.htm

All Articles, Cat, Dog, & others, save this in your favorites:
http://www.2ndchance.info/ACC.htm
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." .... Will Rogers

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby gumbychow » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:44 pm

Hello jesn
This is not a solution but rather a way to do what I do for several years and the result is surprising and positive ....
From experience I can say that a chow chow is not greedy but rather possessive ...
I live in a three floor house and each floor has found water and food at will ... None of my dogs is obese ... and aggressive for food.
Several dishes of food and water bowls might make your chow indifferent to any food handling.
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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby jesn » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:50 pm

I'm just really near tears... I just found a black lump on Pumba's hind leg and it has a really black/dark ring around it. He has been licking that area for the last day or two and I thought he was just cleaning himself but I'm pretty sure that there's something else going on now. I'm going to bring him to the vet first thing tomorrow morning but I'm just so incredibly sad because its only been 3.5 months since I've had him but already, he's been diagnosed with entropion and epilepsy. I know entropion is not a big deal but it also means that he's had many trips to the vet. And epilepsy... it depresses me to even talk about it. He's had 4 seizures last month but fortunately they seem to have calmed down or died off and I will continue refusing the medication for them because he's too young to have it. And besides the vet has told me that the medication will be a toll on his liver and he could develop liver problems in 3-4 years. I'm just really upset that he's so unlucky and I've had many many dogs in my family. Pretty much, ever since I was a baby, our family has had every kind of dog from german shepherds, basset hounds, shih tzus to random mixes that my dad picks up from the street. None of our dogs have ever been seriously ill and I just can't handle the thought of him being seriously sick.

But ok apart from that outburst, thank you for your advice. I'm sorry for being frustrating but Victory, my bf and I have done everything you've said and more. Since we had him when he was 6 weeks old, we've known Pumba is the alpha male of his litter. So we've really taken great pains to establish a dominant relationship. When I first got him, he refused to be touched/brushed/groomed etc so I'd make him lie down next to me and just keep lying down until I say its okay. Before we leave the house on a walk or whatever, he has to sit and lie down before he can step out of the house and of course I make sure that my bf and I step over the threshold before he does. We also make him sit and stay before his meal while we walk out of his sight just to reinforce his stay command. We also turn him over on his back and feed him treats so that he gets used to being on his back. He REALLY hates this but we wanted to do it because it makes it easier to brush his belly and clean his feet. He was also VERY nippy and mouthy when I first got him, omg he was a total nightmare and for the first month, my entire life was composed of work, Pumba and sleep. There was no room for anything else and sometimes not even the sleep part! He has recently gotten a lot better and he doesn't ever mouth unless he gets over excited in play. That's why we were SO surprised and shocked when he bit my bf. And it wasn't really playbiting... he actually drew blood and left 4 puncture holes in my bf's hand.

I don't understand why this is happening. We've done everything by the book and not only does he not respond, he has a host of health problems. I love him very much but I really do wish he would show more affection/loyalty to us as his owners.

The one thing I feel like we have not done enough is spend sufficient time with him. Both my bf and I work 8 hour days and even though our schedule overlaps, Pumba is still left on his own for at least 6 hours every day. At first it was terrible leaving him alone because he would chew on furniture and tear apart things but for the last 2 months, its been perfectly safe leaving him in the house alone. We come back and everything would be fine. But of course, I don't think its good for a dog to be on his own for long periods of time. We just can't help it because of work. But my bf spends 30min-1hour every morning playing with him/training him before he leaves for work and when I get back from work, I take him out for a walk and play/train with him for at least an hour and often more. Then my bf comes back from work and plays with him some more. I think we spend at least an average of 3 hours everyday on him and more on the weekends. Is that sufficient for bonding? He also doesn't like to be cuddled much but he suffers it... I'll hug him and he'll sit there as long as I'm hugging him. I just really really wish he would be more affectionate and respond to my training. When I say "come" in the house, he would come running but always stop at arm's length and when I try to touch his head, he would run away. I really don't get why this is happening! To clarify, this happens maybe 30-40% of the time. The rest of the time, he is more affectionate but he has these weird mood swings where one day, he is a very affectionate twining himself around my legs like a cat and the next day, he would ignore both my bf and I.

I really don't know how to begin dealing with this. I thought we were making excellent progress because he was getting his commands down and he was not biting so much anymore but now he's suddenly had an outburst and bit my bf! Do you think I should switch his food to the regular kibble? I don't know why he is reacting so strongly to the new meal of kibble + chicken broth because he always has 2 meals every week that is regular food. Please help!

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby Merlin » Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:46 am

Secondly, today when my bf approached his food bowl to add food to it... Pumba growled and bit him!!!! This has NEVER happened before


Your chow isn't a baby anymore.

In his mind he's allowed to express his discontent when people or other animals bother him when he's eating, and I'll go to my grave telling people to simply just leave a dog alone when they are eating. In their own world, they'd growl at any rival vying for their food, so why is it that we are surprised when they do it to us?
Pulling something out of your dog's mouth in an emergency is a far cry from your dog being pestered when he's eating.

Just leave your dog at peace when he's eating.

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby gumbychow » Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:35 am

Hello Jesn
The principle of pack behavior for a dog living with humans is not true ...
Dogs are the products of crosses for thousands of years men have kept for each race than they wanted ... (
The Chihuahua and Great Dane are from the same ancestor ...)
So any behavior of a dog that is conflicting with the man does not come from a behavior but a pack of problems:
1. health;
2. negative experience;
3. a learning impaired;
4. Genetics often ... Breeder now search for beauty or new criteria for the competition instead of improving the character;
5. puberty your dog (it is best to do neutered);
6. the revolt of your dog to your authority;
7.Other reasons specific to your environment ...
In any case they must find a solution ... and especially do not believe that this attitude is normal for a dog.
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I live everyday with my chows and none has a negative behavior, you only need to find why
negative behavior rather than to accept it.
Last edited by gumbychow on Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby Merlin » Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:51 am

Code: Select all

The principle of pack behavior for a dog living with humans is not true ...

I think most trainers will entirely disagree with you, but then I guess we know squat. ESPECIALLY people who don't own the dog, they have no business near a dog that's eating, no matter how innocent their gesture might be. It's an open invitation to trouble ( as we can see here) .

Irrespective of the nuance of why the dog bit, it's a safer call to leave the dog alone when it's eating. I totally agree with you that dogs can be trained to be tolerant of their owners taking food away from them, which we all know is especially useful in an emergency, or if the dog picks up something it shouldn't - but- it's foolish to think that this applies to everyone or to every dog and in an emergency there are plenty of different things one can do to get food out of a dog's mouth under those special circumstances.

In my years of rescue I've seen people let their kids play near dogs that eat, play in their bowls, and try to stick their hands or pat a dog that is eating then turn around and wonder why there were bitten!!!

It's has to be one of the most precarious acts that a human can do to openly invite a bite for any dog.

While it's true that some breeds have become so domesticated, they forget how to be dogs, chows are a long way from that process and people should use their heads with this breed and use simple common sense, and disturbing a dog that's eating, is one of those and humans should respect it.
Last edited by Merlin on Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:48 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby gumbychow » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:00 am

Hello Jesn
Obedience to it can become difficult with a chow ...
I'm with the clicker and rewards permanently all the day.Et each one of my chow has a different temperament that I operate:
gambling;
food;
to be the first on the sled;
car ride
race
the battle with me ... (fun) and always some surprises ...
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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby valerierichard27 » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:27 pm

Well I always said to the kids and everyone DO NOT TOUCH THE DOGS FOOD !! Others will say to let the kids handle the food so the dog will get used to it, well i disagree, If my dog were to play in my food...he would get my foot in the butt !! So why should we play in thier food ??? All you have to do in teach your chow were his space is (example) My kids know that wht the Chows are laying or sitting near the door, they do NOT want to be disturbed, and the Chows know that if they want to be left alone, to go to the door. Its as simple as teaching your kids to sleep in thier own beds.So dont let people touch thier food and find a place where you Chow can go to be alone with no one disturbing them

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby Boogie and Linda » Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:13 pm

Like the others have said, it is not a good idea to mess with the food after you have given it to them. I do make my chows sit for their food though. This was something that they were taught in training. They sit for treats and they sit while I put their bowl down and wait until I tell them it is okay to eat their food. In the rare occasion that I have to pick up their bowl while they are eating or take something away they are eating, I am very careful to listen to the warnings and to get their attention before just grabbing it. I also use a very stern AHHH! sound if they grumble at me. It still is not a good idea so only take it away if you have to.

As for the lump, what did the vet say? I am thinking maybe a tick from what you described but I am not sure.

And for the epilepsy, you said you are refusing the medicine because of his age but do you have a phenobarbital suppository on hand in case of a grand mal seizure? I have a senior chow who just started having seizures out of the blue. He has been on phenobarbital since February and hasn't had a seizure since. I too would be leary of giving it to such a young chow as there are side effects. They did ask me to get the suppository just in case of a grand mal. That might be a good idea for you guy especially since you aren't giving regular meds.

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby daphnesy » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:39 pm

Obedience training will go nowhere if you use "jerking" methods -- this proud breed will either shut down or retaliate. Chow Chows cannot be forced to do anything. Methods that emphasize food are more productive. \:D/

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby Merlin » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:35 am

And epilepsy... it depresses me to even talk about it. He's


Is this chow from a breeder? Did you speak to them about these seizures?
To be this young and already having seizures is not a good thing at all.

Please consider having this chow checked for Cushings or Addisons if you haven't already done so.
What has your vet said about this???

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby Victory » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:53 am

I agree with Merlin, have him checked for other diseases. And I hate to bring it up, but also talk to him about neurologically caused agression. Some canines with neurological problems are genetically agressive. It's not their fault but the wiring in their brains is wrong.
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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby JasonandNat » Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:59 pm

I agree with most of what people are posting.

You chow is normal. You have to take control though.

We have raised ours so one can take food from them, right out of their mouths if you want. They sit quietly and wait for a treat even from a stranger to place it in their mouths and they gently take and begin to chew said treat.

They did go through what now deem the terrible "two's" as they worked out dominance between each other but never with us. The both always respected us as the alpha's. They also understand that people are above reproach, if they don't like someone they are to walk away.

The male maturity mentioned above is key. Our boy is 3 and just starting to really think before acting.

I think everyone is wishing you the best.

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby jesn » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:27 pm

Thank you so much for your advice and concern! We've started really training him on the food guarding part... my bf wears gloves and picks up his food bowl, add a really extra special treat in it and then return it to him or feed him the treat directly. I call his name and pick up his food bowl directly and he never seems to have problems with this... I also play a trading game where I take his treats out of his mouth and give him another one... I think its the sudden approach without warning that gets him panicked. But we still wanna train him on dealing with random people touching his food because if I have kids one day I don't want him accidentally biting them if they mess with his food bowl!

I think it really might just be his hormones and puberty stage :( we're planning to get him neutered this month but prior to 2-3 weeks ago, he was a sweetheart! he would follow me out to throw the garbage and back into the house without a leash.... but just about 5s ago, when i answered the door and was talking to my friend, he BOLTED straight out of the house and I had to run 3 blocks to get him back :(

Could you guys tell me about how you perceive your chow as loyal to you? I decided on the breed because of their steadfast loyalty... there's a man near my workplace who walks his chow every day without a leash and she never runs away from him. And other chow owners tell me that once my dog is older, he would be so protective of me that he would never leave my side... but I've read some threads in this forum and it seems that its widely held that you can't have your chow off-leash!!! Why is this so? If they are so stubborn, independent and with a high prey instinct, how do you determine that your chow is truly loyal to you? I used to have German Shepherds and Shih Tzus and they would follow me off-leash instinctively without training! I always assumed that if I reared a pup from a really young age, he would perceive me as his mom and be loyal to me... but with my chow... I can't tell :( He follows me around like a shadow in the house but... I think it might be because there's nothing better for him to do! So please enlighten me... is this just a phase he's going through or maybe he doesn't like me as an owner? :(

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby jesn » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:41 pm

Yeah so I complain about him a lot.. but he's so hopelessly adorable I can't stop loving him! :) Here are some pictures to share!
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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby valerierichard27 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:46 pm

aww what a cutie You must be very proud :D :D

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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby gumbychow » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:59 am

hello "Jesn
It is very beautiful baby chow
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Re: Aggression around his food! Please help :(

Postby JasonandNat » Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:26 am

Very cute.

Growing up our chow was on a chain - always. Total crap! He was a wonderful dog.

Now that I'm all grown up with 2 chows I can and have posted they are totally capable of being off leash. They are very intelligent creatures and if raised respectfully with you in charge you can do anything and go anywhere with them. We go camping, downtown, in the ravines, visiting, long trips (7-8 hrs) and we can have them off leash since a year one. We stop, they stop. We run, they run. We sit, they sit. We get separated they look and wait. We call they come. No they are not labs or retrievers, but they are very respectful if you raise them that way.

In our house ShenLung bonded with my wife Nat almost immediately and would die for her, he mopes when she is gone, bugs me to go get her and generally just wants to be around her. He listens to every instruction either of us provide.

FengHuang our girl bonded with me as I spent lot of time with her as she teethed and although she loves her mom and obeys, she follows dad.

We trust both of them explicitly off leash. They know this and always ask before doing something like chasing down that squirrley they just saw. They like people, but after the initial sniff hello it's back to their world. FengHuang is far more people affectionate than ShenLung, he just can't understand why everyone want to grab him constantly.

I meet people almost weekly afraid to have their (insert breed here) off leash. Afraid of them running away, attacking or being attacked, all nonsense. People may be tense, an issue, over protecting, but it's not a trait the dog throws into the moment. After some time with me almost everyone of these owners relax's and let's the fur-kid(s) off leash. Yes some need positive encouragement now and again, but none need permanent bondage.

I do hope you put the effort in so your household can be free and happy.


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