Hi i am new to this board I have just bought an 11 week old Springer Spaniel (last friday). She hasnt been trained and lived with a family who had 2 older dogs.They only had her for 3 weeks and then decided to sell her as the older dog didnt take to her. She is a very quick learner and the only major problem i have come across is when we feed her.If you try to put your hand in her bowl while she is eating she uses her head to stop you getting near her food, if you persist she then starts growling and if you dont back off at this point she will turn at you and really starts to snarl and she means it. Now i have a 5yr old child and 2 young grandchildren and im not prepared for her to carry on like this, its unacceptable behaviour. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how i can nip it in the bud now before she actually bites someone. Im 99% sure that she will bite if given the chance. Thanks
Why are you purposfully irritating it by putting your hand in her food? Just wondering. Try feeding away from your children, for their own safety they should not be near the food with puppy. When you feed puppy, have her earn her food bowl by having her sit beofre you lower it to the ground, and if she starts to get up, raise the bowl. Have her wait paitently for her food until you tell her 'take it.' Try hand feeding, dropping a few kibble into the bowl at a time while she eats, let her eat them, then drop in a few more. This way she will learn, not only will she get her food and she must be calm to get it, but that guarding the food does not earn her more food, you hand out the food. Once she finishes eating, offer her a treat and trade it for her food bowl, so she does not see it as you 'stealing' her food. A few times a day work on training her to 'drop it' with a toy, and trade the toy for a treat, then give the toy right back. This way, she learns that guarding her toys does not earn food, but sharing them earns a treat and she still gets to keep the toy. Instruct your children to *never* take a treat, toy, or food away from puppy, and *never* offer puppy any of their food. These are the situations where a resource-guarding dog will bite, and it is just as important for you to 'train' your children as well as training the puppy. It may be best to crate puppy or tether her away from the table while your family is eating, as to not tempt puppy or your children into such a situtaion. Punishing a puppy for this behavior will not really work for you, as it gives puppy more of a reason to fear the loss it its food/toy/bone etc., and may increase the guarding behavior, so it is best to try to prevent problems from occuring as much as possible, as well as trying some positive-training techniques to get puppy to share. With time and patience you can get a puppy to outgrow this behavior, if the puppy came from a home with older dogs, she may have felt the need to guard her food before but now you can train her that guarding doesn't earn her anything, and sharing with you does. Dora, my rescue corgi-mix, had some resource-guarding behaviors as a puppy, now that she is a year old a lot of that behavior has diminished. Good luck!
I am not purposefully irritating her,i have never had a dog that has behaved this way when eating and im not about to sit back and let it carry on, its unacceptable behaviour. I dont have any problems whatsoever with taking toys off her and she happily plays with my son with her toys. She is made to sit and wait until i put the bowl down and i have no problems giving her treats,she doesnt snatch them off you or run off with them. She isnt allowed any food from our plates etc. I am a firm believer that a well trained dog is a happy dog and im afraid that means around food as well.
Elsbells, just try feeding her from your hand. She will soon learn that she does not have to guard it, because you're giving her the food. I imagine the previous place she came from had dogs who were agressive with her around food; so you have to unteach her this behaviour. I would certainly always make her sit, as the previous poster said, but really concentrate on making sure she knows who is her boss. After a certain length of time, start putting a little bit of food in her bowl. Give her a treat when she's done that little bit, and give her a little more. Gradually place your hand on her back. If you get any negative reaction, take the food away. Start again, at the next meal, providing water at all times,of course. At this point, I would also crate the puppy at meal times. I also would feed the dog alone, with out the children. She is still becoming accustomed to your house, and chances are, it will take a little bit of time for her to relax and become comfortable with you and your family. I bet when she does though, you will have the most affectionate family dog. I owned an English Springer, for 17 years, and she would'nt hurt a flea. It would be interesting to know where she came from, and what has happened to her so far, in her short life, because this is definitely not typical behaviour of this breed, nor age. Good luck, and keep us posted.
I like Pen's idea of feeding her from your hand. With kids in the house, I do agree with the OP that the dog needs to get used to having people poke at it and dig in it's food bowl. In a home with children, while it IS important for the kids to know how to respect a dog, the dog also needs to have a very very high tolerance level. It's rarely your own children your dog bites... is one of their friends, the neighbor kid... one who doesn't know your household rules.
She's still settling in. Things will get better as she gets more comfortable and learns her place in the pack. Springers are fairly hard headed dogs and they would love to be the "Alpha" in the household (I grew up with one that my parents STILL have - she's ancient, but still kicking). You can curb this by starting some serious training right away. Make her sit for her food, and teach her to wait (put the bowl down, but don't let her start eating until you "release" her and tell her "okay"). You should also be able to remove the food bowl at any point, and should be able to stick your hand in her bowl. This of course will not happen all at once - but the concept is that she knows that YOU are the keeper of her food and she should be greatful that as the pack leader, you provide it.
It would also be a VERY good idea to actually have one of the kids be the one to feed her at least one meal a day once you get the "sit" and "wait" thing mastered. This helps establish that they are higher in the pack order than she is.
I would also start working on other basic commands (down, stay - get her to sit at the door to have her leash put on - and teach her to sit and wait and allow you to go through doors first). I would strongly urge you to get into a Puppy Kindergarten class. She'd really benefit from formal training and would help you establish more firmly who is the boss.
All members of your household should participate in her training. It's as simple as the 5 year old learning how to command her to sit. The dog has to learn to respect your children and grandchildren more than as equals.
Keep up the good work. Constantly remind yourself that she is a puppy. She's going to test you JUST like a human child would. A 1 year old dog is about the equivilant of a 15 year old human and then they actually gain about 4 people years worth of maturity each year... if you keep that in mind it helps you understand where their brain is at in developement.
You may also want to consider putting her in a crate to eat. Some dogs who are territorial with food respond better when they don't feel threatened. That doesn't mean you use the crate to avoid her behavior... you can leave the crate door open and still stick your hand in the bowl. It just helps her to understand that feeding time is between you and her and she won't feel so overwhelmed.
Hi All thanks for the replies. I will definately try the feeding out of our hands and see how she responds to that. She is doing really well with her training so far, she knows the "sit" and "down" commands and sits at the door whilst you put on her lead. We are working on the other things, like me going through the door first. We are booked in to start puppy classes a week on monday so that will help.