By Karen A. Soukiasian
Your puppy or dog must recognize and respect ALL humans. As such, humans ALWAYS have the right to give and take away food.
If your puppy or dog growls or snaps at you while they are eating, he sees you as a subordinate, he is warning you to stay away from his food. It is an instinctive survival of the fittest behavior. This assertiveness may lead to aggression if tolerated, or if excuses are made.
The best way to establish your leadership, is to get your puppy or dog, into a positive reinforcement, punishment-free obedience program, where YOU will learn how to become ALPHA! You will elevate yourself in your dog’s mind.
While your puppy is still young and impressionable, establish and reinforce your Alpha status, by going near their food while they are eating. Mix their food by hand. By doing this, you are putting your scent on their food. You are showing them as Alpha, you have the right to first pick. Alpha always eats first. Pick up their bowls, put their bowls down. Make them “earn” their meal by following through on a command such as “SIT”, “DOWN”, “COME:, “STAY”, or “LEAVE IT!”
Should your puppy or dog shows signs of aggression, nip it in the bud IMMEDIATELY!
· Feed the most aggressive dog last.
· Feed him after YOU have eaten.
· Make them “earn” their meals by following a command before putting the food down.
· Mix their food by hand.
· Feed them by hand, chunk by chunk – so he associates yours is the hand that provides the food that feeds him – your scent on the food, will make him think you have eaten first.
· If they feed too aggressively, stop the feeding!
· Make them wait for each mouthful. Feed them slowly. Show them YOU are in control of the food.
· Praise them, when their behavior is appropriate. They respond to praise!
Once you are comfortable with your new ALPHA status, and your dog’s obedience level, BEFORE you put the food down, make your dog “SIT-STAY” or give the command “LEAVE IT!”
If he doesn’t follow your command, put the food up. Walk away. Come back in a few minutes, give the command again…Repeat as necessary. PUT THE FOOD DOWN, ONLY AFTER YOUR DOG FOLLOWS YOUR COMMAND.
While your dog is eating, every now and then, pass by and drop a tasty morsel of something they REALLY like, into their bowl. Even when they are not eating, toss a treat into their bowl, so he makes the association, people near his bowl, is a good thing.
BOTTOM LINE: Some dogs catch on quickly. Others are a bit slower. Eventually, they will make the association. Always praise your dog for appropriate behavior. They will never learn what pleases you, if you don’t show them.
Be fair, firm and consistent! Most importantly, be patient!
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