So my little Romeo has always been the most loveable pup ever, but lately I don't know what to do! He's 10 months now- neutered at 5 months. When we first got him, he barely ate. I literally had to sit on the floor with him to get him to eat. Then his appetite picked up and he began inhaling his food. For the past few months, if my boyfriend or I try to go near him or pet him while eating, he growls. We started picking him up away from his bowl when he would do this, and he would urinate right there. The vet said this was a sign of submission. We now take his food away and make him sit and give us paw (he's got those 2 commands down pat) before putting it back down, but he still seems to get overworked if we stand there or touch him when he's eating and just continues to inhale his food even faster. In the last few weeks or so, things seem to have gotten much worse. A few things that he's doing: he bites at his leash when we go on walks, growls/ snaps at us when we try to take his Kong or bone away from him. My boyfriend tried taking his bone away the other day and he bit him and broke skin.
I realize this behavior is probably due to us not claiming the alpha role. Such things that could have caused this is by us letting him up on the couch/bed, sit on our lap without performing a command, etc. It's gotten to the point that I'm almost afraid of him, even though that may sound silly. Other than him being possessive of his food/ toys, I don't really have any other problems with him.
Are there any recommendations anyone can offer on how to handle this? We try saying NO in a loud, firm voice yet he continues to growl and show teeth. We have tried putting him on his back to show dominance, again he continues to growl in this position. Last night we bought a crate to try time outs.
I had alot of behavior issues with Bella when she was young, like with the word NO as you mentioned. Bostons like to play "bitey face" so sometimes when they do that they think you are playing and that it is a game. I used the pennies in a metal can thing for a bit when she was young..if she was extra naughty I would shake the can firm to get her attention and tell her no. And bearhugs work pretty good too, if you can grab them that is and hold them with the back up against your chect legs dangling until they relax then put them back down and go back to play when they behave right. Or just crossingt your arms and ingoring or walking out of the room until they act right then you give them a aton of praise and play. They start to relaize if they want attention and to play with yolu they have to behave right. I didn't have alot of the other issues you mentioned so I can only give you tips on the getting mad when you tell them no thing. It's mostly just seeing what works for your pup and being consistent, you will make it through the puppy pahse Buy bully sticks they are great!
-Sonja (Bella's mom)
I don't have personal experience with the growling when taking away food, etc. but that is definitely something you want to address asap. It sounds like you are doing the right thing though by taking away his food/toy/bone/etc. that is what I would do. I started doing this as soon as I got my puppy.. I make him sit and wait before I give him food, and then sometimes I'll take it away while he is eating, have him sit, and then give it back. I've never had any growling issues (he is still only 17 weeks though). When you take away his food, try putting it an extra special treat of some kind.. I've read that helps because they associate it with something good. Keep with the standing and the petting too... if it continues, try the penny can trick. you should hopefully only have to do it once or twice for him to get the message.
I would work on the food first because it'll be easier to grab the bowl without getting bitten. When he gets a little better with that, then start working on toys/bones, try working in steps... so have a bone, make him sit and wait patiently, then let him sniff it and when he gets exited and tries to take it, make him sit and wait again, then let him sniff & lick it, etc. if he won't calm down, then put the bone away and try again another day. practice this for a few minutes every day, then when you feel he is ready, you can start giving it to him for a few minutes at a time. Again, I have no experience with this, but I have found that this sort of small step learning has been good for me and working with my puppy. It takes a lot of patience on your part, but it'll be worth it! You definitely don't want a dog who is possessive over things, it makes for a very unhappy family.
This is food and toy guarding. My dad's dog does this. I had my dog over at his house and my dog went and grabbed a toy of my dad's dog and my dad's dog freaked out and bit my dog. He also does it with food. This really needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. My dad has just let this behaviour go and his dog will attack anyone/thing that tries to take his toys or food.
This may need the assistance of a trainer to give you tips on how to address this. Maybe try googling it. I only know how to prevent it in puppies and basically when a dog is a puppy you make sure to take toys away and then give them back so the dog doesn't see you taking the toys as something bad. And when you give food you put your hands in their food while they are eating, take away the food, give it back etc.
It may also have to do with the fact that your dog is the Alpha not you and your boyfriend.
This is a great link! It does talk abotu how this behaviour is your dog letting you know he is the alpha in the house and is a dominance issue. It has a lot of tips on what to do to correct this behaviour:
Here is another helpful link:
Definitely start using the tips in these articles because the longer it goes on the harder it will be to correct! And if you ever wanted to add a 2nd dog if your dog is showing these behaviours it could be bad and cause dog fights!
With my other dog (Pitbull) what worked with the food aggression is to start off with what you are doing take the food away, but when that did not work a trainer told me to start feeding her by hand. put the bowl down make her sit and pick up a hand full of food and feed it to her so she would reconize that food comes from you and you own the food. I did this untill i could put my hand in her bowl while she was eating and it did not bother her. Basicly he/she needs to know that you are the alpha and all good things go thru you and belong to you.
At 10 months - Romeo's teenage attitude has kicked into high gear. He's testing the boundaries. Important that you keep enforcing them. Having him work for his food is a good technique. Make sure he's getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation also.
We had food dominance issues with our Buddy. Watching Dog Whisperer and reading "Cesar's Way" helped. We tried a technique we saw in the show. When growling starts, we go and calmly stand over the food bowl, gently "claiming" it. In our heads, we think "this is my food bowl, you will back away now, thank you". The calm assertive vibe backs him off, and if he doesn't we just inch towards him, very slowly without touching him. He moves. He's not happy about it, and will sit there and complain for a bit. When he stops making noise and is clearly calm, we move and let him have the food.
This is not a short process. We've had to stand over a food bowl on and off for thirty minutes at times. As he's gotten older it's not as much of an issue, but he does have flare ups if he's not getting enough exercise. Dogs get antsy and anxious if they don't get enough exercise to drain their energy.
Hope that helps.
Last edited by WooMom; 07-19-2012 at 03:13 PM. Reason: spelling
I'm Mom to
Woo (9y) Boston, 25 lbs
Tuna (8y) Boston, 24 lbs
Buddy (9y) Beagle/Basset, 44 lbs
I totally second WooMom's suggestion, we've had to do the same thing in the past with our Boxers, and it works for anything they are hoarding/guarding - toys, food, a spot on the couch. My dog Daisy was the queen at this. If Murphy had a bone she wanted, she would stand right in front of him and stare, inching closer just minutely. Sometimes for what seemed like 10 minutes. It bothered Murphy so much he would eventually move away and leave it. I figured if it works for her, it could work for me, and it does. You just have to make sure they have completely relinquished it before you decide to pick it up.
With my pups, I frequently do this to make sure they still know who actually owns all their stuff. And we don't allow any of our 4 to guard the bowl - they are corrected immediately, because we free feed and we need them all to get along, not to mention we have kids who sometimes need to pick up the bowl to refill it and heaven forbid we had a bite. When I was about 4, I thought I should get down on all fours and pretend I was eating along with Duke, my gramma's beautiful American bulldog puppy. He didn't appreciate me trying to share his kibble, and I have a tooth mark in my forehead to this day. I would hate for that to happen to any of my kids or the dogs for that matter. Gramma was so freaked out, the poor dog was tied from that day forward so he couldn't bite another grandchild. It was completely my fault, and there should have been an adult supervising for sure, but hindsight...
I think your dog is feeling insecure about his food and thinks you are going to take it from him or eat it. What about trying to put him in his cage or kennel and putting the food bowls in there and locking him in while he eats? Then he can't have anything to growl about and you may feel more at ease when he eats? Just an idea. Might be a stupid one but that is what I would do if my bt started that. God, I hope he don't he is bad enough with the frantic energy every day and biting our hands etc. Can hardly wait until he is out of that stage. lol