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Healthy Dogs

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Food Guarding in Dogs

Treatment Exercises for Food Guarding continued...

If you’re unsure about your dog’s reaction to the exercises, tether him to something sturdy. That way, if your dog moves toward you, he will be restrained by the leash.

Before you start any of the exercises below, cut a number of special treats into bite-sized pieces for your dog. You’ll need to use something your dog absolutely loves and doesn’t get to eat at other times, like small bits of chicken, beef, hot dogs or cheese. The idea is to convince your dog that it’s wonderful when you approach him while he’s eating because you might bring him something much better than what he’s got in his bowl.

Stage One

  • Stand a few feet away from your dog while he eats dry kibble from a bowl on the floor. Do not move toward your dog.
  • Say something like, “What have you got there?” in a conversational tone and, at the same time, toss a special treat toward the bowl. Continue to do this every few seconds until your dog finishes eating his kibble.
  • Repeat this exercise each time you feed your dog until he eats in a relaxed way for 10 meals in a row. Then you can move on to Stage Two.
  • During your exercises, if your dog leaves the bowl and moves toward you to ask for more treats, just ignore him. Wait until he goes back to his bowl and starts eating again before tossing more tasty treats.

Stage Two

  • While your dog eats dry kibble from a bowl on the floor, say “What have you got there?” in a conversational tone. At the same time, take one step toward him and toss a special treat toward the bowl. Then immediately step back. Repeat this sequence every few seconds until your dog has finished eating.
  • Each day, take one step closer to your dog before tossing him the special treat. Continue at this stage until you come within two feet of the bowl. When your dog eats in a relaxed way for 10 meals in a row as you repeatedly approach and stand two feet away and give him a treat, you’re ready to move to the next stage.
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