View Full Version : Cooper very possessive about food.

2nd January 2007, 12:24 AM
We've had a bit of an issue with Cooper and food lately. He was absolutely fine about food and treats etc when we first got him and was never possessive. Then when he was about 6 months we had to look after my brothers cavie for about 2 months while they were overseas. Now Rockford is an absolute pig when it comes to food. He's a cavie who will eat anything thats put in front of him and gulps it down in seconds. Our 2, Fergus and Cooper are much slower eaters. When Rocky was here he would try to steal Cooper and Fergus food all the time. Fergus didn't care but Cooper would get growly about it and occasionally bark and snap. We would say "no" and then try to train Rocky to finish his food and not go to the other bowls with positive reinforcement with treats which sometimes worked ok but sometimes they would just have to be separated.

Problem is since Rocky has gone Cooper remains very possessive about his food and can get growly at Fergus if he goes near his bowl. This has now been made worse by Cooper being confined in a pen following his knee op which seems to have made him feel even more vulnerable so if he has a bowl of food in his pen and one of the other dogs walks by the pen he starts to growl and if they stay too close he barks. He has even growled and snapped at us. We can see how the problem began and can understand why things are worse at the moment. We want to train this out of him especially before the baby comes but not sure the best way to train him, especially given that at the moment he's having the issues with his knees and trying to recover from that. Any thoughts / advice would be much appreciated.

Cathy Moon
2nd January 2007, 12:39 AM
Here is a link to look at; I will search for others:

Because there will be a baby in the picture soon, you might want to consider bringing a professional trainer in. That's what I would do, because it may take some time to get Cooper past this and you need to know your baby will be safe if he/she happens to crawl or toddle near Cooper and his food bowl. :flwr:

Also, with the dogs you should proactively manage it by separating them at feeding time, perhaps by using a crate or a baby gate. When Chocolate joined our family, at first she wasn't respecting the other dogs food bowls if she finished her food first. So we fed her in a closed crate for awhile. Now she is fine, and waits patiently for the others to finish before sniffing their bowls.

Cathy Moon
2nd January 2007, 02:25 AM
Here is another link:

2nd January 2007, 01:14 PM
Mine will growl if another approaches a bowl while one is still eating -- but it isn't really a possession/guarding issue as I can go and lift the bowl without their being any problems. Also they all eat their food down and this rarely happens.

Cooper was being polite in growling to indicate he doesn't want someone taking his food but you don't want it to accelerate into a problem.

My own take is that this isn't yet a really difficult problem but could become one and needs better group-dog management. Basically as noted above you should really not be feeding them next to one another or where they can finish and go wander to each other's bowls. I'd feed seperately in crates and lift their food after 15 minutes if they haven't finished. This will encourage them not to eat really slowly and after a few times I bet the food will be gone within their alloted feeding time.

You also need to be working to be sure you can lift their bowls, take away a treat, etc. This is a good task for anyone to start with puppies, so that they learn that they allow people to take things away, but can be done with adults as well. The links already posted have info on doing this.

If you cannot get a handle on this and the dogs are aggressive with you if you lift a bowl while they are feeding, then you might want to get advice from a trainer.

PS In general if you have a visiting dog you aalways want to feed that dog in a crate and separate from the others and never give treats together -- these are flashpoint situations often with strange dogs in the house.