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Aggressive dogs esp. about food

I'm currently pet sitting for a friend who has a German Shepherd. This dog apparently came from a breeder who raised dogs for the military and police. Why my friend decided to take a puppy with that background I can't understand since they just wanted it for a pet.

The dog is now 17 months old, he was neutered at 6 months. Of course he still has a great deal of puppy energy and he's not a dumb dog. He can learn. But he's a very dominate, alpha type dog. Neither my friend nor his bride to be are alpha type people, therefore the dog has decided to take the alpha position in the family pack.

Mostly, it's not a severe problem, EXCEPT, this dog is extremely aggressive about his food. You can not go any where near him during feeding time without being growled at, snarled at, and causing the dog to eat its food as quickly as it can. So far, luckily, no one has been bitten ... yet.

My friend has gotten a lot of advice from several different people who claimed to be dog trainers and so far nothing has worked.

I've always had large dogs and German Shepherds are my favorites, and I've always done all of my own training. However, I've never had a dog like this one and I'm not sure of the best way to deal with this.

I'm pet sitting this guy for a week and was just wondering if anyone has ever had a similar problem, and if so, what they did to correct or improve the situation.

Thank you,
I would ask if your dog can be trusted with having food out all the time without gorging himself to death, but I've seen dogs get defensive (though not as much) even when food is always available. My parents' dog will make a show of defending her food sometimes. (Especially from the cat.)

Put the food in an isolated place and let it be? *shrugs*
Unfortunately this dog's owners keep it in a dog crate (cage) a great deal of the time. I was told that if they left him alone he would just eat until all the food was gone. And then defend the left overs.

So far, thank goodness, he hasn't given me very many problems. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they care about this dog. I mean they have spent money on vets and trainers and all the other things dogs need. But it seems to me that they just don't have, or don't take the time to give him the attention he needs. Being stuck in a crate most of your life would be like being in jail, then when the dog does get let out they get upset that he's hyperactive, running around, craving attention and basically acting like a nut.

While I'm taking care of him, I do put him in his crate at night while I'm asleep.

For 2 good reasons. 1. I don't know if he would chew up the furniture. and 2. I just don't completely trust him enough to let him be out while I'm asleep. He's a little too aggressive and I don't know him that well. He pesters me to distraction but I've never kept a dog in a cage before. Some how, it just doesn't seem right to keep a dog locked up all the time like that.

It might be a useful tool for housetraining, I guess. But if you want something to play with when you want to play with it and then just ignore it when you're finished playing with it, maybe you should just get one of those robot dogs I've seen.

This has to be very challenging as it takes quite a while for a pet to build trust, so do not know what you can accomplish in just a week. You cannot change the situation, and it seems as though you are doing pretty well within the circumstances. This guy does seem to be used to a cage and you did receive instructions of what to do, but I can empathize with you that you would feel extremely uncomfortable about that. I would have too. I so wish for his sake that he can get different owners, because I think you must have put your finger on it right at the beginning. Perhaps this is not a perfectly compatible situation. Maybe he is using the food situation to act out what he cannot act out otherwise, being so hemmed in, trained and attended to. I have sympathy now for both, but not so sure that the owners should continue without expert advice. Perhaps it could ruin the dog in the long run? Is there a way that they can be encouraged to let the dog stay with a trainer for a month or so to see whether he acts out there as well?
Not really much you can do, as stated previously in this thread. You only have him for a week.

Some dogs are always defensive of their food - especially aggressive dogs like German Shepard's. Others simply have had their food stolen a few times before by other animals Smile

When the situation changes, the dog will eventually stop the behavior. Obviously, don't feed it while something/someone the dog can kill is around.

The owners can try to alpha to the dog to stop the behavior, which is dangerous in food situations I've noticed, esp with Shepard's.. but why? Do they want to eat the food too?
Perhaps you could try feeding in a new place and in a new way, preferably even with different food?
But start out by always handing it right to him and being next to him when you do it. Have him come to you for the food. Start with just treats given out, and work up to real meals. Still have the normal feeding, at least for a while, but reduce the normal one and increase the new one gradually, until he is used to eating with people right next to him...

Might work...
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