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Old 01-03-2014, 06:18 PM
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Default Young male food agression

I have 3 chi's... two females (Bindi & Gena) which are sisters and turned 1 on Jan 1st and a male (Jackson -not related to the girls) which is about 7 months old. I was feeding the girls together and didn't have any problems. I've noticed Jackson willl dominate the food bowl(s) and doesn't allow the girls to eat until he has cleared the area so I now feed them seperately to ensure they all get enough to eat. The other day I noticed Jackson growling, snapping and showing his teeth to one of the girls. I had my smallest girl (Gena) in my laundry room seperated by a baby gate so she could eat by herself. Bindi & Jackson came to the gate to see what was going on and the Jackson started being agressive towards Bindi that was outside the gate with him. Now, Jacksonwas fixed about 7 weeks ago and I thought this would help but he seems to be worse since he was fixed. He doesn't have any agression with people but has a completely different personality than my girls. When people arrive at my home any one of the dogs may bark a couple of times at the knock on the door or the sound of the door opening but are happy to see someone coming in to visit. Gena will ask for pets and love, Bindi will lick you to death. Jackson keeps his distance until he gets used to someone new in our home. The short of it is.... Jackson doesn't seem to be agressive with people but is getting more agressive with food. Other than feeding them seperately is there anything else I can do to curb this behavior? Even when I'm handing out treats Jackson is real agressive when taking the treat from my hand and he acts like he won't get a treat unless he takes if from me. Any ideas?
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Old 01-31-2014, 11:06 AM
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Hey there!

Sorry to hear Jackson's turning into a rowdy boy. I have a few questions:

1. Do you walk your chi's? If so, for how long?
2. Do you ask your chi's to do anything for their food/treats? (like tricks, asking "wait", "stay", "sit", ect.)

It sounds like Jackson needs more direction. Maybe he should be walked longer and asked to do more things, so he doesn't feel the need to assert himself over the girls. He needs to be reminded who's in charge, here! Neutered or not, all dogs will have a hormonal rush and a personality change once in their adolescent lives. With females it's less noticeable or common (not always!) but with males there's definitely a time when they start to challenge their surroundings. It's in their nature!


1. Think of something you want to accomplish with Jackson. Maybe it's something new, or maybe it's a behavior you want to change. He needs challenge and direction so now's the time! Put together a plan with everyone in the family involved, and work on Jackson's patience and attentiveness. Chihuahua's are very intelligent (in fact, their brain to body ratio is the highest of all breeds! Just a fun fact) and if he seems confused you need to rethink your methods. He may be stubborn, but be patient. This is the challenge he needs!

2. Feed separately for now. Work on helping Jackson understand that you're in charge of the food, and really use his food motivation to your advantage. Make feeding time into "Jackson Training Time". Teach him new behaviors or ask for calm attentiveness before meals. If possible, give him a long long walk before meals to help him "work for his food".

3. When it comes to snapping at treats, give the treat to him with it hidden slightly in your fingers, so when he uses his teeth to take the treat you can say, "No teeth" or "Take it nice" until he starts licking. Then you can give it to him. He needs to learn patience, and he needs to learn that you are the one in charge of food, not him!

4. Never underestimate the power of the leash. It is our most clear and sure fire communication line between us and our dogs. Maybe he should be on a leash again for a while around the house, taught to wait in places and not "run his territory." When he's calm or doing something you like, you can release him or give him a treat.

Hope this helped! He's a smart little boy, don't worry. Just be patient with him (he probably won't like the new routines because he's starting to like being in charge more, but just keep it up. Remember he's a small dog and if all else fails you can just pick him up!) Get a goal and work it! Good luck!
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Old 03-06-2014, 04:37 AM
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Google "mind games and Shirley." It should come up with a link from a trainer. Great info in there for structure. I think it's very important all dogs have their own space when eating, which is why I feed in crates. If they don't feel they have to protect their food from someone they won't develop food aggression. I would also start making your presence around food a positive one. I eliminated food aggression (to the point of being bit) in a German shepherd puppy this way. Hand feed meals. Make him work for it too. Sits. Downs. Etc. After a few days of that feed him in his new spot. Where he can't bother other dogs and they can't bother him. Put his food down and walk away and let him eat in peace. A huge mistake old school trainers make is playing with dogs food while they are eating. This can actually CAUSE food aggression in dogs with natural possessive tendencies. Then after about a week of that. Get some high value treats. Like steak. Or hot dogs and once or twice during the meal walk by and just toss a piece of the hotdog in his bowl. Keep walking and let him finish his meal. Do this off and on for another week or two. Next step is to walk up and actually bend down and place the hot dog (or steak or whatever super high value treat you have) in his bowl. Don't touch him. Just place the treat and keep moving. Keep doing this again off and on for several weeks. You will notice as you walk by him while he's eating now he happily looks up to see if your dropping off a special treat. The fear of his food being messed with or taken away has greatly diminished. Also, unless it's an emergency I teach all of my puppies to release food, bones and toys to me by trading for another high value treat. For some dogs this is never an issue, others are more possessive. And by starting off this way they become excited to bring me toys or release their tastey bone in exchange for another treat. And I've never had a problem having to take anything out of their mouths in the case of an emergency or if I just don't want them to have something. You can do this as well with him. All of this combined should really lessen his possessiveness even with the other dogs. The mind games or nothing in life is free, will demand respect while the other tools desensitize him. Good luck!

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