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Big time no-no and I need guidance please!!!

Hello everyone,
I've been working with Billie everyday and for the most part, she is receptive with training.
She is happy and sweet 95% of the time, however when it's mealtime, she gets aggressive with her bowl. Towards the ending of eating, she flips her food bowl and goes ape s**t!! Her hair stands up and she FULL ON attacks it. I have been trying to train her on leaving it, but yesterday she flipped it again! I had her on a leash, so I would be able to have more control, but she managed to bite me HARD in the process of removing her bowl. I immediately snapped her leash and yelled NO BITE and gave her a firm hand to her nose. I also put her on time out for a couple hours where she got zero attention. I have used different non slip bowls and different places to feed her, but nothing has worked :(
I don't know what to do or how to train that out of her.
Any and all advice would be so appreciated please


  • TheFairyDogmotherTheFairyDogmother Australia
    edited November 2020
    Hey There! Ive watched a few of your vids with your girl- youve made lovely progress! :)

    So I think from your previous posts Billie would be about the age of losing teeth- and also on the verge of puberty- adolescence can be a wild ride- My boy is 14 months old now and yep- lol we've dealt with some issues.

    So firstly- my boy has had similar obsessions where he can get agro and too hyped up( very hard to stop them in the act).. for him its digging on his outdoor bed,the wheelie bin has mortal enemy number 1 for a month or so( attacking it) he also glitched out on a rock in the garden once.Ive looked at these things as a mix of resource guarding/frustration and hormones.If I'd physically gotten in between him and said objects- he probably would redirect onto me too- food bowl, wheelie bins are not battles we want to escalate things over lol- If it were something that could hurt the dog ( baits, snakes etc) or something the dog could hurt ( other animals ppl etc) those would be my lines I would cross and risk escalation and redirected bites over.

    When dogs are super focussed and obsessing over a ' thing' in your case the bowl- interrupting- especially in juvenile puppers will probably result in escalation- growling or a redirected bite.This is not true agression at you- its not optimal but in that moment your hand just got in between her and her object of obsession.

    You kinda dont really want to repeat it either and I know your'e into training and our first thought as people who train is " how do I train her out of it?"

    My best advice is " dont make the bowl a big deal"- which is hard when you need to feed her from it.If you need to use the bowl and she can flip it and she will start obsessing- dont make the bowl a big deal- try distract and redirect her- get your keys and leash like your going for a walk, turn music on super loud, anything to break her focus.If you make it a thing- she will just think the bowl must actually be pretty important and you may reinforce the behaviour- even negative reinforcement ( No's , Timeouts etc) is reinforcment- and any behaviour enforced is more likely to reoccur.

    Training a leave it will help sure, but you probably need to work on this with other objects, working up to her bowl- it sounds like the frustration is when the bowl nears being empty though so training a leave it in a setting not involving feeding may not actually do much if you 'did' want to focus on that. In adolescence they kinda stop listening to you anyway lol
    so you will have to be super inventive with your Management-So heres a few ideas when it comes to managment:

    Try a different set up-some raised feeders hold the bowls in- also being raised its a bit harder to get her paw up an into to flip.

    Ceramic bowls can be pretty heavy too.

    and a couple more alternate ideas:

    Remove the bowl completely- get a wipeable mat they put bowls on and feed her from aspect and also made sure my juvenile deliquent got loads of training- it also fixed his being ' meh' about his food.NILIF means nothing in life is free. everything she does she has to earn- she wants to get on the couch- she has to use manners/ get rewarded. Its actually pretty easy to use up their whole food allowance training when theyre so young- so you might like this one, seeing as you're into training already.

    I also want to suggest the When Pigs Fly book ( Jane Killion)- super helpful- but also maybe read Mine ( resource guarding).I have a lot of ideas personally on these type behaviours and where they lead depending on how you deal with it- but I hope Ive already written something that will give you a few ideas. ;)

    alternate ideas:

    Remove the bowl completely- get a wipeable mat they put bowls on and feed her from that- no bowl.

    Scatter feed- look into scatter feeding outside if you have a yard- also sniffing is very tiring for a pup and the act of sniffing the ground has a calming effect too.

    Existential food: remove the bowl completely- this means ALL her food comes to her via training and the NILIF principle - there are no ' meals' .I have been doing this with my boy for a few months now and it also made sure my juvenile deliquent got loads of training- it also fixed his being ' meh' about his food.NILIF means nothing in life is free. everything she does she has to earn- she wants to get on the couch- she has to use manners/ get rewarded. Its actually pretty easy to use up their whole food allowance training when theyre so young- so you might like this one, seeing as you're into training already.

    please excuse any typos lol
  • BulliesofNCBulliesofNC Richlands, NC
    edited November 2020
    Good bit of tips from @TheFairyDogmother.

    This is certainly a case of resource guarding. Based on what you described it's apparent your Bull Terrier is heavily obsessed with eating. There are many dogs that get overly excited and possessive when it comes to their food. Often these are also the same dogs that will eat their food at 100 MPH as if it's a race. Some of these dogs developed this bad habit at a very early age when the breeder allowed community feeding for the entire litter and didn't try and curve bad behavior. This can lead into bad habits where young puppies learn that if they don't eat their food fast a sibling will finish off the food leaving them hungry. Pretty soon this type of feeding turns into a stressful situation where the puppies realize they need to not only eat fast to get their fair share but also defend their food from anybody that interrupts their race to finish their food.

    At this point I'm confident you'd agree with me by saying your Bull Terrier is extremely food motivated (out of habit) and also eats her food at lightening speed. Now is the time to change her eating habits and the first thing you need to do is slow her down while eating. You can do this buy purchasing a bowl which is designed to force a dog to eat slower based on the design of the bowl. I would also suggest feeding her multiple small meals each day which will reduce the "special" occasion of the day that she gets to eat. So if you're feeding her twice a day try feeding her at least 4 times a day with smaller portions. Use the slow feeding bowl each time so she learns to eat slower and relax a little while she's eating instead of thinking it's a competition.

    You may also note that your Bull Terrier is eating with her tail tucked tight which is also a sign of aggression and nervousness. Chances are if you were to try and pet her while she's rushing to gulp down her food she'd growl at you or anyone else.

    The issue you're having with her aggression during eating is out of habit of going on the defense immediately when she has food. She's been this way ever since she started eating with her litter mates. You can blame your breeder for that, but they are mostly unaware of the bad habits they were instilling. But you can certainly correct this issue by following exactly what I mentioned above.

    Here's a link to where you can purchase a slow eating bowl: https://www.chewy.com/b/slow-feeders-1424

    - Steve Gogulski
    "It's not just a Dog, it's a Bull Terrier!"
  • BulliesofNCBulliesofNC Richlands, NC
    edited November 2020
    @TheFairyDogmother - I edited your post by adding the information on your second post. For editing posts just point your mouse to the very top right corner of your message box and a hidden option window will open which will allow you to edit your post. ;)

    - Steve Gogulski
    "It's not just a Dog, it's a Bull Terrier!"
  • Thank you TheFairyDogmother and BulliesofNC for your awesome feedback :) I will try both of your methods and hopefully she will start to relax during feeding. I think she might pick up on my energy too during those times, so I need to stay positive and relax as well. Billie is food driven, but only with the "good stuff"- she has an extremely picky palate and won't eat her food unless I mix other things with it. Even then, she'll pout and kick rocks while she picks at her food. Her body disposition is exactly what Steve described, but she won't eat-her nose is in it, ears pinned back, stiffened body (and sometimes her body trembles), and her tail is tugged in tight to her body. She's so focused on guarding it- it's ridiculous! Ugh!
    Thank you TheFairyDogmother for sharing about your ebt's random obsessions with objects. Billie also fixates and obsesses on random things and "fights/attacks" those objects where I have to remove it from her sight. I hope she grows out of it. Thank you both again!!
    Btw, Billie is exactly 7 months today :) I also think she might have her first heat cycle soon, so I have been mindful of that and watching for both physical and emotional signs.
  • that1Boomerthat1Boomer Middletown, PA
    Although I agree totally with all comments about resource guarding. I would add that my McKenzie had no trouble with the food bowl, but she did go through a phase we called "thew leaf whisper" she would sit at the gate and watch leaves blow by for hours. That has passed for the most part. But our last girl Murphy had food troubles. fast eater and supper food driven. We eventually got one of the most heavy bowls. One she had trouble lifting off the floor. She eventually stopped the food bowl flipping. She hated the slow feed bowl and would not eat if food was in it.

    Neither of our girls have ever bitten us over food. In fact, we could easily take the bowl away or pet them on their face as they eat. McKenzie would let you take her food out of her mouth. Never had a dog that would do this. She is just not obsessed with eating, unless she is truly hungry. Then she eats. very slow and steady.

    You have gotten great advice, I could not say anything any better. We just use the heaviest bowl to feed our mongrels.
  • Thank you Bill! McKenzie sounds like a sweetie pie and a well mannered girl:) Billie is such a tomboy, haha. I wish Billie didn't get so aggro. On a funny note, when she does get crazy and attacks random objects, she sounds like a pissed off " Ms. Piggy" from the Muppets show, lol. I have faith that she will learn that it's NOT ok to act that way with her food bowl. I'm currently working on "gentle mouth" , be calm, and no jumping. Billie did really well with my niece and nephew who are 2 and 4 years old. :)
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  • that1Boomerthat1Boomer Middletown, PA
    Excuse me but. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA McKenzie is a tomboy too. She is just good with food. I couldn't help but laugh when I read she is well mannered. She is, as with most EBT's, a work is progress. Sweet to the core, but she sure knows how to get in trouble. lol

    She is a sweet rockhead. A very loving trouble maker. Hard to be mad at such a sweet and loving soul. But she has her moments. :) We love her to the core. She is like a little person. She just has fur.
  • Lol, I guess both our girls are not very lady like, hahaha :)
    Yes, they are very loving and I too, can't stay mad at her. She's just too cute and it kills me to see when her feelings get hurt.
    I wake up every morning smiling to her snuggling me :)
    She turned 7 months yesterday, I showered her with so many kisses and tons of goo-goo, gah- gah love, haha
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  • that1Boomerthat1Boomer Middletown, PA
    BTW, the miss piggy thing is pretty funny too. I say ours sounds like the Tasmanian Devil and Ozzy Ozbourn in one. She can fight sleep better than anyone I know.

    You are very close to that little girls heart. At 7 months, ours was running and running and running. Yours is much more calm. MUCH.
  • Thank you Bill, she is very close to my heart too :)
  • Update...
    I took both suggestions from TheFairyDogmother and Steve from BulliesofNC on resource guarding and I wanted to say, she's doing great!
    I divided her meals into 4 smaller servings a day ( she gets goodies added to her meals 2 out of the 4 times- where I use the slow feeder) and the other 2 meals are given in her regular bowl.
    I have also been hand feeding her as well towards the end of her "regular bowl" feeding.
    She's more relaxed during her meals and I praise like crazy for being nice-nice!
    I wanted to thank you both :)
  • BulliesofNCBulliesofNC Richlands, NC
    Good to hear that things have gotten better. :-bd

    - Steve Gogulski
    "It's not just a Dog, it's a Bull Terrier!"
  • Totally following this! Was just about to post a similar issue with our 11month old. It's been off and on with intensity for months. We have tried many different approaches-trying not to take the guarding personally, but it can be stressful. Looking forward to this part of her development passing(?). These dogs are so smart, I can't imagine a lifetime of doing this. When she goes to her doggie day care they never report she does this, so I guess she reserves this behavior for just us (:|
  • If I were you I would be calling her over for a very very good treat as soon as she finished the last bite and her bowl got empty. Something super tasty she won't resist. White she's enjoying the treat, I would take the bowl away till next feeding time. Over time she will learn that empty bowl will mean a good dessert. I would not do it on the same spot or too close to the bowl, I would call her across the room or at least some distance from the bowl. By the time she's done with the treat most likely she will forget about the bowl. Her reaction on the leash was natural - it is called leash reactivity or redirected aggression. The dog displays aggression toward something or someone, and someone else interferes. The dog redirects her aggression from the source that triggered it to the person or animal who has interfered. For sure it's not OK but it is common and trainable.
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