New Puppy Question

msm84March 9, 2012

I just adopted a puppy (9 weeks old) and she was from a litter of 9. I guess they were all feed out of the same bowl and she apparently had to fight for every bite of food. When I feed her she goes into a frenzy and can hardly be restrained. I bought her one of the special bowls to make her slow down and that helps somewhat when she is actually eating, but before I can get the bowl down she is screaming and very difficult to hold back. I also have spread her meals out to 4 times a day. She weights about 10 pounds now and with her background will most likely be a medium size dog when mature.

Anyone have any suggestions of what I can do?

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congrats on your new pup! what's her name?

there are a couple of things you can do, i will put them in the order i would do them if this were my puppy.

#1. practice NILF (Nothing In Life is Free). this can be time-consuming but it works wonders. this is where you hand feed every piece of kibble. it helps a LOT if you can train her to sit. once she is sitting and calm, you feed her. obviously, you will want to be able to do this without her being anxious enough to go after your hand. you will have to find the method that works best for you. for me, i would put a few pieces of kibble in my hand, ball up my fist, let her sniff and as long as she stays calm, open my hand and let her have it. rinse and repeat till all kibble is gone.

also with NILF, treats must be earned. NO treats unless she does what you want her to...sit, lay down, remain quiet, etc. if you practice NILF religiously, you will end up with a very well-mannered dog.

#2. you can spread her kibble out on a giant cookie sheet so that it takes her longer to eat it. she won't be able to gorge on it that way. you can also use one of those big plastic table cloths and REALLY spread it out! :)

you really need to get a handle on this behavior quickly. it sounds like she could easily become a food-aggressive dog. how long have you had her? once she settles down and is with you for a while and as long as she doesn't have to worry about fighting another dog for her meals, she should settle down. is she an "only" dog?

also, i'll throw this out here, too. a lot of people think it's ok to fuss with a dog's food/bowl while they are eating. they think if they keep putting their hands in the bowl and petting their dog and fussing over it, it will make the dog "accept" that THEY are the boss and THEY can do whatever THEY want. all that does is create a nervous dog that WILL become food-aggressive. i always ask people like this, "would YOU want somebody sticking their hands in YOUR food and taking YOUR plate away numerous times while YOU are trying to enjoy a meal??"

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 8:38PM
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Thank you so much for your advise. I'm not sure about the methods you mentioned as she just won't stand still and screams just waiting for her food bowl to be put down. We have been holder her back and making her sit even thou she screams and lunges. I'm going to take her to the vet this coming week and see what the vet has to say also. She hasn't had any shots yet and having her wormed is also something that I think needs to be done.

No, she isn't an only dog. I have 2 other rescue dogs. 1 is an 8 years old ACD and the other is an 11 year old Chihuahua/Pom. We do keep them separated or she would drive them crazy *lol* They socialize out in the back yard where they have plenty of room to roam and she follows the ACD around and does what he does. He does not bark and is very well behaved so I'm sure he will teach her how to behave. Its just the darn eating that is a problem!

I named her Lucy and I know this is going to sound real strange, but when I said she is a mixed breed I really meant it......she is chihuahua/corgi German Sheppard mixed.
Hows that for a real mixed breed *lol*

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 10:57AM
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What nina is suggesting is for you to prevent her from seeing the dog bowl and to hand feed her or scatter her kibble on the floor. It's possible what you're seeing is how all the puppies responded at feeding time so the routine and seeing the bowl sets her off and she's doing what she's learned.

I would suggest you completely change up the process of feeding. Don't get a bowl out and place the bag of food somewhere so she doesn't know when you're preparing it. When you're ready to feed her have the food either in your pocket, a sack, coffee cup, etc. Sit on the floor and then feed her small amounts at a time, or scatter small amounts on the floor. Try to do all this when you, and she, are in a calm state of mind. Restraining her at feeding time only makes her associate all the high energy and excitement with food.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 12:17PM
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Maybe it's a health issue and not behavioral. Have you had her checked for worms? Puppies are very susceptible to them and certain types can cause that type of hunger. I've had many kitten and puppy liters over the years and sure they were anxious to eat but not to the extent that you describe. The dogs we had were shepherds and retrievers so the liters were all larger, sure they would compete for food but none had an issue that severe even after weening. We also have a puppy now from a liter of 11 and she had no issues as well.

If the puppy is worm free and in good health, I'd be wondering if all of the liter just weren't fed enough after they were weened. If that's the case, I would do as others have suggested, spread out the feedings and feed it by hand. Feeding by hand is always something that should be done anyways to help the puppy bond with you and build trust.

Do you know what kind of puppy she/he is?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 10:34AM
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I brought home a one year old shelter dog, and it had a sib at the shelter and it was obvious the one I rescued was the low man on the totem pole at feeding. I was also afraid food agression was down the line, even though he is the only dog in our household now for the first time in ages.

Sit/stay was what we worked on right from the beginning. He does not get served his meal until he takes his place at his feeding station, sits calmly and then I put the dish down and he stays until I tell him it's OK to eat. He must also do the sit/stay for his treats. Sit/stay has come in very handy for any one of a number of situations so far and this is the only dog we have ever taken the patience to train like this. He is wound like a clock-spring and if we can do this with him, you'll be able to do it with your pooch down the line sometime. The sooner the better.

No, I don't suppose it'll work with a ten week old puppy any more than that kind of composure is common in a two year old child, but what Ninapearl suggests is a good way to start it. He will eventually come to the conclusion that obedience will get him rewarded and that food will always be there for him and where and from whom it comes.

My dog was very naughty at first. He counter surfed, and stole off plates if he could reach them. Now I can sit a plate of food down on a table next to the couch and it will be there if I leave the room and come back. OMG............I'd have never believed it a year ago.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 1:04PM
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