Sudden Food Aggression

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cisco9510's picture
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Another day another unexplained change in behavior with the Kid.

For the last couple weeks Cisco has been eating from Raven's bowl- just a bite or 2 with no growl or meanness.  She would go over to his bowl to eat and he would run back to his and push her out of the way. I have marked it as bad behavior and have been standing in between them when they eat and if he tries to get to her bowl I block him and tell him no. He would turn around and go back to his bowl.

Well over the weekend it has gotten really bad. He now charges past me growls and snaps at her eats her food with such force that he spills her bowl all over the floor and then goes back to his bowl.  So yesterday I seperated them while eating- I put him out in the garage with his food closed the door and fed her where she normally eats. She would not touch her food and just kept coming up to me and wiggling at me. IT was like she is terrified to eat! Cisco kept coming up to the door and banging on it the entire time I was trying to coax her to eat! Well this isnt working! I put him outside with his food on the shaded part of the driveway and literally had to hand feed raven out of her bowl! This went on for both meals yesterday.

This morning I again put his food out in the garage and put her food down and I left the room and went into garage with Cisco- I blocked him from the door and anytime it even looked like he was thinking about going to the door- I corrected behavior and made him eat- I grabbed his bowl- I grabbed food from bowl and just checked to make sure it wasn't total food aggression. Nothing I could have taken food right out of his mouth. She ate on her own and seems less skittish about eating again, which is good.

I guess I will have to just keep them seperate for meals now. I guess my question is why after 4 months of her being with us, is he now doing this? They would eat out of the bowl together and still drink out of the big outside bowl together with no issues...

I am just perplexed by the behavior.

darth206's picture
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I know this might sound goofy, but did you have new company during the weekend? People or pets? Also was there a big change in the temp? I noticed this passed weekend Foxy was little more nippy with Duncan than previous. It has gotten very hot here quickly. I wonder if this has something to do with it. You know how they say "Dog days of summer". Yes it's early but it sure got hot fast. It's 80 before 9:00 Am which is unusual for this time of year in my area.

It sounds like your doing the right thing, separating them. Maybe Cisco is just trying to show his dominance over Raven. I think wolves make to lower pack member eat last. Just a thought. Good Luck!

cisco9510's picture
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Thanks for the input- Maybe it is the weather!

DJ's Dad's picture
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Ziva isn't growly over food, but this week she's been trying to eat her entire bowl of food then run across the room to clean out one of the little dogs' bowls, and if I dont stop her, she'll clean out that one and then go to the other little dogs' bowl.  She's turning into a piggie.  She doesnt growl at them, but she gives them "the look" and when they back up, she vaccuums down the kibble. I'm feeding her, then taking her for a walk right after I put down food for the others so they can eat while she's out on a leash.  That's been working out well, so far.  I attributed it to the hot weather, really.  It was 58 here last week, and has been 90 for the past three days here.

cisco9510's picture
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Thanks Paul~ Maybe I need to up his food a little and it has been super hot here as well. I mean he really went after her the other day... she was fanged all up around her one leg and she was very afraid to eat even with him out of the room- And in play fighting she is usually the agressor and the dominate one- so when this happened I was a bit taken aback by the whole situation- She most defaintely always holds her ground with him...

cammie001's picture
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Wow thats odd. I know the Doberman breed is very sensitive to heat but i didn't think it would affect them like that. I'm glad I saw this so i will know if Athena starts acting odd. Def seperate them, in all the research i have done that is the one thing i would do first. Hope it gets better :)

blue4's picture
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Oh man.  I have no advice.  I just thought - NO!  Kid, can't you give your mom a break!  You are such a wonderful mom to be so patient with him and work through all the problems. 

Who knew eating was so complicated???  The weather?  Break out the kiddie pool...it's summertime.

cisco9510's picture
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He really does test me alot! lol! but i look into those big amber eyes and I go all mushy! He is a lover and sweetie pie 99% of the time! with everything he goes thru and puts me thru I think alot of people would have given up, but he is all mine and no matter what he does I will work thru it- One day I will have a perfect gentleman I swear!

DJ's Dad's picture
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You know, Mandy, it could even be that the Kid is getting a little "testy" just because he's as tired of these ear wars, meds, trips to the vet, etc.  as you are, too.  I believe that would tend to make me a little bit snappy as well.  LOL

cisco9510's picture
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Could be Paul... lol! He has been thru the wringer in his short life! I probably would be cranky as well if I had to go thru what he does!

Lady Kate's picture
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Okay .. whoa... this is odd.. Sofia, normally a light eater, has become a charter member of the "clean plate club" three small-ish meals a day has gone from left over kibble in her bowl at lunch time.. put more kibble in, old chicken out, scrunch it all around.. do the hoochie coochie and I turn myself.. ooops wrong venue..

Now every meal time whhhooosh gone and she's looking for more..

 wonder what's going on with our doberkids...

I think we need a resident doggie shrink

Control_Freak's picture
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Oh Mandy sorry you have another hurdle to go over with the kid.  I have no advice for you on this one.

jeshykai's picture
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Mandy, I think you're right to not make light of this situation.  I tolerate NO aggression in my house and don't give excuses, just redirect and reassert myself as the boss.  It is not his place to attack her for food and it worries me because he can easily start this behavior with you.  Start all over with his basics.  Go back to manhandling his food yourself.  Since he's used his chompers, I'd be safe and use a broom handle and pull it away from him slowly and then pick it up yourself.  Once you're sure he's not going to redirect his aggression to your hand, start putting your hand in the food and messing with it.  Take it away, walk away with it, come back and give it to him. 

As a rule, I just feed all my dogs seperate because I hate the headache of trying to make sure they all stick to their bowls.  I think this is a practice you should keep up even when he works out of it because I know he will -- you're too good of an owner for him not to.

Practice more commands with him.  Talk to your trainer (if you haven't already) and up his food amount.  I'd also start making him lay down and put him on his side and make him "hold it".  Play with his feet, mess with his mouth, his eyes, etc.  Make sure he isn't developing other issues too.

Is he on any steriods?  Sometimes that increases their thirst and hunger.

Let us know how it goes.  If that were Steve, I'd do what I mentioned above.  Just food for thought.

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Oh Cisco, what on earth are we going to do with you???  I had the same thought as Jess, try upping his food a bit, he's still growing and may be needing a bit more.  I feed all mine at the same time, same place.  I'm lucky that Fancy isn't a gobbler or I would do this differently.  But, I have dry kibble down in the morning, at night I spice it up a bit with some watered kibble and wet food mixed up.  I started doing this because I thought that Fancy should be eating more than she was, and it's worked beautifully.  Fancy had to sit and wait until I release her to eat, but her bowl goes down first.  Then the littles.  Fancy goes and checks out their bowls just to make sure they didn't get anything better and kinda pushes them away but within minutes they're all eating well.  There is always some left over so no one panics about there not being enough.

Legend of Zelda's picture
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Zelda's doing the same thing with the small dogs too D: I wonder if it's the ungodly San Antonio heat that's making her go crazy. She's like Sophia too, a light eater unlike most doberman.

We definitely need a doberman shrink :(

cisco9510's picture
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Thanks Jes (and everyone else) I will definately try what you said- I definately dont want him to take a chunk out of my hand or worse! Today I seperated them again and I sat with him and did take his food away and he just sat down and waited for me to put it back down. He is on Keflex not a steroid (correct?) And funny thing is she stil kicks his butt during play and takes the toys from him etc and he shows no sign of aggression with her there- it is just a kinda mine mine mine thing with food. I will of course work on it til it is fixed and i told mr garrow about it and he is going to come over during meal time and see what is what... I upped his food just a bit as well.

And jes thank you for the compliment. I try really hard and always have with all my pets!

blue4's picture
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Hope things are going well...

cisco9510's picture
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awww thanks blue!

Lady Kate's picture
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Have you ever tried free feeding?

Just leave a constantly full bowl of kibble out for them and see what happens?

Would the Kid just scarf up everything in sight and bloat up?

Would Raven sit like the Princess she is and watch and laugh as Cisco's stomach expanded like the Good Year Blimp and his knees exploded?/

Aggggh..

cisco9510's picture
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LOL Katie- We always free fed our dogs growing up. Even Josey we freefed- it was easier as we were in college and in and out all day... Then came Wyatt who would eat til the bag was gone if you let him. I think Cisco would be the same way. Josh fed them outside together yesterday and watched what happened. He said Cisco never went to her bowl or even looked that way (prob cuz he knows Josh is the big gun in the house) I got home and raven hadn't touched her food. He said she just paced and kept coming and sitting by his side. I had to almost hand feed her when Cisco was with in eyeshot. So I took her into the laundry room and put her bowl down and she ate but only if she could see me. I am hoping she will get comfortable eating by herself again. I can't stand over her for 20 minutes in the morning... We shall see what happens.

Dabbles's picture
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Wish I had something to help Mandy...  When I've had more than 1 dog I've always separated feeding areas.  Don't know why, other than that's what I was taught by my dad as a kid.  He said some dogs are "hoovers" & others are nibblers & the 2 don't mix well - since he raised hunting dogs & worked with them daily, he needed to be sure they got the "fuel" they each needed.

Fingers crossed something works for you!  Prayers & positive dobervibe winging north to Raven also!

cisco9510's picture
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Thanks Marti!

They took some bloodwork- Vet is thinking Raven is Hypothyroid- She is balding on her neck a bit and is a little "fluffy" in the midsection... and she gets plenty of exercise. Results tomorrow... fingers crossed! I am just going to seperate them- her in laundry room - him in garage- It worked this morning. It is what it is and I am not having a fight at every meal.

blue4's picture
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Oh no!  hypothyroid!  Time to start another thread...I'm so sorry.  Is that common in young dobie dogs, or doesn't matter if the genes are there or what?  Can you tell I haven't read much about it? 

cisco9510's picture
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I am honestly clueless... They are testing for a bunch of stuff as well! I need to start reading up

jeshykai's picture
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Jeeze Mandy!
They wil be so figured out after a year you won't have to do more than vaccines for years and years :)

cisco9510's picture
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I hope that is the case jes...

jeshykai's picture
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I went through a lot with Miles as a puppy and some of the rescues I've had over the years too.  I joke with the vet down the street I like to spend my extra money on Steve because I've been to the vet more with him than I have with Miles over the last 7 years.

It's frustrating, I know, but they are still in that stage where they are growing up.  They always joke that the first year and the last is the most expensive to own a dog but it's true.  If you figure out their issues now, you will treat them and then you will forget about all this heartache and worry.

Hope the duo is doing well now!

cisco9510's picture
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Thanks Jes... I will post update in new thread- got bw back etc...