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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Heres the situation:<br><br>
I have two chihuahuas, the female is named Lolita, the male is Ferdinand (1 yr old).<br><br>
Lolita (1.5 yrs old) has always been keenly interested in her food bowl. She checks on it several times a day and if its on the counter she tries to make sure that I know she wants it back (she stares at me, may put her feet on the cabinets, may whine a little bit. I ignore this and put the bowl back when Im ready to, never when she is begging for it.). Lately this obsession has been driven to new heights. Let me set the scene:<br><br>
Our cats Kittens are now 9 weeks old. From the time they have been able to venture into the kitchen (where the food bowls are) Lolita has become more and more obsessed with her bowl. If a kitten is pestering her while she is near the bowl, she hangs her head over it and growls. I have even seen her snap at an offending kitten as it was walking away. She didnt make contact and it appeared she missed deliberately but wow was I mad. The dogs spent the night at my sisters house a few days ago and she actually asked me "Does Lolita always sleep with her head in her food bowl?" Im sure that Lolita was not actually sleeping, but hunched over the bowl in a night long vigil. She has done this before.<br><br>
There are two food bowls which are always full unless someone empties theirs. They are about 10 ft apart and face opposite walls. Ferdinand is content to leave his bowl alone and eat small meals throughout the day. The only time I have seen him get growly about the bowl is when Lolita is trying to sneak up and snitch food from him (even though her own bowl is full!). When he has warned her off, he continues to eat until satisfied and leaves his bowl alone, even with food left over. I think his growls are justified and normal reactions to her thieving intent.<br><br>
Neither dog is overweight. For the past few weeks Lolita has begun eating ALL available food and will then go throw up undigested food two or three times a week. I dont know what to do so I have begun removing both food bowls and just putting them down for short periods of time. Today I left them down too long (about an hour I guess) and Lolita ate/puked again.<br><br>
I dont know what the heck Im supposed to do!! <i>No one</i> steals her food, not even the other dog. Ferdinand gets too nervous to eat when I take the bowls away and then put them down againlater. He just dances around nervously and keeps looking at me like "is this ok?" and by the time hes decided to eat, Lolita will have eaten most of hers and then the threat is that she will steal his meal.<br><br>
I dont know how to handle this situation appropriately. I want to be able to leave food out all the time but Lolitas obsessive eating/guarding is making that impossible.<br><br>
Sorry about the long post, I just hope someone can offer me some sound advice! Im really getting pissed off now evertime I see her lurking over her bowl. Or when I walk into the living room and she scuttles into the Kitchen to lurk over the bowl.<br><br>
Incidentally, now when I take both bowls away, she pines for a little while by the counter but will then begin to engage Ferd ina game or bring me a toy or nap etc. Acts like a normal happy dog but becomes Gollum when the bowl hits the floor. What to do?!<br><br>
Also, she does not growl at me or my husband. She will hang her head over the bowl when I go to pick it up, but she does not growl.
 

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So sorry I didn't get to this before now.<br><br>
What she's doing is absolutely normal for a dog to do when it has access to food--it's a high-level resource and must be guarded to keep it from all usurpers. The kittens have pushed this to new heights.<br><br>
The good news is that all you have to do with the bowl in particular is to feed them meals. That's the MUCH healthier way to do it anyway, so it's a win-win. Put the appropriate amount in each bowl, either put the dogs in their crates or (if you don't have crates) put them in separate rooms, put the bowls down. Collect the bowls in half an hour, wash, put on counter again for the next meal.<br><br>
It may be that once the food thing is taken care of, the issue will be over entirely. If not, if she replaces the bowl with something else like a pillow or a favorite toy, we can address that with general resource-guarding training and have her be happy and socially appropriate again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dangit, I was afraid it was going to come down to meals :/ I've gotten lazy being able to just have the food out all the time... So they just get a certain amount each day and what they dont finish in, say, the morning, they finish at night? Ferdinand is really squirrely when it comes to food - when I try to feed him in separate rooms, hes too nervous to eat. He just keeps looking at me and stuff.. I guess he will get used to eating it all in one sitting?<br><br>
She does guard certain other things. She likes to nap on piles of things like unfolded laundry or blankets. Then when I pick her up and move her off the blankets she gets rigid and growly but thats all. If I try to pull the blanket out from under her (When we first discovered this tendency we thought it was funny and kept doing it, now I realize that was bad bad bad) she grabs at it with her front feet and will scoot along after it, trying to keep it. It really is very funny looking but I dont try to make her do it anymore. The dogs understand "Get down" so now I just tell her to get down off o fwhatever shes laying on when I need to use it. She acts sort of weird when she moves off it, with her head slung low. It doesnt look aggressive, it looks more like "I dont wanna and if I could, I would ignore you."<br><br>
I will start feeding them meals starting today. What do I do if she tries to steal from Ferdinand? I sometimes stand in between them when she does it or I move her back to her bowl but Im not sure if this is the right thing to be doing. And then Ferd gets so nervous he will only eat a litle bit at a time. He gets nervous bc Im standing there, not bc of Lolita. He fends her off usually with no problem. The stealing just bothers me a lot..
 

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Yes, you'll need to separate them. It's just a good idea, period--even my dogs, who adore each other, don't get fed in the same room (usually in different rooms with an open door between them) and I always stand between them to make sure there's no stealing or growling.<br><br>
I am sure Ferdinand feels weird about eating--Lolita has made it a huge deal in your house and he has all kinds of bad feelings about eating. So put him somewhere with his food and then leave him alone so he can be calm and eat it. It will probably take him a few days to figure out that Lolita is not going to come whipping around the corner and attack him, so give him time.<br><br>
What are they eating right now--brand? Amounts?<br><br>
And it sounds like Lolita is pretty sure she's in charge at your house--she owns all the clothes, the laundry, the food, and the bed. You're paying the mortgage, but it's her house! As tiny and cute as she is, it needs to stop. Imagine her as an 80-lb Doberman and stop any behavior you wouldn't let the Doberman do. Here are some good ideas:<br><a href="http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm" target="_blank">http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm</a><br><a href="http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/RG.html" target="_blank">http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/RG.html</a>
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah.. she definitely tries to be in charge with those things.. its so annoying, she practically worships my husband and never gives him trouble but shes always trying to one up me or something. She obeys when I give her a direct command (like "bedtime" which cues the dogs to go into their crates) but she shoots me a <i>look</i> over her shoulder. Like if I dont stand there and enforce the command, she'll just keep doing what she doing. Can ya tell Ive only ever owned easy going dogs until now? I dont think I ever fussed at my sheltie once for anything in her whole life *grumble grumble*<br><br>
They eat nutro natural choice. I dont know how much they actually eat Ive never measured it, so I guess I will just follow the instructions on the bag lol<br><br>
We dont generally treat them in a cutesy wutesy manner but I know I let things slide because theyre so little... But now with a baby on the way this food bowl crap has got to stop. Today I had the bowls down for 30 min and removed them. Lolita has been doing other things instead of obsessing.. But ferd wouldnt eat. I will feed him in the office tonight so he doesnt feel pressured by her. I hadnt really thought of it that way.<br><br>
thanks for the links and advice!
 
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