Stopping a Big Dog From Getting Upset at the Cats During Meals

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 16, 2018

For this Omaha dog training session we helped a 2 year old Akbash / Great Pyrenees mix who gets upset when the cats get close to the humans when they are eating. His guardians believed its a case of resource guarding.

Gus met me at the door with a nice warm energy. Aside from not showing much respect for personal space and being literally nosey with my bag, he was very well behaved.

I sat down the the guardian to chat about Gus’s behavior to start things off. I could tell right away that a lack of rules and structure has given Gus the impression that he had more social status than he actually did.

His guardian also did several things that like contributed to this perception. Each time he got close to her, she stated to instinctively pet him. If by chance she didn’t, Gus would nudge, lean on or rub himself against her until she did.

I made a number of suggestions that should help flip the leader follower dynamic. Enforcing rules consistently helps a dog see us acting like a leader. Petting and rewarding the dog when it does approved actions and behaviors will help teach Gus that listening to the humans is desired and rewarded. Upping his exercise will also help him feel better in general while also remove some of the nuisance issues.

When the conversation turned to the resource guarding, I started to wonder if it was actually a different problem; more like food guarding. The guardian mentioned several things that made me question weather this was actually a case of resource guarding. Check out the video below where I explain what I think was actually going on.

Because of the reasons I mentioned in the above video, I think this is more of the case of Gus disagreeing with the cats getting on the table when food was present. Part of this stems from the fact that Akbash dogs were bred to be herding dogs.

The other big contributing factors are the lack of rules and structure, being able to demand attention and the cat’s behavior itself. While Im not a cat person, allowing any animal to be on top of a food table during dinner isn’t the best idea. Food is an important resource for all animals and having one set on the table when another one is kept on the floor can cause hard feelings or at the least, a competition for position.

In this case, I think Gus was confused and thought it was his place to protect the food the humans were eating since they didnt seem to be addressing the issue themselves.

If the guardians start petting with a purpose, rewarding desired behavior with passive training, up his exercise and enforce rules consistently (like no cats in the kitchen when humans or dog is eating) should put a stop to Gus’ food guarding behavior.

To help the guardians remember all the dog behavior tips I shared in this in home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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