I’ve mentioned before that Finn has tremendous food drive, but I’m beginning to realized just how over the top it really is. I’m going to get a fecal done later this week to see if he might have worms, although I don’t believe he does (always better to check though).
Since I feed raw, it is difficult to use their food for training. Instead I usually train with some treats beforehand, then put them in their crates and give them their meal all in one shot. Apparently his drive for treats is much lower than for raw meat (I confess that I lately have been too tired to make home-made treats in the volume that I need, and have been using grain-free kibble). Last night I was giving Finn his bed-time meal and I decided to feed him out of the crate since all the other dogs had already been put up. I thought I’d put him in the ‘get in’ position he has so nicely learned, make him heel a few steps, followed by a down-stay, then release him to the bowl.
Well, I couldn’t get him to listen to me at all. He was so zoned in on the bowl in my hand that he could not function. I’ve encountered such brain freezes before in most of my other dogs, just never with food. For example when Hannah was young she could not function in the presence of a ball and it took a lot of work (and homeopathic treatment) to get her past that. Mira is still like that at times, but because of her fear issues. Hannah is just fine now, so I know Finn will be too down the road.
Finn did have the presence of mind to offer a sit and then a down, but could absolutely not do a hand touch, or follow my hand into the ‘get in’ position. I tried getting treats to help this along, and even tried luring him. No go. He wouldn’t take his eyes off the bowl. I had to put the bowl out of site to get him to think. I then went through the exercises we had been working on, and when he got them, I put him in a down stay and then put down the bowl. That he does well as I’ve done a lot of static control work with him around food, i.e. leave it, watch me etc. The dynamic work is beyond him right now.
This morning I tried again but didn’t get much further. I tried to get him to heel on the right while I held a chicken leg in my left hand. He can easily walk in heel position for blocks, so I didn’t think this would be that much of a challenge for him. After a solid 10 minutes of trying, I gave up and put the chicken away and just used treats. Then fed him in his crate. I should add that there was also much leaping and attempting to grab the chicken out of my hand at first (I put a quick stop to that). He can get quite silly around food, and even start throwing himself around willy nilly to get it. He’d even try and steal Ross’s food if I let him (a death wish for any dog). This type of behaviour would not serve him well in the wild I suspect…
If it’s not worms, homeopathic treatment should be able to address this. I will have to get down to researching. I have already given him a couple of remedies to try and address his submissive behaviour. I put that as my first criteria and selected the remedies based on that, and his excessive thirst and urination. He is definitely much more confident now (although still fairly submissive), and able to self-regulate his drinking, so that definitely helped a lot. I’m not sure if I should just let this food business be for now – perhaps he just has a very high metabolism and it will eventually slow down on his own when he stops growing. Mira had pretty crazy food drive as a puppy, but in the last month or so, she’s become much less intense about eating and has even not finished her entire meal a few times now. She’s 13 months old now. I am going to consult with some of my natural rearing friends, and perhaps post on the homeopathy lists I’m on, to see if anyone has any thoughts on how best to treat this.