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Sample Hierarchy - Food Bowl

Below is a sample hierarchy for dogs that guard their food bowls.  Start with an empty bowl, then repeat these steps with increasingly higher valued food (kibble, canned food, chicken, fish, etc.). Repeat each step until your dog remains consistently under-threshold, or better yet, is thrilled with your approach.   Adjust distances according to your space requirements.   Note that "Proof random distances" means to repeat the step at varying the distances, duration, etc.  - meant to generalize the behavior - and mimic real life scenarios.

1.  Practice feeding their meals in installments 

  • Pick up the empty food bowl, add food, put down

  • Repeat this, sometimes adding a surprise treat (chicken, etc.)

2.  Add Distance:  Approach from various distances, toss treats in the bowl, return

  • Approach from nearby (5’ or so feet)

  • Approach from mid (8-10’)

  • Approach from far (15’+)

  • Proof random distances


3.  Add Reach:  Approach from mid-range, and bend over as if to pick it up, add treats, return

  • Bend over half way

  • Bend over all the way

  • Bend over half way, pause 2s

  • Proof random distances with 2s pauses


4.  Add Touch: Approach from mid-range, reach over and touch bowl, add treats, return.

  • Touch bowl briefly

  • Touch bowl, pause 1s

  • Touch bowl, pause 3s

  • Continue to increase pauses to 5, 10, 20, 30s

  • Proof random distances and pauses


5.  Add Removal: Approach from mid-range, and move and lift bowl, add treats, return.

  • Approach, grasp and move bowl around, 2, 5,10s

  • Approach, lift bowl half-way

  • Approach, lift bowl to table/counter


6.  Add Touch**:  Approach from mid-range, touch dog

  • Approach, touch dog, 1, 3, 5s

  • Approach, touch dog for 1,2s before lifting bowl to counter/table


7.  Generalize/Proof

  • Continue to practice with random distances, angles, and bowl removals

  • Repeat with different people (starting with easiest)

  • Repeat with higher valued food in the bowl  

  • Move around different locations.

**  If your dog is touch sensitive, you must D&C to touch prior to adding it to any hierarchy.

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