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Dear Cesar,

I have a 1-year-old pit bull named Raven. I have followed your methods since day one, and she is well-behaved dog and an awesome ambassador for her breed. But, there’s one problem we are unable to overcome: food obsession.

Raven is walked and or biked twice a day. She’s a low-medium energy dog. I can tucker her out very easily. As far as Discipline goes I use the “touch”, say no, and put the food back (if I can). When I leave the room, I command her to come as well.

Raven gets into trouble when no one is watching her. She’ll eat pretty much anything… you name it, she’s probably tried to get it in her mouth. She’ll try to eat other dogs’ food and there were two incidents that the dog whose food she stole attacked her… and she kept eating!

I don’t want to remove Raven from the “problem” areas because how will she ever overcome this problem if she doesn’t face it? But I can’t leave her alone, or I’m afraid she’ll eat herself to death. Literally! There was ONE incident where I’d left for only SECONDS with a not even half full bag of dog food, she dove into it and almost finished it off, that’s pounds of food. If I hadn’t come out she would have ate it all!

I’d like to get her registered as a Therapy dog but until this is taken care of we can’t pursue that.

-Ashley

Cesar Millan’s answer:
Dear Ashley,

Any powerful breed, especially fighting breeds, will be more likely to have problems with limitations. Just the same way they become so determined to hurt another dog, it will be easier for them to become obsessive. So in this case, your dog needs to practice more activities where patience is required; where food is in front of her and she practices being in front of the food with your supervision. This is a dog that is not ready to be without supervision.

When food is around, the leash should be on. Just put the leash all the way on the top of the neck and pull up gently and slowly block the brain from being excited. So you can help the brain to go back into a different state.

Another thing that might help is not to let her eat with the plate on the ground. If you place the plate a little higher, it causes the dog to slow down while she is eating. Also, you can practice holding the food and gently moving it; lifting the plate up to touch her chin until she relaxes and slows down. You’re using her own body’s mechanics to help her to accomplish a good thing. She will have to turn her head sideways to get the food, and even use her tongue. She will get less food with each bite, and so you are telling her to slow down, chew the food, really FEEL the food. Because when the brain is in a no-limits state of mind, the dog will just go wild and gobble the food down. By forcing her to slow down, youre just sending her brain into a different state.

Another thing you can do is recognize that there are three circles of personal space: the public, social, and intimate circles. It would be ideal if the dog sees the food in the intimate circle. Ask her to wait in your social or public circle, and then slowly bring her in. That is very challenging, and that creates limits by bringing patience into the mind of the dog. Take your time, don’t rush it. Don’t put two or three weeks on the calendar and expect it to get done. Just do it as long as it takes. This is how you are going to feed the body and the mind.

Stay calm and assertive,
Cesar Millan

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