Hands Out of the Bowl: A Rant.

22 Oct

Imagine you’re at a restaurant after a long day and the waiter has just served you your favorite dish.  Before you can even dip a fork into it, the waiter rushes back, takes the food away from you, sticks his hand in it and mushes it all around.  If you’re thinking at this point that you would cut a bitch for interfering with your long-awaited meal, you’d be totally in your right.   So why then do some people insist on messing with their dog’s food while they are trying to eat?


We’ve all heard it, right?  “I can do anything to my dog while she eats”, or “I wanted to see what would happen if I took his food away mid-bite.”   Seriously?  We’d bite too if someone repeatedly messed with our food.  Just because your dog “allows” you to fuck with his food, that doesn’t mean you should.

Don’t let the diaper fool you, she’ll take a finger off.


You’re not testing your dog for resource guarding by doing this; you’re actively encouraging it.   Want your dog to get nervous and tense around their food?  Teach them that meal time means “human plays cruel games with my foods”


You know who’s a giant dumbass? That guy. I think we all know who that guy is. We aren’t saying we let our dogs snarl and wolf down their food, but we do know there is a better way than standing over your dog’s food like the karate kid until the dog snaps and crushes all the bones in your hand.

You can’t see it, but he just punted a schnauzer and a bowl of beneful into the pacific.

Wanna know how to fix it*? Try hand feeding your dog, take the bowl completely out of the equation. If your dog isn’t quite to the bone crushing stage, try dropping a few kibbles of food in your dog’s bowl every time you walk by, delivering his entire dinner that way. That way, food near bowl grows to equal more food. You’ll have to live out your Mister Miyagi fantasies elsewhere.


*We aren’t dog trainers, we definitely aren’t your dog trainer. We just happen to own both dogs and all ten fingers we came in to this world with. When in doubt, ALWAYS consult with a professional trainer. Preferably one that has never been on tv.

53 Responses to “Hands Out of the Bowl: A Rant.”

  1. Alicia Graybill October 22, 2013 at 12:37 am #

    I agree completely (and I am a dog trainer.) Having dealt successfully with resource guarders in the past, I don’t understand the obsession some people have with trying to “prove” they are the “boss.” Know how I do that? I tell my dog to “sit” and she does. My ego isn’t invested in “proving” anything about the relationship with my dog. Oh, and for those of you who think you’re proving something, yeah, you’re just proving that you aren’t a very nice person.

  2. Diana October 22, 2013 at 12:56 am #

    First, LOVE this rant. I had a major resource-guarding, DINO who took 5 years of constant work before my family would refer to him as a good dog. (Only 3 before they didn’t dread his visits.) I can’t even imagine what that poor dog would have thought if some asshat had tried to steal his food. The army marches on it’s stomach. For reals.

    Second, poor Holly, how many different ways could that girl have told the actor to please give her space before she resorted to teeth? He’s fortunate it was only a flesh wound, some dogs would have taken his nose.

    Third & lastly, how dumb is your dog that they can not tell you are not a dog? Do you sniff his/her rectum when you say hello? Oh my, dog. They know you are not like mom, so let it go, man, it’s over.

  3. Marissa October 22, 2013 at 12:57 am #

    If someone, for whatever reason, needs their dog to stop eating or they need to interrupt them, then they should call them. Obviously this will be more reliable after working with the dog to come away from food when you offer something better. But asking them to leave their bowl, on their own terms, is way more polite than attempting to count their teeth mid dinner with no warning.

  4. Agilejack October 22, 2013 at 12:59 am #

    “You know who’s a giant dumbass? That guy.”

    Come on… you can do better than that! Let’s see you try.

    • Cain October 22, 2013 at 1:51 am #

      I figure, once I give my dogs their food, well….it’s THEIRS. I don’t screw with it. They don’t screw with mine, so it seems fair. Besides, we’d probably have identical reactions to anyone who interrupted meal time. 😉

  5. Kate October 22, 2013 at 1:14 am #

    I can maybe see a problem if your dog tries to bite you AS you feed them, but once they are eating… leave them the hell alone – neither of my dogs have food guarding tendacies yet I would never try to take their food from them. They sit and then wait for me to tell them to eat… what more can I ask?

  6. Nicolette Carazo October 22, 2013 at 1:50 am #

    Love you guys! You make a hell of a lot more sense than “that guy”.

  7. Lynn October 22, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    Did you even watch the entire episode? I doubt it. Holly had a major issue long before Cesar was ever involved. He was their last resort…and that dog would have been put to sleep if he hadn’t done what he did. That dog was a danger to everyone. The bowl had been removed and they did attempt to feed her by hand. It all FAILED!

    He has done more good in this world for more dogs and their humans then anyone else. And, FYI, he’s never claimed to be a dog trainer. Just because YOU disagree with a method doesn’t mean the other person is wrong. If you don’t like it, don’t use it…simple. Judge all you want but keep the verdict to yourself. Calling others’ names only reflects your character, not theirs.

    I discipline my kids and have spanked them. That doesn’t make me a child abuser. Have I spanked out of anger? No. Have I ever hit a dog? No. But I have firmly touched them to let them know I mean business. That doesn’t make me an animal abuser, either.

    There are numerous methods for that work. Each animal is different and what works for one may not work for the next.

    Stop bitching that someone has different ideas that you don’t agree with…

    • miumisha October 22, 2013 at 3:18 am #

      Holly was also euthanized because of her progressed aggression because of what he did later after the show was aired. So you know, He totally works. (in-put heavy sarcasm here)

      • awesomedogs October 22, 2013 at 6:34 am #

        I did not know she was euthed – is there a link to that anywhere Miumisha?

      • aspiecatholicgirl August 5, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

        Holly was NOT euthanized. That was a false internet rumor that Cesar publicly addressed. She currently lives at his Dog Psychology Center.

        You don’t have to like or agree with Cesar, but don’t spread internet lies.

    • KMH October 22, 2013 at 3:27 am #

      Oh Lord, here we go…

      • Lolly October 23, 2013 at 12:39 am #

        Yeah, I glazed over and stopped reading at “I discipline my kids and have spanked them.”

    • Barb Nystrom October 22, 2013 at 4:12 am #

      You are absolutely right Lynn….I though that this blog was a good deal that was going to be helpful to people training their dogs but after reading this one, I know how ignorant this blog is. They & most the replies have never had to deal with aggressive dogs that have bit people & are about to be put down unless a ‘good’ trainer steps in and helps them…Everyone babbles on about ‘my dogs’ wouldn’t do this or…’I’ wouldn’t do that….but they have not experienced working with dominant aggressive dogs that are classed as dangerous and are going to be put down….namby pamby trainers who state, ‘don’t bother the dog while he is eating’ have never had a baby crawl over to a dominant dog by accident & had the dog bite a child……..instead of DEALING with the problem, they just put the dog down……..This crappy training that wants everyone to be able to always be nice & never teach dogs what the rules are gets many, many dogs put down that could have been rehabilitated……SMARTEN UP and make your dog’s SAFE around children that might crawl over to a dog’s bowl when someone is not watching the child.
      I am not just talking about what Cesar did……I have 40 years of experience working with aggressive dogs…..I am speaking from experience not some theory that someone has put up on the internet!

      • leestrates October 22, 2013 at 4:28 am #

        One: This is NOT a training blog. It is satire. The snobs have implicitly stated several times they are not professionals and if you have an issue, seek real life help.

        Two, and most importantly: If you are letting a kid crawl over a dog, ‘dominant’ or not, you are a dipshit.

      • awesomedogs October 22, 2013 at 6:09 am #

        People who oppose have never worked with dogs that have been classes as dangerous and at risk of being put down? That is quite a statement.
        Holly was not kept in the home, according to posts above was put down. Two other dogs from the show are making media rounds. One is still aggressive – just had it’s teeth filed down so it can bite and just not do damage. One returned to rescue and doing just fine after the rescue did namby pamby training.
        I have had resource guarders in my home that would charge and lunge if anyone dared to go near the pantry. Dog didn’t even need to have any food.
        And yeah – I like that training that wants to be nice. This namby pamby trainer is happy to report that if someone failed to supervise their kid, the dog would not bite. The bloggers are correct that you break it down and teach the dog in stages to welcome intrusions. Those non-trainers have a heck of a lot of common sense in this post.
        As for parents that fail to supervise – kid’s lucky they didn’t drink a jug of Draino instead. Failing to supervise is failing to supervise.

      • RowanVT October 22, 2013 at 7:58 am #

        In a way, you sound like my uncle who tried to demand I euthanise my very first dog after he growled at my cousin, when the baby was 9 months old. I dragged out the full story from my uncle that he had been letting Nathan dig his nails into my dog’s ears and around his eyes, that he would be across the large living room from my dog and his child, and that this had been going on for an entire month. He felt that because my dog actually enjoyed children that he was therefore 100% safe.

        Dogs have actual personalities. Despite socialisation, there will always be some animals that just don’t like “puppies” of any species. My current dog is terrified of puppies and kittens that are under 8 weeks of age. She’ll run away drooling when presented with foster babies. She’s simply super fearful and timid. My last dog, while he loved babies (and kids), was a bit of an ass and if a dog showed any irritation with him he’d pester that dog until he’d spark a fight. This is why if a dog clearly shows a dislike for being pet, I damn well don’t scruffle it.

        So watch your damn child. Baby gates are not hard. Nor is feeding your dog in a room where the baby/small child is not and cannot get. Punishing the dog for being a dog, or for having a particular personality, is just a self-justification for piss-poor parenting.

      • Matisse October 22, 2013 at 8:46 am #

        You know that dogs don’t show dominance, right? That they don’t have the brain structure to think ‘taking over the situation/house/world thoughts? Oh, wait, that’s one of those dag-darned book learnin’ theories. Hush my mouth.

    • Theresa October 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      Why is it that that certain TV guy “rehabilitates” and gets bitten by body blocking and staring a dog down and people are like, wow, that guy has a gift . . when he’s doing exactly the opposite of what for years, has been the conventional wisdom –not staring dogs down or making them feel trapped because they consider it threatening and confrontational?

      Any ordinary non-whispering dog trainer could have seen that coming a mile away and he even says “I didn’t see that coming.” And then later he shows her with his pack and makes some blithe comment about how she wouldn’t dare try to bite him here because she knows the pack would take her out.

      • Gail F. October 23, 2013 at 4:43 am #

        I’m certainly not a dog trainer, but I could follow canine body language well enough to see, in the video I’ve watched of Milan and Holly, that she was nervous and he was really pushing her too far and asking for trouble. I just hope that Holly didn’t pay the ultimate price for Milan’s desire to get some Man vs. Dog pseudo-macho confrontation on his television program.

    • wagnerel October 22, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

      “Stop bitching that someone has different ideas that you don’t agree with…”

      Woah, are you saying that people aren’t supposed to discuss things like animal behavior, learning theory, what is and isn’t a humane or sensible approach to dog training, and the human obsession with the misapplication of social hierarchies and dominance in dog training, or celebrity trainers who use sensationalist approaches because they make “better” television than a slow, patient approach?

      This notion that it’s all just about different ideas people have and all are equally valid (with regards to things that can be tested and falsified scientifically, as his notions have been) is pretty frustrating to those of us who thinks the scientific approach can actually teach people a few things.

      Why does disagreement with this man always engender such indignation and defensiveness by people? Could it be that he’s built up a cult of celebrity?

  8. Kelly Weissman October 22, 2013 at 2:31 am #

    If I were that dog, I would have taken a very deep chomp out of someone’s groin area when he was standing over me with aforementioned area right in my face! He is not “whispering—he is a bully, plain and simple!

  9. Tracey Moore-Higbee October 22, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    He punched the dog in the neck…for doing what dogs do…defending its food! I am thinking the one with the aggression issue is not so much the dog in this particular scene. I have 2 out of 5 that have food aggression…it NEVER occurred to me to take their food away or stick my hand near their face while they are eating. We crate all dogs at feeding time to deal with the food aggression. And furthermore I am thinking this fool is extremely lucky that all that dog bit was his hand!! Much more meaningful body parts we at the tip of that dogs teeth and she chose to keep her teeth to herself. I get that the dog may have had other serious aggression issues, but for the love of dog keep your hand out of its face when it eats!

  10. miumisha October 22, 2013 at 3:23 am #

    I loved this rant. It was straight to the point. Poor Holly though. She gave beautiful back off signals, and he just totally ignored them, getting her to react. Even after she reacted, she was still trying to defuse the situation, but continued to be pushed. She was euthanized or rehomed after the show because of her progressed aggression caused by “That Guy”. I feel bad for every single dog that ever got onto his show. They’ve written about/researched the show and found out that they antagonize the dog before they start the cameras to make sure they react during the show. Because it “Makes Good TV”.

    Anyways, great article! 🙂

    • Lynette Miller October 22, 2013 at 4:12 am #

      Which is it, euthanized or rehomed?? Big difference! I hope she wasn’t euthanized ~ so sad if she was 😦

      • Lauren October 22, 2013 at 6:31 am #

        She went to live with him at his Psychology Center (worse than euthanasia if you ask me). I am not sure what happened after that.

    • aspiecatholicgirl August 5, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

      She wasn’t euthanized. She was rehomed-she lives at Cesar’s Dog Psychology Center. There’s a youtube video of her running around with his other dogs and running up to Cesar to lick him on the face.

  11. tide-eyed October 22, 2013 at 5:13 am #

    I think a lot of what Cesar does is great… and a lot of it just makes me laugh. Some things work better for some dogs than others. I didn’t watch the clip, but if this is the one where the dog leaves Cesar in stitches, I seriously was like – Are you kidding me? when I saw it.

    I do fuck with my dogs’ food. Not continually or repeatedly, but every once in a while I stick my hand in the bowl or pet them while they eat… or ask them to walk away from the food, pick it up, and then cheerfully hand it right back while praising them. I just like to know that one day when I get too close to the bowl I’m not going to accidentally lose a toe or something. But the dogs are cool with me, and I’m cool with them… No need to go to ridiculous measures on a daily basis or anything. Once they know that me messing with the food doesn’t mean anything, and they know I’m going to hand it right back, I pretty much never mess with it again. Once a year… max… maybe?? “Hey, let me see that… Cool, thanks!”

    I’ll spend my time working on other things… Like trying to teach my puppy not to eat people.

  12. tide-eyed October 22, 2013 at 5:14 am #

    Whoa, moderation? When did this insanity begin?! 😛

  13. Yankee Shelties October 22, 2013 at 5:21 am #

    LOL! You got me at: ” Just because your dog “allows” you to fuck with his food, that doesn’t mean you should.” Too true, but then some people just have no manners and no sense.

  14. Pat October 22, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    Some people think it’s the right thing to do and will even take a dog’s food away if it growls! How stupid is that? I hope I’m doing the right thing with my 8 month old bitch. She growls and would even attack our older collie bitch when there’s food about so I feed them in separate rooms. I don’t give them chew toys, Dentasticks or anything that might be valuable enough to guard. They’re fine at other times and play a lot together.

    • Jessica October 22, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

      I hope you never have children around these dogs.

      • Barb Nystrom October 23, 2013 at 3:43 am #

        love your comment Jessica!

      • Pat October 23, 2013 at 5:20 am #

        No, I don’t have children around these dogs. They are absolutely fine and the situation is improving by the day.

  15. Mountain Poodle October 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    I think dogs should be taught to give up their food or be interrupted when they are eating. You never know when a dog might get a hold of something toxic that you immediately need to take away. With all these new fangled behavior philosophies, we seem to have come to a place where resource guarding by dogs (from humans) is an excepted behavior. I think resource guarding is rude and dangerous.

    • Corger October 22, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      No, no one is saying it’s acceptable. By “new fangled” you must mean supported by documented research and quantifiable studies. That might be scary to you (apparently) but that doesn’t make it invalid.

      No one is suggesting it’s acceptable; they are suggesting it is NATURAL, as natural digging, pulling on lead, jumping up… ALL undesirable behaviors to most owners and all perfectly changeable with training, as is resource guarding. People thus far have suggested that A.) dogs deserve to have a sense of security and know their meal times aren’t going to be subjected to constant power games by insecure humans who can’t keep their hands to themselves (and need to prove that they can “do anything” to their dog, and B.) that resource guarding is easily and best addressed with non-punitive methods that desensitize the dog to the idea of hands near his bowl and food being taken away if necessary.

      When you approach it like THAT, we all win. The dog feels more secure, the human can handle the dog’s food if necessary.

      People who insist on messing with their dog’s food just to prove to the dog that they can do anything they want… well, what kind of person has to “prove” things to a dog?

      • Mountain Poodle October 22, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

        “B.) that resource guarding is easily and best addressed with non-punitive methods that desensitize the dog to the idea of hands near his bowl and food being taken away if necessary.”

        I never said otherwise. But I’m glad that we agree that a dog should be taught that it can have it’s food taken away or its eating interrupted.

    • houndsofgrey October 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      There’s nothing wrong with being ABLE to do it, and a dog who is confident that the Human In Charge is a rational, caring being won’t care if you do once in a while. The point here is that there is NO reason to continue to do it, or to harrass a dog who clearly has issues with it. Find Another Way. CFM is deliberately picking a fight in this video, which only confirms this poor dog’s fears that humans are dangerous bullies. As I’ve often told clients: humans don’t win dog fights, so don’t start one!

    • wagnerel October 22, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

      True, but the best way to do this is to teach the dog that they might get something even better for doing so. So if you interrupt your dog at her dish, or call him away, give the poor thing a special treat. Make it a game. That way, if the dog ever has something he shouldn’t have, it will be safe and easy to get it away.

  16. Theresa October 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    Good article, Snobs! Sometimes people lose common courtesy around dogs because they have to prove something–something that doesn’t make sense from a human or dog perspective. I’d love to see one about getting dogs to move off your spot in the bed. I recently found out that my roomie gets confrontational with the dog if she’s lying in “his” spot and gets her growling with his rude demands and pushiness. Mind you he’s fine with her being in his bed, just not in his favorite spot, which I’m sure appeals to her because it’s the stinkiest.

    I had no idea this had been going on. I tried to explain that all he had to do was “ask” her to move and she would (which she did when I asked her). He made some macho declarations about his turf and rules and he shouldn’t have to “ask” anybody anything–just didn’t get it . . . . grrr. (which left me growling).

  17. Joyce Gamsby-Kesling October 22, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    Reblogged this on Responsible Dog ~ It's all about dogs.

  18. Jessica October 22, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    Everyone says their dog’s food is theirs, but what happens when you are not watching a curious toddler and they want to see what the dog is doing. Yes, everyone will say ‘You should watch your kid closer.’, but everyone who has kids knows you will never be able to watch them 100% of the time. I don’t see the need for putting hands in the dog’s bowl while they are eating, but they do need to accept being pet all over their body, their feet being picked up, and their ears and head being played with occasionally. Being food-aggressive is NEVER acceptable in my house. This has nothing to do with being the ‘boss’ or dominant, it has to do with safety. Hopefully those of you that do have food-aggressive dogs, never let a child get to close while your dog is eating.

    • houndsofgrey October 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

      Having had a toddler around the house with animals, I kept a gate up separating the dog’s food area from the child *at all times*. Yes, your child is adorable, a perfect little snowflake and the center of the known universe. Awesome. That doesn’t mean that your poor dog doesn’t deserve to eat a meal in peace.

      Parents have a responsibility to teach their children about boundaries and personal space; parents with pets have a unique opportunity to do this at an earlier age than others, and would do well to take advantage of that

      • Mountain Poodle October 22, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

        Having three kids and multiple dogs, I can say that the reason you want to get on top of resource guarding is because someday, somewhere, a kid is going to drop an ice cream cone and the dog needs to know that it can’t dive for it and then guard it from the kid who is simultaneously diving for the ice cream.

    • HouseofBigDogs October 23, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

      Just a suggestion- get a crate and feed your dog in a crate if you have a food aggressive dog and an inability to keep your toddler away while it eats. You are providing the dog it’s own shut in “safe” space where it cannot bite your child, where no one can take his food. My dogs get two feeding times a day, food isn’t available all day long. Its not that difficult to keep even the dogs away from each other for 10 minutes 2x a day, and the one who finishes first is 95 lbs and WANTS the other dogs food. Crate feeding is a great solution for resource guarders.

      If you teach them to love their crate, it also provides a safe sleeping space. Toddlers climbing on a sleeping dog are liable to get bit as well, even if the dog would normally never bite if you startle them out of a doggy dream with something painful like a knee to their liver, it’s going to bite.

      There are a lot of new considerations brought to the table when you have a very small kid with a dog. Crates provide many solutions. My dogs put themselves to bed when they are tired, going to their crate and seem to get a little annoyed when I don’t come shut it fast enough. With training they come to love their personal safe place.

      • Justinekay Merrill October 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

        I train , and I do what all pros really do, we feed in crates or pens and leave the dog alone for 20 mins afterwards. my clients do this and avoid all problems, if we have a pushy , hardmouthed dogs we work o n it another way.

  19. mumsmeals October 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    Jessica, environmental management is the way ahead until the child can understand. We used a stairgate to block our child’s access to the dog while he was eating. It’s HIS food, we let him enjoy it in peace.

  20. Gail F. October 23, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    I have trained three dogs (at different times), as puppies, to allow me access to their food. I took the food bowl, while they were eating, praised them for not reacting, and added a treat to the food in the bowl. I certainly didn’t do it every time the individual pups ate. I never had a problem with any dog of mine guarding its food bowl from me or any human. When I had multiple dogs, I fed them at different corners of the kitchen, and watched so one of them didn’t steal the other’s food. I think, if I had ever had children, I would have restricted a toddler’s access to the dog while the dog was eating, but I’m not totally sure. I was, according to my mother, raised sharing cookies with our dog from infancy onward.

    • bitterzuur October 31, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

      Doing 130 on the road without an accident doesn’t make it safe practice…..

  21. Krissy October 24, 2013 at 2:00 am #

    My dogs actually get excited when I (or anyone else) come close to their food bowls.. But it took a few months to establish that trust. Now, they know if “mom” or anyone else in the house sets their food down, but then comes back to the bowl, they’re getting a “special.” (Usually some dogit-friendly food addition like boiled chicken or turkey) They happily back off and wag their tails, waiting for the yummy to be deposited. The biggest reason we (“daddy” and me) did this is because we’re expecting our first child together next year, and while we’re going to do everything we can to make sure the kiddo never messes with their chow, just in case anyone in the house (see grandparents and sitters) messes up there’s no immediate threat of mauling, and any reasonable child-watcher would be able to scoop the child up and reward the pooches for their awesome behavior.

  22. Michele November 4, 2013 at 12:20 am #

    I have never watched Caesar and I’m glad. That was a bit of macho showmanship.

  23. columbusrat November 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    I love this blog. I was going to add a comment about what my resource guarding dog would do to Caesar given half a chance but then I would have to try the Caesar Milan drinking game http://thedogsnobs.com/2013/11/02/ten-things-you-should-really-stop-doing/ and my OH tells me I’m not allowed to get drunk on Wednesdays.

  24. table dog crate December 30, 2014 at 3:55 am #

    Thankfulness to my father who informed me about this blog, this webpage
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