Thank you John for your query.
Currently your dog Benji does not welcome any approach to his bowl as he will feel that the potential outcome of such will having the bowl/food taken away. The key to removing Benji’s apparent need to ‘defend’ his bowl is to change the perceived relationship of people going to his bowl thus moving from a negative to a positive relationship. To do this I would suggest the following program: –
- Place his empty bowl down in the area he normally gets fed. After doing this calmly walk away ensuring that you don’t interact with Benji whilst doing so.
- With some of his food in your hand go over to his bowl and drop a handful of it into the bowl and walk away. Benji should investigate and eat the contents.
- Grab some more food and repeat step 2 (above) still ensuring that you offer Benji no interaction.
- Repeat the above until almost all of his food has been placed in the bowl and eaten. With the final amount keep this in your hand and lift the empty bowl. As you do so then open your hand so Benji can see the remaining food and eat such from your (open) hand. When Benji starts to eat the final amount give him some praise.
- When Benji has finished eating the last of his food again give him some praise and then calmly stand up and return to whatever activity you were doing beforehand.
The above program will teach Benji 3 things.
- Eating is a calm activity and not one to get excited about.
- People coming to his bowl could be giving him more goodies therefore something to be welcomed.
- The removal of the bowl is a positive and rewarding activity and, again, nothing to get excited about.
Repeating this exercise daily will ensure that Benji will change his perception (relationship) of people going to his bowl from a negative one to a positive.
I hope this helps.