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Food Aggression in Dogs – How to Stop it and Prevent It

click meDo you own more than one dog? Do they constantly fight over food, but get along in other areas well?  Food aggression in dogs is one of 4 main types of aggression when dealing with a four-legged friend.

The other three types are aggression towards children, aggression towards strangers, and aggression towards other dogs. Although all breeds are different and dogs come from various backgrounds, I’m going to give you some general tips to help you successfully deal with food aggression in dogs.

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Food Aggression in Dogs – Prevent it and Treat it

Preventing and Treating Food Aggression in Dogs

Food aggression in dogs occurs when a dog feels the need to guard or protect his food, possibly as a result of having food taken away or by living in a situation where food has been scarce.

Preventing Food Aggression in Dogs

Dogs must be allowed to eat their meals in peace, just like we humans like to eat our meals uninterrupted. When you feed your dog, leave him to eat until he is finished. Do not allow adults, children, or other pets to approach the bowl. Do not stroke or pet your dog while he is eating. DO NOT pick up the bowl mid-meal and put it back down “to show the dog that you own the food” – that is a sure-fire way to develop dog food aggression.

Treating dog food aggression

If your dog is showing signs of food aggression, he feels the need to protect his food.  He feels that his food may be taken away. To treat food aggression in dogs, it is important to change the way your dog feels about your approach to his bowl. To begin, for several days, feed the dog meals by presenting an empty bowl and placing a few bites of food in the bowl. After he has finished, he will likely look to you for more. Add more food to the bowl. Repeat until the meal is finished.

Changing the way the dog feels

After following the guidelines above for several days, your dog should be comfortable receiving food from you and waiting for you to put food into his bowl. To move forward, for the next several days, give the dog his meal by putting the bowl down and walking away. Once or twice during the meal, approach the bowl, careful to keep a safe distance, and toss a high-value treat (something better than what is in his bowl) toward the bowl.

The treat doesn’t have to go into the bowl; somewhere in the vicinity where your dog can still see it is fine. The dog should stop eating for a moment just long enough to take the treat. In time, the dog will begin to associate your approach to getting special treats. After a few days, you should be able to come closer to the bowl and drop high-value treats directly into the bowl while your dog is eating. You may notice that your dog will look up to you expectantly. This means that he is now seeing your approach to his bowl as a positive thing, and not as a threatening gesture.

Preventing dog food aggression after treatment

Following the steps above will help ease your dog’s fear of having resources taken away from him. You should see improvement over a few weeks. You will not have to follow the steps forever; just until your dog no longer reacts negatively to your approach toward him during mealtime. However, it is important to stick to the general rule that no one is to approach the dog during his meals.

A human responsibility

It is your responsibility as a dog owner to make sure your dog feels safe in your home. Preventing food aggression in dogs comes down to you managing your dog’s environment so he does not feel the need to guard his food.

Stop Dog Food Aggression Between you and your Dog

dog food aggressionDog food aggression is a common, but serious problem with dog owners.  But preventing dog food aggression is easier than you think! First, you must understand that dogs must be allowed to eat their meals in peace, just like we humans like to eat our meals uninterrupted.

When you feed your dog, leave him to eat until he is finished.  However, you should be able to take anything away from your dog since his life may depend on it.  Also, you are the Alpha dog.

Basics on Stopping Dog Food Aggression

dog food aggressionIdeally, before you try to stop dog food aggression, you should know how to train your dog to sit.  And how to get your dog to come.  In other words, your dog should know basic dog training commands because that’s where all other training stems from.

Now, even though you should be able to take food from your dog, here are some basic do’s and don’ts when dealing with dog food aggression.

Do not allow adults, children, or other pets to approach the bowl. Do not stroke or pet your dog while he is eating. DO NOT pick up the bowl mid-meal and put it back down “to show the dog that you own the food” – that is a sure-fire way to develop dog food aggression without following these guidelines as the owner.

Treating dog food aggression

If your dog is showing signs of dog food aggression, he feels the need to protect his food.  It means he feels that his food may be taken away.

To treat dog food aggression, it is important to change the way your dog feels about your approach to his bowl. To begin, for several days, feed the dog meals by presenting an empty bowl and placing a few bites of food in the bowl.

After he has finished, he will likely look to you for more. Add more food to the bowl. Repeat until the meal is finished.

Changing the way the dog feels

dog food aggressionAfter following the guidelines above for several days, your dog should be comfortable receiving food from you and waiting for you to put food into his bowl.

To move forward, for the next several days, give the dog his meal by putting the bowl down and walking away. Once or twice during the meal, approach the bowl, careful to keep a safe distance, and toss a high-value treat (something better than what is in his bowl) toward the bowl.

The treat doesn’t you have to go into the bowl; somewhere in the vicinity where your dog can still see it is fine. The dog should stop eating for a moment just long enough to take the treat.

In time, the dog will begin to associate your approach to getting special treats. After a few days, you should be able to come closer to the bowl and drop high-value treats directly into the bowl while your dog is eating.

You may notice that your dog will look up to you expectantly. This means that he is now seeing your approach to his bowl as a positive thing, and not as a threatening gesture.

Preventing Dog Food Aggression After Treatment 

Following the steps above will help ease your dog’s fear of having resources taken away from him. You should see improvement over a few weeks.

You will not have to follow the steps forever; just until your dog no longer reacts negatively to your approach toward him during mealtime. However, it is important to stick to the general rule that no one is to approach the dog during his meals.

Get a Good Dog Training Guide to Treat Dog Food Aggression

dog food aggressionIt is your responsibility as a dog owner to make sure your dog feels safe in your home.

Preventing dog food aggression comes down to you managing your dog’s environment so he does not feel the need to guard his food.

 

An excellent dog training resource to help stop and prevent dog food aggression is Secrets to Dog Training.  It’s one of the best dog training guides online.