How To Stop Food Aggression In Dogs

Does your dog seem upset when you or somebody is around his/her food bowl? If so, that is because your dog is what I would describe as being food aggressive. That is when a dog is being protective of his/her food from anything that he/she perceives as threatening the food that he/she has. This can be especially dangerous if you have any small children within your household.

If your dog exhibits any aggressive behaviors including growling, snapping, lungeing, or even biting whenever his/her food is approached, that likely means that your dog needs to be trained. So, I will show you how to stop food aggression in dogs. Before I get started though, let me explain a little bit more about why dogs feel the need to be food aggressive.

The need to guard their food stem from how the dogs survive out in the wild. Dogs who live in the wild need to fend for themselves by hunting for their own food. In the wild, it is customary for the leader of a dog pack to be the first dog to feast on the food following a successful hunt. Also, because of the need to hunt for food in the wild, dogs don’t know when their next meal will be.

Because of that, dogs in a pack need to protect the food that they do have in order to ensure that the food will be there for them to eat. So, that is the mindset behind a dog’s aggressive behavior around his/her food. With that in mind, here is how you can stop this behavior at home with your dog.

(Photo courtesy of Tiia Monto via Wikimedia)

1. Be Consistent With Meal Schedule

Your dog will become anxious about his/her food if he/she can’t tell for sure when the next meal will be made available to him/her. That can trigger your dog’s food aggression behavior. For example, if you served your dog his breakfast at eight 0’clock in the morning today and then serve it at eleven o’clock in the morning the next day, your dog can’t predict when he/she can eat breakfast because the meal times for breakfast varies too much day to day.

You want your dog to feel confident about when he/she will eat his next meal. So, if you are going to serve your dog breakfast at eight o’clock in the morning, stick to that time every morning. If you are going to serve your dog dinner at six o’clock at night, stay with that time every night. You will also want to feed your dog two meals per day so that he/she doesn’t have to worry about having to wait a long time before his/her next meal.

2. Show Your Dog You Are The Leader

Dogs feel the need to be food aggressive in order to establish dominance over their food. In fact, that is how dogs who are pack leaders think. So, you want to dominate your dog and I don’t mean that in a mean or cruel way.

Have Your Dog Exercise Before Meal

Before you feed your dog a meal, you want to have your dog exercise first. That will show your dog that he/she has to work for his/her food in a similar fashion to hunting for food in the wild. In addition to that, exercising will also help your dog to become relaxed which tends to lead to a better behaved dog. So, take your dog out for a walk in your neighborhood for anywhere from thirty minutes up to an hour.

When you are walking your dog, you want him/her to heel which means that he/she is to walk right at your side. Doing that will help to improve the outcome of his/her workout. You can also get your dog to exercise by playing a game of frisbee. With frisbee, the idea is that you throw the disc shaped thing across the air and your dog has to run in order to catch it, helping him/her to exercise his/her body.

If your dog doesn’t know how to catch a frisbee, you can train him/her how to do so. I recommend that you play with a soft frisbee as so not to stress your dog’s teeth when he/she is catching and holding it with his/her mouth. The Hyper Pet Flippy Flopper Dog Frisbee should do it for the game

Make Your Dog Sit And Stay

(Photo courtesy of Steven-L-Johnson via Flickr)

As soon as you are getting ready to serve your dog his/her meal, you want to have him/her sit down and stay first. So, if you don’t know how to get your dog to sit and stay, you can get started by going here. I would suggest doing that just outside of the room where he/she will be eating. Once your dog is in position, you can go ahead and prepare the meal for him/her.

When preparing the meal for your dog, I recommend that you use your own hands to put the food into the bowl as that will put your scent on the food. That will help to put your dog at ease because he/she can see that his/her food has already been touched and he/she won’t be worried that the food will be taken from him/her. So, don’t use any silverware at all.

Once you have brought out the food bowl into the room, you can set your dog free to eat his/her food. Stand by the food bowl until just after your dog has began eating, then you can step aside. Doing all of that will help your dog to see that you are in fact the provider of meals for him/her.

Only Feed Your Dog After You Have Eaten

You only want to serve your dog a meal after you have already eaten a meal yourself. Remember that in the wild, the leader of a pack of dogs gets to eat first. So, if you serve your dog a meal before you have eaten yourself, he/she may think that he/she is the pack leader. So, serve yourself a meal first and then you can feed your dog his/her meal. That will allow your dog to see that you are the pack leader which means that you get to eat first.

3. Place A Treat Into Your Dog’s Food Bowl

(Photo courtesy of Tambako The Jaguar via Flickr)

If your dog is currently eating his/her meal and you are approaching the food bowl, he/she may start to panic at the prospect of you taking the bowl with food still in it. So, you will want to establish trust with your dog and the best way to do that is with delicious treats. So, when you are approaching the food bowl while your dog is eating, all that you need to do is to show your dog a treat and then drop it into his/her food bowl.

You will also want to put another treat into the bowl once your dog has finished eating his/her meal and let him/her eat the treat before you take the bowl away. I would suggest that you do all that with each meal for at least a week until your dog starts to trust that you won’t be a threat to his/her food if you approach the food bowl while he/she is eating.

Canine Carry Outs Dog Treats is a great option for treating your dog during and after his/her meal. They are quite soft and comes in different flavors like hot dog, chicken, and bacon and cheese.

These are my tips for how you can go about how to stop food aggression in dogs. What are your thoughts? Does your dog trust you not to take food away from him/her while he/she is eating? Feel free to leave a comment down below.

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