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If your dog is like most dogs, he loves to eat! Food aggression (or food guarding) is a type of resource guarding where your dog gets very defensive around his food, displaying threatening behavior when humans or another animal approach. It becomes serious of your dog threatens to bite or the possessiveness extends to other people, objects or places as well.

If the condition is minor, your dog will growl and bare his teeth. Major? He is ready to bite your head off!

Reasons for Food Aggression
Food aggression may have begun when your dog was a puppy. He may have had to fight his littermates for a place to nurse. Similarly, breeders who feed their weaned puppies from a single bowl can intensify the needs for pups to “fight” for food.

Strays dogs may have had to forage for food. They may have had to fight off other strays for limited food resources. He may see others in the pack – including humans – as competition for food, so he learns to guard the food available. Even though you are not interested in his food, your dog may still see you as a threat and act aggressively about food.

Too many dogs may have been starved or neglected. Or the food may not have contained enough nutrients.

Does your dog’s body stiffen while he eats? Does he hover over his bowl? Are his ears held back, his tail lowered, and his fur rising?  These are all signs that your dog may be food aggressive.

Managing Food Aggression
As a Cocoa Beach dog trainer, I can help you figure out “why” your dog is food aggressive. Getting to the root of the problem helps us learn techniques for overcoming it. We can put together a plan to teach him that his food supply is not in jeopardy.

  • Is your dog getting the right nutrition? Changing his diet may eliminate the food aggression.
  • Is mealtime relaxed? Make sure no one interferes with your dog while he is eating, and do not try to take food away from him once he has begun eating.
  • As the “pack leader”, you should determine where and when your dog eats. Ignore him if he begins begging for his food.
  • Consider scatter feeding your dog. Scattered food appeals to your dog’s instinct to forage. Dogs enjoy looking for food on the ground and can literally spend hours doing so. Scatter a variety of foods – raw vegetables, kibbles, and other food that won’t attract wasps or bugs. Try hiding some treats so your dog spends extra time looking for them.
  • Don’t feed your dog in a corner so your dog doesn’t feel threatened or trapped.
  • Teaching your dog basic obedience skills will go a long way in gaining control of your dog’s food aggression. Use simple commands such as “leave it”, starting with items he may like but doesn’t consider important. Gain better control of him around food by teaching him to “sit” or “wait” for a treat at supper.
  • If you need your dog to move away from food or another item, call him away from the item rather than approaching him.
  • If you have more than one dog and they are fighting over food, make sure you feed them far away from each other until they have been re-trained.

Food aggression is just one form of dog aggression. I can help you with fear aggression, dog-on-dog aggression, dog-on- human aggression and more.  Feel free to call me or email me. I’ll be happy to help you with your dog’s mis-behaviors!

 

 

 

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