Food aggression is a very common problem in a pet dog and can also be a dangerous problem within the pet home and human relationship. Here are some useful tips on how to deal with this behaviour. However, if your dog has already established this behaviour to the point where it becomes dangerous, seek help from a professional dog trainer or behaviourist.
Why do dogs protect their food?
- As with a dog or wolf pack, your dog doesn’t know when he will get more food - it’s a natural instinct for the dog to protect his food in order to survive
- The pack structure or leadership may not be a clear understanding with you and your dog
- Your dog may feel threatened or insecure whilst eating
- Your dog has learnt an unwanted behaviour which has not been resolved
A way to prevent food aggression at a young age
- You can make your dog sit and stay before you place the food bowl down, and make him wait until you give him a command to go to the food
- Praise your dog while feeding, to build trust and to get your dog used to you being nearby
- You may feed your dog in different places to prevent him guarding a whole area
- You can throw a treat into his food bowl while walking past. Your dog will associate something positive with being approached by people.
A way to stop food aggression
- You can remove your dog’s food bowl from the floor between meals. Once it’s feeding time, place the empty food bowl on the floor. Your dog will realise there’s nothing in it and will look at you.
- Place a small amount of food in the bowl then move a couple a steps away. Repeat this until your dog has finished eating, then remove the bowl again until his next meal.
- Place a lead on your dog and have some treats in your hand. Let the dog eat out of his normal food bowl, then step back and call your dog. You might have to pull on the lead to enforce the “come” command. Reward the dog with some treats and let him return to his food. This will allow the dog to get used to being called and interacted with without causing fear of losing the food.