Does your dog suffer from food aggression? Failure to to correct the behavior can lead to a deadly or dangerous situation. Sure, your dog may be gentle and well mannered most of the time, but as soon as food enters the picture, they turn into a wild animal with no sympathy for the “thieves” trying to take their treasure. As a dog owner, you should be able to touch your dog’s food and hang out near their bowl without receiving any stares or growls. If you catch your dog sneaking off with their treat in their mouth and their tail and ears hanging low, you may have a food aggression problem.
So, let’s take a look at why dogs develop food aggression in the first place.
Your Alpha Dog Role Has Been Revoked. Many times a dog will begin developing food aggression simply because they believe they are the alpha dog. When wild dogs and wolves roam in packs in their natural environment, the alpha is the one who gets first pick during meal time. Other pack members get their share only after the alpha has finished. If your pup doesn’t see you as the alpha dog, they will only see you as a thief that is trying to steal their food from them.
Tips to Correct the Food Aggression Problem:
Any kind of aggressive behavior exhibited by your dog should be corrected immediately. While it’s always a good idea to keep any toddlers away from the dog while they’re eating, you should never have to fear your dog, whether they’re eating, playing or gnawing on a bone. If your dog is very aggressive, it’s probably best to get in touch with a local trainer that can work closely with you. Otherwise, here are some tips on how you can reverse the behavior:
Establish a feeding time and stick with it. Choose a time of day that is quiet to allow the dog to eat in a peaceful, calm environment. Trying to feed the dog while the kids are rushing off to school will only create stress and put Fido on edge. If they can relax, and eat in peace, they will be less inclined to be aggressive.
Start out by leaving an empty bowl on the floor right before feeding time. Any food that touches that bowl should be put there by you and your dog needs to see you putting it there. This will help ensure that your dog understands that you are the one that provides the food. Start placing small handfuls of food into the bowl. Don’t add any more handfuls until the previous one has been eaten. After awhile, your dog will be more than happy to have you near their food bowl.
After your dog is okay with you handling their food and being near their bowl, you can then begin giving them a full bowl of food. Make sure that you only give your dog the full bowl after you’ve given them a sit or stay command. The food should remain untouched until you give the command for them to eat. Telling them, “Okay,” should suffice.
To help reinforce your authority, try calling your dog over while they are eating from time to time. Don’t forget to treat them each time they follow through with the command.
Remember, it takes time to change a dog’s behavior. Give each step two weeks before moving on the next. Some dogs may need more time, so don’t rush the process. Be patient and diligent! If things get out of hand, or you have difficulty resolving the situation, contact a certified dog trainer for help.