Food aggression in dogs is a common behavior. Dogs become aggressive towards other dogs, or even humans when they’re eating or around food. We are going to discuss how to stop food aggression in dogs.
It is a very dangerous behavior, which must be nipped in the bud – so to speak!
If you don’t, they may end up biting someone really badly.
It’s important to note that this is not the same as general aggression where dogs bite or attack for no clear reason.
Food aggression is a natural instinct, so it may be more difficult to fix.
It is best to start training your dog not to be aggressive with food as early as possible.
If you start giving a puppy food and then taking it away frequently while they are still young pups, most dogs will never develop this type of aggression.
For a puppy, it is important to not only give and take food but also pet and touch the dog while they are eating.
When possible, have multiple people do this, including kids. This will ensure that your dog grows up understanding that he can be touched while he is eating.
If your dog is already showing signs of food aggression, it is important to do something as quickly as possible.
To avoid getting hurt by large dogs it might be necessary to find a professional to help you through this process.
WARNING! Dogs that are aggressive around food can, and will, bite!
If your dog is not too big, or you’re not worried about your dog actually biting, you can follow these tips on how to stop food aggression in dogs.
Steps to stop food aggression in dogs:
1) Use food your dog likes but doesn’t love.
When first starting out it is best to use food that your dog likes but does not love.
Their regular dry dog food is good to start off with.
Modify your behavior first!
Most dogs know the signs that they are going to get fed and will start getting excited.
Don’t let your dog come close to you while you’re preparing his food.
Keep your dog sitting or lying down at least a few feet away from you.
Don’t let them get excited.
For a lot of dogs, this will take quite a bit of doing the first few tries, but it’s very important.
2) Calm your dog and approach with their food
Once your dog is calm, and you have his food in his dish, you can approach your dog with the food.
This is an important part!
Since you are showing your dog that the food is yours and you will bring it to him, he should not come to get it from you.
Throughout this step, your dog should stay calm and submissive.
If your dog is calm, then set the food down and let him begin eating.
After the first couple of bites of food, step close to your dog.
This step should be done confidently and do not show any fear to the dog.
3) Approach and step into his eating area
By stepping into his eating area you may trigger some growling or barking, do NOT step back.
If you are able to safely discipline the dog for barking and growling you can do that now. However, don’t risk getting bitten.
If your dog feels you’re gonna take his food he will stop eating to protect it.
Let him growl and bark until he gets tired of it. This can take anywhere from a few seconds to ten or more minutes.
When he starts to relax, he will either submit (this is what you want) or he will try to start eating again.
4) Taking another step toward him
If, and when, he starts eating again, take another step toward him.
Repeat the above process until your dog submits to you, or you’re standing between your dog and the food.
What you are doing here is claiming the food as your own.
Your dog should not see the food as his, but rather as your food which you are allowing him to eat.
This will also help establish you as the leader of his pack. This will help in other training areas as well!
5) Pick up the food
Once your dog has submitted, by either laying down, being calm, or trying to walk away you can pick up the food.
At this point, you start the process over.
Only allow him to finish eating if he is calm and allows you to be near him while he eats.
This process should be followed EVERY time you feed your dog until you are confident he is no longer food aggressive.
Then you only need to do it a few times per week to ensure he does not go back to the same behavior.
6) Moving on from dog food to more high-value foods
When you are comfortable with his behavior with dry food, it is time to move on to something he wants more such as a bone or some meat.
This will kick in those natural instincts in a much stronger way!
Simply repeat the process above until your dog shows no aggression no matter what type of food he has.
The whole process can take weeks, or even months, to get through for some dogs.
But, it’s very important to stop this behavior.
A dog who is being aggressive with his food can be extremely dangerous and should not be tolerated.
With commitment and patience, any owner can train any dog to be calm and submissive while he is eating.
We’ve had a few issues here as we have adopted various dogs into the pack. From experience, food aggression seems worse with dogs that have been surviving on their own with little food.
However, those issues were resolved quickly by working with them and providing lots of patience and love.
Always go slow and be safe. If you feel like you need help with your dog’s food aggression, don’t hesitate to look for professional help!