Why My Dog Is Aggressive About Food? | Dogalize
To be aggressive about food means that your dog becomes very defensive when eating and shows aggression to protect food. This behavior can be dangerous for other dogs or humans, since they can be bitten, but over time it can lead to the dog becoming possessive over everything.
For a dominant dog, showing food aggression is a form of dominance, but for dogs with a lower pack position, it can be a sign of anxiety or fearfulness. Remember, in the wild, dogs never know where or when their next meal will be, so it’s very instinctual for them to gobble up whatever food there is whenever they have it — and to protect it from anything that approaches.
What can be done about it?
Feed your dog at regular times
Dogs have a very good internal clock, and with consistency, they quickly learn how to tell when it’s time to get up, time to go for a walk, or time for the people to come home. Mealtime should be no different. Be regular in feeding to take away the anxiety.
Make your dog “work” for food
Always feed your dog after the walk, never before. This fulfills his instinct to hunt for food, so he’ll feel like he’s earned it when you come home. Also, exercising a dog after he eats can be dangerous, even leading to life-threatening conditions like bloat.
Education before eating
Before you even begin to prepare your dog’s food, make her sit or lie down and stay, preferably just outside of the room you feed her in. Train her to stay even after you’ve set the bowl down and, once the bowl is down, stand close to it as you release her from the stay and she begins eating, at which point you can then move away.
Pack leader eats first
Remember, when a wild pack has a successful hunt, the alpha dogs eat first, before everyone else, and it should be no different in a human/dog pack. Never feed your dog before or while the humans are eating. Humans eat first and then, when they’re finished, the dogs eat. This will reinforce your status as the Pack Leader.
Don’t move away
Food aggression can actually be made worse if you back away from the bowl, because that’s what your dog wants. For every time that you do walk away when the dog is showing food aggression, the dog “wins.” The reward is the food and this just reinforces the aggression.
Here are some of the techniques you can use to teach your she wins when she let you come near her while eating:
- Hand feeding: Start your dog’s meal by giving him food by hand, and use your hands to put the food in the bowl, which will give it your scent. The goal is to get your dog used to eating while your hands are around his face, and to have no aggressive reaction if you stick your hands in or near the bowl while he’s eating.
- Treat tossing: Drop your dog’s favorite treats into the bowl while she’s eating so she’ll learn that people approaching the bowl is a good thing and not a threat. You can also put treats into the bowl when you walk near it and she’s not eating. This reinforces the connection in your dog’s mind that people near her bowl is good.
- “Trade-Up”: When your dog is eating his regular food, approach him with something better, like meat or a special treat. The goal here is to get your dog to stop eating his food to take the treat from you. This teaches your dog several things. One is that no one is going to steal his food if he looks away from it. The other is that removing his attention from his food when people come around leads to a reward.