How to Control Food Aggression in Dogs 

How to Control Food Aggression in Dogs 

Have you ever given Fido a bowl of food only to have him growl and snap at you? Food protection issues are a serious problem and it can worsen if you don’t take steps to control food aggression in dogs. In this article, we will explore ways to manage the canine behavioral problem 

What Causes Food Aggression in Dogs?

Food aggression is a dog’s way of acting territorial. The pooch will guard his food with a vehemence. Studies reveal that up to 20 percent of dogs display some form of food aggression. It is believed that the guarding actions are a result of a canine’s wild heritage when they needed to protect their food from possible intruders or other pack members. A dog will guard whatever he believes is valuable and food is considered a high-value item in a dog’s mind. Sadly, food aggression can be dangerous, especially if you have young children who might not heed the dog’s growl and still reach for the food. In some situations, the dog will bite to protect the tasty morsel. 

Control Food Aggression

There is no overnight fix for food aggression. It is going to take time, patience, and diligence to control unwanted defensive behavior. 

Spend Time with Your Dog While It Eats

You want your dog to become used to your presence while they enjoy a meal. Stand a few feet away from Fido while they eat from a bowl on the floor. You want your dog to relax and become accustomed to your presence. Once the dog stops growling, it is time to move closer. Take a step a day closer to your dog. 

Provide a Treat

As you move nearer to your eating dog daily, toss a treat in the food bowl when your pooch does not growl at you. However, if he continues to growl at you, do not give him a treat and do not move near.

Stand Close and Talk

After about 10 days of moving closer to your furry friend, you should be able to stand close enough to the dog to talk softly. Toss the occasional treat and watch while he eats his food. Try to carry on a conversation. Walk away from the dog and then return slowly. 

Hand Feed

It’s time to try to hand feed a treat to your dog when he no longer growls at you. Instead of tossing the treat into the dog’s bowl, hold it out in front of him and offer the morsel. Provide lots of words of encouragement to make your pooch take the bite of food from your hand. As soon as your dog takes the food, turn around and walk away. Ignore the dog. You want him to understand that you give the food and you have no interest in taking it away. 

Touch the Bowl and Lift it Up

Once your dog is no longer growling at you, it’s time to reach out and touch the bowl with your hand. If everything goes okay. Try to slowly lift the bowl. Do not take it away. Just handle the bowl. If your pooch does not growl, then offer a tasty treat. 

When your dog finally accepts you touching his bowl and spending time with him while he eats then the next step is to see if he is as accepting of other family members. If he growls or snaps at them then they will need to work with him in a similar manner to control the aggressive behavior. 

Learning how to control food aggression in a dog does take time, but it can be conquered with love and patience. 

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