Help… My Dog is Food Aggressive

April 24th, 2016

homemade doggy birthday cakeIf your dog is food aggressive, it can end up being a huge issue at home. When your dog protects his food, you or another dog can get bit in the process and can lead to your dog protecting other things besides food as well.

There are three degrees of food aggression in dogs:

  • Mild: he growls or shows his teeth.
  • Moderate: he snaps or lunges when approached
  • Severe: he bites you or another dog

What to do about it

First, assess your dog’s behavior. Is he aggressive during a certain time of day, or around another animal, or with toys as well? Once you have figured out the habits of your dog’s aggression, you can start to deal with it.

Be consistent

If your dog’s aggression is a result of anxiety over when the next meal is coming, make sure you feed your dog at the same time, morning and night, every day.

Have her work for it 

Put your dog in a down while you’re making her food, preferably in another room than you feed her in. Keep her in a down even after you’ve set the bowl down. Once you’ve put the bowl down, stay close to her food and release her from the down. Once she’s eating, you can leave.

Make sure you eat first

In the wild, alpha dogs eat before everyone else. It should be the same way at home. You and your family can eat dinner first, and after you’re finished, feed your dogs. This will reinforce your status as the Pack Leader.

Feeding tricks

Hand feeding: Start by giving your dog dinner by hand. This gets your dog used to combining your scent with his food, giving him a positive association between the two. Eventually, the idea is that he’ll release any aggression of your hands near his food or his face while he’s eating.

Treat tossing: While your dog is eating, put her favorite treats into the bowl so she’ll learn that people mean treats, not a threat. You can also put treats in her bowl during non-meal times so she associates people going towards her bowl as a good thing.

Food Upgrade: While your dog is eating, approach her with something better, like peanut butter or steak. See if she’ll eat your treat instead of her food. This will help her learn that no one approaching is going to steal her food if she looks away. It will also teach her that when she stops obsessing over her food bowl, she gets rewarded.

Establish yourself as a pack leader by practicing those techniques and slowly your dog will release his food aggression.