The first step is to determine whether your dog’s food aggression is a low, moderate, or high level. For high level cases you should consulting a professional until you can get the dog’s behavior down to a manageable level. Some dogs are dominant aggressive while others are fearfully aggressive. When you have a dominant dog it is best to assert yourself as a calm and dominant leader. But with fearful dogs you need to help build their confidence and teach them not to be fearful of people being in the room.
Food aggression can lead to overall resource guarding (beds, toys, people, etc). So it is very important you follow the advice of a trained professional when it comes to getting help with your dog & to follow the steps below.
Consistency is Very Important
Everyone in your home needs to be ‘on the same page’ and understand each step you take to help guide your dog into the most successful behaviors. Feeding time should always be at the same times every day. This way your dog knows their food is coming again at regular intervals.
When feeding your dog you should have some control over the food at all times. Your dog should see you feeding them as a reward and not something they need to guard from you. Your dog should never be allowed to hover over their bowl and win the battle. A good tip for winning in this battle is to use a broom handle to slide the bowl away from your dog or to back your dog away from their bowl, if they are growling, hovering, and guarding their food. Never reach down to grab anything with your hand while your dog is guarding it (bowl, treats, toys, etc).
Eating First & Giving Space at Meal Time
This may seem like gibberish but when it comes to dogs they understand the hierarchy in a home is demonstrated at meal time. They should eat their food only after everyone in your home has finished eating and left the dinner table. Having your own space during meal time is also something dogs understand when given the direction they need and crave. Simply having your dog sitting in the adjacent room from you is hugely helpful. Your dog’s entitlement to being in your personal space, begging, and possibly touching you as you eat is simply not ok.
Being Present Around the Bowl
Starting by hand feeding your dog is generally the first step in being able to get close to your dog’s food. They will see that you are going to keep giving them food and that as long as they aren’t showing aggression you plan to keep giving them food.
Trading the food for something your dog finds irresistible is also a good technique. Stand a couple feet from the food bowl and show your dog the treats you have for a trade. Having your dog sit as you step sideways between them and the bowl while giving them the irresistible treats is a good way to trade. Then keep your dog sitting while you pick up the bowl and offer it to them again. Then leave the room.
You can also drop treats in or around your dog’s bowl when it is not food time. This shows your dog that you are inviting them to eat on your terms, and some very delicious things, without there being a conflict and that people around their bowl is ok.
Want more help? Fill out the form through our Contact Us tab to tell us what your dog is doing and how we can help. Thank you for reading our blog post. If you’s like to suggest another topic or have any advice for us please email us at Paws@MXPets.com. Have a great day!
~ Nikki Johnson