Food aggression in dogs


What is food aggression?

Food aggression is the expression commonly used to describe a dog growling or biting when it is confronted, or thinks it is likely to be confronted, over food.

First let me reassure you that if your dog is being aggressive over food, this behaviour CAN be resolved!

What can I do if my dog is food aggressive?

This might sound really obvious, but do not challenge the dog over food. Too many people try to get rid of food aggression by giving their dog food and then taking it away as a “training” process or by putting your hand in the dogs bowl. This is actually more likely to add to the problem, than resolve it. A big part of the problem is hierarchy. A dog believes that you eat in hierarchy order.  So if you appear to be challenging your dog for food, they will think that you want theirs so you haven’t eaten yet and therefore must be below them in the pack. If that’s the case, they may feel inclined to “tell you off” for stepping out of line by trying to take their food. Which in their world, is unacceptable behaviour.
Just think how you would feel if someone gave you your food then tried to take if off you… you would probably get a bit aggressive and defensive… the dog feels exactly the same.
Follow these simple rules:
  1. Never attempt to take food off your dog. Including if you accidentally drop something and your dog gets hold of it. The confrontation may result in a bite, and it’s not worth it!
  2. Do not stroke, or make eye contact with your dog while it is eating. Just put the dogs bowl down and walk away letting the dog eat in peace.
  3. Do not leave food lying around. Including your dog’s food and bones. If they’ve decided to walk away from it, pick it back up and put it away. If there isn’t food around, they cannot be aggressive over it!
  4. Be very clear about why they get food, and that it is coming from you. So do not go and prepare their dinner if they are pestering you to do so. Or give them treats if they are expecting them.
  5. Before you put their food down, make a point of eating a little snack, so that they can see that you have eaten before them by doing this you are using food to communicate to your dog.

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Areas I cover are:

Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Nottighamshire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Manchester, Birmingham.