Stop Food Aggression.
Food issues can be an aggressive reaction seen in dogs when they are eating meals or receiving treats. This is characterized by aggression and hostile behavior towards you or other pets.
Food aggression is actually quite common in dogs and is a form of resource guarding, Resource and food guarding is passed down through evolution, when dogs in the wild needed to protect every meal that they had. You often still see this is wild dogs and packs.
Food aggression can be a problem if the dog lives in a home with children or other small animals. This behaviour can lead to children or other pets being growled at or bitten.
So we are sharing with you steps you can take to reduce and stop food aggression in your dog.
Causes of Food Aggression. There isn’t one reason a dog may be showing food aggression, there are many common reasons.
It can be learned in puppyhood – either an accidentally by the owner or if they’ve grown up in a shelter situation where they ma competition with others for food.
Trauma can be a huge trigger for food aggression developing in older dogs. Something like losing an owner, physical abuse, or neglect.
Natural disasters or fighting with another dog can also bring on symptoms of food aggression. They become more protective over their resources, most importantly, their food.
Some breeds of dog have a predisposition to being a bit more aggressive, possessive, and dominant. This can lead to them showing pack-like behaviours around food, resources and even people.
Dogs like English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds or Rottweilers are well-known for having hereditary guarding instincts – though these instincts typically apply to livestock or property.
Signs of Food Aggression. There are a number of identifying signs of food aggression that range from mild to severe. In order to help your dog with food aggress, it’s important dog owners are away of these behaviours.
Mild – this is usually a verbal sign of food aggression. Your dog might growl when you approach their food bowl or them when they’re eating. Other mild signs are barring their teeth or raising their hackles.
Moderate – These signs are identified as your dog snaping or lunging at whomever approaches them when they are eating (person or another animal). Often accompanied by the mild signs of growling and baring teeth.
Severe – Tis can be very dangerous to people and other pets. Typically dogs with sever food aggression will bite the perceived threat and chase them away.
Food aggression can be shown by all dogs but ones who grew up or have spent time in shelters are at higher risk of showing this behaviour. It might be something they always struggle with but don’t fret, there are things you can do to help you dog.
How to Stop Food Aggression. Fear not, food aggression behaviour can be managed and even prevented. The first thing to consider (if not already done so) is to have them spayed or neutered. Hormones can play a big part in a dogs aggressive behaviour. Spaying or neutering may help stop this.
Most dogs can be trained out of food aggression using these 7 stages:
Stage 1: Get Your Dog Used To Your Presence Whilst Eating. This stage is designed to get your dog used to you being around when they are eating or receiving a treat.
Start by standing back from your dog by a few feet while they eat food from a bowl on the floor. The goal here is to have your dog eating in a relaxed manner for ten or more meals in a row before moving on to the next stage.
Stage 2: Add a Treat, Then Step Back. This stage is designed to get your go used to you being near and touching their bowl whilst they’re eating. Stand next to your dog when they’re eating then place a treat into their bowl
. Immediately after step back to your original distance from your dog and their bowl. Consistency is key here. Every day have a goal of moving forward one step.
If you are able to stand two feet away after placing a treat for ten meals in a row, your dog is ready to move on to the next stage.
Stage 3: Staying Close & Communicating. This stage is designed to introduce close contact and talking to you dog while they eat. When your dog is eating, stand close to them and give them a treat.
Speak to your dog in a conversational tone e.g. “What’re you eating? Is it nice?”. The turn and walk away from your dog. Repeat this step every few seconds.
If your dog can remain relaxed while eating for ten or more meals in a row, you can move on to the next stage of this training process.
Stage 4: Try Hand Feeding Your Dog. This stage is designed to show your dog that you are not a threat to them or their food.
Calmly walk towards your dog,, speaking to them in a conversational tone (similar to the last stage.).
Stand next to their bowl, holding your hand out with a treat to your dog. Instead of placing the treat in their bowl, encourage your dog to take the treat out of your hand.
Once you’ve done this, turn and walk away from the,. This will show your dog that you are not interested in their food, hopefully you’re walking away will drive this understand home.
Each day, try and bend down further, until your hand is right next to their bowl as your dog takes the treat. After ten meals in a relaxed manner, the next step can be made.
Stage 5: Tough Your Dogs Bowl But Take Nothing. This stage is similar to the previous one, but this time stay near your dog once you’ve given them their treat.
Again, speak to your pooch in a casual tone and offer the treat with one hand. With your other hand, touch their bowl. Importantly, don’t take any food from it. This will help your dog become comfortable with your close presence during mealtimes.
If your dog remains relaxed while eating for ten or more meals in a row, move on to the next phase of training.
Stage 6: Lift Your Dogs Bowl When Giving a Treat. This is a very important stage, designed to establish trust. You’ll be lifting their bowl when giving them their treat.
In a calm voice, talk to your dog as you pick up their food bowl. Only lift it 6-12 inches from the ground to begin with, add the treat and set the bowl back down.
Each day aim to lift their bowl higher until you can place it on a table to prepare the treat. Repeat this sequence until you are able to walk a short distance away and are able to place the bowl back in the same place from which you picked it up.
This will establish trust between you and your dog, and they should become fully comfortable eating around you by the end of this step.
Stage 7: Repeat This Process With Each Member Of The Family. The final stage is to repeat stages 1-6 with every member of your household. As your dog become comfortable with each person being near then when they eat, their food aggression behaviours should decline or stop completely.
Note: While your pup may be comfortable eating around you, they may not be around other family members or guests that visit your home. In this case, try creating a safe environment for your pup to eat. This includes separate bowls for each pet, separating them at mealtimes, or providing a gated area.
Your dog is a hungry one, and usually just wants to feel comfortable when enjoying a meal. If your efforts are not working, you can always consult your vet or a local trainer for advice.
Please do bear in mind that everything in this post is strictly advisory and has been gathered from various reputable sources from the internet. We’re not vets, and you should always seek professional advice if you ever have concerns.