Authored by Mary Beth Miller via FetchFind
Food aggression is a useful response in the wild, but an undesirable and dangerous behavior for domestic pets to display.
In the wild, a dog will protect his food, mate or den from others within the pack to protect what is his and claim his dominance. But at home, this make for some scary — and even dangerous — behavior.
A domesticated dog that shows food aggression poses a risk for the owner, children and even other pets in the house. If not dealt with, food aggression can worsen over time, and your dog can begin showing aggressive behavior towards everything he owns.
Food aggression in pets is dangerous and it is crucial for you to learn how to stop it.
Recognizing Food Aggression
There are three levels of canine food aggression:
1. Mild Aggression: the dog displays his teeth and growls.
2. Moderate Aggression: the dog will lunge towards the approaching person and snap at them.
3. Severe: the dog will bite when approached.
You can recognize food aggression by observing your dog's stance as he eats. He’ll appear stiff, hovering over his food bowl with his head down. His ears may be laid back, his hackles will be raised and the tail will be lowered.
This is all his way of saying, “This is mine, stay back!”
How To Stop Food Aggression
The first step in stopping your dog’s aggressive behavior is to determine why he's being that way. A naturally dominant dog will show aggressive behavior towards toys, bedding and food.
A timid dog acts aggressively because he's afraid his food is not safe, or that someone will take it from him.
Lastly, determine what level of food aggression your dog is displaying. If it's severe, consult a dog behavior specialist to prevent personal injury.
If your dog has a mild or moderate food aggression, here are some steps you can take to stopping canine food aggression:
Step 1: Feed your dog at the same time, in the same place, every day.
Dogs are pretty good at knowing when it’s time to get fed and a timid, aggressive dog will feel safe in knowing his meal will be there every day for him.
Step 2: Walk or exercise your dog before he eats.
Food aggression could be linked to your dog’s natural hunting instinct, and his aggression could be linked to those suppressed instincts.
Wear that aggression out of your pooch by taking him on a long walk before dinner, instead of after a meal.
Step 3: Make your dog wait for his meal.
Tell Fido to sit or stay outside the room in which you feed him. Do not let your dog come into the room until you have filled his food bowl.
Tell Fido to come into the room, while you stand beside his food bowl. Remain by his bowl until he's been eating for a while. This not only reinforces your status as the "alpha" in the house; it also reinforces the idea that his food is safe around humans.
By using the steps listed above every day, your dog’s food aggression will become absent in his behavior and you can feel safe feeding your dog around others.
For your safety, always consult a professional if you feel your dog’s aggression has become too severe for you correct.