Overcoming Food Aggression in Dogs
Food aggression is probably one of the most misunderstood behavioral problems. If you find yourself struggling with understanding and dealing with food aggression, this is the right article for you.
What is Food Aggression in Dogs
Food aggression is a completely normal and natural behavior that originates from the times when dogs, or perhaps their ancestors, lived in packs in the wild. Food aggression is not really a behavioral problem, but it indeed is an unwanted behavior that can be prevented as well as reversed with the right training.
You are not just your dog’s best friend. You have to be his leader too. When your dog starts to perceive you as a leader he benefits from and a leader than he can trust completely, he will no longer feel the need to protect his food from you. Though food aggression is the most visible symptom of a broken relationship, the problems comes down to the broken relationship at the end. Growling and barking is your dog’s language, a form of communication. It’s his way of telling you that you have to start treating him differently.
How to Overcome Food Aggression
The key to overcoming food aggression is to teach your dog that you are a leader that he can trust and to let him know that you’ll always provide him with a sufficient amount of food.
The most obvious step is to make sure your dog gets enough of food in regular intervals. Let him enjoy his food. If he growls or shows teeth while eating respect that and give him more space.
Your dog has to know that you are the one who gives him food. And that he can feel safe around you. A dog that feels the need to protect his food from you clearly doesn’t trust you. Use positive reinforcement and force free training to communicate with your dog. You can also give him all of his food as rewards during training.
When your dog trusts you enough try adding more food into his bowl WHILE he’s eating. You can also try to take away his food in exchange for HIGHER VALUE food. For example, you can take away kibble from him, if you reward him with a big stake immediately afterwards. Always respect your dog’s communication and feelings!
Give your dog and your relationship time. It may take a while to build a strong relationship, but it’s totally worth it. The more compassion, understanding, patience and love you show during the process, the faster you’ll be able to see the results.
Don’t take food aggression personally. Rather take it as a warning and encouragement to be more mindful about the issues you have with your dog. Food aggression is natural and your dog still loves you as a best friend. Time to show him that you are more than his best friend, you are his leader!