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When dogs display food aggression to another pet, it’s almost understandable. But, when your dog guards his food from you, the one that provided it to him, it can be a little confusing. You give him the food and he suddenly snarls and growls at you, obviously considering you a threat to his food resource. That simply does not make any sense, right?
The Root of the Matter
When your dog positions himself right between you and his food, as if telling you “This is mine, go away!,” you have to understand that he is actually saying that he is the alpha dog and the leader in your household. Dog food aggression, also referred to as food guarding is a dominance issue. It is a serious problem and needs to be addressed as soon as possible as it will never simply just go away.
Basic Training Techniques
To aid you in overcoming your pet’s food aggression, try to work towards reconditioning him. This can be attained by employing the tricks below:
1. Mix it up by showing your dog who really is the boss. Be firm and consistent at giving commands and in helping him establish appropriate canine behaviors.
2. Hand-feed your dog. You should eventually be able to stick your hands into his food bowl as he eats without any sign of dog aggression. Not that you’d want to, but he shouldn’t feel threatened if you do.
3. Stroke and pet your dog while he is eating. Also, talk to him with a calm tone. This is to show your dog that having you around while he’s eating is a good thing.
4. Initially stand at a distance that your dog seems to be comfortable with. Gradually reduce this gap as you flick some treats in or near his food bowl.
5. Put the food bowl down with nothing in it. Your dog may look at you as though you are foolish. He will eventually beg you to draw closer and then fill his bowl.
6. Feed your pet as usual, but try to hold back some pieces of his meal. When he is done licking his bowl, he will look back up at you. That’s the time you can come over and offer him the remaining pieces of his food.
7. Drop a handful of your dog’s favorite treats into his food bowl every time you walk past it. After some time of doing this, your dog will surely be grateful for the mere sight of you coming up to the bowl.
8. When your dog is eating, try to call him over towards you. When he gets to you, immediately reward him something that would certainly make it worth his while. Let him go back to the bowl.
9. To control your dog’s meal time, at the same time, establish or re-establish your role as the household leader, put him in a sit or down-stay position when you prepare his meal. Release your dog from the command only when you have already put the bowl down.
Finally, always be careful. If you think your dog poses any real physical danger to you and your family, seek professional help. Talk to an experienced dog trainer or expert animal behaviorist for advise and recommendations. With a lot of patience and persistence, it is possible to make dinner time a positive experience for you both.