How to Stop Food Aggression in Dogs?

How to Stop Food Aggression in Dogs?
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Dogs, like any other type of pet, are capable of exhibiting territorial behavior, particularly when it comes to meals.

Dogs who have food aggression tend to display behaviors that indicate they are defensive over their food.

There are various reasons why this could become a problem: first, the people who live with the dog could be at risk of getting bitten, and second, it could cause your dog to become possessive in other aspects of its life. All these lead us to find solutions on how to stop food aggression in your dogs.

There are strategies on how to stop food aggression in dogs, including providing them with the appropriate training and taking steps to manage their behavior.

You also have the option of taking action to avoid it happening completely. Continue reading if you want to learn more.

What is Food Aggression in Dogs?

When a dog is consuming meals or rewards, they might develop a territorial reaction called food aggression, which causes them to behave aggressively to protect their meal or treat.

 According to the findings of one study, approximately twenty percent of all dogs exhibit behaviors consistent with food aggressiveness.

Food aggression in dogs is a sort of resource guarding, a habit passed down through generations of canines since they needed to protect every food or resource they had during the course of evolution.

In most cases, dogs will only guard what they believe to be valuable. As a consequence of this, the resources that they guard can vary.

However, food is one of the most typical ones. This could be food in their bowls, food that has fallen to the ground during mealtimes, scraps in garbage cans, or food prepared on the counter.

This defensive tendency can become a problem in a household where children are present if the dog in question is food aggressive.

Children, especially younger children, have a more challenging time understanding the indications of guarding, and they may entirely ignore them if they do.

This is especially true for older children. It’s possible that a child could get hissed at or even bitten as a result of this.

It’s not just youngsters that need to be aware of this protective behavior; adults can also get caught in the crossfire. It all comes down to the dog’s level of self-assurance in their ability to eat with no problems, as well as their level of ease in their environment and among the people that share their home.

Causes of Food Aggression in Dogs

Not a single, easily identifiable factor leads to food aggression in dogs. However, here are some of the most widespread explanations:

  • It is possible to learn it as a young puppy, either by unintentional training tactics or through the necessity to compete for limited resources in an environment such as a shelter.
  • It is also possible for dogs to develop food aggressiveness later in their lives. Experiencing a traumatic event, such as the demise of a carer, the infliction of physical abuse or neglect, a natural disaster, or a battle with another dog, might bring on the signs of food aggression. They develop a more conservative attitude toward their resources, most particularly the food that they have.
  • Some dog breeds have a hereditary trait to exhibit dominant or aggressive behaviors and may have a group mentality that causes them to guard their food. Although these instincts usually pertain to cattle or property, certain breeds of dogs, such as English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers, are well-known for their innate ability to protect their owners and their territory.

Competition for available resources such as beds, treats, potential mates, and food can be one of the causes of food aggression in dogs.

Dogs that have spent long periods in a shelter may be at a higher risk of experiencing this resource guarding tendency due to the increased likelihood that they will have experienced this competition.

Signs of Food Aggression in Dogs

A few telltale indications can be used to diagnose food aggression in dogs, and they are broken down into three levels of dangerousness: mild, moderate, and severe.

Verbal cues are the most reliable indicators of a less severe form of food aggression in dogs. Your dog might growl at you when you get too close to their food while eating. It is also possible for them to raise their hackles or display their teeth as a form of warning.

When a person or another dog approaches a dog with moderate food aggression, the dog may snap or lunge at the approaching person or dog.

Dogs with severe food aggressiveness are more likely to bite or chase away perceived threats, which puts the safety of humans and other animals in peril.

How to Prevent Food Aggression in Dogs?

Suppose your dog is showing any of these indicators. In that case, you can take comfort in the fact that this aggressive behavior can be controlled and even avoided entirely with proper training and socialization.

First things first, you should consider having your dog spayed or neutered. It is possible that hormones are to blame for aggressive behavior; spaying or neutering your pet could help minimize these inclinations.

Training is another treatment option that one can consider. Many dogs with food aggression can undergo a training sequence laid out in seven steps. 

This training sequence focuses on desensitization and counterconditioning to make your dog feel more at ease when eating near people. Take action to put an end to your dog’s food hostility by following these seven steps:

1. The First Step on How to Stop Food Aggression in Dogs is to Get Your Dog Habituated to Your Presence When Eating

In this phase, you will become familiar with your dog’s presence while eating their meals or rewards. This step focuses on familiarizing your dog with your presence.

Keep a few feet away from your dog while they consume food from a bowl on the ground. Before going on to the next stage in this training method, it is essential to make sure that your dog has consumed all of its meals in a calm and collected manner for at least ten consecutive meals.

2. The Next Step on How to Stop Food Aggression in Your Dogs is to Include a Delectable Dessert, Then Take a Step Back

Build upon the first step by placing a delectable treat inside their bowl and then quickly retracing your steps to the distance you were standing before you set the treat.

Your dog is ready to advance to the next level when you can place a treat on the floor ten times in a row while remaining two feet away from him.

3. Proceed to Step Three, Where You Will Get Close to Your Dog and Chat With Him

At this stage, the emphasis is placed on personal interaction and communication. You should stand next to your dog while it consumes the food from the bowl and give it a special treat at the same time. 

After giving your dog the treat, turn your back on them and start walking away. One should repeat this step at regular intervals. 

4. The Fourth Step on How to Stop Food Aggression in Dogs is to Attempt to Feed the Dog by Hand

A significant portion of this stage consists of being fed by hand. Your dog must comprehend that you do not represent a risk to its meal when you are around while consuming its food.

Get close to your canine companion and address them in a kind, conversational manner. This will keep them more interested in the treat.

5. This Step Involves Touching Their Bowl, but You Should Not Take Any Food From It

This stage is quite similar to the previous one, except that you need to remain close to your dog after they have taken the reward from you.

Maintain a conversational tone with them while only using one hand to offer the treat. You should touch their bowl with the other hand, but you should not take any food from it. Due to this training, your dog will become more acclimated to your close presence during mealtimes. 

6. Raise Their Dish Off the Ground and Give Them Their Reward

This is because, during this stage, you will pick up their bowl from the ground to offer them a reward. It is a crucial step in gaining their trust.

This will help you and your dog develop a trusting relationship, and by the time you conclude this phase, your dog should feel completely at ease eating around you.

7. Return to Step Six With the Remaining Family Members and Continue the Feeding Procedure

The final step on how to stop food aggression in dogs is to go through steps 1 through 6 with every member of your family who lives in your home.

It is reasonable to expect that your dog’s food aggression may diminish or disappear altogether as they come to trust the people living in your household around their food.

Conclusion

Although your canine companion may feel at ease eating in your presence, they may not feel the same about other family members or guests visiting your house.

In this situation, you should consider providing a secure location for your puppy to eat. One can accomplish this by giving each animal its own dish, keeping them in separate rooms during mealtimes, or putting a baby gate around the area where your dog eats.

When it comes to enjoying a meal or treat, your dog’s primary concern is likely maintaining a comfortable body temperature.

If your actions do not produce the results you desire, you always have the option of seeking guidance on how to stop food aggression in dogs from a local trainer or your veterinarian. There are instances when the only thing required is a regular feeding schedule.

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