How to train a food aggressive dog is really an endeavoring adventure. The innate trait of resource guarding in dogs makes them aggressive towards anyone who tries to approach them.
If you want to train a food guarding dog, you must understand the signs to identify the issue. Only then can you learn how to stop food aggression in dogs towards other dogs and other people.
I have spent substantial time researching and gathering information from authentic sources with proven results.
Read along, and you will understand how you can train a food guarding dog with consistency, compassion, and positive reinforcement.
Without making further ado, let’s start our journey from growling to relaxed eating.
What is food aggression in dogs?
The hostile behavior of a feeding dog towards an approaching person is called food aggression. It is a common phenomenon in dogs, and more than 25% of dogs show this trait. It is an innate behavior that is inherited from the wolves.
In the wild, they had to guard their food against the other pack members and predators. This instinctive behavior often dominates your best buddy when you are not doing things right.
Small mistakes during feeding can lead to resource guarding in dogs.
But you can train a food guarding dog with easy-to-follow strategies and understanding more about the food guarding process. Food aggression could be more problematic if you have children or other pets in your home.
The instinctive behavior of your guarding pooch might make them suffer in harmful ways. That’s why you must learn and understand how to train a food aggressive dog.
Before starting the process of how to stop food aggression in dogs towards other dogs and humans, let’s explore the signs of food and resource guarding.
10 Signs of food aggression in dogs
When your dog is not showing normal behavior while eating food, it is considered food aggression. The following signs will help you understand the phenomenon better:
- Dog growls when someone passes nearby
- Growling when other dog approaches towards the bowl
- Growling when eating bone
- Hiding treats and toys in a secret place
- Lunging when you try to touch the bowl
- Getting freeze at approaching person
- Looking through the side of eyes to anyone coming close to the bowl
- Raised hackles while eating
- Try to lift the bowl and take it to another place
- Steal the food from your hands and run towards the safe place
How to stop your dog’s food aggression
Training a food aggressive dog and stopping food aggression in dogs towards other dogs is almost the same thing. When you want to address resource guarding in dogs and those mentioned above, you need a plan that offers you the best results in everything you do.
When you witness aggressive behavior in your dog, you should believe that this behavior can be altered. All you need is a well-versed step-by-step process that I am going to discuss here.
But before that, let me tell you the most natural cause for your dog to get aggressive towards food and resources.
When dogs become adults, their hormones make them do things that they were not doing as kids. The most evident change in behavior will be aggression towards same-gender dogs and competitive tendencies.
The male dogs mostly start getting competitive and try to intimidate people and other animals when they become mature.
The best way to fight the change is to make your dogs neuter. Spaying a female dog will also help you manage aggression and wrath. When you have done this process, you have increased the life of your pet.
Here this process will help you manage their aggression and overprotective attitude towards the food and other resources.
Step by step training process to stop your dog’s food aggression
You cannot make your dog understand that aggressive behavior towards food is not necessary in a single day. You need a step-by-step plan that will infuse the information in their mind. And with the help of these strategies, you will make them normal and less aggressive towards food.
These strategies and plans are the result of efforts conducted by researchers and experts. So please sit back and read it carefully to apply it to your aggressive pooch and get the most useful results from day one.
Try these seven steps to help put a stop to your dog’s food aggression:
Step 1: Make them realize you are not a threat
For a food aggressive dog, your presence is a threat. But when you make them realize that you are not going to steal food, you can only start the healing process for them. When you offer food to them, stand a few feet away from them for 10 to 15 days daily. This way, you are making them believe that your presence is not a threat to them.
Step 2: Add a tasty treat
When 10 to fifteen days have passed, try to go slowly towards the dog and add a tasty treat in the bowl. Once you have placed the treat, retort back to the original place. When your dog is comfortable with the treat, try to stay close one step farther from the previous place towards the dog every day.
Step 3: Break the ice
Now it is time to offer them a treat and talk to them with a question or conversation. What are you eating, enjoying your food, or something like this will help you break the ice. And when you talk to your dog, focus on their eyebrows so that they should remain down.
Step 4: Make them eat the treat from your hand
When you keep standing near the feeding dog, and they don’t start growling or attacking you, this is the cue for the next step.
Here you should offer them a treat from your hand. When the dog has developed trust that you are not here to steal the food, they will start hand feeding without hurting you.
Talk to them in a conversational tone and if they eat food from your hand, appreciate them with your voice. Don’t make a sudden movement to cause any confusion here.
Step 5: Touch the bowl for a touchdown
After a few days of hand feeding the treat, now it’s time to take this process to the next level. When you offer them a treat with one hand and talk to them in a relaxed way, you can now make a move. With the other hand, touch their bowl and don’t try to take the food at all. Only gentle touch, in the beginning, is sufficient to develop trust.
Step 6: Lift the bowl
When you have been confidently touching the bowl, and they are not growling at you now, you should make the next move. Here offer them food, keep talking to them in a comforting tone, and lift the bowl in the air. The movement should not be sudden to cause unrest. You should always remain confident and calm during the entire step-by-step process of how to train a food aggressive dog.
Step 7: Get every family member in
Now start the process of taming the resource guarding in dogs with another family member from step one. The food aggression will wane or vanish away entirely after the complete process by every family member.
The dos and don’ts of dealing with food aggressive dogs
First of all, let’s explore the don’ts of this trade:
Don’ts of dealing with food aggressive dogs
1. Never Punish your Dog
When you punish a human being, you make them realize that they are getting this because of a wrong act. But when you punish a dog for them, you are not making sense at all.
They cannot understand and relate punishment with negative behavior. To them, nothing is right or wrong; they do what they feel like doing.
When you punish them by keeping the food away or keeping them hungry, you make them suffer.
You are creating mistrust in the relationship where they are confused. The punishment never works for dogs, but they do understand positive reinforcement.
So next time, despite punishing them, focus on rewarding them for good acts and positive behavior.
2. Never show cowardice
If you keep a safe distance from the growling dog with the food, you can keep yourself safe. Feeling afraid and showing your back will make them think that they have won. This act will make them feel that they should growl every time while eating.
3. Never snatch food
If you snatch their food while eating, you are making them aggressive towards food by yourself. Never make them insecure about the food by your acts. Let them finish their food and then take the bowl.
4. Calming treats
If your dog is showing aggression, you make them calm by offering them calming treats. These hemp-based chewing treats are loaded with soothing agents to suppress the aggression in your pooch.
And you will get help in calming resource guarding in dogs. These treats will also help you train a food guarding dog with ease and comfort.
Dos of dealing with food aggressive dogs
1. Be consistent and confident
When you are consistent in offering food to your dog at the same time daily, you are making them believe that there is plenty of food available. This will keep them less anxious about food scarcity. Your confident disposition will make them comfortable, and they will not get aggressive and overprotective for their food.
2. Be the pack leader
You need to infuse your authority to the dog. I will explain later how you can do that in the following preventing food aggression sessions. But believe me, when you become the pack leader and endorse your authority to your dog, you win everything.
3. Feed at a secure place
Never offer food to your pooch when there are people and other disturbing factors around. You must make sure that you offer food to your dog where they feel safe and comfortable.
A specific place for eating with the surety of comfort will make them less aggressive, and they don’t feel guarding their food.
Feeding a food aggressive dog in a secure and empty room is therapy for them, which will help them heal from the negative behavior.
4. Make a Tasty Trade
Offering a tasty treat while the dog is eating a meal will help him realize that people approaching are not a threat. Every person coming towards them while eating is not coming to snatch food. And they can finish their food without any hassle.
Preventing food aggression in dogs
You must assess your dog’s overall behavior whether the guarding behavior is only about food or has annexed the toys and sitting place. General resource guarding is also a common trait that you see in dogs.
Remember that you are the pack leader, and you come first before any pet in the house. You must exert your authority and make your pets understand that you are the leader in the house.
You will make the resource distribution, and no one should guard the resources.
You can make them understand your authority by using the following techniques calmly and comfortably.
1. Be Consistent
Dogs are great timekeepers, and their natural circadian rhythm lets them know what time it is.
When you offer them meals daily at the same time, they will create conditioning. And their natural timepiece will make them realize that they will get food simultaneously every day.
This innate belief will help them stay away from the guarding behavior. And their natural tendencies will remain passive regarding resource guarding.
2. Earn the Food
Dogs are descendants of wolves, and they have natural hunting instincts. When you make them walk, exercise, and then offer the food later, you satiate their hunting instinct.
Make them realize that they will have to earn the food by doing some activities or following orders. You should make them wait before getting the food.
Offer them food at a specific time and be consistent in that. Teach them to sit and wait outside the feeding room. When you have filled the bowl, call them and make them sit near the food bowl.
Then give the cue to start, and you will have a dog that has accepted you as pack leader. Who will love to follow your command and provide you with sincerity and compassion in a healthy relationship.
3. Leaders Eat First
Never give food to the dog before you and your family. They are pack animals where alpha always eats first. You can consider your pet as the best buddy but remember you cannot make them live above their instincts.
That’s why it is necessary to deal with them in a way that makes sense to them. Offer them food once you have finished your meal to make them understand that you are the pack leader.
This process will make them realize your authority and learn about the abundance of food. They will not guard resources and enjoy your companionship and authority to get the maximum out of the relationship.
4. Win the Bowl
When your dog growls at you during eating, and you get back from the place now, you have accepted the defeat.
Try to maintain a safe distance and never turn your back right away when the dog starts growling.
You need to make your dog understand that you are the boss here by consistently following the instructions mentioned above.
Feeding methods to prevent aggression in dogs
You can use the following techniques to prevent the guarding behavior and aggression towards food in your new dog or puppy:
1. Hand feeding
When you want to prevent food guarding, hand-feeding always comes in handy. When you use your hands to put food in the bowl or directly feed the new dog or pup from your hands, you are mining the chances of food guarding.
This method will help your dog stay relaxed when your hands are in the bowl or around the face. Your dog will get used to your hands and will remain normal while feasting upon the food.
2. Treat tossing
When your best buddy is eating food from the bowl, approach near them and toss some treats in the bowl. This is a method of conditioning their minds that people coming towards food are not a threat.
While you are making them realize that when people come to the food bowl, they might toss some treats. This positive reinforcement will keep them away from food guarding.
When your dog is eating regular food, take a special meal and go near them. Make them look up from the food bowl and devour it.
This process is to endorse various positive behavioral tendencies in them. When they lift their face and avert their eyes from the food, it will stay there. And you are making them believe that no one is taking their food anywhere.
This process will also help you make them calm and comfortable during eating. They will not consider the approaching person a threat.
Food guarding will remain at bay, and you will enjoy a loving relationship with trust and sincerity.
How to recognize food aggression in dogs?
Recognizing food aggression is extremely simple in dogs. When your canine buddy is protective of the food and growls when someone comes near the bowl, this is a sign of food aggression.
Can a food aggressive dog be cured?
With proper training, affection, and consistency, you can cure a food aggressive dog. Spaying and neutering will also help a lot in such a scenario.
Do dogs grow out of food aggression?
Yes, they can, but they need your love, affection, patience, and training to grow out.
Why does my dog guard her food but not eat it?
This guarding behavior is the result of territorial and competitive tendencies. If the dog has bad memories and an abusive history, the poor soul will guard the food and growl on every approaching person or pet.
I appreciate that you have made it so far and come to this part (if you directly skip to this session to know what I did, let me make things work out for you).
Food aggression in dogs comes because of the hormone, mal-treatment, or natural tendencies towards their environment. With the help of calming treats, some training, patience, love, and consistency, you can help your canine buddy come out of this aggression.
There are seldom chances that these things won’t work, but if the condition remains the same, call experts and let them do their work.
That being said, there is nothing left but to thank you for your attention up to this point.
I hope I have been helpful, and I wish you many moments of joy and satisfaction in the company of your beloved puppy.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns along the way don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for reading and have a great day!
Until next time!
A big hug.