Food aggression can be a very dangerous behavior to allow. One should never allow a dog to continue with food aggressive behaviors, especially in a home with other animals or children. If a dog is starting to show signs of guarding, then you may try to prevent food aggression by trying to correct your dog’s thinking. If a dog is already showing full signs of aggression, it is time to seek help from a professional trainer.
There are a few reasons a dog may show signs of, or become, food aggressive. The main reason a dog shows aggression or guarding toward an animal or human coming near their food is the perception of a threat. Your dog may see you coming near his/her food as a threat due to previous incidents where their food was taken from them. This is common in rescue dogs that have had to scavenge or fight for their food for a long time. It is also common when we, as owners, inadvertently take our dog’s food, treats, or toys away by force. When this happens, the dog feels that it is necessary to guard his/her food and belongings, and some breeds will have a higher tendency to guard their items.
In order to change your dog’s perception of people being near his food, you will need to have your dog associate people near their food as a good thing. Before you get started, remember to never try to take food or other items from an unknown dog or from a dog that is known to have guarding tendencies. Again, if your dog is already at the point of full-blown food aggression, it is not a good idea to try to fix it on your own unless you are a professional trainer. If you’re not, seek professional help for your pooch.
In order to change your dog’s perception of people near his/her food, try adding a goodie or treat to your dog’s bowl. While your dog is eating, throw a treat into your dog’s bowl. Little pieces of bacon or their favorite chewy will do the trick. Repeat this every time you enter the room and come near their food. Once your dog is no longer eyeing you from a few feet away, move a little closer and try that distance for the day. Again, once they are comfortable with that distance move closer. Continue to do this until your dog is comfortable with you putting your hand onto/over their bowl to drop the treat in.
Eventually you will be able to pick the bowl up, put the treat it, and put the bowl back down. Your dog will begin to associate you being near their bowl as a good thing, not a bad thing. After you have accomplished this, continue to do this with every member of the family. Don’t assume that your dog will accept anyone being near their food just because you can be.
You may also like to read: Easy Does It: Teaching Your German Shepherd To Take Treats Nicely