Food is essential for life, not just for you as a human being but for your dog as well. However, if your dog displays hostile behaviour when protecting its food from others, things can get ugly especially if it begins to bite other dogs or even its owner – you.
Therefore, to prevent injuries from happening in your house, it is important to know what are the symptoms of dog food aggression so that you can nip these territorial and possessive behaviours in the bud!
What is Food Aggression?
Food aggression is a type of resource protection in which your dog might become very vigilant and defensive when eating, sometimes going to the extent of using threats to frighten others away.
These threats can range from mild ones such as growling and showing its teeth to serious ones like biting in injuring others. If your dog displays Alpha behaviour, chances are, it guards its food fiercely as a form of dominance. Otherwise, if your dog is not the typical Alpha/dominant type, it might be nervous or even fearful when it shows such protective behaviour over its food.
Symptoms Of Food Aggression
Observe your dog closely and watch out for signs that your dog is jealously guarding its food against others. While eating, your dog may stiffen its body, lower its tail, growl or even attempt to bite as defence mechanisms to protect its food from other possible dogs or human beings. A combination of any of these aforementioned symptoms will determine the extent of aggression your dog has.
Common Techniques to Handle Your Aggressive Dog
The type of method used to deal with food aggression in your dog will depend on the degree of food aggression your dog shows. In case of doubt and when faced with a highly aggressive dog, the best is to seek professional advice lest others in your household get hurt.
Here are some commonly used methods to re-condition your dog to be less territorial when it comes to guarding its food or any other resource for that matter.
- Reassert your authority: If your dog is the alpha type, assert your authority as your dog’s rightful owner and earn its respect by eating first, not after your dog eats. This is to let your canine friend know that you, as the owner, has the authority and should eat before it does. Your dog should also learn to “earn its food” by walking or exercising before it eats, in order to ensure it does not get complacent and overly dominant over its food.
- Hand-feed: With your hands, place the food for your dog into the dog bowl and show your dog that your presence will not pose a threat to it getting fed. Try feeding your dog with your hands to re-condition it to be less wary of human hands in the presence of food, and retrain it to be less defensive as a result.
- Dangle some carrots/treats: To allay your dog’s possible worries that its food will be taken away should you or others come near it, dangle some delicious treats and let your dog approach you as you feed it. This will enable your dog to associate the presence of human beings like you with positive things, such as delicious food.
- Consistent mealtimes: Assuage your dog’s anxieties about not getting properly fed by feeding it at fixed times during the day, without changing the schedule as much as possible. This consistency will provide stability and less anxiety for your dog. Hopefully, such stability will reduce the aggression of your dog in guarding its food.
The aforementioned ideas display how you can re-condition your dog to associate the presence of others with non-threatening and even positive things, such as the prospect of delicious food.
While prevention is better than cure, if your dog’s food aggression is already entrenched, you just have to be firm, calm, and consistent with your re-training in order to establish stability and security for your dog.