Help for Dogs with Food Aggression

Food aggression is fairly common among dogs, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious issue! Fortunately, knowing how the behaviour develops gives you the keys to managing it.

Dogs have four basic needs: food, safety, shelter and entertainment. Of these, food plays the most vital role in ensuring a dog’s survival.

Why is my dog showing signs of food aggression?

Domestic dogs can learn food aggression from a young age. Puppies who have had to fight siblings to nurse have learned that the aggression gets them fed faster. Some breeders inadvertently cause food aggression by feeding all the pups from one bowl at feeding time.

If your dog was a stray before you found them, a lack of food could have made a lasting impact. Former strays often show signs of food aggression, even when there is adequate food supplied later on. Oddly enough, even dogs with plenty of food can show aggression if the food is not nutritionally sufficient. Your dog’s brain can trick him into thinking they are starving if they’re not getting all the nutrients theyt need, and this can lead to food aggression.

Like people, dogs can also show signs of food aggression if they are stressed or feel threatened. Anxious, nervous, and fearful dogs can all become aggressive over food as a way to try and control their environment and keep potential threats away.

What steps can I take to solve it?

Stopping a dog’s aggressive behaviour around food takes knowledge and good management. Start by ensuring that you feed your dog a diet that’s nutritionally sound. A food with adequate protein and no added grains is a good choice. Ask your vet for recommendations if you aren’t sure about what to feed your pet.

Next, make mealtime as relaxed as possible. Allow your dog to eat in peace, and eliminate distractions by feeding them in a quiet space, separate from where your family eats. If you have more than one dog, feed them in separate areas so they won’t feel anxious about the availability of their food. If you need your dog to move away from food or another item, call them away from the item rather than approaching them.

Some dogs enjoy scatter feeding. Not only is this stimulating for them, since dogs like foraging, it can help them avoid overeating simply because they have to work for their meal. It also takes away the need to guard the bowl. If food is everywhere, there is nothing to guard or feel worried about!

Once you have set a routine that works, stick to it! Consistency will help make lasting change.

As always, if you need some one-on-one guidance, your local Bark Busters trainer would be happy to help!