Dogs have four basic needs: food, safety, shelter and entertainment. Of these, food plays the most vital role in ensuring a dog’s survival.
Understanding this helps us understand why our dog has food aggression and helps us know what steps to take to manage the behaviour.
- Food aggression can begin from puppyhood if a pup from a large litter learns to ‘fight’ for a place to nurse. Puppies fed from one bowl can create or intensify the need to ‘fight’ for food.
- Strays or poorly kept dogs that end up in shelters have experienced what it’s like living with limited food resources. If they have had to scavenge for food and perhaps fight other strays for a meal, a dog will consider other pack members as competition for food.
- If the dog has ever been starved for food or fed a nutritionally deficient diet, his malnourished body will send signals to his brain to go into survival mode. He will become overly concerned with food. There are huge differences in the nutritional content of dog foods and not every diet satisfies every dog.
- Educate yourself about dog food and speak to your vet about the best nutrition for your dog.
- Make mealtime as relaxed as possible. Don’t interfere with your dog while he’s eating.
- Show consistent leadership qualities so your dog trusts you and sees you as the authority figure.
- Establish the routine and ignore your dog’s demands or requests to eat.
- Feed your dog in an open area where he won’t feel threatened or trapped.
- Feed in an area that is quiet and away from any commotion or activity.
- Consider scatter feeding your dog. Dogs like to forage and look for food and it reduces stress around what seems like a very limited food source—a bowl.
- If you need your dog to move away from food or another item, call him away from the item rather than approach him.