More often than not, dogs are extremely food-driven, especially when they’re puppies. Chances are you’ve come across a puppy or even an adult dog that’s overzealous when it comes to food, jumping up and down, or even leaping on you when they even get a whiff of their dinner or a treat.
In some instances, dogs may even become aggressive when they’re eating, either growling or barking at you or another dog when they come too close.
If you’re a new pet parent, you may feel a bit frightened or uneasy when your dog growls at you. But remember that these may be innate behavior, and you may need to help your dog unlearn this reaction so that they won’t react adversely every time you go near them while they’re eating. In this article, we’ll delve into the specifics of how you can deal with food aggression and stop your dog from exhibiting aggressive behavior related to food.
What Causes Food Aggression in Dogs?
Before we delve into the steps that you will need to take to deal with food aggression, we first need to know what exactly causes food aggression. Naturally descended from the gray wolf, dogs have an innate behavior pattern that pushes them to guard each meal as a way to conserve and save resources. If food aggression is triggered by this cause, you probably would observe this problem as early as when they’re puppies.
However, while food aggression may be innate, it can also be a learned behavior in some dogs – especially in ones who belong to multiple-pet households. Because some dogs have a pack mentality, they may try to assert dominance and act as the alpha dog in your household. For example, a moodle dog breed is commonly known as an affectionate breed, but they may still present aggressive behavior if they’re trying to keep their status as the alpha. They may growl or bark at other dogs if they approach his or her toys or food.
In some cases, they may even apply dominant behavior to you. This is why knowing how to deal with food aggression and any other dominant behavior that your dog may have is an important part of any owner-pet relationship. Not only will this foster a stronger bond, but it will also help you curb any stubborn behavior that your pet may be presenting.
Techniques to Quell Food Aggression in Dogs
If you’ve noticed a certain territorial tendency in your dogs when it comes to food, chances are they’re presenting some signs of food aggression. From growling, barking, or even snapping, your dog may be feeling threatened when you come near or any other animal comes near their food. To curb this behavior, you can try these techniques:
Desensitize Your Dog From Your Presence
One of the first few steps you need to do to quell food aggression is by letting your dog get used to your presence while they’re eating. You can do this by standing a small distance away from your dog while they’re eating. You don’t have to approach them since this may trigger another episode of aggression. Just let them eat from their food bowl and let them relax even with your presence.
Reinforce Positive Behavior With Treats
Does your dog have a favorite treat or snack? Try dropping a few treats into their bowl while they’re eating. This will help them understand that you’re not there to take away their food, but you’re just adding something tasty to their meals. Not only will treats help them warm up to you, but they will also help dismiss the notion that you’re a threat to their mealtimes. After they finish their meal, you can even reward them with a small treat if they don’t exhibit any sign of food aggression while you’re in close proximity.
Try to Communicate With Your Dog While They’re Eating
During mealtimes, try to talk to your dog in a calm and reassuring voice. Crouch beside them and drop a few treats into their bowl every few seconds while you’re speaking to them. Observe their behavior and their stance and check if they’re starting to relax even when you’re in close proximity.
Avoid Feeding Dogs Before You Eat
Before dogs were even domesticated, gray wolves moved with a strong pack mentality with their own behavior patterns. One of these behavior patterns is that alpha dogs eat before anyone else. Now, while feeding your dog before you eat or while you’re eating is a great way to organize your chores, this may be indirectly teaching your dog that they’re the alpha, which may exacerbate their alpha mentality. As much as possible, try to eat first before giving your dog his or her bowl.
Try Hand Feeding
One of the goals in solving food aggression is to let your dog become familiar with your scent while they’re eating. Standing near your dog during meal time and scooping dog food into their bowls with your bare hands are great ways to help your dog feel more relaxed while eating. However, one of the best techniques to do this is by trying out hand feeding, or offering them food or treats through an open palm. Stick your hand out to your dog and let them take the treat directly from your hand. This will help them realize that you’re not trying to take their food from them.
Don’t Rush Things When It Comes to Food Aggression!
The techniques we’ve listed above are tried-and-tested strategies that have helped hundreds of pet parents curb food aggression. However, we think that a word of warning is still necessary to keep pet owners from rushing. Whether your pet’s food aggression is caused by genetic predisposition or learned through prior experience, it’s important to note that it will take time for your pet to adjust and relax to you. As with other training programs, curbing food aggression takes a lot of patience and focus. You need to know how to properly pace your progression for both your safety and your dog’s comfort. Good luck!
Originally posted 2022-06-27 19:25:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter