What is Dog Food Aggression? How to Stop It

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It is no hidden fact that Dogs love their hooman. They have become an integral part of our lives. The opposite is also the same, as humans share great fondness with them. 

However, there comes a time in your life when your best buddy might act unusually. If your dog is acting territorial around their food, it is a sign of Dog Food Aggression. If you aren’t aware of dog food aggression, this article will help you figure it out.

Dog Food Aggression: The What?

Dog Food Aggression is a behavioral response from dogs while eating their meals. Apparently, food aggression is a type of resource guarding in which dogs get defensive when they are eating their food and might show hostile behavior when they confront someone close to their food bowl.

You will surely feel tense if your best buddy is acting like this. However, to your surprise, according to a study published on ScienceDirect, over 20% of all dogs show signs of food aggression.

It is necessary that you detect signs of food aggression early, as it can become an issue in the long run. Your dog can show aggression in different forms when they might not feel comfortable with the fact that someone is near their food. It might be in the form of growling, chasing around, or the worst scenarios biting someone. 

Common Causes of Dog Food Aggression

There are several factors in play when it comes to possible causes of dog food aggression. 

It isn’t simple to pinpoint the actual cause, but there are several common causes that we are going to discuss.

One of the most widely accepted reasons is that dogs are hard-wired to act that way. Earlier dogs were domesticated, and they used to roam around in the wild without any assurance of food. This resulted in guarding their food whenever they found some. 

Another reason that draws attention is similar to the previous one. The only difference is that this one focuses on the life of dogs before you adopted them. Shelter life is not easy for every dog. It is possible that dogs might have to fight for food, toys, or beds in the shelter. This ultimately may result in such behavior.

At times, trauma can also lead to food aggression. If they have suffered some form of trauma, loss, or calamity, they might get defensive and show signs of food aggression. 

Noticing Food Aggression Signs

The earlier you recognize food aggression signs in your dog, the easier it would be for you to tackle the situation. Dogs are expressive creatures. Hence, they will give plenty of signs of food aggression. The seriousness of the situation depends on the degree of signs they are giving. 

  • If your pet is growling at you when you are approaching them while they are eating, that is a mild sign. The situation is still under control, and by training them a little, you can overcome it. 
  • If their response is lunging towards you or pushing you back, you have a moderate situation. You should take immediate steps to prevent it from getting severe.
  • The final and the most serious one among all is severe signs, in which the dog might chase around the threat or may even bite them. At all costs, you should try to avoid the symptoms reaching this level. 

Whatever the case may be, you have to understand that what your dog is doing is purely based on its instincts. They don’t want to hurt you in any way. Their only goal is to protect their food. 

Solutions To Dog Food Aggression

If you wonder what you can do regarding dog food aggression, then this section is perfect for you. Below we have discussed some of the most widely recognized ways of tackling food aggression behavior in dogs.

Consistency Is The Key

If your dog is showing food aggression because of fear, the anxiety of not getting the next meal, then the best thing you can do is be consistent about their mealtime. 

Dogs naturally have a sense of time, through which they can determine when it’s time to do specific things. Hence, follow their routine correctly, and provide them their meal at the right time. The more consistent you will be, the lesser they will feel anxious.

The tendency for food aggression can be more prominent in adopted dogs. You can teach your rescue dog all lessons with patience and consistency.

Add More Food

This is an incredible technique for winning your dog’s trust. Approach your dog slowly, and add more food in their bowl. 

However, add more food keeping in mind how long it takes them to digest food completely. And keep a track of their calorie intake. Otherwise, you will have to tackle issues like obesity due to overeating.

Adding more food to their bowl conveys a message that you are not a threat to their food, but you are only trying to give them more of it. Try this method by giving them three-quarters of the food, and then add the extra one quarter in the bowl.

Communicate With Your Dog

Communication leads to a healthy relationship. This rule applies to you and your dog too. While they are eating, try to make them comfortable with your presence by standing in the distance and talking with them. Gradually reduce your distance, and keep talking. The more you will speak, the more they will feel comfortable.

Hand Feeding

Once your dog understands that you are not a threat to the food, they will allow you to stand in close proximity. Your next step should be trying to hand feed them. Feed them extra treats from your hand, and go away as soon as it is done. This way, their food aggression will reduce gradually.

Seek Professional Help

If you don’t observe any improvements even after trying everything, seek professional help immediately. You don’t want this situation to get serious, hence it is crucial that you get outside help and tackle this problem as soon as possible.

Final Words

The most important thing you can do while training your dog to avoid food aggression is to be patient. Don’t try too many things at once, as it would only make your dog more anxious and defensive. Instead, try to win their trust and convince them that you and other family members aren’t a threat. If you do everything as planned, then very soon, you will be able to reduce your dog’s food aggression drastically. 

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