Dog Food Aggression
Why does this happen?
Part of the reason dogs have earned the reputation as man’s best friend is their fierce loyalty. They are protective and are naturally inclined to guard things that are important to them. A moderate amount of resource guarding is acceptable and even expected. After all, wild animals that keep their prized possessions (food, children, mates) safe are more likely to survive. It’s a matter of instinct! However, this can be a highly undesirable trait in household pets like dogs.
For some dogs, the wires can get crossed and they can become overly possessive of their food or their toys. When they become too protective of these items, they can be aggressive toward anyone who they see as a threat—even you.
This behavior is known as dog food aggression or resource guarding, and if left unchecked, it can become a serious issue. Imagine having a child at your home who reaches for a toy or a bone and gets nipped or growled at by an overly protective dog! Children are less likely to understand the warning signs a dog gives, so they are more likely to be bitten by a dog. It’s a dangerous situation waiting to happen, and it’s best to address the problem before you find yourself in the worst-case scenario.
What Does Dog Food Aggression Look Like?
Dog food aggression or resource guarding may include growling, baring teeth, snapping, nipping, or biting. Dogs are innately possessive of “their” things, but they need to respect their owner—that’s you—and remember that you have the right to take away anything that you give them. That means that if your dog is happily chewing on a bone and you need to remove it, you can do so without losing a hand.
If you don’t take action over your dog’s dog food aggression or other resource guarding, over time she may become possessive over everything in your house, including family members. This example, though extreme, is not entirely uncommon and can have disastrous consequences.
How to Know when it's a Real Problem
Most people understand that their dogs will guard resources to a certain extent. That’s why, in households with multiple dogs, the dogs are often fed in separate rooms or at different times. This reduces the likelihood of a clash or a perceived threat over food.
However, if your dog won’t let you take a toy or a bone away, or if your dog has conveyed serious signs of aggression while eating, it’s time to take action. Don’t worry, training your dog to be less territorial is 100% possible.
How to Stop Dog Food Aggression
As we’ve said, dog food aggression and resource guarding are extremely common in dogs of all breeds. If you are worried that your dog’s possessiveness has crossed the line between acceptable and unacceptable, we encourage you to contact us for help! We offer a complimentary 1-on-1 consultation and can determine whether your dog needs behavioral modification training. Check out our reviews from previous clients to hear how our training methods have worked for others!