Why Your Dog Guards Their Food

Why Your Dog Guards Their Food

Have you ever tried getting near your dog while they’re eating? They may have responded with a nasty growl or snarl. When your dog does this, it can be a serious issue. This is not only a danger to you but to other dogs and people who may come around your dog. Over time, they can even become more possessive over everything they can get a hold of. So, here’s why your dog guards their food and what can be done about it.

Giving a Dog a Bone helps break down why your dog would be doing this and what can be done about it. If you need additional assistance, we offer specialized dog training that will assist your dog with learning the proper manners. 

What is Food Aggression?

Food aggression refers to the act of resource guarding in which your dog will become very defensive when eating, using threats to force those around away. It can be directed toward humans, dogs, and other animals. 

These are the three degrees of food aggression:

  • Mild: The dog growls and may show teeth
  • Moderate: The dog snaps or lunges when someone approaches
  • Severe: The dog bites

Most people will often assume that food aggression is caused by a dog wanting to show dominance. This is not always true. It can sometimes be caused by anxiety or fearfulness.

How to Recognize Food Aggression

When a dog is eating, it will typically stiffen its body and keep its head down. This is their way of hovering over a meal to protect it from others. You may also see the white in your dog’s eyes, ears held back, tails lowered, or their hackles raised. A dog may show one or all of these signs. Then, there is also the growling, snapping, and biting.

What To Do About It?

The first step is to assess your dog’s behavior. Do they only show aggression towards food, or is it to everything, such as toys, treats, resting spots, or even other people?

If this behavior isn’t just limited to food, then your dog is showing signs of general guarding. 

Look to see if your dog is naturally dominant or timid. This can help show if your dog has anxiety or views itself as the alpha dog. 

To help deal with this, try getting your dog to do a simple command before receiving their food. Telling them to sit, stay, or even give a paw will show the dog that you are in charge of their food and not them. Make sure to be consistent with this. Continue to do it each day at the same time and they will begin to learn that they don’t control the situation. 

Make sure to always feed your dog after a walk and not before. This makes your dog believe that they have fulfilled their instinct to “hunt” for food.

Need More Help?

If your dog continues to show food aggression or aggression in general, the dog training experts at Giving a Dog a Bone can help. Dealing with misbehaved dogs isn’t easy. That’s why we are here. We want to teach your dog the proper manners. Visit our contact page today if your dog needs help with food aggression. 

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