Food Aggression in Dogs: The Best Way to Handle It

Food Aggression in Dogs: The Best Way to Handle It

What causes food aggression in dogs

Bernese Mountain Dog eating out of blue bowl. The dog looks alert, guarding his food. Kristesoro/Shutterstock

Before you tackle this frustrating issue, it's helpful to understand why your dog is snarling, snapping, or even lunging at those who pass by when he's eating. "Most aggression develops out of some kind of fear," explains Grossman. In this case, it's fear of going hungry. Fear of—and thus vigilance against—another animal taking their food is something that served our dogs' ancestors well. After all, pre-domesticated canines never knew when (or if) their next meal was coming. Speaking of those meals, what should you be feeding your furry BFF? This is the very best diet for dogs, according to vets.

"Resource guarding" gone wrong

Funny dog eating appetizing treatOlena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Dog trainers call this behavior "resource guarding." (Interestingly, the same term is often used by psychologists to describe the angry reaction we humans often have when someone encroaches on something we value.) While it's a natural reaction at its core, "the vestigial proclivity to this kind of fear can be misguided and breed the kind of aggression that lands too many dogs in shelters," says Grossman. Most of the time, snapping doesn't lead to the interloper being bit, especially if your dog is one of the 11 breeds less likely to bite. But any dog is capable of biting, and when it does happen, the pet is often given up, sadly.

Reassure your dog

dog bowl hungry meal eatinggephoto/Shutterstock

Fortunately, there is an easy way to help reassure a dog that he is safe, says Grossman. And it works whether the resource they're guarding is food, a favored toy, or the prime snoozing spot on that chair near the sunny window. "One [method] is to give him an extra goody while he's enjoying the resource," she explains. "This may mean, for instance, tossing delicious treats into his bowl while he is eating his usual dog food, so that he learns that great things happen when people are around his bowl." If you think your dog could use dog obedience training, here's how to find the best trainer.

Food Aggression in Dogs: The Best Way to Handle It, Source:https://www.rd.com/advice/pets/food-aggression-in-dogs/

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