Your beloved dog can suddenly become Cujo when you try to mess with its food. Are they angry at someone who gets too close to their food or growls when you reach for their bowl of food? These behaviors are examples of aggressive food behavior and must be stopped immediately.
Dogs can become aggressive towards food. This is when they feel the need to protect their food. This could happen with their food, treats, bones, and other scraps. Any perceived threat to their food can lead to aggressive behavior from a dog. Food aggression can vary from mild to severe. To curb food aggression, you can gradually get your dog used to you being there during meals and hand-feeding.
Knowing what causes food aggression and what you can do about it is essential. You don’t have to be bad if your dog becomes too possessive about its food. Understanding the causes of your dog’s food aggression is key to resolving it.
What is Food Aggression?
Dogs can be prone to food aggression. A study published online in Applied Animal Behavior Science indicated that approximately 20% of dogs display signs of food aggression. This behavior results from wild dogs needing to protect their resources. They will turn hostile if they fear for their food or anything they consider valuable.
It might seem small if you live alone with your dog. You can just let your dog eat as they please. This can become a problem if children are living at home. Hire a pet sitter to help you, or find another pet. You should always take action if your pet shows aggression towards food.
SIGNS DURING AGGRESSION
There are several signs that food aggression can be identified. These are classified into three levels: Mild, Moderate, and Severe.
Spoken signs can help you recognize mild levels of food aggression. If you are near your dog’s food, it may growl. The dog might also raise its hackles or show teeth in warning.
Moderate levels of food aggression are characterized by dogs snapping at or lunging at people or other dogs.
Aggressive dogs toward food can cause severe injury to other pets or people.
Recognizing Food Aggression
Dogs may become stiffer while eating. Their head may drop as they use body language to protect their food. Here are some other signs of being aware:
- If you can see your dog’s whites
- If their ears remain uncovered,
- If their tails are lowered
- Their hackles could rise.
You can see any of these signs in a dog. We have discussed the symptoms that can be used to assess the severity of an issue, such as your dog’s growling, lunging, or biting.
How to Stop Food Aggression
Once you know if your dog has food aggression, you can begin to take steps to resolve the problem. It won’t work if you tell your dog “no” or physically stop your dog.
Silverman says, “You don’t ever want to use corrections that involve food aggression.” Although a professional can use moderate corrections to correct a dog’s behavior, they are trained to know what to do. You can worsen the problem by restoring your dog when eating.
Silverman suggests that pet owners use a combination of preventive and redirection to stop resource-guarding behaviors. If dogs are prone to eating faster, chasing after other dogs, and engaging in reactive or aggressive behavior, it will encourage them to do more of the same. Redirection or prevention are effective training techniques that can help you retrain your dogs by stopping lousy behavior in its tracks and reinforcing something.
Is dog food aggression normal?
First, you must remember that protecting food resources can be natural and normal. Large litters can require pups to be assertive to maintain their food. This is normal and natural behavior for animals to protect their food sources from potential threats.
Food aggression is a kind of resource guarding. They don’t care if you take their food away.
Don’t be alarmed if your dog displays a bit of food aggression. However, it would help if you didn’t ignore the behavior. It doesn’t get better with time. You can prevent more significant problems by taking active steps immediately after seeing signs of food protection. Even better, begin positive reinforcement training before guarding symptoms appear.
Preventing food aggression
You can also prevent reactive behavior by giving your dog food aggression. The fewer opportunities you offer your dog for bad behavior, the better. You’ll need to identify when your dog is anxious or aggressive during eating.
Dog guarding his food commonly reacts to people or animals too closely. People are the easiest thing to do for dogs.
Your dog will be happy if you place his food bowl on the flooring. This will make it less likely that he will react or become aggressive. Children unfamiliar with dogs’ reactions to food may find this problematic. If they aren’t aware of how to behave around their furry friends while they eat, it will significantly reduce their chances of becoming upset.
It is not the same process for other animals. Dogs can react to food aggression from other dogs and pets at home. This could happen when another dog approaches your dog or if one dog eats faster than the other and attempts to take their kibble. This is a severe problem.
Silverman said that the completion of bad behavior is a reward. Therefore, letting them do it is reinforcement. “If your dog can growl or display aggression towards another dog, you have won his world.” He will continue doing it again.
Silverman states that the best way to avoid these situations is to feed your pets separately. A separation will ensure that a dog doesn’t feel the need or desire to go after another’s dinner. This will prevent your dog from displaying undesirable behaviors and is fairer for all four-legged companions who take their time while eating.
Although food-guarding puppies is an instinctive behavior, it should not be encouraged. It is crucial to stop puppies from guarding their food before they become aggressive. Your veterinarian will be able, if necessary, to refer you for behavior treatment. You don’t have to be shy about asking for help. You must address the problem promptly, so it doesn’t escalate.