They say, “a dog is man’s best friend”, and to Clayton Perlman, taking care of his dog is one of the most important things in his life. Growing up in Miami, Florida, his family always had dogs at home, and he learned to take care of dogs from a young age. One of the areas where many people have problems with their dogs is with food aggression. When a dog shows aggression in protecting his food, it could be a serious issue that needs to be dealt with. Failure to deal with this problem could result in humans in the house or other dogs being bitten, and it could also lead to the dog becoming over-possessive over things in your home. Clayton Perlman shares a few tips on how to deal with a dog’s food aggression.
What is Food Aggression?
When a dog becomes very defensive of its food while eating, and uses threats to force others away, it is called food aggression. This aggressive behavior can be directed towards humans, other animals or both. There are three levels of food aggression in dogs, they are:
- Mild – the dog growls and shows its teeth
- Moderate – the dog lunges or snaps when anyone approaches it
- Severe – the dog bites anyone who approaches while it is eating
While some people might consider all cases of food aggression as a show of dominance, it is not necessarily the case. In a dog pack, it is the alpha dog that has to eat first after a hunt, and only when it has finished can the other dogs eat. So for an alpha dog, food aggression is a show of dominance, but for dogs lower in the pack position, it could be a sign of fear or anxiety.
How to Deal with Food Aggression
To deal with the issue of food aggression, you will have to determine whether it is just with food, or with other things such as toys, resting spot, etc. To work with your dog to help him overcome the problem of food aggression, you will need to follow these steps:
- Be Consistent – If your dog is anxious or fearful over whether he will get his next meal, make sure you feed him at the same time every day.
- Work for Food – Make the dog sit or lie down outside the room you feed him in. Train him to stay even when you have set his bowl down, and stand close to it until you release him to start eating. Move away once he starts eating. Make sure you walk the dog before you feed him, and not after he has eaten.
- Win the Bowl – Do not back away from the bowl or your dog will feel he has “won”, instead you can use a few techniques to recondition him. You can hand-feed him, and use your hands to put his food in the bowl. This will leave your scent on the food and the dog will get used to eating with your scent around.
Clayton Perlman recommends working with your dog when he is still a puppy as it helps the dog to get used to you.