Dogs may often feel like members of the family, but they are still animals. Animals have instincts, and these instincts can control the way they react to various stimuli, even if the dog itself does not want to display those behaviors.
One such instinct is dog food aggression. Most dogs experience a great deal of excitement and happiness when they receive their daily meal. Some dogs, however, respond with anger – as though you are no longer their owner, but instead a threat to their food. Dogs that suffer from dog food aggression have a tendency to growl, bark, and even bite at those that go anywhere near their meal.
Dog food aggression can be caused by:
• Dominant dogs that do not understand their place in the pack.
• Underfed dogs that are afraid of losing their meal.
In the event that your dog is underfed, the solution to dog food aggression is simple: Start feeding your dog more. Check the daily value estimates on the bag to help you gauge the right amount of food for your dog.
However, in the event your dog is experiencing dominance issues, you will need to teach your dog it’s “place.” Dogs that think they are pack leader are far more prone to experiencing dog food aggression, because the “alpha dog” is supposed to be left alone while it eats. Below are five helpful tips for reducing dog food aggression.
• Make your dog do a trick.
Before you give your dog its meal, always make your dog do a trick first. Never give your dog its food until it responds to your command. This teaches your dog that you are in charge, because you are commanding your dog and in control of its meal.
• Be brave.
When your dog shows aggression, the immediate reaction is to back away for your own safety. Yet this teaches your dog that its aggression works. Instead of backing away, be brave and be strong. Stand right next to your dog and do not move, no matter how angry it appears.
• Interrupt your dog with a trick.
Remember that alpha dogs are always allowed to eat without interruption, which is one of the reasons dog food aggression takes place. In order to get your dog to realize it is not alpha, make your dog do a trick while it is eating and reward it with a treat. Alpha dogs do not get interrupted from their meal, so your dog will quickly start to learn that it may not actually be the alpha dog.
• Leash your dog.
While your dog is eating, consider putting it on its leash. Go towards your dog’s food. If your dog shows aggression, tug it on its leash, taking it away from its food. This shows your dog that you have the ability to remove it from its food any time you want.
• Eat first, feed your dog later.
Alpha dogs are always the first to eat in the pack. So if you visibly eat in front of your dog before giving it its food, it starts to pick up on the idea that you may be alpha, and that it does not have as much authority as it thinks.
Your Dog is Not Alpha
It is common for many pet owners to want to treat their dogs like equals. Yet dogs do not understand equality. They understand order. Your dog needs to know that it is not the most important member of the pack. Only by training your dog out of its “alpha dog” ways can you hope to reduce its dog food aggression.