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How to Train a Food Possessive Dog?

How to Stop or Prevent A Dog’s Food Aggression

Is your dog obsessed with his food and acts aggressively to guard it? Do not take this situation lightly because he is a “Food Possessive” dog. Such dogs start growling and biting when you put the bowl of food away from them. 

If their aggressive behavior is threatening to you, then imagine what would happen if your child ever came between the dog and his food? It is a serious situation and must be dealt with right away! 

This article explains Food Possession, the factors that cause it, and practical measures dog owners can take to address this problem.  

What is Food Possession?

It is quite natural for a dog to protect its things since they are aurally territorial. For some, it is a toy or place, while for others, it is food. But sometimes, they exhibit defensive behavior, which can harm those who play with their meal or anything else they consider to be crucial for their existence.

If your dog stares at you, snarls, growls, and tries to hide his food from you, it means he considers you an enemy who can snatch his life-sustaining meal. His growling is saying to you, “go away; this is just mine.” This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed at any cost.

Some dogs have protective instincts, so they show aggression when someone tries to come near them. For instance, Dalmatians exhibit some protective behavior when they see a stranger or any animal. However, if you purchase your puppy from notable Dalmatian breeders in the United States, you are less likely to face behavioral problems as good breeders breed well-adjusted pups. 

What Causes Dog Food Possession? 

It is quite senseless that your dog would ever consider you a threat to his meal when you were the one feeding him all this time. But it turns out; you invite food aggression behavior in your dog.

An ill-informed owner who challenges his dog by snatching the food to prove his bossiness is an underlying cause of dog food aggression. This behavior seems troubling to your dog, and he might perceive you as a danger instead of a provider. 

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Some activities that activate dog food aggression are:

  • Taking food away from them immediately
  • Watching closely while your dog is eating
  • Repeatedly swapping the food bowl to interrupt his eating.
  • Children playing around when your dog is having a meal

Addressing Food Possession in Dogs

Imagine you are in the middle of eating a scrumptious cake, and someone comes out of nowhere and takes the cake away from you. Won’t you get angry and think of pushing them away? If your answer is yes, then try to empathize with your dog and understand them. 

First, be cautious; if you think your dog is ferocious to you and your family and might cause physical harm, then you must get professional help. Speak to an animal behaviorist or a professional dog trainer to tackle the issue.

Below we have listed some helpful training techniques to overcome your dog’s food possession. Bear in mind that you are going to change the behavior to which your dog is addicted, and it will take a certain time. 

So be persistent and patient to get rewarding outcomes.

1. Try to Feed Them by Hand

The best way to get rid of food possession is by not giving him possession of it! It means to feed him by hand for some days. Show your dog that you are not posing them any harm while they are eating. 

Instead of putting their meal in a bowl, use your hand to feed them. When they start taking the treat out of your hand, encourage them by saying “good.” Once they are done, walk away to show them you are not interested in their food. Do this process for ten consecutive days.

2. Keep Consistent Feeding Pattern

Sometimes the reason for your dog’s possession of their food is they do not know when the next meal is coming. To make this fear and anxiety out of them, make a consistent feeding schedule and stick to it.

Dogs have some inbuilt clock. If you maintain a schedule, they will quickly learn when to wake up, when to go for a walk, and most importantly, when to eat. There would be no fear if you continue to be regular with their food, and ultimately their possession will end.

3. Use Commands; Leave and Give

“Leave” and “Give” commands are mostly used to deal with the possessiveness of dogs. Ask “leave” when your dog has possession of some food. If he lets go of that food, then reward him with the treat for obeying your order.

“Give” is another helpful command for training food possessive dogs. When he has something in his mouth, take that into your hand and hold some treats on the other hand. Then gently say, “Give” if your dog gives you the food to get the treats, reward him with the treats. 

4. Use “Trade-Up Method”

When your dog is guarding something, take it away from him and replace it with a treat better than the previous one. After the tour dog finishes the new item, give them back the resource you took away. You can use the commands “give” and “leave” in this technique as well.

This method will recondition your dog’s thinking. Through this technique, your dog will get to know that they will get something great for giving something up.

5. Snapping on Leash

To deal with the possessive behavior of your dog, have him in a prong collar with a leash attached. Any time he shows aggressive behavior, he immediately corrects her by snapping on the leash.

Most dogs do not know that possessive food behavior is not acceptable. By using this technique, they will perceive that food guarding tricks are associated with negative behavior.

6. Empty Bowl Method

Put a bowl down near the dog but put nothing in it. Although your dog would think you are crazy but believe me, it really works. He will see the empty box, then literally beg you to come over and fill the bowl.

But do not put all the food at once. Keep some pieces of his meal. He will finish the available meal and will look back at you for some more. Then come over and give him the remaining meal. Through this technique, he will learn patience and will consider you as his provider.

7. Tossing Treat Method

When you walk past them, fill their bowl with some favorite food item, such as an extra meaty speck. They will watch you, always giving and not taking. They will start building their trust in you and will welcome you every time you approach their bowl.

8. Show Your Ownership

When you back away from the bowl when your dog shows aggressive behavior, your canine starts thinking that he is the owner. Delete this thinking from their mind by asserting your ownership.

One tactic to show them your ownership is to have them wait for their food and belongings. Before preparing food for your dog, make him sit and wait for it the food to get ready. 

Even after you have kept the bowl down, hold them from eating for a while and then release him after he patiently waited for your permission. By doing so, he will recognize that you are an owner.

What NOT To Do While Training Your Dog

  • Never take the food bowl away from him while he is eating. This will make him more protective of his food and will perceive you as a danger.
  • Never leave a toddler with your dog while he is having his meal. Your child will not comprehend his food guarding behavior and continue to move toward this furry being and put himself in danger.
  • If your dog goes out of your control, then back off. Never put yourself in danger.

When to Seek Trainer Help

By using the guide mentioned above, you can most likely train your food possessive dog. If your dog has some moderate level of food possession, then following these tips will surely help you out. 

But, if the aggression and possession escalate and goes out of your hands, such as snapping, growling, and even biting, then do not attempt these tricks. 

Consult with a dog trainer who understands the situation and dig out your dogs’ possessive food aggression. After examining your dog, the expert will develop an effective training plan to tackle the issue. 

More Dog Training Advice:

My Dog Is Aggressive Around Food: What Should I Do?a

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