A dog who displays food aggression can be embarrassing, annoying and dangerous, especially if little ones or smaller pets are around. Here are my tips to stop food aggression in dogs, so everyone can live safely and peacefully.
1. Don’t leave food out all day long, especially in a household with multiple dogs. This can cause food aggression because dogs will become protective of the leftover food. To avoid this, leave the food down for a set period of time (no longer than 20 minutes; smaller dogs may need up to 40 minutes). Dogs who are used to having food out all day may not eat it all at first and that’s ok-they will learn quickly and soon clean their plates.
2. Do not feed multiple dogs/pets in close spaces. Place one bowl in the kitchen and the other around the corner or at least on opposite sides of the room. This will reduce chances of confrontation between dogs. If you have cats, they should always be fed at an elevated space where the dogs can not access.
3. Always give the dominant dog his food first.
4. Before putting the food down, make the dog sit and stay. Don’t allow them to rush the bowl when you place it down; if they do, pick it up again and turn your back to them for at least one minute. Once you put it down and are out of the way and they are still staying, allow them to eat. This can take lots of repeating.
5. Once they have been eating for three minutes, pick the bowl up and turn your back to them. Be very careful to not get bitten; if they start to snap, give them a firm “no”. Keep your back (and the food) turned away for one minute, or until they calm down. Turn back around, put down and allow them to eat again, provided they sit and stay. Never allow them to rush the bowl. Repeat this every five-seven minutes until your dog is finished with his meal.
6. Repeat as necessary, until your dog no longer snarls, snaps, growls, or otherwise tries to “protect” his food.
Harley used to be very food aggressive, snapping at people, dogs, the cat- sometimes even at my boyfriend and me. We did this with Harley for about three days until he completely stopped because he just wanted to eat without being interrupted. If your dog(s) display food aggression, I hope these tips help you! If your dog does not improve, consult your veterinarian. It can be very dangerous when small pets or children are around.