When a canine starts becoming protective over his food, it can be an alarming issue. The issue is not only dangerous to other canines or people in the house who risk getting bites but also makes the dog take over everything he considers his.
What does food aggression mean?
Food aggression is a type of material protection in which a canine becomes very watchful when eating, this is accompanied by intimidation towards others. The aggression can be aimed at other animals, people or both.
Food aggression is classified into three types:
- Gentle: the canine grunts and his teeth might show
- Medium: the canine grips and charges when there is an advancement towards him
- Extreme: the canine tears you with their teeth
People take it for granted that all scenarios of food aggression are a sign of supremacy over the others which is not the case. In a group of canines, the leader of the pack gets to eat first after a successful chase for food and the rest of the canines eat what is left in line with their rank in the pack.
Food aggression is a sign of supremacy for the alpha canine. For the other dogs that are ranked lower in the pack, this is depicted as nervousness or fright. In the wild, it is hard for dogs to forecast where they will find something to eat. They need to be very wise and eat in a hurry all the food they have at their disposal and guard it against anything that comes their way.
How to identify food aggression
During eating, canines keep their body tight and their heads fixed down. They use their body language to keep an eye on the food and guard it. The white parts of your canines’ eyes can also be seen, their ears are pushed back, their tail falls or their chewing may rise. A canine may express some or all of these signs. Some expressions, however, signal extreme issues such as grunting, charging or biting.
What can one do to counter this behavior?
The first procedure is to evaluate your canines’ overall character. Is she only aggressive towards food or does the character spread to other things, like treasured dolls, leisure places or even humans in the group?
If the character is not tied to food, then your canine is expressing overall aggressiveness. One will be required to use a couple of procedures mentioned below during times the canine is showing aggression by using the target object and not food.
Evaluating your canines’ overall composure and character is good if he is naturally superior over the others. As a pet owner, you will need to contend yourself as the group leader gently and confidently. However, if your dog is shy or frightened, you will be required to help him strengthen his confidence and train him that his food is secure with people around.
Finally, evaluate whether your canines’ food aggression is gentle, medium or extreme. For extreme cases, one needs to seek for guidance from trained professionals until you lower his aggression to a medium level.
Once you finish these procedures, you are ready to start conforming to their character. Below are some of the tricks you can employ.
- Be regular
If your canines’ aggression emanates from fear or nervousness during eating time, one should make sure that they give them food at similar times every day.
Canines have good time programming which is regular, they quickly understand how to differentiate wake up time, walk time or people’s time to come home from work. Eating time must not be different too. One needs to be consistent in feeding to reduce the nervousness.
2.Should labor for food
Before you start getting your canines’ food ready, let her sit or lay down preferably outside the room where you give her food. Teach her how to stay calm after you give her a meal and once the feeding plate is down, monitor it and allow him to come to feed, then you can leave.
After taking a walk outside, you can feed your dog not before. This accomplishes his intuition to hunt for food making him feel he has got it right when you come home. To add to this, it is very dangerous to exercise your dog after he eats, it can be detrimental if your dog develops inflations in his guts.
3.Group leaders get to eat first
After a successful chase for food in the wild, the superior dogs eat first before those ranked lower in the pack. This should not be any different in people or a group of dogs. One should not give their canines food when people are eating or before. People should eat first and finish their meal then canines can have the chance to eat. This strengthens your position as the group leader.
4.“Take over” the bowl
Food aggression can worsen if you stay far from the bowl when your dog is eating because that is what they want. Every time you move away when your dog is expressing food aggression, the dog “takes over”. The prize is the food and this just strengthens the aggression.
With the medium to extremely aggressive canines, one does not need to take the bowl away from them forcefully because the dogs might bite you. On the other hand, you need to give your dog more time and train her until they understand that they win when they allow you to come near them when they are eating.
Below are some techniques you can employ:
- Feeding using your hand: feeding your dog by hand and using your hand to serve food in its bowl will enable the canine to master your smell. The aim of this is to make sure your dog is comfortable with eating from your hand and have no aggressive behavior towards you if you put your hands in or closer to the bowl when he is feeding.
- Feast tossing: dropping your canines’ treasured feasts inside the bowl when she is feeding will enable her to understand that when people make advances towards the bowl is not a bad thing nor a danger. You can also consider putting treats into the bowl while walking close to it and she is not feeding. This strengthens the intuition in your dog that humans close to the bowl are good.
- “Barter trade”: when your canine is having their normal meal, you can give them something better like meat or an exclusive feast. The aim is to make your canine stop feeding on their food and take upon the feast. This trains your dog on several things. One of them is that their food is safe when they look away from it. The other thing they learn is that when humans come closer to them and their attention is away from the food, they will get a treat.
- What is happening?
Two things happen during rehabilitation for a food aggressive canine. One is that you are trying to make your dog not to be protective when someone approaches them when they are feeding. The other thing is that you are counteracting by training her on how to get along with people when they make advances toward their bowl with treats.
There are various tricks one can employ to lower food aggression or inhibit the behavior from occurring in the first place. The main point is to be composed, confident and regular.
The word “food aggression” can be confusing because people understand it as supremacy and it is wise to view it as resource protection. As people, we need to know our position as a group leader and train our canines that there is no need for them to protect their food from us.