Thursday, April 18, 2024

How To Curb Food Aggression In Dogs

How To Stop Dog

Part 1: How to Prevent and Stop Food Aggression in Dogs!

Correcting resource guarding behavior will take a lot of patience and practice.

The tricky difference between correcting behavior directed at dogs as opposed to humans, is that you will be dealing with two unpredictable variables.

For that reason its a good idea to use dogs that you know well as triggers for your aggressive dog.

Obviously if you live with a pack of dogs, you will work as a family. If your dog is the only dog in the household you will have to get creative with finding other dogs to help you out.

How Not To Treat Resource Guarding

  • Do not punish your dog. This will only make your dog insecure and fearful, which will usually lead to more aggressive behavior.
  • Do not ignore the behavior. Because resource guarding is normal, it can be tempting to accept the behavior as long as it isnt serious. You will not, however, be able to manage every single encounter your dog has with other animals, and all it takes is one aggressive outburst for a dog or person to potentially get hurt.
  • Do not generalize. Just because a dog learns not to guard the food bowl, does not mean they wont continue to guard their bed or toys. You will have to work through each and every situation systematically, and the course of action will be different for every dog.
  • Do not hesitate to call a professional. Animal Behavior Specialists are trained to deal with issues like resource guarding. Theres a good chance they will have worked with hundreds of dogs that have the same behavior issue as yours. Use them and their knowledge to your advantage.

Can Food Bowl Aggression Be Reduced

In some situations, if the aggression is not severe and if the dog is not aggressive about an empty food bowl or when being fed by hand, retraining by a responsible adult can be attempted. This often entails measured and controlled feeding. Only a responsible adult should perform this exercise, and then only when the dog is wearing a leash and head collar. The leash and head collar are a safety measure, providing a means of additional control should the dog not respond to your commands or should aggression begin to emerge. The dog’s daily ration is split into multiple portions. The dog is told to sit/stay and a small amount of food is placed in the bowl then the bowl is placed on the floor and the person steps back 2 to 4 feet. The dog is released from the sit/stay to eat this amount. Once the dog has consumed the food, he is told verbally to back away from the bowl, asked again to sit/stay and the bowl is picked up, repeating the process until the whole meal is consumed.

“Occasionally, a special treat can be added to the next portion of food.”

Occasionally, a special treat can be added to the next portion of food. If at any time the dog stiffens or growls, the session ends and, once the dog leaves the bowl, it is picked up and put away.

“Do not use these techniques if the dog tends to lunge or attack as you approach.”

If a dog engages in food guarding behavior, you and your family should only eat food at a table to avoid food stealing and possible aggression at that time.

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Management Plan For Mild Food Aggression

Week 1:

  • Note the existence of this specific problem on the dog’s cage – Mild Food Aggression Cage Card
  • Practice avoidance every time anyone interacts with the dog: Do not pet dog, enter cage/run or remove food bowl while dog is eating or chewing on a toy or treat. Chew toys should be low value or very short lasting.
  • Say Please Program – Implement the Say Please program every time anyone interacts with the dog
  • Feed the dog meals or give the dog delicious edible chew toys in the presence of people whenever possible. These exercises should be performed away from the dogs kennel, and in a location where the person working with the dog can be far enough away from the dog so that the dog does not consider the person to be a threat. This distance must be far enough that the dog is able to eat its food or chew on the toy with relaxed body posture and no stress or anxiety. The person with the dog should ignore the dog during these exercises, and as the first week of training progresses, the person should move about the room so that the dog becomes accustomed to a person walking while they are eating or chewing, 1-2 times daily, 5-7 days per week
  • Retrieve Game – Implement Retrieve Training 1-2 times daily, 5-7 days per week
  • Additional enrichment activities should be conducted as needed to reduce stress and maintain behavioral health of the dog.
  • Curbing Food Aggression In Your Dog

    How to curb food aggression in dogs

    Food aggression is an easily identified, unwanted canine behavior, but it is really just one of several features of resource guarding, a host of behaviors driven by canine survival instinct. Resource guarding dogs control access to food, objects, people, or places, and sometimes more than one of the above.

    For the purpose of this article lets focus on the most common variant, food guarding. An aggressive stance to guard food is serious and dangerous, especially when there are children in the household. Moreover, it may lead to possessive behavior over more than food if not appropriately addressed early on.

    While mild food guarding can be successfully corrected through proper technique, preventing this behavior is preferable. The first key, as always, is to be calm, assertive, and consistent. Second, by simply putting food out for your dog you relinquish power and opportunity, both for training your dog and to reinforce your role as pack leader. You own the food your dog wants, so you may as well turn it into your advantage. The very first lesson all of our dogs learn is that they must work for their foodthat once they have earned it, access will be given by YOU, their pack leader. And their food is given by our hands. This very simple principle for raising a puppy or welcoming an adult dog into your family feeds into the dogs natural need for appropriate pack structure and will likely prevent problematic food guarding.

    Rehabilitating a Food Guarding Dog

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    Food Aggression In Dogs

    Living with a dog with food aggression can be extremely dangerous for small children. They may not only disregard obvious signs of guarding or aggression, but they can also unwittingly get in between an aggressive dog and another pet. Separating bowls, meal locations, and times should help matters between animals.

    Another way to prevent the development of food aggression in dogs to have them spayed or neutered. Hormones can certainly contribute to the tendency to guard.

    Leash Aggression In Dogs

    If your pooch is friendly and calm for most of the time, but starts lunging, barking and trying to bite as soon as you put on their leash, its a clear sign your dog is leash-aggressive. Commonly directed at other dogs, this type of aggressive behavior stems from the fact that your pooch is feeling restrained and frustrated by their leash.

    Although it rarely ends with a leash-aggressive dog attacking a canine passerby , it certainly is frustrating when your dog acts out in public. This often happens when dogs are not trained on time and it can be a type of aggressive behavior that is the easiest to correct.

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    Causes Of Food Aggression In Dogs

    The behavior is thought to be a throwback to the time when wild dogs had to hunt for their food and, when food resources were scarce, they had to protect what they had. This is the same type of aggression exhibited when protecting their mates and living areas for reasons of survival. But now they& rsquo re tamed and no longer have to hunt for their food, so why does the behavior still persist?

    Competition for food with littermates is the major cause. Most pet parents feed litters in a communal bowl and it& rsquo s literally a free for all at mealtime. Oftentimes, there may be one or two puppies who dominate the food bowl at mealtimes and utilize aggression to accomplish that. Any puppy who exhibits food guarding behavior before the age of 16 weeks should be seen by a veterinarian as this is an early sign of aggressive behavior development

    Once this behavior has been experienced by a young puppy, it can be hard for the pup to ignore the desire or need to guard his food as he makes his new home with his new family. This is especially so if your puppy was one of the & ldquo weaker& rdquo ones who kept being pushed away and had to battle to get his sustenance.

    Signs That Your Dog May Become Aggressive

    How To Stop Food Aggression In Dogs? Dog Food Aggression Tips

    Any dog can pick up aggressive behavior, and it’s important to track a pattern of warning signs, like:

    • Growling and snapping
    • A rigid body and quickly wagging tail
    • Lip licking or yawning
    • Cowering and tail tucking
    • Seeing whites of the eyes

    Not all dogs who exhibit this behavior are generally aggressiveâmany of these warning signs are also an indication of anxiety or fear.

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    Heres How To Prevent Guarding:

    Place an empty food bowl on the floor. Sit or kneel on the floor near the bowl with a bag of kibble. With your hand, place a few pieces of kibble in the bowl. Say to the dog, Take it, and let the dog eat the kibble. After you and your dog practice this routine a few times, place a few more pieces in the bowl, but this time keep your hand on the bowl. If the dog is fine with your hand on the bowl, practice three more times.

    Then, if there have been no signs of guarding , put a few pieces of kibble in the bowl, but this time, take the bowl away and add a treat to the kibble something that your dog likes even more than kibble . Give the bowl back to the dog so she can eat. Practice this routine five times. Use just a few pieces of kibble each time, adding only a small amount of wet food or a small treat.

    If your dog has still shown no signs of guarding, move on to the next step. Stand up and remove the bowl from the floor. Add a morsel of wet food and return the bowl to the dog. Repeat five times. If you can complete all these steps without signs of guarding, you should be able to safely feed your dog. One thing to remember, though, is that she may be fine with you, but not with other people who attempt to feed her.

    Possible Causes Of And Fixes For Food Aggression In Dogs

    While any dog can become a food aggressive dog, the behavior is more common in puppies especially those who come from breeders. Often times, a breeder will only use one large pan to feed a litter of puppies, leaving them to fend for themselves for what they can get.4

    The puppies who tend to be the most successful also tend to grow larger and stronger. This, in turn, can lead to a puppy being food aggressive all the time, because they feel theyll be rewarded for acting aggressively.5

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    What To Do About It

    The first step is to assess your dogs overall behavior. Is she only showing possessiveness over food, or does the behavior extend to other things, like favorite toys, resting spots, or even people in the pack?

    If the behavior isnt limited to food, then your dog is showing general resource guarding, so youll need to use the techniques listed below as appropriate in all cases where your dog is showing aggression using the target object instead of food.

    Also assess your dogs overall confidence and behavior. If he is naturally a dominant dog, then you will need to assert yourself as the Pack Leader in a calm and assertive way. On the other hand, if he is timid or fearful, you will need to build up his confidence and teach him that his food is safe with humans around.

    Finally, determine whether your dogs food aggression is mild, moderate, or severe. For severe cases, start off by consulting a professional until you can get the dog down to a moderate level.

    Once youve completed these steps, youre ready to start changing the behavior. Here are some of the techniques to use.

    Stage One: Get Your Dog Used To Your Presence When Eating

    How to Control Dog Food Aggression?

    This step focuses on acquainting your dog with your presence when they are eating meals or treats.

    Stand back from your dog by a few feet while they eat food from a bowl on the floor. The goal is to have your dog eating in a relaxed manner for ten or more meals in a row before moving on to the next stage in this training method.

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    Always Work With A Professional Behavior Expert

    Aggression can be a dangerous behavior problem. Its complex to diagnose and can be tricky to treat. Many behavior modification techniques have detrimental effects if misapplied. Even highly experienced professionals get bitten from time to time, so living with and treating an aggressive dog is inherently risky. A qualified professional can develop a treatment plan customized to your dogs temperament and your familys unique situation, and she can coach you through its implementation. She can monitor your dogs progress and make modifications to the plan as required. If appropriate, she can also help you decide when your dogs quality of life is too poor or the risks of living with your dog are too high and euthanasia is warranted. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to learn how to find a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist , a veterinary behaviorist or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in your area. If you choose to employ a CPDT, be sure that the trainer is qualified to help you. Determine whether she has education and experience in treating canine aggression, as this expertise isnt required for CPDT certification.

    Specific Food Bowl Training

    When hes good at the above exercises, expect Fido to sit to receive his meals, too. If hes a particularly difficult or aggressive dog, tether him on leash away from where you will place his bowl so that he cant lunge and injure you.

    Hold his food bowl, which contains his boring kibble, and wait for him to sit. Put the food bowl down outside of his leash range and tell him leave-it, just once. If he gets up, thats okay because hes on leash and cant get to the food. Just wait for him to sit. When hes sitting, give him a few treats and then unhook his leash and give the release word and let him get his meal.

    Make sure youre standing outside his defensive/protective zone when you release him so he doesnt feel threatened. Just let him eat his meal in peace. When he finishes the meal, slowly approach with a mouth-watering morsel and stand right outside his food-bowl protection zone. When he says please by sitting, give him a tasty treat. Note that to make this treat special, it has to be one that he only gets during these practice sessions. Peanut butter on a dog biscuit or a piece of real meat are good choices for the early sessions.

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    Give Several Small Meals At Set Meal Times

    Food aggression has been associated with both hunger and ad-lib feeding. Therefore, it might be a good idea to take a look at your dogs mealtime routine. Puppies should have several smaller meals throughout the day four in a 24 hour period is usually recommended for the first few weeks, steadily reducing as they age. If you are feeding less than this, your dog might be feeling extremely hungry at meal times, leading them to feel the need to guard their food.

    However, leaving food down in the bowl at all times is a bad idea, too. Ad-lib feeding means that your dog feels the need to be on edge constantly to protect his food. The sheer amount of time the food is in the bowl also increases the risk of an incident you cant avoid walking past the bowl all day! Dont leave your puppys food down indefinitely. If they dont eat whats in their bowl after 20 minutes or so, take the food away and offer it again an hour or two later. Remember, in a puppy showing signs of food aggression, dont simply walk over and take the food away – youll need to call them over to play a game elsewhere or find another way of distracting them.

    Dont forget to build a routine into your dogs mealtimes. This helps them know what to expect, and theyll feel a lot more secure about their meals if they know when their next meal can be expected.

    There May Be An Easy Solution To Your Dogs Resource Guarding

    Give and Take – Preventing Food Aggression in Dogs

    If your dog has recently started resource guarding, it may not be a behavioral issue at all. Before you take steps to modify their behavior, be sure to rule out the following scenarios.

    • Your dog isnt getting enough to eat. Dogs who are constantly hungry will be a lot more protective of their nutritional resources. Be sure your dog is eating enough. If you feed your dogs together, make sure to watch them as they eat. Its not uncommon for one dog to finish a bowl of food and then move in on their neighbors dinner.
    • Your dog is ill or in pain. Rule out any medical issues, especially if your dog starts acting different without much warning.
    • Your dog isnt getting enough mental or physical stimulation. Dogs need to exercise their brains and their bodies to thrive, and dogs who dont get enough stimulation will start acting out in all kinds of negative ways.
    • Your dog is a puppy. Thats right sometimes puppies will try out behaviors with people and other dogs to see what kind of response they get. Because this is a behavior that you dont want to encourage, you should still follow the steps outlined in this article. Just keep in mind that your puppy is still learning the difference between right and wrong.

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