Food Aggression

Food aggression and resource guarding are not as uncommon as you think.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, our furry friends are always in communication with us. Even though a language barrier exists, our k9’s utilize other methods to get their message across and help us understand what needs and desires they wish to be met.

One example of this unconventional form of communication is known as resource guarding. 

Resource guarding is often witnessed at the dog’s food bowl (but can be with dropped treats and toys as well).

Signs of resource guarding:

  1. Quickened eating (shows dog is not willing to share
    2. Dog walks away from bowl (not ok with approaching, but recognizes they’re not strong enough)
    3. Dogs shows a “side glance” or lowering of their body (wants to protect contents & shields you from accessing them)

Each of these behaviors are threats that your furry friend are physically communicating to you.

To find out whether or not your pup exhibits this behavior, a simple test can be administered, with caution of course.

  1. Place your dog’s bowl of food on the floor,
    2. walk away and then re-approach him or her.
    3. As you are walking towards them, note the body language they exhibit.
    4. If your dog shows teeth, growls, snaps, hovers over the bowl or gives you side eye then there is some level of resource guarding.

Of course the desired reaction is no reaction at all. You want your pup to be okay with you approaching their space and bowl while they are eating their meal. Keep in mind though, it is not uncommon for a dog to display an adverse response. The pup is guarding something that is incredibly vital for their survival – food.

If these signs are not respected, your pup may lash out and behave in a manner that is aggressive and potentially harmful to you or others Thus, if witnessing any of these signs, you should stop and not proceed any further. There are actions that can be taken to assist your pup in warming up to the idea of you being near during mealtime.

Drills to do:

  1. do not seize the bowl or continuing forward, as these signs can validate the resource guarding in the dog’s mind and may lead to aggression.
    2. As you attempt to encourage your dog to welcome your closeness, slowly try placing dog treats around them as you approach.
    3.Once he or she lets you close enough, you can place the treats in the dog bowl itself, teaching your pup that you pose no threat.
    4.As this process continues, try serving your pup treats as you nudge them or place your hand in or around the bowl.

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