A dog showing aggression to protect his food is no simple matter. It doesn’t only pose danger to other dogs but also to the humans in the house. Over time, it may also lead to the dog growing possessive over many other things.
Understanding Food Aggression
Food aggression is a dog’s form of resource guarding wherein he becomes defensive when eating, using threats to keep others away. This kind of behavior may be directed towards other dogs, animals, or even humans. Below are the three degrees of food aggression:
● Mild – the dog may growl and show his teeth
● Moderate – the dog retorts or lunges when you approach him
● Severe – the dog bites
Food aggression may be triggered when your pet:
● Is fed different foods.
● Feels that they’re entitled to more food than others.
It’s natural for dogs to show a degree of food aggression since they’re pack animals. Their instinctive behavior is to vie for a top position in the pack order.
However, if you don’t take appropriate measures to stop food aggression, it can result in injuries. A Dubai pet food company gives you the following tips to help ensure that mealtimes don’t erupt into a battle over food between dogs.
1. Evaluate your dog’s emotions around food
Do any of your dogs prance around or leap in excitement when you are putting the food bowl down? Or do they sit calmly and wait? If you have a dog who gets excited before or during mealtimes, you should keep this canine out of sight, sound, and smell before preparing their food.
Keeping food away before the scheduled mealtime will help tone down the dog’s stress levels. If you have two or more calm dogs, you can simple space out the bowls in the kitchen.
2. Place each dog in a separate room
If your two dogs fight during mealtimes, try placing them in a separate room. You can also close a door or place a dog barrier between feeding areas. When dogs can’t see or reach each other, they won’t be able to fight over food.
For a trial run, try feeding your dogs separately for a few days. Gradually, move food bowls closer together in a room to train your dogs to eat calmly without arguing over food. If your dogs fight again, move the food bowls farther apart again.
If during training any of your dogs return to their previous argumentative behavior, start over by placing each of them in a separate room. It’s important that you let them get along and build a good relationship first before feeding them together.
3. Set a time limit
Set a specific time for your dogs to finish eating. Allow 5-10 minutes for them to consume the food then pick-up their bowls. After cleaning their food bowls, store them out of sight rather than leaving them on the floor, especially if you have a canine who tends to protect his food.
4. Stick to a feeding schedule
Strive to maintain a feeding schedule so that your dogs will feel assured that they’ll get fed and not go hungry. Standard practice is to feed them twice or thrice a day. You can either feed during the morning and evening or morning, noon, and evening.
5. Reprimand bad behavior
Whenever your two dogs eat, stand between them and watch for any signs of possessive aggression. This may include growling, a long stare, or showing of teeth. If any of your dogs exhibit behavior that can be threatening, reprimand the pup immediately by saying “stop” loudly or opening an automatic umbrella to startle him.
6. Reinforce good behavior
If both your dogs are slowly learning to not react toward each other during mealtime, reinforce their good behavior by giving some treats. This will make your canines realize that they did something good and that they need to maintain that behavior.
Be a responsible mediator
When it comes to reprimanding your dog, you need to be firm and demonstrate no bias. Both dogs shouldn’t feel that you favor the other pup. It’s also important that you keep your cool and not punish or angrily reprimand your dogs for fighting.
Having aggression on your part would only escalate your dog’s aggression towards another animal. Instead, remain calm, consistent, and train your dogs in phases to ensure peaceful meals.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet's Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a BSc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.
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