Aggressiveness when Eating Dog Food – Aggression

Aggressiveness when Eating Dog Food – Aggression

by Rose

I have a 4 year old dog (half Golden Retriever, half Great Pyrenees) that is unapproachable when he is eating his food. When he was a small puppy we would sit with him when he ate and pretend to eat his food, take the food away and give it back to him with no problems at all. During the last couple of years he has been kenneled outside during the day while we were at work and we would leave food in the kennel for him to eat during the day.
One weekend when we were feeding him in the house, we happen to approach him at his dog dish and he started to growl, this was a very nasty lip raised type of growl. At that time we did a “down” with him and then put him in the submissive position and held him there for a few minutes. (Dog on side with legs pulled up) Since then he will no longer eat in the house. He is an extremely lovable and obedient dog, and does not exhibit any other aggressive behavior.
Any help you could give us would be extremely appreciated!
Thank you.

Hi Rose – I see you have been watching Cesar Millan – using the roll technique. There are a number of ways that you could stop your dog from displaying what is commonly called dog food aggression. It sounds to me that your dog has developed behavior that you were unaware of simply because you were not around to stop and control bad habits from forming. This isn’t your fault it’s just that your dog has started to become very protective over his food and the environment directly around his food i.e. his kennel (whether he is inside or out, he is percieving it as his area).

I am assuming that you want to be able to feed your dog inside the House and be able to get close to your dog.

I would therefore start by letting your dog know that you are the boss and it’s you that is in control of when and how much he gets fed. Don’t feed your dog before you eat – and never feed your dog on a higher level than where you and the family eat. Here are some techniques…

1. Start from the beginning – a technique that is popular with some dog trainers is the hand feeding technique. Hand feed your dog small amounts of his food and gently stroke him as you do it.

2. Use basic dog training commands such as sit and come – and then feed your dog. Remember that you want your dog to earn his food. Then praise and reward.

3. If your dog is growling when he sees you approaching (remain safe) gradually over a period of days or weeks start moving closer to him as he eats. You could throw treats on the floor as you approach.

4. A technique that a friend of ours used is to put the dog bowl down empty – then wait for your dog to look at you. Then walk up to your dog and feed him – you guessed it you are now really close. If you hear growling take the food away. You don’t want to reward negative behavior otherwise he will start doing it every-time as he knows by growling he gets what he wants. If he remains quiet when you are putting the food in the empty bowl, give him lots of praise and gently stroke and speak calmly to him giving him praise.

5. Every-time you walk past your dog when he is eating put a small treat in the bowl. This will get your dog used to you approaching and therefore he will see it as a positive experience. After a while substitute the treats for a pat on the head and praise.

If you ever feel in danger or are worried that it is getting beyond your control, visit a dog behavior expert or your vet.

Hope this helps, it should certainly keep you busy. Let us know how you get on.