How to Deal with Food Agression

It may seem completely normal for your dog to be aggressive around and protective of his food.  Generally that’s a trait most wild animals would display because food is such a precious resource to them.  Allowing your dog’s food aggression to continue unaddressed, though, is unwise.  Particularly if your dog is aggressive towards you around food, this can lead to a dangerous situation for you or another member of your family.  In order to understand how to address this problem, you need to understand what motivations your dog is really acting on.


Just like with many other problem behaviors, your dog’s food aggression is a result of a struggle for dominance.  In a pack, the leader or alpha eats first.  If your dog is aggressive towards other animals when food is involved, it’s often because your dog is trying to assert his dominance over them in the household hierarchy.  In a case like this, it is a good idea to separate the aggressive animal during meal times.

If your dog is aggressive towards you around food, it means that the dog feels he is fighting you for dominance.  This isn’t a situation you can afford to tolerate.  Even if your dog is small, it can become a big problem quickly.  You need to take steps to ensure that your dog knows you are in charge.  There are a variety of training techniques you can use to accomplish this quickly and safely.

Chain of Bad Behavior

Correcting your dog’s perception of your relationship can have a positive effect on just about every aspect of your dog’s behavior.  If your dog is aggressive when you are around his food, it’s likely that the dog is challenging your authority in other ways as well.

This may seem like an overwhelming situation.  In reality, you can fix all of these behaviors at once by establishing your role as alpha in all situations.  Once your dog knows that you are in charge, you’ll find his bad behaviors occur much less often and are easier to correct.  If you really think your dog may pose a physical threat to you or a member of your family though, you should consult a professional dog trainer.


Another reason your dog may be aggressive around food is that he doesn’t know if or when he will get more.  This confusion causes your dog to guard and hoard his food like he would do in the wild.  Structuring meal times and keeping him on a schedule can help to reassure your dog that he doesn’t need to worry about where his next meal is coming from.

There are a lot of effective ways to deal with food aggression in your dog.  Depending on the cause of the behavior and the extent or severity of the aggression, you may want to consult a professional dog trainer for advice or help in dealing with this type of problem.  You are not the only one who will benefit from addressing this problem either.  Your dog will be much happier and healthier once he knows that he doesn’t need to worry about protecting his food.

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Claudie on September 21st 2010 in Dog behavior, training Tips

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