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Dog Behavior Library

Food Bowl Aggression

What Is It?
The dog defends his food bowl from you by using a controlling posture such as; growling, snapping, or biting.

What Causes It?
A tendency to control, or, a fear you will steal/remove the food.

Who Does It?
Dogs who have not been properly taught that all the food belongs to the owner.

When Does It Happen?
Dogs start as a puppy, and if the behavior is not corrected, the problem worsens.

Where Does It Happen?
Where the dog is fed. In addition, the dog may guard the empty bowl, or a bag of dog food.

How Can I Stop It?
For puppies and non-controlling adult dogs:

  • Handle the dog while he's eating. 

  • Pick up and put down the food bowl while he's eating.

  • Make the dog sit to earn food.

For adult and controlling dogs:

  • Use leadership exercises to show that you are the dog's leader in other situations.
  • Use "Learn to Earn" tactics. Make the dog perform Instructions to earn his food.
  • Hand feed first 10 kibbles; then, drop a few kibbles, or a special treat, in an empty bowl.
  • The dog learns that your hand near his bowl means that food is coming.
  • Use "time out" outside, or use a tether.

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