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I am the Owner/President of Snaggle Foot Dog Walks & Pet Care in Round Lake Beach, Illinois. I live there with my puppy Bandit. I love reading stories and information about pets which could help both owners and animals.  Please feel free to check out our dog walking and pet sitting services.

Friday, July 25, 2014

7 Stages To Treat Food Agression In Dogs

By:  Laurie Brzostowski, President, Snaggle Foot Dog Walks and Pet Care, Round Lake, IL

As the Owner/President of a pet care business, it is not unusual for us to come across some dogs that are food aggressive.

This can be dangerous, especially if the dog is over-aggressive he/she could snap at you or actually bite you if you try to interfere with feeding and/or with this food bowl. Below is some information regarding food aggression and how you can go about stopping it.

However, if you feel that you are not able to help your dog with food aggression, please contact a trainer or behaviorist that can help you!

First off, let's start with the definition of food aggression: 

Food aggression is a subtype of possessive aggression. Possessive aggression occurs when a dog displays aggression (show teeth, growl, snap, lunge, bite) related to any item that the dog considers valuable, such as food, toys, resting place, etc. Three types of food aggression are defined below. 
  1.  Mild Food Aggression: Dog shows teeth and/or growls when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession of or near food or a food-related item.
  2. Moderate Food Aggression: Dog snaps and/or lunges when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession of or near food or a food-related item.
  3. Severe Food Aggression tendencies: Dog bites when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession of or near food or a food-related item.
Here are 7 stages to help prevent or stop food aggression in dogs:

Stage 1:
  • Stand a few feet away from your dog while he eats dry kibble from a bowl on the floor. Do not move toward your dog.
  • Say something like, “What have you got there?” in a conversational tone and, at the same time, toss a special treat toward the bowl. Continue to do this every few seconds until your dog finishes eating his kibble.
  • Repeat this exercise each time you feed your dog until he eats in a relaxed way for 10 meals in a row. Then you can move on to Stage Two.
During your exercises, if your dog leaves the bowl and moves toward you to ask for more treats, just ignore him. Wait until he goes back to his bowl and starts eating again before tossing more tasty treats.

Stage 2:

  • While your dog eats dry kibble from a bowl on the floor, say “What have you got there?” in a conversational tone. At the same time, take one step toward him and toss a special treat toward the bowl. Then immediately step back. Repeat this sequence every few seconds until your dog has finished eating.
  • Each day, take one step closer to your dog before tossing him the special treat. Continue at this stage until you come within two feet of the bowl. When your dog eats in a relaxed way for 10 meals in a row as you repeatedly approach and stand two feet away and give him a treat, you’re ready to move to the next stage.
Stage 3:
  • While your dog eats dry kibble from a bowl on the floor, approach him saying “What have you got there?” in a conversational tone. Stand next to your dog’s bowl and drop a special treat into it. Then immediately turn around and walk away.
  • Repeat this sequence every few seconds until your dog has finished eating. When he eats in a relaxed way for 10 meals in a row, you’re ready for the next stage.
 Stage 4:
  • While your dog eats dry kibble from a bowl on the floor, approach him saying “What have you got there?” in a conversational tone. Stand next to your dog, holding a special treat in your hand. Bend down slightly, holding the treat out just an inch or two in your dog’s direction. Encourage him to stop eating the food in the bowl to take the treat. After he eats the treat from your hand, immediately turn around and walk away. Repeat this sequence every few seconds until your dog has finished eating.
  • Each day, bend down a little more when you offer your dog the special treat so that your hand moves an inch or two closer to his bowl. Stay at this stage until you can bend down and hold your hand with the treat right next to your dog’s bowl. When your dog eats relaxed for 10 meals in a row as you repeatedly approach to bend down and offer him a treat next to his bowl, you’re ready for the next stage.
Stage 5:
  • While your dog eats dry kibble from a bowl on the floor, approach him saying “What have you got there?” in a conversational tone. Stand next to your dog, bend down and touch his bowl with one hand while offering him a special treat with your other hand.
  • Continue to do this every few seconds until your dog has finished the food in his bowl. When your dog eats relaxed for 10 meals in a row, you can move to the next stage.
Stage 6:
  • While your dog eats dry kibble from a bowl on the floor, approach him saying “What have you got there?” in a conversational tone. Stand next to your dog, bend and pick up his bowl with one hand. Raise it only six inches off the floor and drop a special treat in the bowl. Then immediately return the bowl to the floor so that your dog can eat from it.
  • Continue to do this every few seconds until your dog has finished all the food in his bowl. As you repeat the sequence, raise the bowl slightly higher off the floor each time until you can lift it all the way up to your waist and stand upright.
  • Repeat the sequence, but when you pick up your dog’s bowl, walk over to a table or counter with it. Then put a special treat into the bowl, walk back to your dog and return the bowl to the same place on the floor.
Stage 7:
  • The last stage is to have all adult family members go through stages one through six. Each person needs to start at the beginning and progress through the steps the same way, always making sure that your dog continues to look relaxed and comfortable during exercises. Don’t assume that because your dog is okay with one person approaching his bowl, he’ll automatically be comfortable with another person doing the same thing. He has to learn that the rules work the same way with everyone.
  • The entire treatment program above is gradual enough to help your dog relax and anticipate the special treats rather than feel threatened and become aggressive when people approach him while he’s eating. Through the exercises, your dog will learn that people approaching his food bowl bring even tastier food—they’re not coming to take his food away from him.
Food aggression can be dangerous so it is important that if your dog starts to show signs of food aggression make sure you take the time to stop this behavior.  Again, if you are having problems doing this on your own, please seek professional help.
Food aggression is a subtype of possessive aggression. Possessive aggression occurs when a dog displays aggression (show teeth, growl, snap, lunge, bite) related to any item that the dog considers valuable, such as food, toys, resting place, etc. Three types of food aggression are defined below.
  1. Mild Food Aggression: Dog shows teeth and/or growls when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession of or near food or a food-related item.
  2. Moderate Food Aggression: Dog snaps and/or lunges when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession of or near food or a food-related item.
  3. Severe Food Aggression tendencies: Dog bites when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession of or near food or a food-related item.
- See more at: http://centerforshelterdogs.org/Home/DogBehavior/ProblemsandManagement/FoodAggression.aspx#sthash.Pb8uc3q9.dpuf
Food aggression is a subtype of possessive aggression. Possessive aggression occurs when a dog displays aggression (show teeth, growl, snap, lunge, bite) related to any item that the dog considers valuable, such as food, toys, resting place, etc. Three types of food aggression are defined below.
  1. Mild Food Aggression: Dog shows teeth and/or growls when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession of or near food or a food-related item.
  2. Moderate Food Aggression: Dog snaps and/or lunges when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession of or near food or a food-related item.
  3. Severe Food Aggression tendencies: Dog bites when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession of or near food or a food-related item.
- See more at: http://centerforshelterdogs.org/Home/DogBehavior/ProblemsandManagement/FoodAggression.aspx#sthash.Pb8uc3q9.dpuf

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