Friday, September 10, 2010

preventing food aggression in dogs

       That cute little puppy may be all kisses and sunshine most of the day and suddenly become a flash of white fangs and low growls when he is around food.  This is unfortunately an all to common scenario and it is how the pet parent handles this situation before it becomes a problem that is crucial. It is important to understand it is not the growling that is the problem behavior, the real problem is what is causing the growling.  A growl is your dogs only way of warning you he will bite if you continue doing what you are doing.  Do not punish or reprimand a dog for growling because to a dog your yelling is translated to you growling right back at him.  If you successfully deal with what is causing the growling your pup will calm down and the growling will stop.

    You must step back and review the situation if food aggression has already reared its ugly head you may need to seek a professional such as an animal behaviorist or a professional trainer. You will need all the help you can get because a food aggressive dog WILL bite.  You need to take precautions especially if there are other pets in the home and especially if there are children.

    Once you have accessed the situation there are a few simple rules that can help you get on your way to preventing food aggression and even making it a thing of the past.

First always keep in mind you are your pack leader, every person in the home must represent themselves as the pack leaders.In a wolf pack the alpha male and female eat first.  In your home dinner time is for humans, do not give your dog table scraps.  This will establish pack order

Second in the wild food is not served to a wolf , the wolf must work for its every meal.   Use this primal need to work for their meals to your advantage.  only feed your dog when you know he is at his hungriest.  Feed him after taking him out for some exercise, a long walk.  So when he comes home he feels like he has worked for his meal. Also exercise puts a dogs mind in a calm submissive state where it will be easier for him to accept you as his pack leader and will be hungry and rid of anxious energy, enough to be more willing to obey your orders. Only feed a calm dog, a dog that patiently sits and awaits for his meal.  You wouldn't feed a screaming toddle who wont even sit still, same rules apply. anxiousness is like rudeness don't reward any unwanted behavior but reward a patient calm dog with a good meal.

Something I learned watching a training show and actually tried at home was to mix my pups food with my own hands to get my scent mixed in.  This way he knows he is getting this food because of me.  I am the packs provider.

Whatever your dog does not consume in say 20 30 minutes take away do not leave food around  for him to feed on at his hearts content.  Food is a reward and it is brought only by the pack leaders after hard work is done.  Establish a feeding ritual.  So that the dog knows what behavior will get him his meal and will be exhibiting this behavior quicker and quicker with every day that passes. Be consistent you cannot feed after a walk one day and then the next give your dog food simply because he whines.  Other wise your dog will not learn the desire behavior, dogs thrive off consistency.

From puppy hood or from the moment you get your dog you must let them know that every need he has will be fulfilled by you. Let him know you are in charge and he never needs to feel like he needs to take the position of pack leader to seek stability.  Dogs live in the moment so do not worry about the way you fed your dog before.  He will begin to respond to these changes from day one.  Food can throw your dog into a primal state where he might react in a way that he would never act during a walk or during leisure time, so execute extreme caution at all times. 
   Remember if there is already aggressive behavior present seek help in order to avoid further injury. But prevention is the best medicine:

*Establish yourself and the humans in the home as pack leaders they eat first at all times.

*Provide for an outlet to your dogs extra energy through proper exercise before feeding time.

*Feed only a calm pup and feed the calmest dog first if you have more than one.

*Make your dog wait patiently before setting the food down, any unwanted behavior will not be rewarded.

*If your dog does not finish his food right away take it away until he earns it again at next feeding time,
establish a routine and stick to it.

These tips will not only help prevent food aggression but they will help maintain a proper balance in your home. Take the steps and help your pup feel fulfilled and relaxed to know he has a pack leader. All your pup needs to do is follow his instinct to please you, this will make for a happy pup and for a happy home! 

Get more information of the feeding ritual at:

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