How To Reduce a Dog’s Food Aggression
When you’ve got a dog with food aggression issues, also known as ‘resource guarding, it’s important to start addressing the problem right away. The strategies I’m about to share with you are perfect for brand new puppies, as well as dogs who’ve just started to develop food aggression issues.
Please Note: If your dog has SEVERE cases of dog food aggression, you should seek the help of a trained professional by doing a search in google for dog behavior specialist, or dog trainer. This article is not meant to be the replacement of a professional trainer.
Also make sure you check out the type of training that the trainer you find uses. There are many different methods for training dogs, so it’s important to choose a trainer who uses positive reinforcement, and not electronic collars or punishment.
If you’d like to tackle your dog’s food aggression issues yourself, here are three things you need to do:
- Train your dog the ‘Leave it’ command. One way to train this behavior is to take something your dog likes, like a piece of cheese, and let your dog see you put it under your foot. Most dogs will try to dig out the food from under your shoe. Make sure to keep the cheese covered until the dog gives up. When your dog is no longer trying to get the food out from under your food, say “good boy” and let him have the food under your foot. If done early in a young puppies life, this stops dogs from ever developing dog aggression issues.The reason this technique is so powerful is it teaches the dog that there is an APPROPRIATE way to get the things he wants, and that he doesn’t have to growl or bite to prevent you from taking things from him… he just has to obey.If you’d like to see video of exactly how this behavior is trained, I dedicate a video on how to teach the “Leave It” command in my course, Hands Off Dog Training program.
- Train your dog the “Drop It” command. The drop it command is easier to teach then most people realize, and is another MUST train behavior if you want to prevent your dog from developing dog food aggression. It is also based around the philosophy that you just need to teach your dog an appropriate way to get what he wants, instead of biting.Here’s an example of how this works:Let’s say you have a dog who is chewing his bone and will growl, or nip at you when you reach down to take it. The reason the dog growls is because he values that item HIGHLY. Most pet owners will yell, swat or tell their dog that they are bad for growling or biting. But this is not a very effective strategy, and only makes the dog try to protect “His” property harder… often escalating the aggression.Instead of making our dog feel like he has to protect an item we want to take from him, or he’ll lose it forever… we need to change his thinking. We need to teach him that giving up things he loves means he gets even more rewarding things.This is done in a training environment where we can control what the dog receives. To start, give your dog something that he only ‘kind of’ wants like a ball for example. Tell your dog to ‘drop it’ or reach down to remove the item from your dogs mouth while saying drop it and take the item from your dog. Because we’ve chosen an item that your dog values very little, your dog shouldn’t be bothered that you’re taking it from him… and as soon as he lets you take it say ‘good dog’ and give your dog a treat.
Done repeatedly this teaches your dog that giving up things in his possession means he gets MORE good things!
As your dog becomes better and better and giving up items he likes, start asking him to give up higher valued items. By teaching your dog to give up higher and higher value items every day, always getting a better reward, you can reprogram your dogs brain to respond to your drop it commands instead of feeling like he has to protect what he has and keep you from taking it.
If you’d like to see a wonderful video on how this is done, I’ve created a step-by-step training video for how to do this in the membership section of my website. To get a free 30 day trial of my dog training video membership site you can sign up here: http://thedogtrainingsecret.com
- The third and final technique for reducing your dog’s food aggression is simple and often VERY effective. Get your dog fixed. There are many studies out about how many behavior problems, as well as health problems can be fixed or avoided all together by getting your dog fixed before they reach puberty around 6 months of age. It doesn’t always fix the problem but it’s a very good idea.
For more information on how to fix your dog’s behavior problems, check out my Hands Off Dog Training program at http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/tips