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Tuesday Training Byte: Dealing with food aggression

There are some steps one can do to eliminate this problem. In addition, food aggression can lead to other resource guarding behaviors. But first we need to recognize it. Does you dog look stiff in it's body with a lowered head? Is it growling or showing teeth? Lunging or biting another dog or a person that is by his food dish? If you have had your dog do this when you set down his bowl, backing away may make matters worse. In the "pack", the alpha dog always eats first after a hunt. If your dogs are in your house at mealtime, have the humans eat first, then the dog(s) as this sets you up as the alpha. Dogs have great internal clocks, so keeping to a schedule and routine is very helpful. We feed our dogs twice a day, and they are fed in their crates. This helps eliminate food aggression between the dogs. If you have one dog, it makes it easier to fix. Start with your dog in his crate as you prepare his food. Teach your dog the command "Wait" as you set the bowl down, and then release the dog to eat. For dogs that are more overtly aggressive, toss a kibble or two along with a treat in his bowl while you are standing near. Repeat until you have given your dog his regular portion of kibble. On day two or three toss some kibble in the bowl a few times. When the bowl is empty, pick up the empty bowl while making your dog "Wait". Give about half of your pup's regular portion of kibble, making him wait until you set it down and release him. Repeat this process with the last half of his portion. Remain standing or sitting near his bowl while he finishes his food. Have your dog learn to take treats nicely from your hand and even hand feed some of his kibble so he get accustomed to you being in charge of that in a non-threatening manner. To solidify my alpha position, I teach my dogs the "drop it" command. I start this with a toy, have the dog drop it and I give them a high value treat and then return to toy. I graduate to a bone until the dog is comfortable with me taking the bone away and touching him while he has it. This training can be a long process, but your consistency and patience be worth it. Pictured is my American Water Spaniel rescue boy that had food aggression. Here we have graduated to having him release the bone to me and being comfortable with me petting him with his bone. He has a relaxed facial expression and body language and does not feel threatened in any way.

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