Articles - Food Guarding
Caroline Kjall at DogBasics
Does your dog growl and/or snarl
over his food bowl? Have you been adviced to take the bowl away from
them to show that you are in control? PLEASE read this article before
you do anything!
Excerting dominance in a situation where an animal, be it a dog,
guinea pig or human, is in a protective mindset, will only aggrevate
You need to fix the fear issue before you try to teach your dog
how to behave around the food. You can only fix the fear of loosing
their food by making it clear to them, by way of action, that
Human + Food bowl = Keep
food AND Get Better food!
(without any messy handling of bowls, which will make them nervous)
This is what you should do:
Put the food bowl down with a small portion of their regular food and
back away from the dog.
No matter what the dog is doing - snarling, growling, snapping,
or just eating fast - you throw him a handfull of extra yummy treats
over his head or right next to him, so he can't miss it. These treats
have to be extra good, not just Smachoes, you are better off with
ham, chicken, meatballs, sausages, etc. As soon as you've
given the treats, walk away.
Avoid conflict at all cost
There is no point in telling them NO or removing the food bowl, it
would only aggrevate the conflict between you.
Wait until they've left the bowl well alone (walked out of the room),
fill it up with another little portion of their regular food and
start the whole process again.
When your dog rather looks at you and your treats than eating their
boring, regular food, or eat their food but lift their heads from
the bowl at just a gentle whisper off their name, you are getting
When you have a dog that wags his tail with ears pricked
forward and expectantly looks at you when you approach the food
bowl, then you've reached your goal!
This exercise has NOTHING to do with dominance. It is about fixing
a relationship that is broken. The only reason the dog is using aggression
towards you is because he/she doesn't trust you, in that particular
Agression is used in all species to control distance to the items/individuals
that we are upset about, so why can't we accept a dogs request for
distance and give them a chance to eat in peace?
Make them love having humans near their food bowl by loading them
with positive experiences around the food bowl,
rather than punishing them and trying to dominate them, when the
situation is already filled with conflict. It can backfire so very
badly and you can never guarantee that that dog that has been trained
to fear you won't have a back flash to their old ways in a specific
situation (if they are in pain, a specifically annoying human is
hovering around their food, or on a really stressful day).
Feel the need to show your power?
If you feel you have to use dominance to train your pet, you should
only use it when you are both in a stable and calm mood, not
when you and/or the dog are upset, stressed or frightened!