Wolfie is Protective of His Food and a Little Aggressive

It is kind of strange.  Wolfie is normally a great dog, but sometimes he gets protective and aggressive with his food.  I don't want this to continue because I don't want anyone go get hurt by mistake.  What can I do to help Wolfie over this?

Aggression with any animal is not a great thing.  The good news that we can offer with canine food aggression is that we have a clear set of actions that can be taken to minimize or eliminate this issue.  We first have to think about the reasons Wolfie might be food aggressive and/or possessive.  

If Wolfie was a stray or a rescue, that could naturally cause possessive aggressive actions regarding food.  In this case, his food was a limited resource that was critical to his safety and health.  Naturally, he would act in such a manner to protect such an asset.  If Wolfie was starved intentionally or through neglect, that could also be a cause for his aggressive and/or possessive attitude towards food.  In this instance, the root cause could stem from poor nutrition.  

So what can we do to alleviate Wolfie's food aggression?  There are several actions that you can immediately perform.  Let's discuss some of them now:

  • Be sure you are the one who decides when mealtime will take place.  If Wolfie can boss you into feeding him when he wants, he will not see you as the sole provider of the food.  He will not recognize that you are not the one responsible for his well being.
  • Try scatter-feeding Wolfie.  Take his food and scatter it on the ground or in the yard.  He now is focused on grazing across a large area and not protecting an exact spot.  Hide some food behind a chair or under a plant so that it will take extra time to find it.
  • Teach Wolfie basic obedience such as "leave it", "stay", and "wait".  Exercise these commands during feeding time or even when giving him a little treat.  This will direct Wolfie's focus to you as the provider of food.  It will also direct him to wait until you allow him to take the treat or have his dinner.
  • If you need Wolfie to move away from his food, never directly approach him and his food bowl.  This is a naturally aggressive act and might trigger Wolfie to respond. Call Wolfie to you.  You are redirecting his attention to you and when Wolfie responds, you are enforcing that you are his care giver.  The food is not as important as obeying you.
  • If needed, use the leash when feeding.  This will help you redirect him away from the food, if needed, without becoming physical.
  • Never feed Wolfie in a corner.  This limits his options if anyone approaches him and also heightens any aggressive or protective tendencies he still may have.
  • If you have multiple dogs, feed them separately until you can resolve the food issue.  Introduce them back together one at a time.  Always be present and between them to assure them that you are the provider and you will guarantee that they all have the nutrition they need.
When there is an issue with any form of canine aggressive/possessive behavior, the important point is to take it slow.  You are setting the scene to allow Wolfie to come to the conclusion that everything is fine and he is safe.  He needs to learn this at his own pace and in an environment where he has the ability to learn.  This is not set on a specific time table.

If you need additional information on anything we have discussed, please feel free to go to our web site for more information or to gain our direct contact information: South Florida Dog Trainers


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