We are committed to provide service 24 X 7

Deals, Shopping, Training, Tools

Food aggression is quite common in dogs. One particular study reported that nearly 20 percent of all dogs show signs of food aggression.

Food aggression is a territorial reaction a dog experiences when eating meals or treats, in which they use hostile behavior to guard their food.

When a dog shows aggression to protect his food, it can be a serious issue. Not only is there the danger of other dogs or humans in the house being bitten, but over time it can lead to the dog becoming possessive over everything.

Employing punitive attempts to change them, such as making the dog wait and perform numerous tasks for food, or factors that cause increased hunger might tend to exacerbate rather than diminish the behavior.

Experts say that dogs that are possessive are more likely to increase their aggression if you keep taking away their food or toy and giving nothing positive in return.

If your dogs guard or show aggression around food contact your vet or a canine behaviourist. They will have some great advice and tips to both prevent and manage your dogs aggression around food.

Puppy Food Aggression

Young puppies are prone to guarding behavior because they often have to compete with their littermates for limited amounts of food.

Breeders and owners often feed puppies from one large communal pan. The puppy who manages to eat the most will grow the quickest and become the strongest.

If an owner is not observant, this situation can deteriorate into one or two puppies monopolizing most of the food. A history of being rewarded for aggressive behavior can become firmly established in these puppies.

If your puppy or puppies are showing a little food aggression, don’t panic. But this doesn’t mean you should ignore this bad puppy behavior. Taking active steps at the first sign of aggression, or doing some positive reinforcement training even before it starts will help curb the behavior.

Levels of Food Aggression in Dogs

There are three levels of food aggression in dogs to watch out for:

  • Mild Food Aggression– the dog growls and may bare its teeth when approached or touched when in possession of food
  • Moderate Food Aggression- when approached, the dog snaps or lunges at a person when approached or touched when in possession of food
  • Severe Food Aggression- the dog bites a person when approached or touched when it’s in possession of food

Signs of Food Aggression in Dogs

When a dog is eating, his body will stiffen and he may keep his head down. He is using his body language to “hover” over the meal and protect it.

Other signs are that the whites of your dog’s eyes may be visible, their ears are held back, their tail is lowered, or their hackles may rise. A dog may show any or all of these signs. Finally, there are the above mentioned signs of the severity of the problem: growling, lunging, or biting.

Reasons For This Behavior

The behavior is most likely a combination of genetics, early experiences during puppyhood and learned behaviors. Some surmise that puppies develop this tendency if the entire litter was fed out of one bowl and puppies had to compete for food.

However, some dogs may growl if they have medical conditions that cause pain when at the food bowl. Examples of such is a broken tooth or arthritis. Other medical conditions that increase their appetite or thirst may cause dogs to be aggressive around their bowls, too.

That’s why it’s important to ask your veterinarian to rule out medical causes first. This is because resolution of those conditions may in turn eliminate the food guarding and aggression.

Treating Food Aggression in Dogs

Once your veterinary professional and the animal behaviorist have done their evaluations, an appropriate treatment plan will be developed and initiated.

Your canine family member may require some specialized home retraining to eliminate or reduce the aggressive behavior.

Food aggression in dogs can range from mild growling to severe attacks. It is important to understand that not all food aggression needs to be treated.

These training programs are generally multi-stage or multi-step processes. They will gradually teach your pet that they need not fear the loss of food which they have instinctively protected.


Another powerful tool for addressing food aggression and reactive behavior is to prevent it altogether. The less opportunity that you give your dog to exhibit bad behaviors, the better. To do this, you’ll want to identify occasions where your dog may act anxious or aggressive when eating.

The most common interactions that will result in your dog guarding his food is when a person or another animal comes a little too close for comfort. In terms of people, the solution is simple – don’t bother the dog while he eats.

Once you put your dog’s food bowl on the floor, give him space to eat and he won’t have any reason to react or get aggressive.


Your Cart is Empty

Back To Shop