3 min read


Why Do Dogs Show Food Aggression



3 min read


Why Do Dogs Show Food Aggression




It is five o’clock on a Wednesday, which means your dogs are hungry and ready for dinner. You go into the kitchen and pull out their dog bowls. You begin to prepare their dinner. Soon enough, you hear a few whines and heavy breathing. Their tails are wagging viciously and they are more than ready to devour their meal. You feel rushed because you can tell how aggressively desperate they are to get their hands on the dinner you are preparing. As owners, it is best to know why your dog has food aggression, so you may handle their dinner properly. 

The Root of the Behavior

Food aggression can be a scary thing when you are an outsider looking in. Dogs can become extremely protective of the food they are after. They will do whatever they need to, even if it is a threatening act to keep dogs, humans, and anyone else away from their property. Food aggression can be a huge problem, especially if you own more than one pet. This behavior is not a common occurrence in every dog, but some dogs do have it. There is always a reason for this behavior and you can easily spot when a dog has it. When your dog is eating, they will hover over their food and they may also have visible sight on anyone and everything around them. If you come near a dog that is food aggressive, they may growl and display a strong guard. Most dogs that display food aggression are displaying a role. When dogs are in packs, the alpha leader will eat first after a hunt. Your dog may be trying to fulfill the alpha role. You must teach your dog that you are their leader and their owner. This will dismiss any confusion between roles. Yet, beyond this, there are other reasons why your dog may act aggressively. Your dog may just be food driven and wants his food. It is an act of desperation and it is the most common reason for food aggression. If your dog feels like you might take away his food, he may also be protective of it. This can stem from past situations of toys, treats, or food being taken away. If your dog has always been aggressive with his food, it may be because he doesn't know any better. Dogs will pick up behavior traits from anywhere, and it could be a natural behavior. It is important to understand your dog’s food aggression, put a stop to it, and create better behavior through training. 

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Encouraging the Behavior

Food aggression is a behavior that is not to be encouraged, ever. Aggression is not a habit you want to establish in your dog, whether that is with you or other animals. To begin, you may want to discover why your dog is acting aggressively when they are eating. Once you discover the issue, you will want to put a stop to it. The most important thing is helping your dog understand that they are safe and their food is not going anywhere. Establish a relationship with your pet where they know that you are their owner and they are your pet. This will help them understand that you feed them and they do not have to fulfill an alpha role. If your dog is still struggling with food aggression, it could be important to set aside their dinner time apart from others so they feel safe. If there are other dogs around, you can work with them, as well, teaching them that each dog has their own food and they cannot take each other’s food. Food aggression can be as easy as socializing your dog to their environment and redirecting their behavior to a proper one. This can make all the difference in the world. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

If you discover that your dog is displaying food aggression, you will want to re-train them. When you are teaching them to dissolve this habit, you will want to involve everyone in your family who is important to their life. Have your dog eat around other people and dogs. This will teach them that they are safe and it will also teach them to reverse the behavior. Do not reward your dog when they display this behavior either. Make it a process where they need to earn their food. Everything in this process will be about teaching your dog the proper techniques when eating, so they feel safe and secure. 


Dogs and humans love food because it fuels our bodies and our minds. It can be the most exciting part of our day. With our dogs, we must show them that they are safe and aggression is not tolerated when they are eating. Everyone wants to feel safe and good when it is time to eat.

By a Golden Retriever lover Erika Seidel

Published: 02/14/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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