The Hows and Whys of Food Aggression Avoidance in Dogs

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Food aggression is a relatively common but potentially dangerous habit for dogs. If your dog exhibits signs of food aggression, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian for advice. Avoiding food aggression helps to reduce your dog’s anxiety and to protect your family. Here is what you need to know about food aggression and steps you can take to avoid it.

What exactly is food aggression?

Food aggression occurs when a dog acts out when a person or other animal approaches his or her food or treats. It can range from mild aggression, in which the dog growls when approached while eating or while near food, to severe aggression, in which the dog bites to protect his or her food from perceived threats. Aggression typically gets worse with foods the dog prizes the most, such as canned dog food or treats. Food aggression is in part instinct with dogs. They also may learn aggression if they have to compete with other members of their litter for food or if they share a bowl with other dogs.

Why is food aggression dangerous?

Food aggression can be dangerous for the humans in the household who approach the dog while he or she is eating, especially children who may not understand how to carefully interact with the dog. Aggression can be dangerous for your dog if you have more than one pet in your household, as it can lead to fights between the animals.

What should you do if your dog shows food-related aggression?

Stopping food aggression before it starts is the best strategy. You can do this by feeding your puppy treats out of your hand while petting him or her. You can also hold your puppy’s food while he or she eats. If your dog aggressively defends food, talk to your veterinarian about a referral to a behaviorist.

Don’t let behavioral issues interfere with your enjoyment of your pup or his or her safety. The veterinarians at Chastain Veterinary Medical Group can assist with behavioral advice and referrals to specialists when necessary. Make an appointment to talk to a vet at our one of north Texas animal hospitals by calling (972) 239-1309 for Preston Road Animal Hospital in Dallas or by calling (972) 529-5033 for Meadow Brook Animal Hospital in the McKinney/Frisco area.

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