Does your dog get possessive about his food? This type of response is known as resource guarding, or more specifically, food aggression. Food aggression is quite common in our canine pals. One report estimated that about 20 percent of pups have this quirk. In this article from Armitage Animal Clinic, a Newmarket, ON vet gives some insight on this issue.
Resource guarding is quite normal for dogs. It varies quite a bit as far as severity: some pups may just get possessive over a favorite toy, while others guard bones and chews. Food aggression is a resource-guarding behavior that happens when dogs get possessive about food. This can happen with any pooch, but it’s particularly common with those that have been neglected or abandoned, as well as former strays.
In some cases, food aggression begins in puppyhood, particularly if a pooch has to fight for resources. As one may expect, pups that have been through abuse, neglect, or trauma can also be prone to food aggression. Dogs that have spent time in shelters are also more inclined to this behavior. Resource guarding is also more prevalent in certain breeds, particularly those with strong guarding instincts, like Rottweilers and German Shepherds.
What To Do
In mild cases, food aggression can be handled simply by taking a few basic precautions. For instance, you may want to feed Fido in a separate room or in his crate. Making sure that your furry buddy always has plenty of food can also be helpful, though you don’t want to overfeed him. It’s also a good idea to simply leave your canine pal alone while he eats. That said, more severe cases may need to be addressed by a professional. If a dog is lunging or biting, at that point it’s becoming dangerous. Children are at especially high risk of getting bit, as they can’t really read Fido’s body language. They may also just not know to stay away from a pooch that is eating.
In some cases, dogs can unlearn their aggression. Desensitization training can be quite effective with some pups. The key is to slowly get Fido used to having people around him when he eats. Ask your vet or a professional dog trainer for specific advice.
Here at Armitage Animal Clinic, your local Newmarket, ON animal clinic, we’re dedicated to offering top-notch care. Contact us anytime!