Dog's food guarding behavior
Some dogs are normally good-tempered. But they should never be touched while eating.
Food guarding behaviors can be as minor as baring teeth in warning, or as serious as biting and hurting someone, and is a potential danger especially for families with small children, requiring parental intervention.
Why do some dogs guard their food?
The main points:
- Firstly, it is in the nature of dogs to protect food as an instinct for survival. Protecting food belongs to resource protection, which is an instinctive behavior for survival.
- Secondly, they have been starved before, so when they see food, they want to be the first to grab it into their mouths, so dogs in rescue centers or used to be stray are more likely to be protective of food.
- Third, hierarchical status. Dogs are pack animals, there is a clear status hierarchy between them, usually the eldest first to eat, and then to the weaker dog to eat. However, if the owner pampers the dog, or even reverses the status, then the dog will naturally think that he is the boss, and is prone to food guarding behavior.
- Fourth, genetic inheritance.
However, food protection is resource conservation, which is an instinctive behavior for survival.
Food guarding behavior in dogs does not imply excessive aggression or a desire to challenge human dominance, and it can be corrected.
How to prevent it?
For puppies and adult dogs that don't show food guarding, there are some simple exercises we can do to prevent it:
When your dog first arrives home, feed your dog several meals by hand, sitting him down and feeding him one bite at a time. Talk to your dog gently and pet him with your other hand while hand feeding.
If your dog is acting alert and upset, stop hand-feeding immediately and refer to the "How to correct it？" below.
If your dog is fine, put the bowl in your lap and continue talking and petting.
After a few meals, put the bowl on the floor and bend down to put a tempting piece of food in the bowl while the dog eats the kibble.
Do this intermittently for the first few months after arriving home, then the dog should remain relaxed and not feel threatened while eating.
How to correct it？
Prepare special snacks/treats, cut into tiny pieces, the kind that the dog really likes and doesn't normally get to eat.
● Step 1
While the dog is eating the bowl of dry food, we stand one or two meters away, talk gently to the dog and throw food into the bowl, every few seconds, until the dog eats 10 meals in a row in a relaxed state.
During the training period, if the dog leaves the food bowl and walks towards the parent to ask for food, ignore him until he goes back to continue eating the dry food in the bowl.
● Step 2
While the dog is eating the bowl of dry food, we speak gently and take a step towards him, throwing food into the bowl and then immediately backing away. Repeat every few seconds until the dog has finished eating.
The initial distance is the position of the previous step, and each day we start by moving a little closer to the dog until we can get within half a meter of the food bowl. If the dog can easily eat 10 meals in a row, move to the next step.
● Step 3
While the dog eats from the bowl, we stand next to the bowl, put down the food while talking and then turn away. Repeat every few seconds until the dog finishes eating.
● Step 4
While the dog is eating, hold the food in your hand while talking and bend slightly so that the food is sticking out a few centimeters in the dog's direction to encourage him to stop eating from the bowl to eat from his hand.
As soon as the dog finishes eating the food in his hand, turn around and walk away, repeating this every few seconds.
Each day we bend over a little more until we can get the food to the side of the bowl.
● Step 5
While the dog is eating, we talk and bend down to touch his bowl with one hand and give him food with the other, again repeating every few seconds.
While the dog is eating, we talk and bend down to pick up the bowl about 15cm from the floor, put in the food and return the bowl to its place immediately, every few seconds.
Repeat the exercise by lifting the bowl a little higher each time until it can be positioned at our waist. We then take the dog bowl to a table or cupboard, put in the food and walk back to put the bowl down.
● Step 7
If necessary, have all adults in the house repeat Steps 1-6 while instructing children not to approach the dog while he is eating.
1. control calories, the amount of staple food should be relatively reduced due to extra food.
2. Dogs eating too fast is not conducive to training, you can use a slow food bowl.
3. It is not advisable to let the dog free-feeding, that is, the bowl can not always have food, only at the scheduled time to feed.
4. Do not punish and intimidate the dog during training.
5. Dogs with a history of biting should be trained with caution and it is advisable to consult a dog trainer or apply for a dog school.
When the dog attacks another person/dog at home for food guarding, use a crate to isolate it. So that it has no way to threaten the new members of the attack, and then let it out after eating. Repeat this a few more times, and it will learn its lesson and not dare to guard its food and avoid being put into the cage.
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