Concerned about your dog’s aggressive behavior? Is your dog attacking children or guests when approached?  There’s a huge possibility that your dog is showing food aggression. However, you can stop your dog’s food aggression behavior by understanding the causes, signs, and proper training,

Here I will share how you can 8 effective tips to stop your dog from food aggression behavior.

What Is Food Aggression in Dogs?

By nature, dogs develop a tendency to guard their food or high-value objects, such as bones or chew toys. This behavior is labeled as food aggression or resource guarding.

This behavior of your pet may manifest as snapping or growling and escalate to lunging and biting. While this may not be a severe problem for you, it can result badly for any child living with you or your guests.

What Causes Food Aggression in Dogs?

A dog can develop food aggression for several reasons:

  • Due to its previous experience of competition for food 
  • It’s natural instinct to guard resources to ensure survival in the wild
  • Lack of proper socialization
  • Previous trauma
  • Medical condition
  • Inadequate or inconsistent feeding routine

Signs of Food Aggression in Dogs

Signs of food aggression may vary from dog to dog. However, some common body language may help you identify such behavior in your dog. 

Here is a list of some common signs to look for:

  • Growling or Snapping: When someone approaches your dog’s food bowl, it may snap or growl to show discomfort. 
  • Protecting Food: Your dog may shield their food bowl, toys, or treats even when not threatened.
  • Stiffening or Freezing: You may see signs of tension, stiffness, or freezing when approached during mealtime.
  • Gulping or Eating Faster: Some dogs may not chew their food but try to gobble. It may cause severe health issues like bloating.  
  • Snarling or Lunging and Teeth Showing: Your dog may show aggressive signs like snarling and even trying to bite when anyone gets closer to their food.
  • Resource Guarding: In severe cases, your dog may show an aggressive attitude when you approach your food, its toys, or anything it considers in its possession. 
  • Stress Signals: Some dogs may show subtle clues rather than aggressive ones during mealtime. These clues include avoiding eye contact, tense body, licking lips, panting, keeping their ears back, etc.
  • Staring or Watching: Your dog may be very friendly with you, but during mealtime, it may show signs of increasing its guard, keep a close watch around its food bowl. 

9 Tips To Stop A Dog From Food Aggression

While food aggression behavior of dogs may help them survive in the wild, it may be hazardous in a home environment. Especially if you have small kids, they may not understand the personal boundaries or pick up signs of aggression.

Additionally, your dog may be possessive of toxic or dangerous items. This can cause severe health issues for your beloved pet. Thus, you may want to stop your dog from food aggression. 

Here are 9 tips that may help prevent your dog from food aggression:

1. Your Presence on the Spot

Stay near your pet while feeding it. Approach calmly and confidently. Don’t make sudden movements or loud noises. Talk to your dog in a conversational tone.

Stand at a safe distance if your dog shows signs of aggression during mealtime. Gradually, decrease the distance over time.

Additionally, don’t punish or scold your dog. Don’t take away its food. Rather, use treats to make it feel safe and loved.

2. Understand Their Motives

Dogs may develop food aggression due to different reasons. Some may had to compete for food in their litter, stay in shelters, or suffer from a lack of food. So, you will need to understand their motives before taking any kind of action.

Once you understand their motives, you can adopt techniques to help your dog cope with the new environment and make them feel safe. This will significantly help in stopping food aggression behavior. 

3. Control Themselves by Command Training

Command training is an excellent way to stop your dog’s resource-guarding behavior. Here, you teach your dogs to follow verbal cues and reward them for good behavior.

Once your dogs are trained to follow cues, you can use commands like “sit” or “stay” before feeding to teach them patience. When they behave accordingly, you can shower them with tasty treats.

4. Hand Feeding by Taking a Bowl

Hand-feeding your dogs creates a positive association between you and your pet. It helps you grow closer and builds trust.

Start by feeding three-fourths of your dog’s normal meal by hand. Place the rest in their bowl and stay close while they eat. Eventually, your dog will learn you are not an intruder, and allow you to stay near while they feed.

5. Separate Bowl for Many Dogs

Dogs are territorial animals. You may have multiple dogs who get along fine. However, it is crucial to separate their feeding bowls. 

If you do not separate bowls, the dogs may have to compete for their meal. It will severely increase the food aggression behavior. 

6. Maintain Frequent Feed Timing

Dogs have a reliable internal clock. It helps in learning the routine of their humans when done consistently. When they adopt this routine, they feel more relaxed.

When your dog doesn’t receive their meal in time, they become anxious. This may trigger food aggression behavior and make them act aggressively. 

7. Take Advice from a Pet Specialist

If your dog shows extreme food aggression, it is wise to seek expert assistance from a pet specialist. A certified dog behaviorist or trainer can evaluate your dog’s behavior and offer tailored advice on how to manage it.

Additionally, if the food aggression is caused by underlying issues, an expert will be able to identify it and get your dog the best possible care.

8. Introduce the Family Members

Once your dog warms up to you and lets you stay around while having a meal, you should start introducing it to other family members.

Follow the same routine you adopt to gain the trust of your beloved pet. Guide your children to stay around your dog and warn them to avoid making sudden movements. If you have doubts, you can keep your dog on a leash while introducing your other family members to avoid any harm.

Dos and Don’ts Tips for Calming a Dog

Here is a list of what to do and what not to do while calming a dog:

Dos Don’t’s
  1. Feed in a quiet place
  2. Establish a routine
  3. Reward calm behavior with treats
  4. Be calm and patient
  5. Seek professional help
  1. Don’t punish your dog
  2. Don’t force interactions
  3. Don’t feed from the table
  4. Avoid competition at all costs
  5. Don’t ignore the warning signs

Things You Should Avoid When Trying to Stop Food Aggression

Write this section in a bullet point about what kind of things a dog owner should avoid when they try to stop food aggression. 

  • Avoid punishing your dog for food aggression. It will only increase anxiety and worsen the situation.
  • Do not take away its food while it is eating. This will make them more prone to protect their resources
  • Don’t use force or intimidation to stop your dog’s food aggression. It will strain your relationship with your pet.
  • Avoid startling a dog with food aggression. This will provoke the pet and force it to take a defensive reaction.
  • Do not select a high-traffic area as your dog’s feeding spot. It will only make the pet more aggressive.
  • Don’t ignore the signs of food aggression as the situation will only escalate day-by-day.
  • Refrain from staring down or challenging your dog during mealtime.
  • Avoid competitive feeding situations. It can trigger food aggression even in adult dogs.
  • Don’t allow children around your dog while it’s eating. 

To Whom the Dogs Suddenly Attack Aggressively? 

Describe the types of food aggression to others (humans and other dogs)

In general, dogs show food aggression either to humans or other pets.

The aggression can be targeted towards:

  • Humans
    • Any person near its food bowl
    • People preparing food in the kitchen
    • People at the dinner table
    • Anyone blocking leftovers
  • Other Animals or pets
    • Any dogs or cats venturing near the food bowl of your dog

However, it is possible for the dog to selectively trust some family members and be aggressive toward others.

Your dog is your best friend and loyal companion. Therefore, you will need to build a relationship of trust and safety with your beloved pet. Be patient and calm while reinforcing positive behavior with treats. Your dog will soon start to trust you and feel comfortable around your presence.


Can Food Aggression In Dogs Be Cured?

Yes. Food aggression in dogs can be managed and improved. However, for a complete cure, you may need to get professional help along with tremendous patience.

How To Break A Dog Of Food Aggression?

Of course. I have discussed 9 effective tips to stop a dog from food aggression right above.

What Is The Difference Between Aggression And Reactivity In Dogs?

The key difference between aggression and reactivity in dogs lies in their behavior. Dogs may react due to fear or discomfort while they may not intend harm. On the other hand, aggressive dogs engage in behavior with the intention of harm.

Can You Train A Dog With Food Aggression?

Certainly! There are several ways to train a dog with food aggression. Professional guidance, positive reinforcement, and a constant routine can significantly help in this manner.