How to Stop a Dog From Growling When It Is Picking Up Food

by Naomi Millburn
Take control of your pet's food guarding problem.

Take control of your pet's food guarding problem.

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Although food guarding behavior in dogs is definitely unpleasant, it's also 100 percent normal. If your pooch growls every time he's near anything edible, he's just displaying natural protective patterns. It basically means that he's afraid that someone else is going to snatch away his very valuable resource -- food.

Step 1

Offer your pooch a tasty treat as he starts growling. If your dog growls at you every time you approach him while he's picking up food or eating, make a point to create a "happy" link to yourself and mealtime. Since your pet is basically frightened that you're going to grab his food from him, teach his brain to think of you as actually being a provider of sustenance, rather than a taker. Lure your doggie away from his food using a yummy doggie treat, and make sure to stay a couple of feet away from his bowl so he doesn't feel threatened. Do this several times over the course of a few days, and every time you do it, make sure to get slightly nearer to the food bowl.

Step 2

Give your doggie smaller portions from the start. Utilize incremental feeding in order to train your pet's brain to think of your removing his food bowl actions as actually being good. Fill your pet's bowl up with a much smaller amount of food than normal. Then remove his bowl three or four more times to add more. Your irked dog will slowly begin to link your presence with the notion of even more delightful food -- definitely not a bad thing.

Step 3

Change the way you give your pet his meals. Tweaking the way you feed your dog may prevent him from displaying food aggression, especially if he has a pattern of growling at everyone over his usual bowl. Try placing your dog's food bowl in new areas of your home every day. Perhaps even encourage your pet to look for kibble in your backyard. Maybe even have him "work" for his food by hiding it inside of a canine treat ball. Take your pet out of his comfort zone of food guarding by spicing up his daily feeding routine.

Items You Will Need

  • Doggie treats
  • Treat ball

Warning

  • If your pooch has a tendency to bite people, do not try to manage his food aggression problem by yourself, as this could lead to very dangerous consequences. Instead, recruit the assistance of a qualified pet behavior expert. If you need suitable recommendations for animal professionals near you, speak to your veterinarian.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

About the Author

Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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