Friday tip of the day – Stopping a dog from guarding food

December 28, 2012 at 10:25 am Leave a comment

dog guarding food 1

Instinct tells a dog to protect his food. However, it’s important for you to have complete control over what goes into your dog’s mouth. Part of this is for safety. If your dog starts to pick up something dangerous or deadly, such as rat poison, you need to be able to get it away from him without losing your fingers. However, access to food is also a dominance issue: When your dog responds by taking his food or dropping things out of his mouth on command, he is recognizing you as the dominant dog. Food guarding is a frequent trigger for dog bites, too. Therefore, the sooner you can establish that you and other family members are the ultimate authority when it comes to meals, the better off you’ll be.

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If your food guarder is still a puppy, you need to let him know everything he gets comes through you: food, toys, even petting. Tell your puppy to sit or lie down before you feed him, and make him wait until you give the release word, such as okay or take it, before he starts to chow down. If he comes up and nudges you for attention, use the same tactic to make it your initiation.

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He should also learn it’s okay for you to touch him while he eats, so give him a pat when you put down his dish, and make it a habit to add a little food to his bowl while he’s eating. This way, when you are near his food dish, it is always a happy occasion.

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Location means everything when you feed your dog. If he’s off in a corner, he may feel more possessive than if he were eating in a more spacious area with room to move around. Practice giving him food and taking it away. To do this, give your dog very small portions at a time. Each time he finishes a serving, take his dish away and refill it with another small amount until all his food is gone.  As you take away and replace the dish, praise him for being a good dog. Once he’s responding well to having his dish removed and replaced, move on to the next step: adding the food to his dish while it’s still in front of him. Let him eat some of the food while you’re off doing something else, then walk up and add something special to the dish, such as a piece of hot dog or a liver treat.

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Let’s get one thing clear, though: All this is so you have the ability to control what goes into your dog’s mouth. Practice these techniques now and then so you can maintain your dominance relationship with your dog. The most important thing to remember is not to pester your dog while he’s eating. Since most of Rover’s meals should be in peace, teach all household members — especially children — that he is to be left alone at mealtime.

Thanks to the Animal Planet web-site for posting this article.

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Entry filed under: Dogs. Tags: , , .

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