Food Possessiveness

Morteza,

I have a three-year-old German shepherd who is very possessive around food. She becomes very aggressive around her food, shows her teeth and growls at me. She has not bitten anyone yet, but I am 5 months pregnant now and I am worried this may worsen. The last thing I want is for her to become aggressive around my baby. I have had a trainer who tried the ‘off’ command so that she would leave her food. It worked well with other objects but she is still aggressive around her food. What can I do please?

Emma Sabah

 

Mortezas advice

Dear Emma,

Thank you very much for contacting me.

It seems to be that this is not a sever and thankfully, she has not bitten anyone yet. However, this may lead to lunging at people when approached and ultimately, she may bite if this issue is not addressed now.

I take it that your dog is only showing possessiveness around food and this is not extending to toys, a favourite spot, ect. If so, this would be a case of general resource guarding. I will only recommend the below techniques in a mild case of possessive behaviour. Otherwise, please consult with a professional dog trainer as it could be very dangerous if you are dealing with a powerful breed.

Dog feeding is a ritual and you need to be consistent with this ritual:

1. Try to go for walk first. This will fullfill her instinct to hunt for food and therefore she will feel that she has earned her food.

2. Train her to sit and stay when you set the bowl down and then release her from the stay position to eat. Then move away.

3. Your dog has a very accurate internal clock. You need to ensure that you feed your dog at the same times every single day. This helps to reduce anxiety over when the next meal is coming. 

Also, try treat tossing by dropping her favourite treat into the bowl when she is eating. She will learn that people approaching her bowl is a good thing and not a threat. 

One final method for this level of food possessiveness is a ‘trade-up. When she is eating her food, try approaching her and offering her something that she likes better. This teaches her that no one is going to steal her food when she looks away.

Good luck,

Morteza

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