Puppy Food Aggression

by Karly

Puppy Food Aggression Can Be Stopped

Puppy Food Aggression Can Be Stopped

Hi, my cocker spaniel puppy I named Macie has been very sweet and loving and she is almost 9 weeks old.

Recently when I feed her she becomes very aggressive; jumping all over me and constantly searching for more food after I have already fed her.

Today when I fed her I came up behind her to play and pet her and she started growling at me, a little later I went to pick her up to place her in her crate before I left the house and she growled at me again.

My room-mate came into my room and my puppy was totally fine with, she was wagging her tall and wanting to play.

Later on in the day I started to feed her out of my hand so she does not get aggressive when people come around her food. She was doing fine except for the fact that she cannot stay still and will chase me all over, whining and jumping on me for the food.

After I fed her she began sniffing me for more and even ran up to the closet door (where I keep her food) and started jumping at it, crying, and acting really aggressive.

I am not sure what else to do. It seems that when there is food around that is all she cares about and will become aggressive.

Thank You.

Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)

Hello Karly,

There are a few things that can cause your puppy to begin guarding her food, however, it's usually because the dog thinks his or her food is threatened in some way.

I recommend that when you feed her you feed her somewhere quiet, away from family traffic, so that there's no un-necessary perceived threat to her food while she's eating.

You will never really resolve food aggression in dogs once your pet has suffered from it, however, you can make the 'symptoms' much better by understanding and implementing the following:

  • The alpha dog always eats first - and that's you. Always appear to eat from your dog's bowl before she is allowed to. (Just pretend, of course!)

  • Hand feed your dog for a while. I understand you're already doing this, but do you ask her to 'sit' before you begin? I ask this because it's very important that your dog 'sings for her supper', so's to speak!

  • After a week of hand-feeding, the next feeding time, place her empty food bowl on the floor nearby.

  • After a couple of hand-feeding sessions, gradually begin to move the empty bowl nearer to you until it's directly by your side.

  • Take your time with this as you may inadvertently trigger your puppy's food aggression if you rush it.

  • If all is going well, and she's not snapping at the food and she's not growled at the bowl, move the bowl directly under the hand that's feeding her.

  • If she's behaving well, drop one or two pieces of kibble into her food dish and let her eat it.

  • Don't stop hand feeding her, but continue to drop the occasional piece of food into her bowl.

  • Continue with this exercise for at least three or four days.

  • Begin increasing the amount of food you drop into her food dish until her entire food allowance is in the bowl.

    Continue to sit with your dog while she eats her food.

  • If you speak to her while you're dropping food into her dish, you will help your puppy to associate your voice with food being dropped into her bowl.

If you've not rushed this process, you shouldn't have any problems gently stroking your puppy while she's eating.

Don't stroke her on the head though, begin at the back end and gently work your way up.

If she begins growling again you've probably taken things too quickly and will need to go back and start again.

I hope this helps you, but should you need more information, you can read the full article on dog food aggression here and there's also another great article describing food aggression.

Good luck to you both!

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Puppy's Food Aggression
by: Daniel

Have you tried obedience training with her? If you teach a puppy that before it is going to be fed it must obey your sit command. It's only good manners, isn't it.

My cocker spaniel sits automatically if he's about to be for or given a treat because he's learned that unless he does, he won't get it.

This might help to stop your puppy from jumping around and jumping all over you.

When he's eaten his meal, tell him, 'There's no more' and get up and walk away. If he jumps up on you, say 'No' and if he continues, put him in another room. This will show him that you mean business and won't put up with him 'pestering' you for more food.

Best of luck!

PS: Have you checked you're feeding him the right amount of dog food? Check the tin to make sure you're not underfeeding him.

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