What To Do About Food Aggression – Interview With Bechara Hitti

Did your dog ever growl or hiss at you when you approached him during mealtime? Do you have to feed your fur children separately because they fight otherwise? When a dog is very protective over his food and shows aggression whenever you or another pet comes near him eating, it can become a serious issue. While you might just learn to keep a distance from your furry companion during meal times, one day this behavior might result in a fight with another dog or an injury of a person, that didn’t know any better.

We spoke with Bechara Hitti, the renowned Lebanese dog trainer and advocate of modern positive dog training about how you can prevent, recognize and treat food aggressive behavior in your dog.

Why are dog’s food aggressive?

Food aggressions’ evolutionary advantage lies in helping animals to defend resources. If and how the food aggression manifests itself depends on genetic predisposition as well as experiences that the dog goes through.

How can I avoid that my dog becomes food aggressive?

Make sure that the resources are not scarce (meaning the dog should be provided with enough food and preventively fed twice instead of once a day). Also the dog should be taught from an early age, that it’s actually something good, when we take his food from him, so he gets used to it and doesn’t develop food aggression later on. An exercise to prevent food aggression in your dog could be to take the dog’s food away, give a treat, and give the food back.

What are the signs of food aggression?

Early signs of food aggression include gulping down the food, running away with it, growling and finally biting.

What can I do if my dog is food aggressive?

Traditional trainers will often times explain food aggression through dominance and require dog guardians to “punish” the dog for growling. Such an approach can backfire because it teaches the dog not to give warning signals instead of addressing the real cause of the behavior. If you suspect your dog to be food aggressive, seek knowledgeable help. Avoid confrontations (you could get hurt) and never ever yell at your dog or hit him, it will make things worse. An appropriate approach would work on fixing the cause (dog not liking humans near the food) rather than just the symptoms.

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