Food aggression is most often seen in dogs who are rescued from homes where they were abused or neglected. Biting, growling, or snapping are all forms of food aggression. When attempting to pat your dog whilst its in the processs of eating it may well turn aggressively towards you.
Self-preservation is the most common source of food aggression, and the easiest to correct. In these scenarios a dog feels the need to be protective towards its food, in case it is going to be removed from them. This could be as a result of a former owner of the dog being abusive or that your dog feels neglected and under fed causing it to guard its food. Food aggression doesn't always come from owner abuse or neglect, however. If you are not the first owner of your dog it may be that other pets have caused your dog to be off of its food.
If you feel that this is the case with your dog, all that's necessary to correct the behavior is time, patience, and lots of love. Your dog will want to trust you so you must show them that by trusting you it will ensure you always feed them and will not take their food away. Be sure that your dog sees you pour their food and place it for them to eat, rather than readying the food and then letting the dog into the room.
Go slowly. A great way to start is to simply sit by your dog while he or she is eating. In the first few attempts you will need to remain very quiet indeed. You will want to make sure that your dog can see you but be careful not to make them jumpy. Once the dog seems less nervous in your presence, begin speaking to them in soft, reassuring tones while they eat, and move around the room, keeping a comfortable distance away. When your dog is used to you and no longer nervy you will be able to pet it whilst it is still eating. Just take a few steps back and do not say anything if your dog begins to snap or growl at you. It's important that you don't yell at, hit, or punish your dog. Show your dog lots of affection when it allows you to touch its food and pet them whilst still eating.
If you are consistent with this training, you will see positive results very quickly.
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