If your dog is aggressive at dinnertime, you will want to correct this problem behavior. Any type of aggression like this could morph into more serious aggression problems and even lead to someone getting bit.
The watch signs of this type of aggression are very distinct and not all that uncommon. Even though the dog is not aggressive at other times, when the food comes out he gets over protective and aggressive of his bowl. Dog aggression over food is usually aimed at either another dog or at people who are nearby when the dog is fed.
The aggression over food in the presence of another dog during feeding time means your dog feels the need to protect his food from the other dog. sometimes dogs get too worked up by nearby dogs to eat-they end up just trying to intimidate the other dog so much, they can't concentrate on enjoying their meal. In some cases, the aggressive dog will not let the other nearby dog eat its own food-he's so aggressive he wants to have all the food.
Normally this problem is easy to correct with some common sense. A good idea is to feed the dogs in completely separate areas, so that the need the aggressive dog feels to safeguard his bowl is now removed. When you feed your dog, watch him while he eats, so that he doesn't leave his bowl to go bother the other dog. by watching him, you can make sure he finishes his meal without getting distracted. In case your dog doesn't eat all his meal, it is a good idea to remove the bowl of food and put it out of reach until his next mealtime. You want to avoid any aggression over food, so by removing any uneaten food you are removing the stimulus for the aggression. Ideally a dog will finish its entire meal when it is served-this helps avoid eating disorders.
A second frequent type of dog aggression over food is when the dog is aggressive towards humans. Obviously you cannot ignore this type of aggression, as someone in your family, maybe you, could end up getting bit. Your dog's aggression can be solved once you have made sure he understands that you are the boss-by teaching your dog that you are the Alpha dog-the pack leader.
Begin correcting his aggression over food towards people by teaching him that you are the one who is in total control of the food. You will show him who is boss by immediately taking away his food bowl the moment he displays any aggression towards you growls for being nearby at dinnertime. You can demonstrate this to him by moving near him when he is eating-if he growls quickly grab his bowl and put it away. Because of his growling, he has lost his dining rights for a while. This is a very direct way to demonstrate your point about who controls the food around your house. Your dog will soon learn that growling gets him no where, and will recognize that he must be calm to get his meal.
Another form of food aggression is demonstrated by dogs that snap at treats (and the fingers holding them) when they are offered. Deny your dog any treats until he learns to stop snapping. You should only give your dog his treat (milk bone or whatever you give him) if he refrains from snapping at it. Snapping at food can cause the dog to try to steal a treat from someone's hand, especially children, and may cause an injury or trauma to whoever was holding the snack. Instead of holding a treat between your vulnerable fingers, place it on the open palm of your hand and then offer it to your dog. By offering the food on your palm your dog will learn to accept offered treats more gently, because food on the palm isn't reachable with a quick snap.
You must establish yourself as your “pack's” Alpha dog, in order to earn your dog's respect, confidence and trust in you. Unless your dog understands that you are in charge, you will have a lot of trouble obedience training or solving behavior problems with your dog. If you notice that your dog has any type of aggression problem, you need to make sure he can be corrected through training, or those problems could lead to something dangerous happening.
I have many more articles on solving dog aggression issues and other types of problem solving at: http://BehaveDoggy.com.
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