dog with food

Don’t Take My Food Away

Control is essential to stop food aggression

Controlling the food is essential but if you follow the old fashioned approach that you must be able to take the food away this can cause insecurity, defensive and even aggressive behaviours.

There is a myth that has been floating around for many years now that you as a dog owner should be able to take the food bowl away from your dog while they are eating.

The old school belief was that your dog should apparently be able to cope with being disturbed whilst eating.

Dogs are instinctive and have ingrained rituals when it comes to feeding.  Once you understand the way dogs view food and feeding time, you will understand they do not take each other’s food away. So why do we feel we can, and should be able to place our hands in their food?

This may cause serious problems and is completely inappropriate as it can trigger dangerous levels of insecurity, defensive and aggressive behaviours.  When you look at a balanced pack eating, even when the dominant ones have finished they do not disturb another dog to go back for more, it is just not natural.

Think of it in human terms, would you be happy if a waiter in a restaurant brought your food to the table and then placed his hand in it or took it away after a couple of minutes?

What is natural is that the food is controlled much like any other activity we put our dogs through. In the wild, the strongest eat first but this no longer applies to our domestics dogs.

Many trainers and behaviourists believe and recommend that you can create order by only feeding your dog after you the human have eaten.  This action means nothing to your dog in reality.

If you have a dog that is a resource guarder especially with food bowls, then we have to take back the control in order to avoid escalation of the behaviour.

dog with food

It is our responsibility to help our dogs understand that we are allowing them to eat, that it is OK for them to do that and without the need for conflict.  If you try to take their food away, you are immediately showing yourself to be a threat to them and their resource, so understandably some dogs will protest because this is the food you gave them. You are sending mixed messages.

A simple combination of hand feeding and bowl feeding can be the answer for many dogs. Your dog will start to watch what you do; offering a handful of food in the bowl is not teasing your dog, it actually starts to challenge their state of mind as they only get more if they are calm and relaxed.

Allowing them to eat but under supervision, with you standing close and never taking the bowl away it becomes normal for them. This technique helps to raise their confidence around you and reduce their insecurity, gaining you respect.

Always remember though that resource guarding comes in many forms and many intensities and what works for one dog may not work for another. If you are unsure about your dog’s behaviour always contact a Professional for help.

Just because you have a dog that will allow you to take food away, it does not mean you should!