How to Fix Food Aggression

The Problem
“My dog guards his food like it’s the Hope Diamond. How can I get him to chill

The Pro
Michael Shikashio is a certified dog-behavior consultant and dog aggression
expert in Noank, Connecticut.

Why your Dog Does It
This is called “resource guarding,” and it’s totally normal. It can get worse if your
try to squash it by snatching away his kibble. After all, you’d be pretty peeved if
your server kept grabbing your plate at a restaurant.

How to Fix It
Dogs are naturally inclined to protect their food—that instinct serves them well in
the wild—but they can learn to be more comfortable with people at mealtime.
To keep him from biting the hand that feeds him, start by standing about 10 feet
away while he eats and tossing a small piece of hot dog, cheese, or anything
“higher value” than kibble near or in his bowl. Walk away for a few seconds,
return, toss another treat, and repeat. Give 10 to 20 treats per meal (you will need
to cut back on food accordingly).
Watch him as you do this. If he seems stiff or starts eating faster, you’re too
close. But if he wags his tail or moves toward you in a happy way, you can inch

Now back to the restaurant analogy, your dog should soon see you as a magical
server who keeps refilling the break basket and welcomes your presence.

Real Simple, Juno DeMelo July/August 2022 p. 64