Dog Food Bowl Aggression

Are you having a hard time every time you prepare your dog's meal? Does your dog suddenly start to growl or snaps at you if you attempt to go near his food bowl? Do you find it almost impossible to get anything out of his mouth -usually your personal belongings? If so, your otherwise mild-mannered pet is probably suffering from Canine Possession Aggression (CPA), also known as food or object guarding.

In most such cases, the dog no longer trusts you that you will provide his food but sees you as the person who is actually going to steal his food, treats or toys and any other items that he's chosen to chew on, like shoes and gloves. Any attempt to punish your dog when he behaves this way will only reinforce his fear and mistrust in you and intensify the problem.

In the wild, such aggression plays an important role in the survival of the individual. In a dog or wolf pack, the alpha dog will get to eat first. So, a dog that is used to being left alone while he eats has a chance to start thinking that maybe he is leader of the pack and not you. That is why it is important for family members to be present while the dog eats, starting when your dog is still a puppy.

If the dog is older there is also a simple yet effective solution. You simply have to convince the dog that having people near the food bowl is a positive thing. You do this by adding food to the bowl as the dog eats his meal. Therefore, every time any of the family members puts the bowl down in front of your dog, they will keep some of the food in their hands. As he eats his food, they will carefully add bits at a time to the bowl, for half the time that he spends eating it. This works particularly well when the dog is hungry. It should probably not take long for your dog to understand that it is a good thing to have people around while he eats.

While you are handling a food aggression problem, you should take safety precautions to protect yourself during the whole process. You could make your dog wear a leash at mealtimes but you should not use it to correct him unless you are in risk of being hurt. Since this kind of behavior often signals other problems in the dog/owner relationship, a basic obedience course is highly recommended for dogs who exhibit this behavior.

An obedience course will teach him that you are in control and you decide when he will begin to eat and whether or not he will eat. A dog that is taught this can be trusted around children who might be playing with him or with food while he is eating.


If you are experiencing problems with your dog, I recommend that you get a copy of Daniel Stevens' SitStayFetch: Dog Obedience Training – STOP Your Dog’s Behavior Problems and use it to properly train your dog.

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