How to train your dog not to be food aggressive

If you look at my avatar you can see that I am a dog person ;-) I had dogs all my life - and some of them had similar problems. Without knowing the dog and the owner I can give you only some general advice and tips. For more in-depth help I would suggest that you contact your local "dog training club" or similar. Your vet might be also able to put you in contact with the right association or person in your area.

The reasons/ underlying issues

There are two, related, main reasons: The dog doesn't know his place in the pack and/ or think it is the alpha dog in the pack. Other contributing factors can be: the dog is not enough exercised, bored or has never been proper socialized. All this sounds horrible theoretic, so lets look at this from a dog's perspective of the world ;-)

A dog is a pack animal, it doesn't distinguish if this pack consists only of other dogs or is a mixed pack of animals and humans. In a pack of wolves or feral dogs normally only the alpha male and female are allowed to breed. When a puppy is born it "inherits" for a short time this "alpha status" from its parents, no member of the pack will dare to attack it or even to punish it for misbehaviour, it is under a kind of "child protection act". Only the other puppies in the litter will give it a "play fight" and so they establish the first ranking between themselves. As a puppy grows up, becomes a teenager in human speech, the behaviour of the pack changes. The older dogs or wolves now teach it what is considered proper behaviour in the pack. The rank of each animal in a pack is relatively stable and changes only when a higher-ranking animal becomes weak due to age, injury or illness. Then "rank fights" start, ending often with the death or expulsion from the pack of the previous high-ranking animal. That sounds horrible un-human (sic!) but it makes sure that the pack as a whole survives.

What does it now mean in a dog-human mixed pack, a family?

If you get a puppy it is, should be!, around 12weeks old. We used to breed dogs at home and we never gave a puppy away before it reached this age. Why? Because the "play fights" with the other puppies and the interaction with the rest of the pack are an important step in the socialising process of the dog.

Grey Australian cattle dog snarling its teeth in defense of its food, showing food aggressiveness. (c) WYSIWYGFOTO aka Ed Endicott
Grey Australian cattle dog snarling its teeth in defense of its food, showing food aggressiveness. (c) WYSIWYGFOTO aka Ed Endicott

So now the practical tips.

When a dog (either as a puppy or as an older dog) enters a new pack, the new family, you must make sure that the dogs knows its place in the pack. And has to be the last place in your pack's ranking order! The dog must understand that all humans are higher ranking then it! Why? To avoid that the dog starts to behave as the alpha dog and starts to play the boss! And that can include aggressive protection of what the dog considers as "its", may it be "its" food, "its" toys or "its" territory. So how do you achieve this? The following tips are valid either for a new dog or for a dog that needs re-training in this aspect. And as this hub was requested as "How do you deal with a food aggressive dog?" My tips and advice concentrate on this aspect:

1. Determine when the best time is to feed your dog. Dogs normally rest after a meal; larger breeds HAVE to rest after a meal to avoid serious problems like bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus). You want to feed your dog at a time when there is relative quietness in the house and when the dog can relax afterward for a time, for example when the kids are in school ;-). That brings the stress levels down and allows the dog to relax more and be a bit less protective. Try to feed your dog always at the same time. In the ideal case that should be after the "human pack" has eaten, as the alpha wolves eat first and the lower ranking pack members last.

2. Establish a place and a routine to feed your dog. Always feed your dog at the same place and follow a certain routine. You will imitate the alpha wolf that comes back from hunting and shares the food with the lower ranking members of the pack. You even might to fake that you are eating a bit first and then giving the bowl to the dog to emphasize that. Have one "main" feeder in the family, but make sure that everybody takes his/ her turn to establish the idea in the dog that all humans are higher ranking pack members that share food with the lowest ranking pack member - the dog. Soon your dog will know when it is feeding time and follow you around as you prepare its bowl. Before giving it to the dog, fake that you eat a bit of it, then let the dog do something simple like "sit" or whatever command the dog knows to "earn" their food. Don't allow that the dog jumps around, and up and down at you, wait until it has calmed down and then set the bowl to the ground. Remember you are the alpha that decides when and what to give, not the dog that demands that you do it "now". When you have set the bowl to the ground go quietly away and let the dog eat. When the dog has learned to make "sit" for the food you can expand this to train him to "sit and wait" or "down and wait" making, until YOU allow it to go up and eat the food.

3. After the dog has eaten. When the dog has finished eating and wanders off to have a rest, remove the bowl. Don't let any food standing around until next feeding time. Where no food there no food aggressiveness ;-)

4. If you have several dogs/ pets and they are "food aggressive" amongst themselves, you must know who is the higher ranking member in the "dog only" part of the pack and feed them in this order, higher ranking members first. If you don't know that, are unsure or your dogs go through a phase of re-establishing their ranks feed them apart and out of sight of each other.

5. Feeding at the table Don't feed the dog at the table whilst you eat, remember the alpha wolves/ dogs share the leftovers after they had their fill, not before. Remember that a lot of human food is not suitable for dogs, salt can damage its kidneys and chocolate can even kills smaller dogs. So the best is not to feed the dog at all at the table! If they are dog-suitable leftovers keep them until the usual feeding time.

6.Things that may help. Make sure that your dog gets enough exercise, a tired dog is less likely to get aggressive then one that has to much energy left over. Make a distingtion between food time/ place and other things like playing with your dog. Give the dog the possibility to "switch the chip" between playing and being fed.

Summary: Food aggresivity is a symptom of a dominance problem. The dog doesn't know its place in the family and/ or believes itself higher ranking then one or more human members of the pack. Rfox has written an excellent hub that gives a lot of sound advice how to (re)establish the human leadership in your pack at How To Prevent Dog Bites Involving Children In case you liked my hub feel free to give it a thumb up or leave a comment in the box, I would be especially grateful for comments that help me to improve the lat-out etc of my hub, please BE critical! ;-) SY

More Dog Training Helps

Dog Training Summary

No matter if you are looking to correct your dogs behavior regarding being a food aggressive dog or if you are looking for more general dog training advice, bear in mind the following principles of dog training:

  • A well exercised dog is a happy dog.
  • A well exercised dog that knows its place in the pack is an even happier dog ;-)

Training your dog becomes easier when you understand the underlying principles of its behavior and the need of each dog to have "a mission in life".

Comments 134 comments

aprilkerr profile image

aprilkerr 9 years ago from UK

I think my dog is about as non-food aggressive as you can get. We've been very lucky to have such a well behaved dog.

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 9 years ago Author

Lucky you ;-) But it shows also that you are "well behaved" people that know how to bring up a dog! SY

Guest 8 years ago

I have a food aggressive dog, but he is 1 years old and we rescued him from a pound. He was full of ticks and has wounds on his ears and cheeks. He has gained weight and being better with us and our other dog. He does growl when I am around him and he is eating. I have started making him sit before I give him his food, so next I will try "eating" some and maybe that will also help. I appreciate your hub, it helped me.

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

Well done you! For rescuing him and for getting this far in his/ her/ its re-socialisation ;-) Anything I can do to help, just leave a comment on this hub and I will come back to you asap! SY

Guest 8 years ago

that in4mation was vey use full i knew most of it i just didn't know how to put it into pactice

Kendra 8 years ago

Our puppy is 6 months old and she understands that humans are above her in rank but is very dominant with other dogs. we make her sit and wait for her food but she barks and bites at the older dogs if they even come near. We remove the food and wait for her to calm down if this happens. Is there anyway of correcting this aggression? She also acts very dominant (not aggressive) when there is no food.

She gets pretty scared actually when we're outside and there are new humans/sounds etc. around but she's great indoors and plays well and listens for the most part.


I love my bull puppy! 8 years ago

My 3 month old English Bulldog puppy has expressed aggressiveness. She is a barrel of laughs usally. But sometimes she can be "mean". I have 3 other dogs in in the house and I have witnessed her aggressive behavior both with the other dogs and with myself. She can be alone or with the other dogs and certain things just seem to get to her. Certain ways we pet her and of course treats or chews and toys... trying to keep her out of things.. she is ready to fight whoever. lol I love her though and want to help her find her place in our pack! :) Any tips?

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

@Kendra and I love my bull puppy!

Sorry for coming back to you so late. It seems to me that both puppies show a typical "teenager" behaviour. They try to find out their place in the pecking-order. @Kendra, are the other dogs the same breed? Smaller? Which gender do the older dogs have? It might just be that she tries to become the next pack leader, if you try to avoid that try feeding the other dogs first and try to "support" them in their leader role. But perhaps it is just the first sign of a future pack leader (after the humans obviously ;-)

@I love my bull puppy!

I am not too familiar with the breed, perhaps you should contact better Whitney05 she might be able to give better advice. In all cases you shouldn't tolerate that the puppy is aggressive against you or other humans! Make clear that fighting against you she will always loose, you have to be the pack leader, not she! What breed are the other dogs?


I love my bull puppy! 8 years ago

My other dogs are pugs. Smaller than she of course. All my dogs are female. My worries are more about her growling and showing teeth to me! My pugs have showed her who is boss. lol She tests them but even though she is bigger and stronger they show teeth too. :)

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

"I love my bull puppy!" Simply do what your older dogs do, show the puppy who is the boss! SY

lesley 8 years ago

my dalmation was fine until had spade, now growls and goes to bite when trying to put her to bed at night or got a bone, but not if eating her normal food, she will let you remove this no problem. this only started after had her done, does worry me as we have a 1yr old and an 8 yr old kids

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

First of all, it is very difficult to give an advice without seeing the dog/ situation. Do you have some sort of doggie club in your neighbourhood or a puppy-meeting? In all cases it is wise NOT to let the kids alone with the dog, especially not the youngest one. Growling when "put to bed" might be more related to separation anxiety then to being aggressive. In all the cases "punish" here when she growls by telling her off "NO!" in a sharp voice or shaking her gently by the neck. Dalamtians are in general intelligent dogs that are very eager to please, it shouldn't be too difficult to "explain" to her what acceptable and what un-acceptable behaviour is. Last but not least, make sure not only to read this article, read also RFox's hub great info there! All the best, SY

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

First of all, it is very difficult to give an advice without seeing the dog/ situation. Do you have some sort of doggie club in your neighbourhood or a puppy-meeting? In all cases it is wise NOT to let the kids alone with the dog, especially not the youngest one. Growling when "put to bed" might be more related to separation anxiety then to being aggressive. In all the cases "punish" here when she growls by telling her off "NO!" in a sharp voice or shaking her gently by the neck. Dalamtians are in general intelligent dogs that are very eager to please, it shouldn't be too difficult to "explain" to her what acceptable and what un-acceptable behaviour is. Last but not least, make sure not only to read this article, read also RFox's hub great info there! All the best, SY

Benson Yeung profile image

Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

Hi, thanks for the tips. Glad that my dog behaves rather well in this regard. Have you got tips on handling food aggressive kids?


Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

Nops, but you could try the same tricks like for a dog, should work also ;-) SY

meagan 8 years ago

Hi. I have a three month old puppy who attacks other dogs if food is present. It doesn't matter if she has just eaten or if she has not. she still attacks them no matter what. any advice?

Jenna 8 years ago

For the first time ever I'm experiencing a food aggressive dog. The two dogs in question are mother and pup.. Mother is 3 and pup is 2 (it was an oops litter).

Mother won't let her pup eat, even though there are two food dishes. She has no issues letting my golden retriever eat (he is silent pack alpha). I'm not sure what to do. This just started yesterday for the first time and we had to separate my two females as the mother had pup by the throat and wouldn't let go and pup was retaliating.

Once we were able to get them seperated, they calmed right down again... The hubby and I didn't let either resume eating until they both lost all tension (mother and pup were even cleaning each others ears and face). Then we allowed mother back to her dish first (higher rank) and pup back a few minutes after, when we were certain that everything was calm.

The calm lasted about a minute before Keema attacked again.

We've seperated the dogs for the time being, and I plan to socialize them still away from food, but am keeping them seperated when they're unsupervised or eating.

They've been together for 2 years, ever since the pup was born and have never been seperated before and have never been in a fight before. I'm at a loss and completely confused with the looming 'why now?' question. It came completely out of no where.

I'm really hoping you have a suggestion for me on how to fix this problem/

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

@meagan Which of the tips in this hub have you already tried and what was the outcome? SY

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author


Difficult to answer the "Why now?" I would certainly feed them separate for a while. Do they show signs of "rank fight" also on other occasions? I guess the rank in your pack was until now like this:

1. Humans 2. Golden Retriever 3. Mother 4. Pup (2 years, also now really a teenager, not a puppy anymore)

Without seeing the dogs I would guess that the pup tries to get a higher rank in the pack. And the mother being food aggresssive to "tell her off" and/ or "put her back in her place".

I would observe them and feed them separated for a while. How bad is the fighting and what breed are they? Can you risk it to let them "fight it out"?

Important in this time of change is that none of the dogs tries to "out rank" the humans, keep an eye on that. SY

Jenna 8 years ago

@ SY -

I'll start with the dogs/breeds:

Tyson - teenager/female/cross catahoula-golden. She was an oops.

Keema - mother/catahoula

You've got the ranking down perfectly, and I don't believe it's changed or in the process of changing. We never had issues with Keema or Tyson trying to outrank either my husband or I and it doesn't appear that either will try now. But I'll definitely keep an eye on that.

With the rank of the three dogs, once again, there's never been any rank issues, it seemed to just fall into place naturally. Keema seems to naturally submit to dogs larger than her (tyson is slightly smaller) and Kobe naturally slipped into the Alpha role of the three. Tyson has always been an extremely submissive dog. She submits to any animal on or off our property, including visiting dogs, our cat, etc. A good example is my mother's one dog. He's a little 8 pound min poodle/terrier cross and she will fully submit to him - it's actually somewhat humerous.

There have never been any 'rank fights' among the three dogs. Occasionally Keema has extremely gently pushed Tyson aside if she appeared to be testing the boundries - but I don't think that was ever anything more than a puppy/teenager taking things too far with the mother keeping her in place.

They had each other by the neck - with Keema initiating it - and neither were giving any signs of backing down. Both had a couple of small punctures, nother terribly serious, but I stepped between them and slowly forced the two apart with my legs. Causing them to back away from each other so they wouldn't bite me - both seemed to back down slightly once I was in the middle... I assume because they weren't about to challenge me. It was a pretty nasty fight and I think it might have been worse if both didn't have that famous loose skin around the necks in catahoula's. So I'm not sure it's a risk I want to take.

I am feeding them seperately for now, but I don't want that to be permanent. The plan for now is feed them separate and let them socialize supervized (in case it escalates further - in my experience catahoula's are not the type of breed that forgets things).

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

Are one or both of the bitches spayed? If you don't intend to bred with Tyson, that would be a possibility perhaps? If both are spayed, do they get enough exercise/ work to do? Bored dogs that have too much energy tend to get easier "stressed" with eachother. Space, have both dogs enough space for themselves? SY

Jenna 8 years ago

Neither are spayed at the moment. Maybe I'll get Tyson spayed...

Both do get tons of exercise/work.. Keema likes to herd things, so we let her do that and work with her on that and all the dogs get walked daily - a couple of miles, plus we have 27 acres of them to run/play on and we are out playing with them all the time and constantly working with them mentally through training and working.

Thanks for all your help. If you have any other suggestions I'd love to hear them!

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

If you don't plan to breed with Tyson it might be a help to spay her (also to avoid further oops) Remember that wolves/ dogs also use the pack rank to decide who is allowed to breed. Normally only the two alpha wolves breed in a pack. Spaying Tyson would make her smell "neutral" to Keema. It might helps, it might not. If the problem doesn't solve itself over the next two weeks or so you might look for help via your local dog training club etc. A "hub" can only give some tricks&tips, but as I can't see the dogs it is difficult to give further advice. But I hope all calms down and you have a lovely Christmas and Advent time with your family and your four-legged friends ;-) SY

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

Jenna, sorry, seems your comments didn't get approved first time round, anything else you need help with? SY

Carole 8 years ago

Thank you for the opportunity in correcting my dog Marilyn. She is a 5 lb 2 1/2 yr old yorkie pooh. About 4 months ago she started to growl at me. Especially if I go near her when she is with my husband. She is now growling at me when her food is out , she never did this before. She lets every one in the house pet her while sitting with my husband as for me soon as I do she growls. 63 days ago I took her to the breders she was not happy. Is she possible holding a grudge??? Now that she has 4 puppies her behaviour is getting worse. Should I put her on her back and hold her neck and tell her husband says to do this, it works for him.

thank you

Carole...lost and getting broken hearted

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

First of all be very careful when handling her, Yorkies a very fragile ;-) But yes, you have to show her her place in the family, at the moment it seems to me she believes herself to be the rank highest female in the pack, but that is your place! So yes you have to get your "pack rank" back from her, your husband is right, just tell her off each time she does growl at you (also your husband should do it) So next time she growls at you when she is with your husband you BOTH have to tell her off and then ignore her for a while. Ignoring works a tread with some dogs;-) Hope that helps and Happy New Year to your whole family pack, SY

PS No, I don't think that she holds a grudge against you because you took her to the breeder ;-)

carole 8 years ago

Thank you for the very quick response...And a very happy New Year to you and yours.

Another ? after I give her a treat or food and she does not eat them right away should I take them away including the treat. I gave her a treat that she saved and when I walked near she started to growl.

Thank you


Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

Don't take it away but also don't allow her to growl or snap at you. SY

Nick Jones 8 years ago

Thank you for linking to my site as a useful link :)

Happy new year...keep up the good work!


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Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

You are welcome Nick! Feel free to comment here as much as you like, sometimes two opinions are better then only one ;-) SY

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lakombert 8 years ago

We recently added a 3 month old husky puppy to our household.  We currently have a 1o year old GSD mix and a 2 year old BC mix.  We have never had food aggression issues until we added Sasha.  Its horrible.  My husband and I can remove her food bowl from her with no problem but she protects the community bowl from the other two dogs.  If I offer treats, she attacks the other two dogs for their treats even though she has hers. When given her own bowl, she goes to her bowl, eats her food and then goes after the other two.


Tonight she wolfed down her treat without chewing it and immediately went after the other two dogs for theirs.  She was my husbands anniversary present from me but at this point, I can barely tolerate her.  Then I feel badly for feeling this way.  I'm nearly 50 and have had dogs my whole life and have never had this problem before.

I need some suggestions here.  Please.

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

Some additional questions: Is the husky puppy male or female? How do the other dogs react to its behaviour? What to you mean by "GSD mix" and "BC mix", which breeds to you mean? How does the husky behave with regard to the other dogs when no food is involved, during walks, play time for example? SY

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lakombert 8 years ago

The husky pup is a female. I had decided to get a female so we wouldn't have any dominance issues with my older male dog. GSD is German Shepard mix and BC is Border Collie mix. My older male dog, when the husky takes his food will walk away. He truly is a non confrontational type of dog. My 2 yo female dog, will challenge the husky female and then we have an all out fight, which we step in to break up.

When there is no food involved, there is normal puppy play from the husky, although this morning I noticed that she is starting to get more aggressive as far as trying to get the most attention from my husband and I.

I told her that she had to wait her turn and ignored her and she bit me in the arm. I grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and told her no loudly. She laid her ears back in a submissive way and immediately laid down. When she tried it again, harshly told her no and she immediately laid down.

So I think I'm dealing with dominance issues that is now moving from food to other areas. -Laurie

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

Wow, this puppy has a strong will to be the alpha in your household - with three months! I think you are right with your analysis of "dominance issues that is now moving from food to other areas". It is very difficult to give advice without seeing the dogs interact, but some suggestions nevertheless:

1. Most important: You have done very well in telling her off not to bite you, keep this up, it must be always in her mind that "humans are alpha, humans are superior, a dog is neither allowed to do anything against and/or hurt any human" That is the most important as a husky is not exactly a small dog.

2. Start to fully train her now. Might be she is an early starter, very intelligent or simply bored. Give her things to learn, train her. Make her tired ;-) Do you have an agility training group where you live? If you go for walks with all three, let the others "show off" what they have learned. Then she has to do the same. Teach her to learn from the other dogs to get her reward.

3. Socialize her with other dogs also, not only your own, as much as possible. Find a puppy group that meets or a group of dog owners that go for walks together. She has to learn that she is not the centre of the universe, that there will be always a dog that is higher ranking than her.

4. When you break up a fight between the two females make sure to pass the message that you, the humans, are fighting on the site of the other dog, not on her.

Hope that helps a bit, check back if you have more questions, SY

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lakombert 8 years ago

Thank you so much! I'm going to put these things into action immediately. We just moved to this area so I'm not sure about what's available but I will certainly look to see what's available, in order to train her.

We have two acres of land and our older dog doesn't need to be leashed when we go out. He stays put, our two year old is a runner so she stays on a lead, as does our husky. We live in a highly wooded area and today we took them for a long walk in the woods and tired all three of them out.

Thank you again for your help.

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Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

You are welcome, keep us posted how it goes! SY

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kezzy75 8 years ago

i have 2 cavalier king charles spaniel a dog and a bitch,the dog who has been castrated early on when he was about 1 is very food aggressive,he will not let you near him when he is eating and also tries to steel the bitches food,but i just seperated them and feeding time but now its got worse,he sits beside the water all day so she cant get a drink and if i try to take it he growls and shows his teeth even when i fill another bowl for the bitch he will follow me growling and the other day he actually jumped to snatch it out my hand.this has also been the case with toys.i have tried to show him that i am the boss with no luck,he growls his ears go back and his eyes bulge out his head.the dog and bitch are both 5 years old i bought them as pups the dog first and 2 months later the bitch for added company for him.any help would be greatly appreciated.also the bitch is very submissive and very,very affectionate she will often put her paws on our shoulders and press her face against ours as if she is snuggling in and at bedtime she snuggles in to my son(hes 12),has no issues with food and will let you take anything from her without a fight,but when the dog and bitch play fight which is always innatiated by the bitch she always wins and when hes down she tries to mate with him which i tell her off for.

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kezzy75 8 years ago

also i forgot to mention he has started to bark at every little thing and barks at visitors until he gets attention,this can be very annoying he sometimes just sits staring at me waggling his tale and barking until i stroke him

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 8 years ago Author

You say: "i have tried to show him that i am the boss" but you didn't tell us HOW you have tried. Can you be a bit more specific? Thanks, SY

Lgali profile image

Lgali 8 years ago

good ideas

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kezzy75 8 years ago

hi again i have made him sit and wait before giving him his food and i have pinned him down by his neck as i read this is what the pack leader would do (not so as it would hurt just to restrain him) when he growls and tries to steel the bitches food and we always eat before he and the bitch do i hope this is helpful

another thing is ive heard that this over affectionate behaviour that the bitch is doing and the trying to mate with the dog is another leadership method i would like to know if that is correct i would also like to add that the dog has not bitten anyone hard yet but i am quite sure he will as he has given me these little soft bites i assume to be a warning i am the only one he has done this with but i am also the only one who challenges this behaviour


Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author

Regarding the aggressivity of the dog: It is really paramount that everybody in your family shows him that they are higher then he in the pecking order. First the humans, then the dogs. You all have to train him that he has to give up food and toys as soon as you ask him to and without growling and/ or biting! Also for his own safety, imagine he finds something like a poisened bait or something similar dangerous on your walks and you can't get it out of his mouth! Some of my dogs would react just to a firm "NO!" others I really had to pick up by their neck fur and shake them (Careful with very small dogs when doing this!) to show That I am serious. You are lucky that yours are King Charles Spaniels, not German Shephardcdogs ;-) Consistency is also important, dogs need clear rules. Also keep them occupied with walks/ plays/ training/teach them tricks, an occupied dog that has a "job" is far less likely to test the pecking order then a bored one. If things don't get better with this tips I would look for a local dog club that offers some basic obedience traing in a group. Interacting with other dogs in a group, for example in dog walks/ parks where many dogs meet and play without lead can also do wonders. He just has to learn that he is not the boss/ center of the universe. And that when he is a good dog that life is so much more fun for him.

The bitch most likely sees herself as lower in rang then "her humans" I wouldn't worry to much about her. Just make sure that it stays so. What does the bitch do when the dog tries to get her food/ toys? Does she fight back or does she give them up readily?

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kezzy75 7 years ago

hi thanks for the help,the bitch will just walks away if the dog wants something she has i have never seen her angry,it always makes us laugh on the rare occasion that she gets over excited and barks as it is so unusual she just likes her cuddles,they are like chalk and cheese.i would also like to add the dog never cuddles in,he will bark for a stroke but he would never willingly come and sit on your lap.we often feel sorry for him and go and give him a cuddle as he looks so lonely.also i dont know if this is relevant but the bitch does sometimes lie on top of him,say he lies against the corner of the couch to go to sleep she will just climb on top of him and go to sleep,he doesn't seem to mind this though.just so i have this right,if my dog has something i dont think he should have or has taken from the bitch is it safe for me to pick him up by the scruff of the neck?

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kezzy75 7 years ago

also if he growls when i do this should i do it until he stops or just until he drops the toy/food?

DefyingGravity 7 years ago

Hi - I found this hub doing a google search on food aggression. I'm in need of some help on the subject...

I have a one-year-old Border Collie mix who is a bit of a mystery to me as of late. I adopted him from the SPCA when he was about eight weeks old and used to play with his ears and paws and pet him while we was eating, take away his food for a few seconds, make him sit and give it back. He was soooo great about all of this, tail always wagging, that after a while I phased it out. Then things changed a few months ago - I had a treat for him and a visitor knelt down to pet him, and he growled at her. I decided to start the food aggression prevention again, but this time he would growl at me if I was petting him while he was eating.

Then I tried feeding him by handful, making him earn each handful. This was fine, but if someone went to pet him while he was eating, he'd growl. Then I tried holding his bowl while he ate and petting him at the same time. If he growled, I'd say "NO" and calmly take his food away for about 10 minutes or so, then try again. After a month of this, he was getting better and growling less. Then all of a sudden a week or two ago, he started getting worse again. Now it takes me 45 minutes just to feed him a meal!

Also, recently he's been "running away" when he has a new toy/treat/kong with peanut butter and I go near him. If I follow him, he drops it and puts his ears back and gets all tense. If I bend down, he growls. I think he's afraid I'm going to take it away, but this growling is unacceptable, so how can I allow him to keep what he's growling at me for? At the same time, I don't want to reinforce his fear...I'm so lost. Please help!!!

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Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author

"Now it takes me 45 minutes just to feed him a meal!"

Just relax a bit, seems you are overdoing the traing here a bit. You don't need to make him earn every bite of food! Also border collies are the most intelligent breeds of all, does he have something to do with his brain? Relax a bit on the obedience side of things and invent some fun games like finding hidden treasures and/ or agility. You have to re-discover the fun you two had being pack together! SY

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Runsthroughwater 7 years ago

I Found this page looking up food agression. I havre been "Working" with him to over come this Big Problem.I adopted "Elvis" from, the spca. He is an 1 1/2 year old mix pointer /dalmation . He is food aggressive. Did he starve in his past life? He will guard his bowl. He will try to "Bury" or hide his bowl. He always tries to leave "Leftover's"He will "attack" cats or dogs if they come in the room if he is eating. My daughter sat in a chair next to hime while he was eating. He went to bite her.Fortunatekly she had her shoes on. I gave him 2 steak bone's tonight . One he went under the bed with. I put another on the floor to see what he would do. He left the one bone out in the open. I walked around the room and he began to growl at me. That was the first time that has happened. He stayed under the bed with the one bone. I felt threatened. He is now trying to make up for his bad behavior. One bone is back in the open while the other is under the bed. I picked up the bone and gave it back to him. No more bone's ever again for Elvis? I have had him for 3 months and love him dearly as he loves me. Do I return him to the shelter? He is overcoming his fear of Man. He use to run and hide. Help!!

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Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author

There are limits of how much advice can be given via a web site, I strongly suggest that you contact your vet and/ or SPCA and ask them to recommend somebody that can help you, your family and the dog. If he "goes and bites a child" then there are far more issues involved then that can be tackled by a web site advise. I guess you live in the UK? There is a lot of help around in doggie clubs etc which will be far more effective then my remote advice. SY

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sheltiegirl 7 years ago

Recently adopted a female four year old sheltie, we have a male nine year old at home as well. All good things, at first. Now the female, screams, actually screams when our male is eating his food, she thinks that it should be hers. She runs into him and snarls. When I used a NO command she was beside herself and turned her agression toward me, not biting, just snarling. Should we feed them separately?

The male is laid back, easy going. Is he now the subordinate and she the alpha? I know not to disturb the hierachy but won't the male older dog feel sad or slighted by his reassignment? Are we to defer to her and leave him to second fiddle?


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Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author


I think the problem is that she is deadly afraid of starving, I would call it "food anxiety" rather than "food aggresivity" and yes, I would feed them apart for a while. Make also sure to feed always at the same time do that she learns that there will be always enough food for her, that she doesn't have to starve. That can take a while, if that doesn't help and/ or if other problems occur please seek advice at your vet/ local dog club as an anxious dog can bite easily! SY

Irene 7 years ago

When I'm in park with my 3 years old golden retriever female, I'm giving her and her playmates treats for "good behaviour", from sit position. I regularly change the order of giving (sometimes she first, sometimes not) and there was never any problems. But if a dog tries to take a treat intended for her (trying to take from my hand when it's close to her mouth or even from her mouth), she barks and sometimes even snaps. Should I consider this aggressive behaviour and (potential) problem? Thank you very much for your answer!

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Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author


No, I think that is perfectly normal behaviour ;-) SY

Cholle 7 years ago

i work at an animal shelter, and monday nite we received a severely emmaciated pitbull puppy. he and his brother were found living in a car with no food or water. The owner has been cited and the pup is on legal hold at work until the 24th of this month. i plan on bringing him home after his hold is up to foster.

i've worked with him the past two days at work. he's so thin you can see most all of his bones. i've been feeding him very small meals every 2-3 hours, so as to not make him sick. he's quite food aggressive/anxious, though i can't blame him knowing his situation. i've been feeding him by hand as often as possible, giving him a piece of kibble when i pass so he'll associate me with getting things instead of losing them. i sit beside him while he eats and talk to him, try to touch him as well. he'll growl but has never snapped or even really snarled. i have this week and maybe another one or two to work with him, get him healthy and ready to find a home. are there any tips you could give me, things i could do in a shelter situation, so that he can pass his behavioral test and be able to be adopted?

Thank you for all the info.

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Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author

How old are the puppies? I would suggest that you just continue what you are doing. The puppy sounds anxious, understandable as you say, but I really doubt that you can solve all his problems in a couple of weeks. How is his brother reacting? Are they together or separated? It is really difficult to give advice like this via the internet! Is there a possibility that he stays longer in the foster care of an experienced dog handler? SY

cholle 7 years ago

i believe we are aiming to get him into a rescue that is used to dealing with the situation, i just need to get him to the point of being able to go. his brother is about 6 months old, while the little guy is about 5 or 5 and a half months. they aren't of the same little, but lived together and might have the same mother. the 6 month old is about three times larger and thin, but not skin and bones. ego only weighs about eight pounds, so he's quite small for his age. they were put in the same kennel upon arrival, but i separated them because the big one would jump on the small one. the big brother seems to be doing well, he's eating well and not really showing signs of much aggression at all. i'm just going to keep up what i've been doing and what i've read here and try my hardest to get him more weight and less anxious. thank you for answering my question. i know it was a lot to ask, but any info is helpful. thanks again.

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Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author

I wish you two all the best, I am sure you are of to a good start, patience, lve and knowledge are the key. I think you have all three of them ;-) SY

Jessica 7 years ago

My dog is 8 and half years old. She has always been food aggressive. She has just recently become aggressive more often away from food. And towards my daughter who is a year and a half old. My little one is afraid of her as she has snipped at her twice. I really am at a loss. She is getting meaner and meaner with age.

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Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author


I really suggest to contact a local dog trainer/ dog club, especially as the problem involves a small child. There is only so much that can be done over the internet, but a problem like this needs personal contact with the family/dog. Ask your vet for a good dog trainer/dog club! SY

Mfeath 7 years ago

We adopted an 11 month old lab/great dane mix from the humane society May 2008 he was extremly ill (within 36 hours of being home he was admitted for about 4 days) he is doing great except he is food aggressive. He will growl and show his teeth if you touch his head while he is eating. Today he actually bit my husband! He says this will get worse. I have two small children who know to stay away while he is eating but am I putting them in danger? I WILL try your advice! I hope we can turn this around, we love him!

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Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author

@Mfeath Please make sure that the children are always supervised when with the dog! And if the situation doesn't get better, please look for local help like dog training clubs and so on. A great Dane is not a Chihuhua!

Dog Lover 7 years ago

I have a 2 year old Black Lab/Husky mix that we have had since he was 9 weeks old. He grew up with 2 other dogs, a black lab and a cocker spaniel. In the past year our cocker spaniel passed away and we had to put our black lab down, due to age. It has been about 6 months and a friend of ours had a Pit Bull/dalmation mix that is 4 years old that she has to get rid of when she moved because the landlord said no dogs. So we took him in a few days ago and the two dogs were getting along fine the first day and then the 2nd day when we fed them after supper time, after we ate, while he was eating he looked at our lab/husky mix and started to growl and bear his teeth and the lab/husky wasn't even near him or doing anything but laying on the floor. Then our lab/husky got up to go to the kitchen and get a drink of water and the pit bull/dalmation really started to growl and bear his teeth and went after the lab/husky mix. I love both dogs and the pit bull/dalmation does not show any agression towards the other dog unless there are treats or food around. I can go right up to him while he is eating and take his food dish or even put my hand in his dish and take food out and he does nothing but sit there and let me do it, no reactions. It is only now with the other dog and only when food and treats are involved. Otherwise they play together and run around happy as a clam together.

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Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author

One solution would be to feed them in different spaces, but it seems to me that they are just busy figuring out their pecking order. If the new dog is not aggressive to the humans in the pack and obedient to you and the rest of the family, you might just leave them to themselves to sort things out. SY

PS Sorry for the late reply, I was in holidays/ vacations...

Sara 7 years ago

I have a 5month old shih tzu who is never food aggressive when dealing with his dog food but if he ever gets close to "human food" he growls, snaps, tries to swallow the food whole, or locks his jaws so you can't remove it. Last night we ordered pizza and my husband had the box sitting beside him on the couch, Cosmo decided that the pizza box was his and when I pushed him away from the couch and told him no he bit my hand, no broken skin but he did cause a ruptured blood vessel which left a nasty bruise. Any suggestions on why he is only aggressive when it comes to human food? And this is not the first time he has claimed a pizza box either last time just didn't result in a bite only snapping other than this problem he is a very well behaved dog. He is not fed from our plates, if he is given left overs it is always after we eat and in his bowl.

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Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author

Have you read the hub? Your puppy tries to climb the ranks in the pack by claiming your food. In a pack the alpha animals eat first. Have you tried any of the suggestions outlined above? SY

Spirit 7 years ago

I have a 7 year old Siberian Husky Named Spirit.. He has always been aggressive with his food, bones, ETC.. He is a very stubborn dog.. I do get him to sit and wait to eat and also fake eating his food.. he lets me.. But the moment I let him eat there is no going near his dish.. He growls even when you get close.. I have tried and tried to break him of this.. He actually bit me once as I went to pet him while he was eating a milk bone.. He is a sweetheart when there is no food around... But he turns into a different dog when there is food around.. I have read the hub, but even doing everything stated he is still the same.. Any suggestions.. I know Huskys are always fighting for alpha, and they are a super stubborn breed.. I have also been told that you can only train a husky as much as they will let you... I did enjoy reading everyones comments.. Thanks

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Sybille Yates 7 years ago Author

This is not about stubborn or training, it is about who of you is the leader / alpha in the family pack. If all the suggestions in this hub haven't helped, you should search the help of a local, professional, dog trainer. Try your vet or your local dog club for suggestions. Being bitten, intentionally, by your own dog is a real bad sign regarding the pecking order in your pack! SY

Karly 6 years ago

I just rescued a dog of late, and he pretty much did what ever he wanted in the home he came from. I was told he doesn't get along with other animals, but he has been pretty good with my menagerie so far, the only BIG problem I'm having is with food and treat aggression. The dog is mostly blind, and I don't think this helps in the matter. He's not overly aggressive with humans, you just have to talk to him to let him know you're approaching while he's chewing a bone. With my two other dogs, and even the cats, he guards his food so much he wont even eat it, he just stands near it waiting.

When I feed the dog's I feed everyone at once, and to avoid conflict I will removed my other two dogs once they are done eating. But Stumpy (the aggressive dog) will just stand there, waiting, even after they're gone. I'm not keeping Stumpy, and I'll be placing him in a home with no other pets so this shouldn't be an issue then, but its a big issue now.

Do you have any advice for a blind dog with food aggression?

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Sybille Yates 6 years ago Author

Feeding him completely separately until he gets a new "forever" home? SY

Lisa 6 years ago

I have raised many healthy dogs, however my current one has had borderline separation anxiety. Until recently I've been able to keep him away from any serious issues, but this week we moved from an apartment in one city (where he has spent his whole life thus far)to my parents home for the next 3 weeks until I get possession of my new place in a different city. This has thrown him out of whack, so to speak. He has started showing signs of food aggression toward other dogs and the other members of my family, never toward me though.

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Sybille Yates 6 years ago Author

A simple trick to help him cope with his separation anxiety might be to leave an old piece of clothing, that smells of his favorite human, with him. Do you use a crate, if yes, re-enforcing that the crate is "his safe place" might also help. How many other dogs and family member are around? He might also have problems to cope with the "new mixed pack" in your parents house. I am pretty sure, as soon as you are in your new home, things will settle down to normal! SY

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liljen23 6 years ago from Shreveport,LA

This is a great hub with lots of information about how to train your dog.. Keep it up..

Sable 6 years ago

I have a 3 year old English cocker spaniel. He just recently was hospitalized for some blood disorder. When I brought him home & put him on the special diet the vet gave us (which he seems to love) he has been growling & snapping at me when I feed him now esp if I touch his ears or head. He has also bitten my husband. This has been going on for 3 days now. He has always gotten hyper when we ate first but never paid any mind to it. We are worried wondering if something happened at the vet or is this him just trying to show his dominance like I read. Are there anymore suggestions you can give? Btw, he is not fixed but I feel it maybe to late to get that done since it can bring out more aggression. The vet said it's a 50/50 on what will

happen. Any further advice you can give would be appreciated & a time frame of how long it will take for this to hopefully end.

Angie 6 years ago

I was just wondering if you can offer any advice on our dogs.We have a one year old male Shitzu/Terrier cross and we have an 11 year old male rat terrier cross. We adopted the younger guy about 3 months ago from a local shelter and mostly everything is great.The problem is We sometimes would give our older dog a "human treat" such as a carrot or a piece of fruit. Now that the younger dog is around we can't give them both treats like this because he tends to attack or snap at the older one, even if he is receiving the same exact thing. He will set is down and come back and get in the older dogs face. Now I know we could just avoid giving them these treats all together, but he also will act ths way if we are sitting on the couch together and us humans are eating popcorn, if he feels the older dog gets to close to us, we acts as though he has to defend "his" popcorn.Or if I happen to drop food on the kitchen floor. We kind of thought by having them sit and offering them a carrot or something, that maybe the younger one would realize that it is not something worth fighting over because they both have one. They never fight over dog food, they sit at the same bowl taking bites one after the other. Any Advice? Thanks!

Stephanie 6 years ago

I have a 5 month old dog that is completely blind so Im kind of at a loss on how to train her not to be aggressive with her food. she has never bitten me or my husband and I can pet her when shes eating or even take the food away and she is fine but when any of my other dogs get near the bowl she snaps at them. Most of the tips on here im not really sure how to implement because obviously she cant see her food, is there anything you can suggest?

JLC 6 years ago

I have a rescue dog that we have had for over 6 months now. He has been great with our other rescue dog (8 months ago). It seems after the rabie shot my dog has become food aggressive. It has been getting worse lately. Just a few minutes ago he had his food and went after the other dogs food back to his and back to the other dogs food. He was put outside with the remaining bits of his food. I was terrified! ! ! What should I do? I have done everything already to what you said above. We had to put a dog down for aggressive behavior. We had the dog from 8 weeks to 22 months. After the rabie shot at 4 1/2 months the dog became aggressive towards dogs and people at an obidence class. Worse aggression after 2nd rabie shot at 19 months. At 22 months the dog had a muzzle 24/7.

WHY? WHY? The dog was put to sleep.

I do not want this to happen to our now 20 month male rescue dog.

I am terribly upset! ! ! WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP THE FOOD AGGRESSION? ?

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Sybille Yates 6 years ago Author


If the tips in this hub don't help and / or don't apply to your specific situation, please look for professional help from a dog trainer where you live. There is no way I can do more via the internet than I have already said in this hub. To help you further you will need to contact a professional where you live, somebody that can actually observe you and your dog(s) and interactions and give specific tips / help. Thanks for understanding, SY

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jlyn 6 years ago

I have a pittbull/catahola mix. He is 11 weeks old and I have a min daschound 6yr olds. they play very well together but when I feed them the puppy gets extremely anxious and trys to eat out of both bowls. I'm worried that this will be a problem when they get older. Any tips?

sarah 6 years ago

Hi. I have a 3 year old Greater Swiss Mountain dog. I rescued him about a year ago. The story behind him is that the owner bough this dog for his family his wife and 2 kids. Well the husband travels a lot and come to find out the wife was afraid of him because his size and she was also afraid of having the children play with him to.. So what they would do is keep the dog on the side yard with all concrete and all he had was water bowl and his doggie igloo. They never walked him or played just gave him food and that was that. Well then the dog had started to bark so the owner decided to buy a shock collar for him.. Well on the Swiss dog they have extra skin on their necks so when he put the shock collar on him and he barked all the shocking did was fry his skin and then u still have a barking dog wanting attention.. So when I saw his skin fried on his neck the guy told me that he was going to give the dog to the shelter and I told him that I would take him and try to find him a home because with a 118 pound dog they would put him down. Long story short I fell in love with this dog and he is amazing. Ive done excessive training with the dog he knows all his commands. The only issue and a very big issue is that he is food aggressive and I have tried so much to fix him and nothing is working… he is to the point where he will go on attack mode if u try to touch him while he is eating.. Now Ive gotten to the point I can place the bowl down and pick it up when he is eating and he will let me but if I tried to even touch him he would attack.. Also he has aggression issues on things like his dog bed and in his crate .. Im struggling and have no idea what to do…….. Do u have any suggestions on what I can do to break him of the food aggression and also him being possessive on curtain things?

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Sybille Yates 6 years ago Author


Yes, please get a professional dog trainer that can help you and the dog to solve this. No way I can give you any further advice from the distance. To help you a trainer has to see you and the dog and the situation. And as it is a big dog, even more urgent to get somebody to help you personally. Ask your vet or local dog sport club for a suitable person, SY

Andrea 6 years ago

My dog has become a bit food aggressive and I'm thinking it is the start of a dominance issue. I am definetly going to try making him sit down before he is rewarded food and always eat before him. I hope this works!:)

Stephen 6 years ago

Hi I've 2 beagle dogs both male, and I can't feed them in the same room just today I feed them both in the kitchen and I turned my back 4 a second and they started fighting I had 2 pull them apart from each other I can see myself or my wife being in bitten by 1 of them I h8 them fighting I would never get rid of them I have them from they were pups unjust worried they'd bite a child that has food or sum thing and id h8 4 dat 2 happen, the the most playful dogs I ever seen there great , just when there's food they turn into mad dogs. Any suggestions welcomed pls

Derek 5 years ago

Hi i have a 4 month old black lab, and he's starting to show signs of food aggression more so with pig ears i started giving him them 2 days ago, today he growled at my brother when he went near it, and the same with me like 15 mins later and i'm the one that feeds him everyday, he was fine when i was petting him but growled when i grabbed it. And when i feed him his food if i touch his bowl he doesn't growl he'll speed up his eating and try to block me out of his bowl. What should i do, i have never had a dog that has done this, so i'm not sure how to deal with this. Please any advice would be apprietated. Thanks

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Sybille Yates 5 years ago Author

@Stephen & Derek

If you have already tried all the tips in this hub, and it didn't worked out / helped enough, it is time to speak to a dog trainer that lives in your area, SY

Abbey 5 years ago

Our 6month old cocker spaniel growls and snaps when we feed her dinner. It's getting worse and we are unsure how to stop it

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Sybille Yates 5 years ago Author


Have you read this hub and tried some or all of the tips in it? If yes and it didn't help, please seek the advice from a professional dog trainer in your area, SY

Abby 5 years ago

My dog is aggressive of dog bones. She will attack our smallest. How do i help that?

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Sybille Yates 5 years ago Author


Have you followed any of the advice in this article so far? And how old are the dogs? SY

Courtney  5 years ago

Hi, my dog is a 3 year old shepherd/husky/pitbull mix and he is the wimpiest dog I've ever had. He is extremly submissive and overall a big pansy. Butch is sweet and loving too. Today I went out to go and move his bowl and he growled and snapped. I instantly pushed him back and took the bowl away. I growled and pretended to eat from the dish like I've read before.. Butch stepped back a couple feet and started peeing (when he is scared he tends pees) I gave him the food after and watched him eat the rest of it.. My mom usually feeds him in the morning around the same time. He is just fine when we take his bones away though...

We are getting a female husky puppy soon, will that only worsen it? Should I start feeding him instead of my mom to make him work for it? Im confused entirely on this situation because he is very submissive and all..

Thank you so much!

roni mama 5 years ago

i have a nigerian local dog it gives me sooo much trouble it eats to much it shits in the house then we stared keeping it out side but it cries althought out the night

the point is it does not listen to traing i heard local nigerian dogs dont listen to training help me or my mom will kick it out

New to dogs 5 years ago

I just got this 3 year old boxer from the humane society. She was confiscated from her last owner, along with the rest of her family. They were all abused and neglected. Waaaay under weight and such. she's a big lover, but when it's feeding time, she gets possessive. Possessive of her food and attention. If my other dog, a chihuaua (i can't spell) comes close, she growls or she has pinned him down and they get in a barking match. She's never shown her teeth and never bit. But it's enough to make me worried. I eventually want to bring her inside and be an inside dog, but not if it would endanger my 2 year old son. We've attempted feeding at opposite sides of the room, but that doesn't work, she goes to his side and if he comes close she'll get aggressive. other than feeding time, they get along great. They sleep next to each other and share a kennel together, so I don't think there's a problem with each other.

Ellerick 5 years ago


I have 2 young Pugs a male and a bitch. The male is a year older (21months)and we got him when he was 8 weeks and the bitch when she was 14 weeks. Such a difference in their behaviours- Louie is very in-tune with 'humans' and sooo affectionate, loving, happy and understands everything we say to him, Lola is more 'doggy' and doesn't greet people the same or give them love like Louie does but she is a great girl! Very happy and funny just doesn't give you the love that Louie does- like she knows no better? Anyway the problem is actually with Louie- He bullies her for her food and scraps with her- I split them up and he is like possessed and goes for me while im holding him in the air? He BIT me before when i got in the way of him going at Lola for her bone. I am really scared what's wrong with him as it is so out of character and it's becoming more frequent. He changes from being a baby lap dog on me knee to a crazy growling screeching crazed eyed pug when ever food is involved? Please help as it is so upsetting to see my lovely boy turn crazy like this.

Melinda Regner 5 years ago

I don't train them.. I bring them to a reputable dog training that handles dogs' aggression. If I were to deal with it alone, it's a sure thing that I went back home filled in blood. :)

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RichardCMckeown 5 years ago

Useful article. Voted up!

Wendy Duenez 5 years ago

Very useful article! Voted up & bookmarked it for future use. I do a lot of rescue work & I plan on giving this page to all our extended family members. Thank you very much!

Brooke 5 years ago

Thank you for your wonderful tips! I have a Shih Tzu he's about a year and half. I got him from a pet store in a mall so he's really socialized. But he got food aggressive. I've done all your tips except pretending to eat his food. I did it yesterday for the first time. I decided to make it more personal and kneeled down in front of him on his eye level, starting to eat his food. I did it for a few minutes. He started shaking uncontrollably! I couldn't believe how responsive he got. It's like he couldn't believe I was the "Alpha". So today I did it again, he didn't shake. So once I set down the bowl I leave my hand on the edge until he's done, my other hand is petting him. He hasn't growled at me. I'll keep doing this until his tail and ears are relaxed which will give me a sign he's better. Thank you!!

Bebe Roberts 5 years ago

I just became the owner of a cocker/lab mix. He is not nutered and maybe around 4-5 yrs. He lived on a cow farm where the cows and other wild animals would get his food, not to mention his bowls. He is very protective about everything but have been working with him and getting better. I do feed him by himself cause he will bite at me if I touch him while he is eating. I have 2 other dogs also. My male,nutered, is very scared of him but so far I have only had 1 minor fight and no blood spilled. Joe-Joe, my new dog wants to take over. He doesn't like it if I show any affection to Kiba, my lab/chow mix. Bouncer,my female, spayed, is bothered my him to much. Do you have any subjections on how to tame and get Joe-Joe a less aggressive dog? I do plan to get him fixed as soon as possible but afraid at this point he will bite the vet until I get him more controllable. Thank You

Kathy G 5 years ago

Sybille, thanks so much for this article. :) I have 3 dogs. My oldest is 9 yrs. my middle child, :), is 7 yrs. old and the youngster being 6 months old. I've never had a problem with food aggression until the youngster came into our lives. The oldest is a chihuahua/terrier and considers himself head dog, the middle is a G. Shepard/Chow Chow/Pitbull and has the nicest disposition of any dog I've ever had, the youngster is a Sharpei/Chow Chow/Rottweiler and he's the one that is showing signs of food aggression. All of my boys are neutered. I read this and tried the direct approach. I make him sit quietly while I feed the other two dogs and only then is he fed. It is working and he is less aggressive and has stopped growling. Thanks again for such good advice. :D

claire 5 years ago

hi we have a 6 yr old cavalier (monty)who is very placid we took him on when he was 1 and had already had 2 sets of owners both with young children - i am lucky and only work part time and my father in law looks after him whilst i am at work and the rest of the time he is either with me or with my mum and her 3 dogs - i have always felt bad about leaving him and as he seems so happy with the other dogs at mums i have been looking for another dog from a simular background to join us - well we found another cavalier needing a new home just under 4years old and we went to meet him this weekend and this is where my concerns start - he is a beautiful dog full of life and personality but became very quickly obsessed with monty constantly trying to mount him (he hasn't been castrated and monty has) and then started to growl at any human who came close to him - the previous owner said he is like this we treats and toys and cannot have anything taken away from him as he will go for you and indeed when we went to put monty back in the car to see how the other dog was when away from him he went for the owner whilst he was trying to restrain him - now i know that this could just be hormones and alpha dog behaviour and i would be having him castrated but if i take him on but i need to be as sure as i can be that this is the right decision for my family(there are very young children that regularly visit and i have other pets), monty( i dont want him left a nervous wreck as he is very soft) and the other dog ( i dont want to have to pass him on again as i believe he is with family number 3) so in your opinion do you think that with the removal of the hormones and some training ( i have a feeling that this dog is currently left for very long periods alone)that dominent behaviour will go and we stand a chance of a good family dog or do you think he may be better of waiting for another family perhaps with no other pets that can give him one to one attention?

Michelle 5 years ago

I also have a male King Charles Caliver named Chase. Chase is a year old and has started barking all the time. Chase also has started staring at my children and growling when they are eating. When I try to remove him and to put him in the kennel, he will growl and lunge at me and try to bite my hand. I have pinned him down(Gently)Chase is getting worse and I am afraid that my children are going to be bitten. I guess this must be a common problem with male Calivers after reading all the posts from other concerned owners.I am afraid that I am going to have to find another loving home for him because I can not monitor my childrens snacking at all times.

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ptosis 5 years ago from Arizona

This didn't help me. I fed the dog, it did it's business outside. But when I gave it a big meaty bone to chew on afterwards and removed it while it was chewing - it bit my thumb and drew blood and the fingernail is black and blue.

This dog has had two previous owners who took it back to the owner I got it from. I called the previous owner. I asked him if this dog ever bit a human before. He hesitated in answering and said, " Errrrr .... not that I recall " He is full of crap.

It is irresponsible and possibly liable for giving a known biter to an unsuspecting new owner.

This is something that dog training books do not cover. I am going to learn up on how to break this habit or put the dog down in two weeks.


Nancy Fischmann 5 years ago

I have two dogs and I frequently take care of my son's two dogs. My first dog is an one and a half year old, mellow, husky/golden mix. The second is an eight month old shepherd, bully type breed mix. My son's dogs are a one and a half year old great pyrennes mix and a leonberger mix -- both weighing around 110 pounds. The leonberger mix is very food driven, but it hasn't been a problem until my shepherd/bully mix joined the pack. In the last two days they have fought 3 times over treats and a toy. Both fights drew blood and they had to be pulled apart. Normally they are sweet and fun to take to the dog park and had never fought over anything. Why are the two of them all of a sudden all over each other when it comes to food? There are no males in the house -- just my 24 year old daughter and me. The dogs get tons of exercise and lots of attention. We have had the new puppy now for 6 months and had no problems at all. The puppy was just neutered last week at 8 months. He weighs 80 pounds, and is very powerful. The two other more passive dogs just stand there and watch. What can I do to stop this fighting before one of them or my daughter and I get hurt?

Breeze 5 years ago

Hello SY. I think you have given a lot of great advice. I read through the comments and didn't find my issue. I do not think professional help is needed at this time so I am asking you for a bit more advice because I like your approach. I'm not sure if you are even checking this anymore.

I have a 10 week old GSD who is having minor food agression. He is young and its important to me especially b/c of his breed to solve this. He gets fed 3 times a day consistently, training, and exercise.

He eats ravinously like he will never get another meal. I can make him sit and stay and wait for me to okay him to freely eat. If I am near his dish with my hand or walk close to him after he has begun he scarfs down his food like mad. He has not bitten and his tale is wagging.

My question is should I continue with the sit and stay and then leave him to eat like crazy?

I worry this will grow into a major issue if not dealt with correctly now at his young age. He shows no other signs of aggression.

He continues to test his rank with our 10 yo samoyed but has consistently been put in his place. I think the fact that he keeps trying is a sign of alpha. Also just to note he knows all humans are superior, he's very well behaved in that aspect. He follows a few commands come, sit, stay, and down.

Samantha 5 years ago

Sybille: Thank you so much for writing this article. But I still have problems with my dog. I adopted him when he was a year old from the SPCA. Now I don't know his backround because the shelter that I adopted him from told me that he had been transferred from another shelter, therefore leaving them in the dark about his backround. In the beginning my dog was great. He didn't have any food aggression but just recently about a month and a half ago he started getting very mean when it came to feeding him. Now I have him sit and wait while I'm preparing his food. And he knows to do that. I set his food down and he stays there because that's what I have taught him. I give him permission to eat. But when it comes to (recently) getting his attention to sit and lay down and I try to get him to focus he gets really nasty. He pulls his gums back and growls and snaps at me. And I have no idea what to do. It's gotten to the point to where I've gotten scared of him. I don't know how to re train him and I don't know what to do. He doesn't take me or my fiancé seriously. Please help. I'm open to all comments. For anybody who has any. I need help. I've only resulted in pinning him to the ground twice but that's just because he's gotten so nasty and snapped to try and bite me so instinct was to pin him to the ground yell at him and tell him no. But when i do that, he growls and gets nastier so obviously i have stopped doing that...

Please help.

Melissa 5 years ago

My puppy is 6 months and he gets aggressive when someone touches him while he is chewing a bone. Also he is territorial with my older daughter when we touch her he snaps at us even at my younger daughter. What should I do to stop it?

Judy 5 years ago

We had one beagle in our house for 5 years and took in a stray cat. No problems. We took in another stray shepherd mix who was roughly 8 weeks old when our beagle was 6. He started off with major food aggression and would growl and attack me at times. I started lessons of hand feeding him out of the bowl and taking pretend bites. Now he sits when I feed him so np when I feed him. I prepare the food with the dogs in the kitchen and they never attack each other with dry food. I feed them in separate rooms. On occasion, I have to feed one dog canned food that they love when they have upset stomachs. I feed them both the canned food so one doesn't feel left out. Our beagle is high strung when she is fed and overly anxious but never aggressive. There are times when they will full on attack each other like a pack of wolves to the point of where I think there's blood shed but there never is but the attack is vicious. The beagle finally backs down by whimpering but continues to attack to protect herself while the shepherd keeps attacking. We have learned not to give them special foods anymore but at times it's necessary when dogs have upsets stomachs. What do we do before our beagle gets killed? Do we scold both of them and put them in separate rooms or do we scold just the shepherd who continues to aggressively attack. Our beagle wants to be alpha and so does he. Tonight they attacked each other so bad, it took me a while to pull them apart and I thought he had torn her face off but no blood shed. We put him outside with no dinner but left her in the house. Any suggestions? The easy solution would be never to allow special foods or treats.

Judy - part 2 5 years ago

Sorry - I failed to mention in my previous post about the beagle and shepherd that she is currently 6 and almost 7 while the shepherd is now 11 months old. She is 28 lbs and he is 39 lbs. We have since taken in a small 12 lbs terrier mix stray in the past two weeks who is very bonded with the shepherd and she witnessed the attack tonight. We're hoping this won't affect her behavior as well. The beagle and shepherd are not really friends but at times they are affectionate. Our beagle is very jealous as she was the only canine in the house for 6 years. She is fine with our terrier but as mentioned, there is only an attack when it involves food and nothing else. Tonight I was going to feed all three dogs the same canned food since our terrier has an upset stomach and dr.'s orders, she needs to eat the canned food but I know they will smell it on her so I'm not giving it to her tonight. Again, any advice? Should I even feed our shepherd tonight or just keep him outside in time out for a long time before we feed him?

amy 5 years ago

We have three males dogs -

Aussie Mix -- 6 years (NOT altered)

Beagle Mix -- 5 years

Lab -- 2 years

We are thinking about adopting a female dog -- a lab/aussie mix puppy.

First question is, is neutering a 6 year old dog ok to do?

Second question is, is it smart to bring a female dog into the mix?

Thanks so much.

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lucymia 5 years ago

I have 3 small dogs. LaVerne(chi/shitz) is 16 months old, Shirley(terrier/doxie)7 months, and Agnes(doxie/poo)4 months old. LaVerne is spayed. Shirley and Agnes are extremely smart and have already learned several tricks including ringing the bell for water. Considering Shirley is 1/2 terrier she is not hyper but is active. I taught LaVerne when she was a puppy to wait while the cats were drinking because she would try to convince them to let her drink first. Shirley has started getting worse at feeding time especially that she will grab LaVerne and won't let go(I am afraid that she will break skin)She will not let go. At first I would moniter this behavior because I wanted LaVerne to learn to growl at Shirley and make her stop. If it last more than a few seconds, I step in and take Shirley and tell her that she is being bad and put her in her kennel in the living room where she sees that it is more fun not to be in her kennel. I have never spanked them. This last time it happened Agnes wanted to get involved but I quickly had already picked Shirley up. I have never had three little ones that I am training at the same time but it is going well and all three have learned several tricks. LaVerne and Shirley are like typical sisters and love each other very much except at dinner time. I don't even feed them together(the other two are in their kennels)this is always unexpected when food is dropped on the floor. All three are really good about sharing my lap without ever having an issue until yesterday when Shirley did not want to share( Agnes and Shirley like to get under the blanket in my lap)for the first time growled when Agnes tried to get under the blanket with her. I am totally dedicated to my 3 Muskateers, so any suggestions would be so much appreciated. Otherwise, things are going better all the time and they love learning their tricks and being with each other.

Melanie 5 years ago

I need help! My boyfriend recently rescued a dog from a shelter the dog is a lab/pit mix but he is the sweetest and most playful dog I have ever met his name is Bentley, now Bentley is 5 months and althou he is a very quick learner (already learned sit paw stay lay and even dance!) he has a bit of a problem biting...about 2 weeks ago my boyfriend let an old friend of his watch Bentley for a few hours while he went to work, and while playing with him she went to give Bentley a kiss and he grabbed her hair with his sharp teeth and nipped her cheeks. She had to get 4 stiches on each side. My boyfriend was devistated about this and wanted to take bentley back but I begged him not to. So he gave him another chance but yesterday my boyfriends roommate bought Bentley a bag of new treats that he loves so much and when my boyfriend went to grab the treat from Bentley he growled and snapped at him.. He yelped and tried to scare Bentley and let him now that it was not ok but today Bentley did it again and actually bit him this time. My boyfriend is now scared that he might bite a friend or even a stranger so he wants to take bentley back to the shelter. =( can someone please help me! I don't want Bentley put to sleep or anything I want my bf to give him one last chance! How can I stop these behaviors I know that he is a sweet loving dog! =(

Tammy 5 years ago

Hi, I did an internet search and came across this page. My 3 yr. old isn't having "food agression' but aggressive with our new 1 yr. old Shih-tzu. Anyways, arrived at this page and I think some of the same concepts apply which I will try. It seems that the author of the blog is "gone"! There are quite a few posts near the end that are not answered! It has a good start though so I am going to try some steps.

Ollie 5 years ago

I have 3 month old male retriever and contrary to the breed, he seems to be quite a dominant dog with humans and other dogs. He has recently started growling if you go near him whilst he is eating. This evening I took a chew from him and he displayed a lot of aggression even attempting to bite me. I reacted by holding him down on the floor for a moment and carmly speaking to him. He did relaz almost instantly. What could be causing this?

mdeneso 5 years ago

I am having this problem with my 6 month old GSD. It seemed to appear one day out of the blue a few weeks ago. I have tried everything I can think of. He sits and waits for my say so before eating, he is very good and obedient for being 6 months old. Except this one problem...

irishjo 4 years ago

hi there, i have my 8yr old Pom cross since shes a pup. shes well trained and has been on her own wit me until recently. My sister moved in wit me wit her 2 small dogs (both crosses,one female one male) and they are very quiet dogs and get along very well together. my dog gets along fine wit the female dog but doesn't seem to get on wit the male dog. they growl at each other a little on and off but today we were giving treats to the dogs and when my dog finished her treat she then attacked the male dog for his treat. we separated them and i told her off and left her out in the garden for a while afterwards. but then i noticed again this evening (no treats or food around) she was walking past his bed and again looked like she could start a fight wit him. is this her way of telling him that she is the boss?? ... he is a very timid dog and she is very bossy. i do think its her tryin to let him know she is the leader but i dont want them fighting at all... she drew a little blood on his nose today (only a small scratch) ... i dont want to let them fight it out.

any advice?? thanx

Lisa 4 years ago

We just rescued a 3 year old beagle. We already have 2 beagles and 2 labrador retrievers (ages 2,3,4,4). Charlie is sweet and mellow most of the time, but when it comes to food, he is quite aggressive. We separate our 4 yr.old female beagle, as she has been the alpha dog and we noticed tension between them. Then we discovered that even if we are eating, and not the dogs, he will attack Bella. She doesn't even have to look at him, and he will go for her. Then, later, when no food is around, they can be laying next to each other just fine. Please help. He's a great dog otherwise, but I am beginning to think this is why he was sent to the rescue.

Thank you.

judy 4 years ago

we reqlly need help with our food aggressive dog. Yes, he sits and gives paw before eating. If you get near his bowl during eating, he growls and snaps!! OMG!! never had dog like this and it bad!!Part rottweiler and italian mastiff, owner had us take him at 5 weeks, he is 6 months now and frightening. We work with him 7days a week, we're home.Use mop to move bowl slightly and he attacks!!He'd draw blood I bet!

judy 4 years ago

just wondering... anyone respond to questions here? Maybe should start community blog about our dogs. Seems like we all certainly care about them, and may be able to help one another.Let's face it, no one wants to part with their beloved pet if behaviors can be modified or changed. Whatcha think, give it a try?

Susan 4 years ago

My daughter adopted a 6 month old mix. She is now 2 1/2 yrs. old. Looks to be pointer/lab mix of some sort. Absolutely lovable dog, can't get enough affection. Will eat out of your hand fine, will even stay put until told to go to food bowl to eat a few pieces dropped into bowl (we do this to try and instill patience and let her know her food isn't going anywhere). We will do this for weeks at a time and no problem. But the minute the food bowl is full and put down for her to eat...she turns rabid.

Carol 4 years ago

I have a 7 month old miniature pinscher. We do eat before he does and already have him sit and wait for his food. It's hard to get him exercise b/c of our busy lifestyle and b/c he terrorizes the cats. I am so aggravated at him I want to get rid of him. Please help.

Yui 4 years ago

My dog is a very sweet 1 1/2 year old mixed breed.We take her on hour long walks in the morning, and the kids play with her in the evening. She doesn't get angry at the kids if they pull her ears or jump on her. She is a little hyper at times but she isn't overly hyper. She is the calmest dog I've ever had...but when she gets her food she gets mean. I've never had it happen to me( I'm apparently the Alpha) I am allowed to go near her food, pick up her food, move her food and even take it away if she isn't behaving.But anyone else tries to go within 20 feet and she attacks.I'll hear crying and rush outside and people have scratches on their face or something.I don't know what to do about it since she doesn't do it with me. I always think she knows she is lower rank because of how she behaves around them. She sits for them and does tricks for them.She plays with them but she refuses to let any of them near her food.

Wyatt 4 years ago


Kathie Link 4 years ago

I'm fostering a blue Weimaraner whom lived with the mother dog.....basically unattended, for 2 1/2 years. When we took them into the rescue, the mother dog was of normal weight but the daughter, whom I have, was skin and bones. It quickly became obvious that the mother was eating nearly all the food provided and showing lots of aggression toward her daughter. Thus, the end result is food aggression and tremendous fear of other dogs in the daughter. She is now of normal weight and not quite as food aggressive as she once was since she can eat whenever she wants and as much as she wants, but she snaps and cowers in fear of being attacked by another dog if they show any "forwardness" to her. Any ideas anyone.........of how to help the litle soul stop being so scared and protective of herself?

Rest Stop Rescue 4 years ago

Found a golden ret/shepherd puppy about 6-10 mos old at a rest stop in OK. Per workers, he'd been there 6-8 weeks. Although very affectionate, he has a few issues I'm in need of help with. Excessively LICKS everyone's hands, face, wherever he can. Eats rolls of toilet paper, yes he ingests it. Stands up on hind legs to try to get whatever MIGHT be on the kitchen counter. Huge food aggression toward my 8 yr old male retriever/shepherd who is the most laid back, gentle dog ever. Is it that (Mad) Max has been a stray longer than we know and just never shown proper etiquette? Or possibly aggressive due to the lack of food when he was lost/abandoned? Either way, we need help please. Oh yeah, he jumps up constantly on everyone, but I'm working on the "stand still, no eye contact, ignore him" technique for that. Hope you can help us!

Lyn 4 years ago

thanks for the tips, especially about "eating some of the food first.

Trish n Hershey 4 years ago

My dog has never shown food aggression, but today he was slightly aggressive towards my cat who walked over to sniff the food. He has never done that before. they drink out of the same dish a lot. they play and sleep together sometimes too. he didn't growl, he pushed him away with his nose and then when he wouldn't move he did put his teeth out a little but no sound and just for a second. Zeke (the cat who i think was testing some waters there) just flicked his tail at him and walked away. I put my hands in his dish all the time act like im eating his food even. the kids do too. Should i be worried?

Dave 4 years ago

I have a 5 year old dog, who has been the only dog. Have a 10 lb. auto feeder in garage, she is an outside watch dog everything was fine, til I got a 5 month old pup, she is getting better & better with the pup everyday, however pup ate some food out of the feeder and she attacked and bloodied the pups ear and took a piece of hair out. I put adult dog in crate 5 feet away and left pup eat in front of her, she remained silent. Would love to get her to share, so she can have a playmate. Won't happen, if she attacks pup. Will feeding pup, while she's crated and watching get her acosmtomed to allowing this, when uncrated? Thx, Dave

Natalie. 4 years ago

I have a four month old Akita. I know that he is too young for this to be happening, but he seems to be food aggressive. Every time I take out food/a treat, he jumps all over me and tries to bite the food out of my hand. This happens every day, and of course, it hurts. I have tried to establish dominance over him for the past few months (walking out of doors before him, making him sit for his food, teaching him to get down, etc.), so is this just because it's still early in his training, and he will get better as long as I keep doing everything I'm doing? Or is there something else I can do to help? I yell at him to get down every time he jumps, but he doesn't always listen. I need for the jumping to stop soon because he will topple 50 pounds in a few months. Help!

Angie 4 years ago

We have a dog who is 3 in aug and a collie x lurcher bitch who is 9 months , she is fine now with dry food but when meat is around we have to keep them apart as she will fight him for it everything he has from bones or toys she wants . They both sleep in the same place have separate beds and get on but sometimes she will just fly for him mainly for food . I think she thinks he cant have it . When we first brought her home and took her to the vets thay said she was very underweight , we think as the dogs were outside they fed them and left them to fight for food. She has calmed down alot since we have had her she was just 8 wks old when we brought her home. When I feed them I take some of hers and pretend to eat it then she eats it , I only do this if she decides she wants our older dogs food which he does let her but she will let him take her food too ?? , ( dry food ) . I found your site very helpful , I thought getting a dog and bitch would settle the alpha status as one of each sex but she seems to be the boss of him. They play and get on well its just this food aggression we have sometimes , also when I get home from work she always nibbles my clothes not bites its like she is checking for fleas , they are not left alone during the day so its not as if she has no human company. She barks whenever she hears someone outside our garden more than our older dog and wraps herself around our legs like a cat does especially when coming home or when out and another dog gets to close even though she is playing with them.

Angie 4 years ago

Sorry forgot to say our older dog is a Jack Russell X collie but he is more like a jack in his ways , thanks

Denisia 4 years ago

My dog isn't food aggressive she just chows down her food within 10 minutes of when we give it to her. Is there a way to get her to slow down when she is eating. Any suggestions?

Dino 4 years ago

My golden retriever bit my son over a chicken bone. He put the bone up on the pool deck and the dog went after it and was able to get to it. He tried to get the bone from him because he was afraid he would choke on it and he bit him on the arm left 1 puncherd wound my son is 12 dog is 4 years. Can I still trust him

joshua 2 years ago

My mom just got a dog because she felt bad for him because he was poorly fed and the owner saw it as a "status simple" and didn't care about it and left it in his car all the time so we took him in and bit my mother in the thigh hard enough to make her bleed because she wanted to give it more food and bit me try to give it a toy so we can't decide to introduce the dog to my personal dog or give it back to the owner because now I'm very very frustrated and mad what do you recommend

Michelle 2 years ago

Please check your spelling. Distingtion should be distinction.....etc. Errors in spelling degrade your credibility.

liz 2 years ago

Help! My daughter and son I law have 3 dogs. Sammy is 5 years old and was abandoned several Times before we adopted him from the pound. He is a Pitt bull mix and is very calm. He gets along extremely well with other dogs. About a year ago they rescued a boxer. She was about 20 pounds under weight and occasionally bullies smaller dogs. Last weekend Erik picked up a 4 month old female German Shepherd mix. Both females are food aggressive and have started to lunge for the other. I told my daughter about your sight and how they needed to feed the dogs apart and in their pack order. I suggested they start walking them at least once a day or get them in the back yard for play time. Any other suggestions?

Helen 2 years ago

Please, if your going to write on a subject that you are knowledgable about, please, Please!, become knowledgable on HOW to write in the first place! I apologize but it was sooooo incredibly aggravating to attempt to read this HUB. At the very least you could use spell check! Sorry.

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