Food Bowl Aggression

Posted by Johnny-Tsunami
Jul 22, 2008
Our six month old Chessie is very aggressive with his food. He's okay with biscuits and small treats, but once he gets involved with his meal time. I've limited him to hand feeding only - and he still snarls and nips at me when he's waiting for his next handful of food. He seems very anxious, nervous, and afraid. I do not yell at him when he snarls, I just remove the food and distract him. At the end of mealtime, he remains in that emotional state for a few minutes and eventually calms down. We did have him neutered a week ago and expect him to calm down slightly in another week or so, but that's no guarantee.

Should I be doing anything more? Should I stop doing anything?
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Jan 4, 2010
Hi Johnny

It was a good idea to get Chessie neutered, as changes in hormone levels, especially when going through puberty, may contribute towards heightened levels of aggression. You are definitely on the right track with the hand feeding, so keep up the good work in that department. If he growls at you when you are feeding him, stop straightaway and go away to do something else, ignoring him completely. Go back again 5 minutes later to try again. If he still growls at you, then leave him again for 5 minutes. He will soon realize that this sort of behavior will just leave him hungry, and so he should stop before long. Once he stops snapping at you, you can start to feed him from a bowl. Stand above him and add food to his bowl slowly as he eats, which will strengthen your status as the alpha dog as you are the food provider. This will be a tedious and time-consuming exercise initially, but once he realizes that you are in fact the source of his food and not a threat, he will no longer be protective of his food.

Mealtimes should be clearly defined and no treats fed between meals, unless it is for a reward for obedience to a command. Meals should be fed at a regular time and your dog asked to sit before being fed. Remove the food bowl after 20 minutes regardless of whether or not he has finished eating. This all emphasizes your control over his food, as well as your status as leader of the pack.

It is important that when he acts nervous for you not to comfort him or tell him 'its alright', because this will reinforce and encourage his fear. Instead you should ignore him when he acts like this and praise him when he is being confident.

I hope this helps and all the best with the training!