Avoid food guarding behavior when feeding your dog with this one piece of advice from a canine psychologist

Dog guards a bone held between his two front paws
(Image credit: Getty)

Having a dog who is very protective over their things such as food, treats and their favorite puppy toys can put you up against unwanted aggression. It's something that can very commonly develop in puppyhood and escalate if you don't try to nip it in the bud.

PetsRadar has a fully decked out vet's guide on how to stop puppy food aggression. However, if you're looking for a quick insight as to where you could start to improve this unwanted behavior from your dog, canine psychology expert and trainer Steve Del Savio has shared a short video all about food guarding and how to avoid it.

According to Del Savio, "Quite often, resource guarding develops in puppyhood. The two main ways it begins are: 1) The human does nothing to teach the dog that they don't have to guard things. 2) The human does things like petting, getting close, sticking hand in bowl, trying to take away, etc."

Watch the video below and continue reading to find how best to adapt your training so that our dog no longer sees you as a threat to their food.

Annoying your dog after you've given them food is a good way to go about creating food guarding. Especially, if you have children and other pets in your home, your dog might be used to having lots of commotion around their food bowl, feeling hands on their bodies while eating and fending off other animals trying to steal their food. All these things can start to bother your dog and cause them to become defensive, guard their food and potentially try and bite you if you get too close to their meal.

"But," says Del Savio, "If you don’t want to create food guarding and instead help your dog to feel that your approach to the bowl is an amazing thing and he’s very happy about it, this is what you should do. 

"Once your dog’s already eating, instead of coming over and bothering them just come over with something high value, something that has a good strong scent. As you’re approaching make it very obvious. Your dog’s going to look up and smell the food, see your hands, see your approach and watch you put something high value in the bowl."

What does this achieve? Well, it will cause your puppy to see human approach as meaning something good is coming versus human approach means something bad is going to happen. 

Naturally, this is going to be easier to practice with a younger dog who is more impressionable. However, that's not to say you can't train up an adult dog to stop food guarding. Food aggression in dogs is also common and something that your vet or a behaviorist can help with.

Jessica Downey
Staff Writer

With over a year of writing for PetsRadar, Jessica is a seasoned pet writer. She joined the team after writing for the sister site, Fit&Well for a year. Growing up with a lively rescue lurcher kindled her love for animal behavior and care. Jessica holds a journalism degree from Cardiff University and has authored articles for renowned publications, including LiveScience, Runner's World, The Evening Express, and Tom's Guide. Throughout her career in journalism she has forged connections with experts in the field, like behaviorists, trainers, and vets. Through her writing, Jessica aims to empower pet owners with accurate information to enhance their furry companions' lives.