By nature, many dogs have a tendency to defend or guard their food. Dog owners may not even realize it’s happening, but this behavior should be addressed right away so that It does not turn into a problem later on.
If you notice your puppy becoming protective of her food, or even other things like her toys or bed, you can take action to prevent the problem from progressing. The American Kennel Club offers the following tips to prevent your puppy from developing a food-guarding habit.
• Let your dog eat in peace. Refrain from interacting with your dog while she is eating. Let feeding time be feeding time. Feed your dog in an area where she feels safe and comfortable. If there are kids around, teach them that the dog should be left alone while she eats.
• Be consistent. Put your dog’s food down when it is time to eat rather than leaving the bowl out all day. Leaving your dog’s food bowl out might make her think that the food is a resource and can be taken away at any time. Feed your pup the amount recommended by your veterinarian and put the bowl down only during feeding time.
• Never take food from a growling dog. If your dog starts growling to protect her food or chew toy, don’t take it away. This will only reinforce the idea that her food must be protected because it can be taken away at any time.
• Give, don’t take. You will want to establish early on that a person approaching your dog’s bowl does not mean that her food is in jeopardy. Every so often, when your puppy is eating, walk over and drop a tasty treat in her food bowl. This will emphasize the idea that a person approaching her food is associated with a positive experience and she does not need to protect it.
For more tips on dog ownership, visit the AKC at www.akc.org