Tuesday's Tip: Stop the Bowl Guard
Many pet owners free feed their dogs. Free feeding can apply to both time frame and food amount. Most pooch parents are probably lucky enough to fill their dogs’ bowls at the beginning of the day only to forget about it until tomorrow. However, many dogs will not self-regulate regarding how much food they consume. In addition to the propensity for unnecessary weight gain, free feeding can also lead to a lack of proper discipline.
Confident dogs are less likely to be concerned with toys, bowls, or even attention from their humans than dogs without confidence. While most dogs love to play with chews, they understand that their humans are the reason that they have their chews. To the dog with confidence issues, there isn’t an established link between the dog’s human and the provision of resources (toys, chews, etc.). Dogs that raise their lips and show ferocity at anything that nears their food bowls are under the false impression that there are limited resources. Therefore, in order to curb this behavior, there is a no-nonsense approach that owners must adopt to deal with these object focused, confident-lacking canines.
Demonstrate the Human-Resource Link
The first step towards curbing aggressive behavior surrounding the food bowl is to establish a regimented feeding schedule. Rather than filling up the dog bowl whenever it’s empty, try feeding your dog a limited amount two or three times a day. As you begin this new schedule, feed your dog from the palm of your hand to demonstrate that you are the provider of the food. This will also make the dog more comfortable when eating while other people or animals are around.
Eventually, phase out the hand feeding and reincorporate the food bowl. Once a day during one of the feedings, it’s important to put your hand into the bowl to move around the kibble while the dog is still eating. If there are no signs of aggression, such as a raised lip or a growl, then the feeding schedule is making progress. Any new signs of food-based aggression should be met with the immediate removal of the food bowl and a return to the hand feeding.
Dogs should never show aggressive behavior to their owner, family, or with pets who share the household. A regimented feeding schedule can be combined with other healthy pet habits, such as crate training and regular walks, to foster an environment with a high level of discipline.
Food Aggressive Dogs & Air Travel
It's important to counteract any food aggression with a step-by-step plan prior to preparing a pet for travel. Airline managers reserve the right to deny any dog passage... and they invoke this right quite often, perhaps more often than they should. Since dogs are transported with access to water and food, it's not outside the realm of possiblity that a food aggressive dog would appear to be ferocious to airline personel that approach its crate. Set your dog up for success, whether in the home or for air transport, by taking preventative measures against object and food-based aggression.
To read more about object guarding or food-based aggression, check out the following links: