How To Stop Possessive With Food

unrecognizable man feeding dogs in hot weather

Train Your Dog Not to be Possessive Over Their Food

Dog over food bowl growling.

Though sometimes we would like to believe otherwise, food is a dog’s first priority, so the first step to successful training is to establish yourself as the leader. This can be achieved by showing them that they can only have their food at your discretion and command. It is a very scary situation when your dog is possessive of the food and/or toys.

Be The Leader

woman feeding white and black dalmatian puppy

Start with given them their dinner and allow them to eat for a few seconds. Then take the bowl away from them. 

Use an appropriate sound each time you pick up their dish, such as “leave” or “stop”. Keep the bowl for a few seconds. Provided they haven’t shown any aggression as you removed the bowl, tell them ‘good dog’ and give the food back. Allow them to continue eating. Repeat this two or three times during each meal for a few days, then once or twice a week for a few weeks.

Why Are Dogs Possessive of Food?

adorable puppies playing on tile pavement near fence

Some dogs are never possessive with their food. You may find if your dog came from a large litter, the only way they could obtain their share of the food was to threaten their brothers and sisters.

Finding this action achieved their desired result to get more food. They may well try it with you. If you don’t sort this out very early on, this possessiveness will transfer to other things such:

  • as bones
  • toys
  • furniture and so on
  • perhaps even to other members of the family

To stop them from being aggressive with their food, don’t give them possession of it! By this I mean feed them by hand for a couple of weeks. Prepare their food in the bowl as usual, but don’t put the bowl on the floor for them. Simply feed them a handful at a time. The bowl of food on the floor almost instinctively makes them want to guard it. If they are not put in this position of needing to guard, they will not bite!

Don’t just leave food down for the dog to guard.

Feeding by hand also helps if your dog is dominant in other areas. It makes them completely reliant on you for the most important thing in their life, their food. This will reinforce your position of pack leader, as they are only receiving the food from you and not from the bowl. 

photo of person feeding dog outside

You can also use this period of hand feeding to your benefit by making them display some minor obedience and manners expected from you for some of the food. Get them to sit first before one handful, or to lie down for the next, and so on. Don’t make them run around for the food as this could cause digestive upsets.

Dog Starts to Understand They Don’t Have to Guard Their Food

You will find that after a couple weeks of this regime, their general attitude over possessions will change. You can then try giving them their food in a bowl again, and, provided there is no sign of aggression, continue to feed them normally.

Possessive Over Toys and Bones

For dogs that are food possessive, do not give them bones or toys, as they will attempt to guard these in the same way. Once the food possession has been sorted out, you can try introducing a toy, but make sure the dog understands that it is your toy, and they are only allowed to play with it with you, and when you decide the game is to end, you must end up with the toy.

Control Dog Aggression Over Toys

Published by Dogwuvr

My love of animals started when I volunteered at a humane society. From there I wanted to teach people how to take care of their precious pets and get the word out about adopting. I went to Animal Behavior College and got my Dog Obedience Certification. I have been working in veterinary clinics and give people information about dogs.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: