Believe it or not, food guarding is classified under the category of aggression. Please note, just because your dog guards his food, does not automatically mean he or she is an aggressive dog. This is a common problem for more dogs than you would think.
Back to Instincts
Food guarding is instinctual and derives from wolves needing to guard their food from other predators. Wolves who guard(ed) their food are more likely to survive than those who don’t. Of course, in our world, this is not a desired behavior.
If you have a puppy and you don’t want him to guard his food, try sitting near him when he eats. If he is comfortable with this, you can get closer and see how he reacts. If or once he is comfortable with you being close, you can reach your hand toward the bowl while he is eating. Please note, this should only be done by an adult with a puppy (not an adult dog) and caution should be taken.
You can also hand-feed your puppy which behaviorists have found helps incredibly. Grab a handful of your puppy’s food and feed your puppy one piece at a time. This will greatly reduce the risk of him guarding his food as he gets older.
If you do not want to seek treatment with a canine behaviorist, try feeding your dog in another room away from ‘competition.’
In most cases, food guarding is not treated because it doesn’t pose a threat in most cases. If there are young children in the home, or other pets who could be harmed, it definitely becomes a problem. Children are more likely to be bitten because they do not yet understand the warning signs a dog displays when he is angry or uncomfortable.
You should never punish your dog for guarding his food. Punishing your dog can greatly impact the bond you share with him and lead to him trusting you less.