How to Train Your Dog Out of Food Aggression

While dogs might be man’s best friend, they can sometimes become very aggressive over things like food. This is why it’s incredibly important to work to train your dog out of food aggression before something bad happens. Luckily, there are a few easy steps you can take to do so. 

What is Food Aggression?

Dogs are often cute and cuddly, well deserving of a moniker like man’s best friend. However, sometimes dogs can be quite aggressive. Experts believe that aggression in pet dogs is an evolutionary throwback to a time when wild dogs and wolves had to hunt for food. Food aggression is dangerous because dogs can bite you, your family, or visitors. In fact, 1 in 65 people will be bitten by dogs this year. Dog bites are a leading cause of homeowner insurance claims, so they can be expensive, too.

How Food Aggression May Develop

As with anything genetic, dogs having a predisposition toward food aggression is in no way a guarantee they will have it. You could own a dozen dogs in your lifetime and never have one showing these traits, while someone else might have a dog of the same breed that does. Signs of food aggression in dogs include growling while eating. They might also lift their lips in a snarl and get in a tense attack position when someone approaches them. Full-on food aggression can include actually striking at other animals or people when they get too close to their food. You need to be on your guard if your dog is displaying aggression, and be ready and willing to treat it.

Stopping Food Aggression

There are many at-home methods dog owners can try. First, you can try to train your dog to have to work for their food. In other words, feed them as a reward after they go for a walk or perform a trick. This teaches them that their food is to be earned. Another way is hand-feeding or upgrading the food to a new brand, but that typically only works for puppies. You can also display dominance by “winning” the proverbial food fight. That involves taking the food away when the behavior begins, allowing them to growl and snarl. Only give the food back when they calm down. Most of these methods apply to puppies. If you have a grown dog who’s just starting to act aggressively, you may have a bigger problem on your hands and should start with a visit to the veterinarian.

Why Pet Training is So Valuable

This is where obedience training comes into play. Whether you have a puppy you cannot train or a grown dog, pet trainers know how to stop this food aggression in your dog. Luckily, it’s a problem that’s easily corrected. However, it takes skill and know-how to train your dog properly, so a professional may be your best bet.


Food aggression can be a frustrating issue for dog owners. Remember that while food aggression can be common, it’s also easy to take care of. With persistence and patience, you can break your dog of this nasty habit.


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