As a dog owner, you must be well aware that some behavioral problems in dogs need to be properly handled. And one of such problems is food aggression in puppies.
Dogs can be very possessive and protective of their food. This is why they are often fed separately from other dogs in the household or on a schedule. However, when a puppy gets too aggressive about his food, it may make eating time dangerous and stressful for him and difficult for you to handle
Puppies’ food aggression can appear, especially when your puppy gets older and they no longer need their mother’s milk. During the first six months of life, it is common for a dog to have food aggression issues as pups take more time to adapt to the family and become familiar with their environment.
.Puppies between four months old and six months old are most likely to become food aggressive because that’s when they first start going through an adolescent growth spurt that increases their need to eat two or three times a day instead of once a day like adults (this applies mostly to medium-sized breeds). Many puppies will test human rules at this age; therefore, expecting some behavioral issues during this stage as they learn which items are off-limits and which things they’re allowed to chew on.
Here are some signs which indicate that your puppy has developed food aggression:
- Growling when you try to feed him or her something;
- Snapping at you when he or she doesn’t want his or her bowl to be taken away;
As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to train your puppy well and stop their behavioral issues from worsening.
Here are some tips on how to stop food aggression in puppies:
- Try not to make him or her too dependent on solids before six months of age because that will increase the chances of developing food aggression. Remember that puppies would only drink milk during the early stage until they are about six months old. Feeding solid foods such as dry food will provide more energy to your puppy, which can cause them to become aggressive and territorial with their feeding bowls. Give them enough time to adjust themselves instead of rushing things up. Making them stay hungry for 5 or 6 hours won’t do any good.
- Provide him or her with a variety of foods to eat so that he can learn what is appropriate to be taken from you. Variety in diet will also help your puppy develop an appetite for different kinds of food and lessen the chances of developing food aggression issues later on. It is not wise to feed a dog only one kind of food as his or her main course because they could become picky on certain types, causing them to have a lesser appetite for other healthy meals which are equally important for the proper development of their bodies. Dry kibbles, wet canned food, pieces, and chunks should all be served from time to time and always make sure there is clean water available in bowls at all times.
- As a puppy gets older, you should try to cut back his or her food portions and avoid giving him or her snacks which will fill them up quickly and make them feel less hungry for their meals. This can be an effective way of curbing behavior and preventing aggressive reactions from your dog towards their feeding bowls whenever they are fed with something other than their regular diet. The general rule is to feed puppies mainly dry kibbles when they are young (about three months old) until they reach the age of 12 weeks; then switch off to canned food at 13 weeks of age until about six months old, where whole foods begin. Avoid giving scraps, too, as it could affect the health of your pet.
- You can also reduce the frequency of your dog’s meals by introducing two smaller servings a day instead of one large feeding only once a day. This will help curb their amount of food intake, resulting in less aggressive reactions towards people who come into contact with them while they are eating. Just be sure that you are giving him enough food and water so that his or her health won’t be affected at all.
- Make sure to remove your puppy’s food bowl right after you finish bathing, to exercise, or playing with them before they get hungry and become protective over it because this will further increase chances for developing aggressive behavior whenever they feel like it is their territory and they are the ones controlling it. To add, don’t touch their heads when you take away their bowls because that could aggravate them as well.
- You may also opt to feed your dog separately by keeping his or her food out of sight so that there will be no need for him or her to be protective about it anymore. It is a good idea to keep two feeding bowls—one on top of the other one with some water in between—inside an enclosed space such as a crate, kennel, laundry room, or bathroom where the puppy would not go out just yet so that he or she can still feel protected but at least far enough from people who might try to take away his bowl while he’s eating.
- Whenever you are not around to supervise your puppy, it would be best to leave his or her food in a secure place such as inside the refrigerator with a lock which will prevent others from taking them away whenever they feel like playing with the puppy’s feeding bowl or just because he or she is being annoyed. It would also help lessen aggressive reactions as well if no one else other than you and your family members can touch their bowls—or any utensils for that matter—during mealtime hence allowing them to have enough time to eat peacefully all by themselves without having anyone disturbing him or her while he eats his dinner.
- Do not give a dog too much water (especially ice-cold water) as this can cause him or her to have frequent urination, which could influence the amount of food they eat.
- you must make sure your dog’s water bowl is not easily accessible for other animals because they might get into a confrontation whenever they see each other. One will try to take away from another while he or she is drinking his or her fresh supply of clean water. Keep some fresh ice cubes floating on top of his or her bowls at all times to encourage drinking and prevent your dog from touching it too much with his or her mouth, which may prompt them into an aggressive behavior towards others who want to drink—or even steal—it as well.
- You should also make sure to clean your dog’s bowl once or twice a day to prevent bacteria from contaminating it.
- If you are the type who likes giving treats from time to time, then be careful of what kind of snacks you want your puppy to eat because some of them can also be harmful to him, in particular when he is still growing up or when he has an age-related health problem. For example, if your puppy has dental issues like tooth decay or gum disease, do not give him any hard treats but instead choose soft, chewy bones that will clean his teeth and massage his gums more effectively than the other snacks out there. Very hard treats such as kebabs or chicken wings can be very dangerous for a puppy to eat because they can puncture holes inside his or her stomach, resulting in severe infections that could lead to many problems, including organ failure, internal bleeding, or worse—death.
- The same thing goes with bones, though not all dogs like chewing on them too much. If you want your dog to chew something else other than rawhide, then opt for the dried-up marrow bones instead and check whether or not there are no sharp edges on it before giving it to him.
- Appropriate puppy/dog food for aggressive dogs should consist of premium quality kibble or a home-cooked diet with turkey, chicken, or fish added so that dog gets necessary Omega 3 fatty acids. This will keep the skin and coat healthy, make her less reactive toward other dogs when on a leash and calm down hyper behavior if any aggression was caused by too much energy or poor nutrition. It is also crucial to feed enough calories (calorie intake should be around 1/3 of the dog’s ideal weight, up to 25% more on top if she is very active). Otherwise, the dog may become thin and start bingeing on food which will trigger aggression.
- Most bitches come into season during this time as well; you should contact your veterinarian for advice on what sort of additional nutrition or supplements you might provide your bitch that is in heat since her energy requirements will be higher than usual due to all of the extra activity involved with producing offspring. You also want to make sure she maintains a healthy body weight to not put excess strain on her bone structure throughout this period (and while pregnant).
Aggression is a natural, normal behavior for dogs. It’s important to understand that it can happen during any stage of your dog’s life and manifests in different ways at various times. The first step is to understand the root causes of aggression, so you know how best to manage it once you discover its triggers. Next, try out the above practical tips on preventing food-related aggressive behaviors from happening again.