Dogs are animals and animals live by instincts. By instinct, any animal’s mission is to survive, and nature’s way is to allow only the fittest to carry on.
This is the most probable rationale why dog growling over food is prevalent. Being born in a litter, this is the kind of life that they have been brought into right after birth, as they begin to fight for the best nipple the very moment they begin to suckle, and this will have to go on, even long after they are weaned by their mother.
As you bring home a puppy, it’s not a wonder to see it growl at you as you approach it taking its meal. Growling over food is not your puppy’s fault, but your action is needed to stop it, otherwise it will escalate into a more dangerous behavior when the puppy grows, especially if there are little children in your house.
Stop Dog Growling Over Food
For a start, you should always remember that dogs learn faster if their positive attitude is reinforced with rewards or praises rather than scolding or punishing them for doing wrong. Likewise, if you show your anger to your dog growling over food habit, it will read your scolding as your anger as a threat to get a share at the food it is eating, your dog will guard its food all the more with intensified growling.
As a rule never take the dog’s food dish away without putting in something good that will be added to its meal. You need to let your dog realize that your act of removing its dish is a sign that more food is coming.
Make your dog used to eating its food while you are near. This will make it understand that you are not interested in its food. You can add bits of food to the dish to show that you are the source of food and not its taker. Doing this on a few more occasions will make your dog feel at ease even if you come close to it as it eats.
You may now start to take the dish and lift it up a few inches from the ground, adding some food in the process. Put the dish back and gently say “good boy,” to show that you are pleased with it for being such a cool guy. Allow the puppy to take a few bites more and take its dish again and lift it up a little higher. It should not fret at this because it knows that more food is coming. Practicing this constantly will teach the puppy to abandon dog growling over food habit because it expects something good every time its dish is taken. If you have children, encourage them to follow your example, that is if the dog is trained enough to be trustworthy. Don’t let the children do it out of your presence
Dealing With Dogs That Bite When Approached While Eating
A different method is used to train dogs not to bite as they are approached while eating. This is done by taking its bowl and placing it on a table. The bowl should be visible to your dog but not low enough for it to reach. Sit at the table and command your dog to sit fronting you. Feed the dog by hand one piece at a time. If the dog takes his food slowly, praise it and say ‘good gentle,’ but if it bites your hand in any manner, clinch the dog-food and say the command ‘gentle’ in a firm voice. Give the dog its food only when it attempts to take it gently from you hand. This will take weeks of constant practice. What is important here is to train your dog associate gentle behavior with a food reward and to let it treat you as its food giver and not the taker.
Having trained your dog to behave this way, you will now have the confidence to approach your dog while it eats without the dog growling over food behavior anymore.