There was an article posted about a 4 year old male Jack Russell that is terribly food aggressive and has a history of biting family members.
The dog owner wants to know how to approach fixing this food aggression problem with her dog. She also notes that in addition to food aggression, her dog dislikes being fussed with while on his blanket. This is another huge red flag of resource guarding that should be saying, "I've got to get this under control now!"
Dogs can guard things they perceive as having high value. These typically center on things that fall into four categories: food, space, articles of play and love and affection. That's right,you can become a high value resource to your dog as well (that's the love and affection part.) If not addressed immediately, this could be setting the dog up for a one way trip to the vet
Why does a dog become aggressive around his food bowl? That's a good question. There could be a number of factors that, when you put them all together, would cause this dog to become aggressive around his food bowl and aggressive in many other situations as well.
One reason might be a lack of proper socialization and desensitization around as many kids and adults as possible.
Another factor is desensitizing him to family members being around him when he is eating. This should include heavy doses of feeding him from your hand, taking his food bowl up and giving it back with a yummier treat on top of his remaining food.
Other influencing factors could be a complete lack of structure in the family, that is, not requiring the dog to earn things in life that he wants and also the dog's temperament.
Dogs that are more leader type or bossy, would be more likely to resource guard their food bowl than say a very submissive dog.
Now don't get me wrong, submissive dogs can also become aggressive around their food bowls. I'm just saying that the bossier the dog, the more likely it could aggressively guard its food bowl.
I've also seen very bossy or leader type dogs aggressively guard a spot taken on the family couch and be perfectly fine with family members near their food bowl while they are eating. It all depends on the individual dog, environmental factors, etc.
What does the owner do about her reactive dog? The very first protocol is to make sure all humans and dogs are safe. This means that the dog should be physically managed - crated, gated or on a leash so that he is prevented from becoming aggressively reactive.
Work on changing her relationship with her dog by putting him on a learn-to-earn program of performing sits and downs for things that he wants. All family members should participate so that he gets the same message from everyone.
Get back into the training groove with sits and downs to give him a sense of working for leadership rather than feeling responsible for it himself.
Exercise her dog to more constructively manage his energy rather than it being managed by the dog in a destructive way.
Finally, get with a good trainer or behaviorist to begin working on a behavior modification program to directly address the issues of food aggression and aggression around anything else.
This problem should be addressed sooner than later because the aggressive behavior grows stronger each time the dog growls or snaps causing people to back away. Dogs simply do what works.
If you notice your dog growling around their food bowl or growling when you approach them in certain situations, call a trainer or behaviorist before the problem gets worse.
Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children.
Dog food aggression is just one of the many dog behaviors addressed by 25 year professional dog trainer Jim Burwell. Visit Jim Burwell's Petiquette and explore the hundreds of articles and posts on different dog behaivors. "Opportunity Barks!"