A dog’s natural instinct will always tell him/her that they should guard their food; if you think about wolves in the wild they have a specific pack order when it comes to eating and whilst they each eat they also guard their food from other members of the pack.
Now dogs will guard their food from other canine companions and from us but as their owner you should still maintain complete control over the feeding time situation. Most issues with food guarding are also associated with dominance. Your dog needs to learn that you are the ‘dominant dog’ and you will see this when he/she allows you to pick their food bowl up.
He/she should also accept being patted or stroked whilst eating; a way to introduce this is to simply pat your dog as you place their food bowl down on the ground. Now leave them to eat and prior to them finishing add some more food to the bowl as you are doing this just ensure that you pat your dog once again, this behaviour is showing your dog that any action you are taking with the food bowl is good and positive.
An important factor to consider when feeding your dog is the actual location, do not simply just pop his/her food down in a corner of the kitchen as this will probably only result in your dog feeling even more possessive. Make sure that there is plenty of room around your dog at feeding time and then you need to practise serving your dog’s food to him/her and then removing it. The easiest method to use here is to only pop a small amount in your dog’s bowl and when that has been eaten remove the bowl and put another small amount in it.
Whilst you are doing this always remember to praise your dog if they are behaving and ‘allowing’ you to move their food bowl around like this. Now for the next stage your dog needs to become accustomed to the concept of you adding food to their bowl whilst it is still on the floor in front of them.
Pop the bowl down as you normally would with a small quantity of food in it and then turn your back and carry on with some other tasks, when there is still a small portion of food left add something else to the bowl such as a small doggy treat. This will display to your dog that you are in control of the amount of food that he/she eats.
Finally one golden rule to always remember when it comes to your dog’s feeding time, ordinarily you would not be moving their food bowl etc, etc and this rule would be easier to follow. Do not pester your dog when they are eating, just leave them well alone to finish their meal. When you place their food on the floor for them give them a quick pat or stroke and say ‘good boy/girl’ and then leave it at that.
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