Food is one of the basic requirements all animals need to survive. It is also something that we often enjoy, and do not always want to share or risk losing our access to a favourite. The same is true for dogs.
A dog guarding food harks back to their history and instincts as wild animals, when food was a precious resource and their very survival might rely on keeping control of their access to food. Another factor that may contribute to a dog guarding food is having come from a background of neglect, where they may have been starving and not known when they might get more food.
A dog guarding food is a type of resource guarding and can be a common problem, whether it shows as guarding food from other dogs, the people around them, or protecting it from anyone and everyone in the area. Resource guarding is a completely natural behaviour among dogs, but can be a problem for us when it takes place in our homes.
The initial signs of an issue developing with a dog guarding food can be very subtle and easy to miss unless viewed with an educated eye. The signals to watch for in resource guarding include moving their body while still eating to block access to the food by the approaching dog or person , and/or any of the following:
, and/or any of the following:
· Eating faster than usual when their food bowl, treats, or chew are approached by others.
· Freezing and stopping eating, showing a fixed and hard-eyed stare.
· Freezing with their head or body positioned over the food to block access
· Growling while eating.
· Stopping eating to curl their lips back, displaying their teeth as a warning to stay away.
· Snapping at the approaching figure – this is not a bite that misses. Dogs are fast, much faster than we are and a dog that does not make contact with their teeth never intended to make contact.
· Lunging and biting if no signals they give work to make the dog or person go away and leave them with their food.