When a dog is considered to be an aggressive eater, people can have a few different understandings.
Dog food aggression refers to a dog’s behaving in a dominant way around his or her food. Dogs who have dog food aggression typically snarl, bark or otherwise make it known to humans and other dogs that the food is theirs—and everyone else needs to back off. This behaviour is closely related to “possession aggression,” whereby dogs fiercely protect their toys.
Being an aggressive eater, however, refers to a dog’s eating too quickly, perhaps from anxiety or excitement. Although the temperament of the dog could be just fine, eating too quickly is a concern as it can cause bloat, weight gain or other digestive problems. The faster they eat, the less they chew, so choking is a real concern as well. That said, aggressive eaters can have dog food aggression if they eat quickly as a result of dominance, but these are two separate issues.
For the purposes of this post, I will provide some tips for dealing with dogs in the second category, but if you would like to read some tips about overcoming dog food aggression as it relates to dominance issues, please let us know in the comment section
! We’d be happy to write a post about that topic in the upcoming weeks.
Tips for Dealing With Aggressive Eaters
|Dusty has a deep chest and a small belly so using
a slow-eat bowl makes him slow down and helps avoid bloat!
1. Purchase a slow-eat bowl.
These bowls have various compartments so the dog has to move around the bowl to get to all of the food. There are many varieties and sizes available at your local pet store that are proven to help slow down aggressive eaters. Alternatively, if you already have a metal non-tip food or water bowl, you can turn it upside down and put the food around the edges. Another option is using a muffin tin and spreading the food out for your dog to find.
2. Consider hand-feeding.* Not only will this technique build trust between you and your pet, it will also give you control over how much food your dog eats and how quickly. By hand-feeding, you can make sure your pup is finished chewing before feeding her more, and over time she should learn that eating slowly is the way to go.
* This idea was contributed by Rocky’s foster mom, Nancy. Due to her diligence, Rocky now eats at a normal (if not slow) pace, and Nancy has gained his complete trust when it comes to his mouth. She can check or clean his teeth or get unwanted things out of his mouth no questions asked, which, she says, is a big improvement from when he first came to stay with her!
3. Do not overfeed!
Since we love our furry friends, when we see that they have finished their food quickly, only to look up at us with those eyes of theirs, it’s tempting to give them more. Do not give in! This behaviour just teaches them that the faster they eat, the more food they will receive.