Dogs who snap and growl over their food are a hazard to everyone in the house. If you have a dog who behaves this way, it is important to work with him to overcome this aggressive behavior before he ends up biting someone. While not all growling ends in biting, a dog who is guarding his food has a high likelihood of attacking anyone he perceives as getting in his space. Take your time when working with your dog; forcing the issue can make your dog feel cornered and increase aggressiveness.
Step 1 - Toss him some treats while he is eating. Walk by him and drop some treats on the floor near his dish. Don't stop or say anything to him when you do this, just drop the treats and keep moving. You want to be as close to him as you can be, without causing him to growl. If he does growl, don't discipline him, just drop the treat and move along.
Step 2 - Move in closer to his dish. As he becomes accustomed to you dropping treats near his dish, move a little closer. Eventually you want to be able to drop the treats directly into his dish while you walk by. He will start to anticipate the treats and look up as you approach, making it easier to get the treats into his dish.
Step 3 - Stop and add treats to his dish. When your dog starts to pay more attention to you than his food when you approach, he is ready for you to stop and add the treats directly to his dish. Crouch down and put the treats directly in the dish, then stand up and walk off.
Step 4 - Pick his dish up to add the treats. When your dog is fine with you stopping, stooping down, and adding treats to his dish, you are ready for the final test. Stop, crouch down, and pick up your dog's food dish to add the treats. Set the dish back down. If you have taken your time and worked with your dog at each mealtime over a period of days or weeks, he should accept you in his space with no growling or snapping. He will probably be happy to see you there.
By Stephanie Dube Dwilson
About the Author
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.