How Do You Keep Dogs From Eating Other Dogs' Food? continued...
At feeding time, she puts food in a dog's bowl and then calls the dog by name to come eat. She says because the dogs see her as the one controlling the food, the other dogs know the food belongs to the dog she gave it to and they don't bother that dog.
"You have to watch," she says, "and pick up the bowl after the dog stops eating. If you leave it sitting out other dogs will naturally check it out."
You can also separate the dogs at feeding time. "Move the bowls farther apart by putting them in different parts of the room or even in other rooms," Carreker says.
Is It OK to Give Dogs Food Like Fruits and Vegetables?
"Absolutely," Carreker says. "They make an excellent treat, and they make the dog feel fuller with less calories and no fat." There are certain foods dogs shouldn't have, she says. "For instance, they can't have onions because onions can cause anemia. And grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure."
Winquist cautions that you should not give your dog food from your plate at the table or from the counter while you are preparing a meal. "I give my dogs fresh fruits and vegetables all the time. But I don't do it while I'm cooking or while I'm eating. Doing so teaches dogs to beg."
How Do You Deal With Food Aggression?
Carreker says food aggression and a dog being possessive of food are behavioral problems that may often be seen in rescue dogs or dogs that are adopted from a shelter. "Sometimes, it's a result of the dog's new environment and being uncertain about what's going to happen. If it is, it may improve once the dog knows it's going to be fed. If it doesn't, I typically refer clients to a dog behaviorist who will come into their home and observe the dog."
Winquist agrees that relieving the dog's anxiety about getting fed will often improve the situation. "If the dog's just possessive but not really showing signs of aggression, you can try feeding it by hand. Like with a puppy, doing so will let the dog associate you with the provision of food."
She cautions that you should never reach into the dog's dish or get in the dog's face until you know for sure how the dog is going to react. "If the dog is showing signs of aggression -- growling, barking, and so forth -- you can try another tactic." One is to put a leash on the dog and walk it away from the food dish, then walk it back and let it eat a few bites before walking away.
Another technique that helps the dog become more comfortable with you around the food is to stand off to the side and toss pieces of food into the dish while the dog is eating. "You're not taking food out of the dish, you're putting it in." If the aggressive behavior doesn't go away, you need the help of a dog behavior professional.