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How Do You Deal With Food Aggression? continued...

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.

Do Dogs Need Variety in Their Diet?

Although they do like occasional treats, dogs, unlike humans, are content to eat the same food every day. So there's no real reason to make changes in a dog's diet to add variety. In fact, doing so may cause digestive upset and diarrhea. Not every dog has these problems, but many do when their food is changed.

There are times, Carreker says, when you do need to change a dog's diet. The two main times are when you go from puppy food to adult food, and then again when you switch from adult food to senior food.

When you do change food, it is best to make the change gradually by mixing the new food with the old. "Then," Carreker says, "over a period of one to two weeks, gradually increase the amount of new and reduce the amount of old until you're just feeding the new food to your dog."