Dogs with food envy: what helps against it?
Dogs instinctively have the need to defend their resources. This natural behavior can lead to food envy when a four-legged friend fears that someone will steal his food or that he will be shortchanged. Food envy can be expressed in dogs both toward humans and toward other dogs of the same species. But what can be done about it?
When dogs constantly defend their food, we talk about food envy. The instinct to protect vital food is innate in dogs. But if food envy degenerates into aggression towards other dogs or people, you should act.
Food envy: When dogs fight at the bowl
The term “food envy” sounds at first like harmless bickering over the best piece of meat. In fact, however, it is a survival instinct of the dog that comes into play. Food is one of the essential resources that must be defended when someone tries to take it away. This means that food envy develops especially in dogs that have had to fight for their food, have been shortchanged more often, or have not always been allowed at their mother’s teats by their siblings even as puppies. They must first learn that they do not need to defend their food against you or dog friends in the household.
Food envy towards other dogs: What to do.
It takes time and patience to break dogs of their food envy. It is important that dogs understand that the food in their bowl belongs to them and that no one is taking it away from them. For this, it must be ensured that neither another dog nor you actually disturb him while he is eating or even “steal” his food. Some dogs tend to be greedy and take whatever food they can get – whether it is their own bowl or not. This can lead to food envy or make it worse.
The best thing to do is to serve food separately to the food thief and the food envier. Anyway, it is advisable not to feed several dogs in the same household too close to each other so that food envy does not become a problem in the first place. Initially, feed your dogs in separate rooms and make sure that both have their peace and feel secure and safe. In time, the food envious dog will realize that he has his bowl to himself and doesn’t have to worry about someone “stealing” his food and him not getting enough. Later, you can try feeding the dogs in the same room, but different corners.
When dogs are aggressive towards people at feeding time
If dogs have had too many bad experiences with food in the course of their lives, this can develop into such strong food envy that not only the food itself is defended as a precaution. The aggressive behavior can extend to the bowl and the feeding place, so that it becomes difficult for the dog owner to safely approach the four-legged friend when he is in the room with his feeding place. Patience and calmness will help here as well. Calmly place the bowl with your dog’s food and leave the room. Let him eat on his own and do not remove the bowl until it is empty and your dog has left the room on his own. Gradually he will understand that his food is not in danger and that he does not need to defend it.
However, this can be difficult, especially with deep-seated food envy. If you can no longer manage on your own, you should consult an experienced dog trainer or, in extreme cases of aggression, consider problem dog therapy.