How to Deal with Your Dog's Meal-Time Aggression

If your puppy can’t accept you near her food bowl, don’t make a power struggle out of the feeding ritual. Instead, use these steps to help her accept you as less threatening:

  1. Approach your puppy once a day with the treat cup or clicker and treat her while she’s eating a meal.

    If she growls as you approach her during a meal, stop where you are and toss her a few treats before you leave. If this continues, seek professional advice immediately.

  2. Repeat Step 1 until you can stand over her and drop treats into her bowl.

    At this point, approach her bowl while speaking happy praises but without shaking the cup or clicking. When you get to her side, make the sound, toss a treat into the bowl, and leave.

    Try kneeling down as you shake the cup or click and toss a treat into her bowl.

  3. After your pup is comfortable with your kneeling and tossing a treat into her bowl, try placing the treat into her bowl with your hand.

  4. Try stirring your pup’s kibble with your hand.

    If you’re successful, continue stirring the kibble once every other day for a week.

  5. Gauge your dog's reaction when you try to lift her bowl. Give it back immediately and leave. Repeat once a month only.

You can use this entire process for other prized objects, such as bones or squeak toys.

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