Dog Guarding Food But Not Eating

November 23, 2022by DOGuide0

Is your dog guarding food but not eating? Believe it or not; this behavior is common, especially for dogs with food aggression. Learn why your dog is doing it and how to stop it from happening.

What Is Resource Guarding?

Resource guarding is when dogs protect something they believe is high value. The underlying belief is that valuable resources will be stolen, so they must stand guard.

Resource guarding or food guarding is considered aggressive behavior. Many dogs will attack other animals if they feel as though their dog food will be eaten or taken away. That’s why it’s important to stop food guarding as soon as it is identified.

Learn More: Why Is My Wheaten Terrier So Aggressive?

Dog Guarding Food But Not Eating

Pet parents who wonder why dog guarding food but not eating, we have the causes of food guarding below. The reason behind a dog not eating but still guarding is anxiety.

When a dog is dog food or food bowl guarding, anxiety is high because he/she is afraid. If you’ve ever tried to eat when you’re highly stressed, you may find that it was hard to eat – unless you’re a comfort eater.

So, the reason for dog guarding food but not eating is anxiety. Now, we’ll tackle the guarding part of the issue as that is the result of the anxiety along with not eating.

dog food guarding

What Causes Food Guarding

There are many reasons dogs have food aggression – some are experiential and other instinctual. Let’s dive into all of them below.

Limited Food Availability

Food guarding behavior is often seen in dogs that have been nutritional neglected in the past. Dogs that didn’t get enough food will be very protective of the food they do receive.

Battle for Food

In a similar type of situation, possessive aggression can result when a dog has been with other dogs that eat all of the food that is made available. Dogs can remember the past for a long time. A dog may become aggressive when they often went hungry because an alpha dog ate all of the food. That dog food aggressive often carries on for a long time until it is unlearned.

Instinctual

Instinctive behavior can be stronger in some dogs, so they are born with it. A food aggressive dog may believe it’s normal behavior. Unfortunately, it can make it difficult to have more than one dog.

Alpha Dog

Alpha dogs believe they should have all of the dog food because they are the most important one in the pack. This causes them to exhibit food guarding behavior.

How to Stop Food Bowl Aggression

The good thing about food bowl aggression is that the protective behavior can be changed. Consider the following ways to stop resource guarding behavior.

Separate Each Dog’s Food

For food aggressive dogs, start with having different food bowls. Since each dog will have their own food items, they won’t feel compelled to guard it.

Different Mealtimes

If having different food bowls doesn’t work, try different mealtimes. That way your dog won’t feel so threatened.

Feed in Separate Rooms

You may want to try separate rooms to see if that works for your adult dogs. Food bowl guarding may not happen when they know they are safe from anyone who will take bowl away.

Dog Training

One of the best ways to stop food guarding is taking away your dog’s food bowl while eating and then reintroducing it. If your dog’s body language changes when you go to take the bowl, say NO in a stern voice and continue to remove the bowl.

For highly aggressive dogs, have a family member help you by holding on to your dog with a leash, so there isn’t an attack.

Once you can remove your dog’s food bowl without any change in body language, growling or barking, give your pup a lot of praise and a tasty treat.

You can do the same thing when trying to train your adults dogs to eat together from separate dog bowls or the same one. This is the next step after you’ve successfully solved the food guarding issue with separate bowls or mealtimes.

Hire a Professional Trainer

A professional trainer can help dog owners dealing with puppy food aggression since that can often be instinctual. Of course, if you’ve tried everything with your dog (long time dog or newly adopted), a dog trainer is a good idea.

The trainer can help you hone in on your training skills so it can be more effective for you.

dog food aggression

Common Reasons Why Your Dog Isn’t Eating

Pet parents who wonder why dog guarding food but not eating, we have the reasons for not eating below.

Anxiety

One reason for a dog not eating but still guarding is anxiety.

When a dog is dog food or food bowl guarding, anxiety is high because he/she is afraid. If you’ve ever tried to eat when you’re highly stressed, you may find that it was hard to eat – unless you’re a comfort eater.

So, the reason for dog guarding food but not eating is anxiety. Now, we’ll tackle the guarding part of the issue as that is the result of the anxiety along with not eating.

Discuss with Veterinarian

If your dog isn’t eating, there could be a medical condition. Your dog may still be guarding it because it’s a behavior that he/she is used to doing. Loss of appetite is a symptom of many medical conditions, so it’s a good idea to speak with a vet to rule that out.

Senior Dog

Senior dogs usually eat less than puppies and adult dogs. If your dog is getting older, he/she could just not be hungry at mealtime BUT still doesn’t want anything to happy to the food.

Dog Guarding Food But Not Eating – Problem or Not?

Dog guarding food but not eating or even eating is only a problem if there’s aggression involved or the guarding interferes in a dog getting proper nutrition. For example, if a dog is too busy guarding food and not eating, it could lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Keep an eye on your furry friend and if there needs to be an intervention, then move forward with some of the tips above.

Learn More: How to Stop Dogs Fighting Over Food

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