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Stop a Dog Growling Over Food



Is your dog growling over food, and you want to know how to stop it. Good news! Dog Ownership Guide can help you stop a dog growling over food easily and quickly.

Ways to Stop a Dog Growling Over Food

The good news is that the behavior of growling over food can be stopped. It also won’t take long and can be tended to nearly effortlessly.

Below you will find ways to stop a dog growling over food, so you and your other household pets can eat or move freely around your growler without fearing an attack.

Not all of the ways identified below will be a right fit for you and your dog. Review each way to stop a dog growling over food and decide on which one you feel will be the most effective.

Just Say No

To stop a dog growling over food, say “NO” in a stern voice. If said loud and harsh enough your dog will likely become startled and stop. If he starts again, say “NO” again. You may need to do this for a couple of days whenever you hear growling before he understands. How to Stop a Dog Growling Over Food


Take Away the Dog’s Food

When your dog starts to growl, take away the food bowl. By doing this your dog will learn that the growling results in punishment. Do this consistently until your dog learns that it is not okay to be aggressive over their food.

Get Your Dog Used to Your Presence When Eating

Many dogs’ food aggression comes from the fear of their owners. It takes time for your pet to gain your trust and feel safe. The ASPCA recommends standing a few feet away during feeding time and decreasing your distance every couple of days. If the growling starts as you approach, just take a couple of steps back and stay there until you can sense he/she is comfortable with that distance. It is important for your dog to understand that you aren’t going to take the food and are only there for company.

Add More Food to the Bowl

Try adding food to your dog’s bowl while he/she is present. Most dogs growl as a defense mechanism because of fear you will take the food away. However, by teaching that getting close to the bowl is a positive thing, he/she will learn to feel excited when you approach the bowl instead of fearful. 

Keep Family Members and Other Pets Away During Meals

This may seem silly, but animals just like us like their peace while eating. If they feel annoyed they may become aggressive when eating to ward off whoever may be near them. To solve this try moving their food bowl away from the business of your household so that your dog can eat without feeling rushed or anxious.  Dog Growling Over Food

Provide Set Meal Times

Sometimes it can be helpful to set up exact times when you feed your dog. Food aggression can be associated with hunger. If dogs do not eat enough, they may become protective over their food when it is given to them because they fear that their next meal could be far away and they want to eat every last bit. However, by arranging set meal times and sticking to them it teaches your dog that no matter what is going on they know they will be fed. This way your pup will no longer feel the need to guard a meal like it is the last one.

Why Dogs Growl Over Food

Dogs growl over food for many reasons: they are afraid someone or something will take the food away, they don’t want to be bothered while eating, or they feel as though they don’t have enough of it to share. Understanding these reasons why dogs growl over food can help you identify a solution for the problem.


Dogs growl over food because they are afraid of something. They may believe that another animal – furry friend or human – will take their precious meal away.


Dogs over growl because they are communicating that this is their food. By letting others around know, they don’t feel as anxious over having people or animals around them.


Dogs growl over food when they don’t want to be bothered. They are communicating to whoever is around them to step away.

Dogs don’t speak in words, but they do speak by barking and growling.

For instance, sometimes our D.O.G. Pitbull will stand by the food bowl and growl just one time EVEN THOUGH they all share the same bowl. Usually, the D.O.G. will say “Oh stop it Hera. You’re fine.” She then stops and everything is fine.

Some dogs don’t growl over food, but instead, take a mouth full of food somewhere else to eat it. The reasons are similar to why dogs growl over food. Learn more: Why Do Dogs Take Their Food to the Carpet

Stop a Dog from Growling Over Food

As you can see there are many easy ways to stop a dog from growling over food.

  • Tell him no whenever he growls.
  • Take his food away whenever he growls.
  • Teach him to be okay with your presence while he eats.
  • Make approaching his food bowl a positive sign.
  • Keep family members and other pets away during meal times.
  • Provide set meals for him.

Now you know how to stop a dog from growling over food, so go ahead and use the above ways today. The sooner you get started, the faster it will stop, and peace will return to your household.

Learn more about dogs fighting over food.



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4 thoughts on “Stop a Dog Growling Over Food”

  1. we’ve tried various methods to stop our red lab from growling during eating…we thought once he was neutered, he would stop.

    • I completely understand, Patty. It’s a hard behavior to break, but it is possible. The growling is a warning and your pup thinks it’s okay to warn people to stay away. Teaching him that it’s not okay to do it to you or any other family members is key. Our dog Chelsey was like that and we tried the leash method but also got brave and just said NO while we took her bowl away and that worked. Just be careful with that because of course the growling could lead to an attack or bite. Do the leash method first – have someone hold the leash and pull back if he tries to bite and say NO as you take the food away, or putt your hand in the food, or just be near the food. Whatever he growls at needs to be introduced and he should get the point that growling is not appropriate behavior.

    • Hi Brendan, Nipping when you take the food is a similar situation – it’s still guarding and being possessive over the food. Try to have someone with you holding a leash when your dog starts eating and take the bowl away repeatedly while saying no when he tries to nip/lunge forward etc. This will teach him that you are allowed to take the food away and the nipping behavior is not tolerated.


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