Stop Dog Bites: Teach Your Dog Not to Be Food Possessive


I am very distraught over the number of dog bite cases I read and hear about, many involving children and some fatal. This is Dog Bowl and Pet Toystragic and most could be avoided. As a dog owner and foster mom, I teach ALL my dogs not to be toy or food possessive. This is not the problem all the time in dog bite cases, but it is a big factor in homes. If this is a problem with your pooch, please maintain close supervision !!! Operating a cage-free pet sitting business and being a foster mom, I am a very responsible dog owner (and cat).

POSSESSIVE: Young children are so possessive they will not allow others to play with their toys.

I foster for a “bully” breed rescue, they are not bullies, and these dogs may go to a family with children. I do teach every one of these dogs not to be food or toy possessive, meaning they will bite if you go near their food or toy. These dogs are very human friendly and loveable, contrary to what the media reports. (Another story for another day). They are however, very powerful dogs.

If confronted by a growling dog, children should be taught to walk away slowly and not to run.

When feeding my fosters, I make them sit first before receiving their bowl of food. When the bowl is placed on the floor and the dog takes a couple of bites, I take both my hands, they are small, and cover the dogs food dish. When the dog is not “rooting” anymore for the food, I remove my hands. A word of caution here, please do not jump in and just cover a dog’s food dish with your hands if you are not sure how the dog will react.

I get to know the dog a little and feel confident I can do this. If you are not sure, please use a fake hand. (like you use for Halloween) I also put my fingers on the dog dish while eating. If you start this at puppy stage, this will not be a problem. For those teaching adult dogs, please use caution!!! This gets the dog use to the idea of having hands around his dish and will not lash out at anyone near his food. Keep doing this periodically to keep this instilled in your dog.

I have several Nylabones in the house. No one fights over them. While the dog is chewing on it, I gently take it away. Wait for them not to react and just sit, lay or stand there patiently. Give the dog back the bone. Do this several times. If the dog reacts, do not give the bone back. Try again later. This process can be used for any toy.

Teach your children that unfamiliar dogs — no matter how small or cute— should not be touched or approached without adult permission. On the other hand, do not teach them to be afraid of dogs.

Note: Please be a responsible pet owner. If your dog is possessive over toys, do not take them (toys) to the dog park. (I have actually seen this). If you have small children around, please supervise them, especially during meal time. Make sure your dogs cannot escape yard/house while you are gone.

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2 thoughts on “Stop Dog Bites: Teach Your Dog Not to Be Food Possessive

  1. We have had my dog, Jax, for a year and a half. He will be two years old in September. He is not aggressive toward my children in the least bit, unless there is food involved. Last year my son, 5, tried to grab a bone out of Jax’s mouth. This resulted in a visit to the emergency room. We have not had any incidents other than that until this week. My daughter, 4, tried to pet him while he was eating and he bit her arm. Today my daughter had a lunch-able (only ketchup left) she left on the couch and he started to lick the ketchup. She tried to grab it and he bit her, same spot. He has never acted this way toward myself or my husband. He immediately ran away and when I confronted him he put his head down in shame. For the last hour every time I look at him he bows his head down, so I know that he is aware that he should not have done it. In terms of the aggression only being directed at children how could I go about correcting this problem?
    Jax is a mix, Great Dane and Golden Retriever.

    • Hi, I am sorry to hear that your children are being bit. Jax is not being aggressive toward your children, he is food aggressive. Jax needs to be taught not to be food aggressive. Until he is trained, please watch your children very carefully when Jax has food or your children have food. If he does this with toys, the training would be the same. First rule in training any dog is to have the dog give you eye contact when you give him a command. You want the dog to look to you for instructions. I do this by holding a treat to my eyes, when the dog looks at me in the eyes, I make a ‘kiss’ sound, and give the dog the treat. This instills in the dog to look at you for guidance and instruction. I also slowly and carefully put my hand near the bowl of food while my doggy is eating her dog food. You may want to use a fake hand, like a halloween toy arm, at first. I do this only when I feel I can trust the dog. When I feel comfortable, I put my hand in the bowl while they are eating. Again, do this very cautiously. Consistency is the key to any training. You may also want to have your 4 year old eat at the table and keep her food there so Jax doesn’t get it. Also teach your children not to eat around the dog or touch the dog while he is eating until he does not have food aggression any more. I am sure that Jax knows he is doing something wrong, some dogs are more food driven than others, meaning they will do whatever to get the food. I also teach my dogs the ‘leave it’ command. You can do this by holding a treat in your hand a few inches away from their mouth. If the dog tries to grab the treat, pull back or close your hand. Try again. When the dog sits or looks at you, give him the treat. Again, do this repetitively. All dogs are different just like people. Do only what you feel comfortable and safe doing. I do not want you to get bit, training Jax. Or you can take him to a professional trainer and tell them he is food aggressive and needs to be trained. Again, please watch your children closely when food is involved. I don’t know why Jax does that to the children and not you or your husband. Maybe because he knows you are more firm with him. I hope this helps. Thanks for sharing. Many children are bit because of food issues. Here are some videos that may help. I fostered the dog in the video. Again, all dogs are different and learn at different rates.

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