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Over the last few months one of my dogs has started to become food possessive. I still can’t really pinpoint what prompted this shift in behavior. One day all was well within their little doggie souls and the next I heard Wilkins growling and saw him curling back his lip to show his fierce little teeth to the other dog at meal time. Y’all know how much we love our dogs and treat them like family (playpens, toys, treats, blankets, pillows, etc…) so I was surprised to see them act like this. I thought food possessive behavior came from dogs that weren’t used to having enough to eat but our dogs have more than enough of everything.
At 3 years and 7 years I thought my dogs were past this kind of behavior especially since we’d never experienced it before. I certainly didn’t expect it to creep in to their behavior now but it did. As I always do when my dogs start exhibiting less than desirable behavior I contacted our dog behavior specialist to ask a very polite, “WTH is wrong with my dogs?” Since he was kind enough to offer up some tips and advice I’m going to pass that on to you today. It’s been about a month and it seems like we are finally getting this food possessive behavior under control.
Here’s what you do…
Create Separate Feeding Spaces
The first thing we had to do was separate the dogs at meal time. We used to have a nice little set-up by the kitchen with two food bowls and a large water bowl but to combat the food possessive behavior we separated the dogs. We now have one feeding area set up by the kitchen cabinet and the other set up around the corner in the dining room. Having their own unique space has helped the dogs feel more control over meal time.
Each feeding space consists of:
- A feeding placemat (since one of my dogs like to drop his food on the floor before eating it)
- A personal food and water bowl (I prefer the raised kind for any dog over 20lbs since they are better for their necks and backs).
Schedule Meal Time
We used to keep food down for our dogs at all times and figured they’d eat when they were hungry. Well, that worked but it wasn’t the best decision because it left us unable to control which bowl the dogs were eating out of. We soon discovered that Tebow (the chihuahua) would go back and forth between both bowls which was his way of showing his dominance in the house. That behavior also left our chiweenie, Wilkins, unsure of which bowl to eat from and when he was allowed to eat which fueled his anxiety. It also led to him becoming food possessive, out of hunger, when he did get a chance to eat.
Now they are on a regular feeding schedule that looks like this:
- 7am – Breakfast
- 12pm – Lunch
- 6pm – Dinner
- 9pm – Small Snack (tiny amount of food in their bowl)
After I put their food bowls down they are given 5 minutes to begin eating or I pick their bowls back up and put them away until the next meal time. Not only has that show our dogs that I am in charge of their food, not them, but it has prevented Tebow from having the time to go between bowls. He has learned that if he doesn’t eat when his food is given to him that the food will be taken away.
Buy Food They WANT to Eat
We recently switched our dogs over to Purina Beneful IncrediBites with Real Chicken because it’s specifically tailored to small dogs and contains real meat rather than a bunch of preservatives and faux ingredients. (Remember that dogs can be sensitive to a change in their food. If you’re considering a switch, read up on these helpful tips first).
We used to feed our dogs Purina Beneful IncrediBites all of the time but only recently switched back to the brand after hearing they revamped their dog food formula. The new formula, based on 2 years of research and customer feedback, contains meat as the #1 ingredient and has no sugar added. No sugar is a really big deal for us because we have small breeds and they can be prone to obesity due to sugars in dog food and dog treats.
The day we went out shopping for new dog food I took the boys with me because a lot of stores we frequent here in Atlanta are dog-friendly and I hate leaving them home alone when I don’t have to. They seem to enjoy it, for the most part. I ultimately found Purina Beneful IncrediBites with Real Chicken in Walmart while the dogs waited in the car (with water and open windows because I’m not the kind of person that forgets my animals are in the car).
Do you struggle with food possessive behavior in your dogs? Do you have any other tips to help combat the negative behavior? Have you tried Purina Beneful Originals or Purina Beneful IncrediBites? If not, go and request your free sample now.