Stop Food Aggression, Stop Resource Guarding

Food aggression occurs, because some dogs associate people or other dogs coming near their food, as being a bad thing.

  • Maybe we have a rescue dog, that had to fight for his food in an earlier life.
  • Maybe we have been inadvertently taking food, or other objects away from our dog by force.

Now, he thinks he needs to guard his belongings.

Certain dog breeds, for example protection dogs, may also have a higher tendency to guard.

To reduce food aggression, we want to make sure our dog associates people approaching him, with something positive.

Never try to take food, or other items away from an unknown dog. Even seemingly easy-going dogs, may sometimes try to guard their food and toys.

Note – The exercises below, help to prevent food aggression. Do not perform these exercises on dogs that are already food aggressive, and/or causing bite wounds. Instead, contact a professional trainer.

1. Add something really good to our dog’s food bowl

A good way to solve food aggression issues, is to show our dog that people and other dogs coming near him, during dog feeding time, is a positive thing.

When my dog is eating, I throw some good treats into his food bowl, for example little pieces of cheese or bacon. I keep repeating this, until he is looking forward to my visits.

Note – Do not reach down to pet or stroke, food aggressive dogs.

Once my dog is comfortable with my presence, I sometimes take the food bowl away, show him that I am adding yummy treats into it, then give it back to him. I also take other objects (e.g. paper, sticks) away from my Shiba Inu, add food to it, and return the enhanced object. Sometimes, I add food into his food toys, or help him get the food out.

This teaches our dog that having people around during feeding time, means more food. It also shows him that when we take something away, it usually comes back with an added bonus. If we do all this often enough, our dog will be looking forward to us coming over, during his meals.

My Shiba Inu sometimes brings a toy over to me, in the hopes that I will add some food to it!

2. Hand-feed our dog

Only do this if our dog is not aggressive, and does not have a bite history.

Hand-feeding occurs naturally when we use reward obedience training. I also hand-feed my dog during dog grooming and handling exercises.

Hand-feeding teaches our dog that the human hand is a really good thing, and yummy food comes from it. It can also strengthen our bond with him, because he sees that food comes directly from us.

Feeding with our hands, helps us establish pack leadership because –

  • We can set the speed of feeding.
  • We can demand good eating manners. For example no grabbing, and only take food from us gently.
  • We can ask our dog to work for us. For example doing a Sit or Down, before getting any food.

It is generally a good idea to keep up with some hand-feeding, throughout our dog’s lifetime. This helps him maintain good bite inhibition.

3. Teach our dog the Drop command

  • First, give our dog a fairly low priority and safe toy.
  • When he takes it in his mouth, bring a high priority treat to his nose, and say Drop. Chances are, he will drop the toy, and try to get at the treat.
  • As soon as he drops the toy, mark the behavior (i.e. say Yes), give him the treat, and give him back the toy.
  • Let him play with the toy for a bit, before repeating the exercise.

Once he understands the command, we can use higher priority toys, and ultimately, food toys.

If my dog is refusing to drop objects, then I try using a higher priority treat. If he bites on me, then I usually do a time-out. I try not to overtax my dog, and keep sessions short and positive. In this way, he will be motivated to play this game again.

I also practice Drop sessions during walks, with sticks and other safe objects. This helps a dog to generalize the Drop command for outside the house, and for outside objects.

When we are out on walks, I try my best to keep my dog away from questionable objects. If he manages to pick up an undesirable item, I no-mark him (say Ack-ack), then hold a good treat by his nose. As soon as he drops the item, I praise him, and treat him.

If I really want an item back, I will hold firmly onto it (close to my dog’s muzzle), and give the Drop command. It is important that we do not pull back, and make it into a tug game. I just hold it still, and try to be as uninteresting as possible. My dog will usually lose interest, and drop the item. If he does this, I praise him, and treat him.

Do not try this technique if our dog is aggressive, and is likely to bite.

If an object is dangerous and is too small to hold, we may have to forcibly go into our dog’s mouth. He will probably hate it, but if we must do it, then we must do it. Make sure to do some simple commands afterward, so that we can treat him for his positive actions.

If we frequently remove items by force, our dog will likely get aggressive, and start guarding food and belongings from us.

This is why we want to set our dogs up for success, and prevent him from picking up dangerous objects in the first place. In this case, prevention is much better than cure.

4. Play the “object exchange” game

An alternative to simply teaching the Drop command, is to play the object exchange game.

  • First, bring out several toys of about equal priority.
  • Give one of the toys to our dog, and let him play with it for a short duration.
  • Issue the Drop command, and exchange the old toy with a new one.
  • Initially, it may be necessary to sweeten the pot with some additional treats. Sometimes, I stuff the new toy with some food. Therefore, not only does my dog get back a new toy, he also gets one with food in it. He is usually very happy to make that exchange.

Once we notice that things are going well, we may slowly phase out the treats, and just do the object exchange. If our dog is unwilling to give up his current toy, then we can try to lengthen the time that he gets to play with it, or add food into the equation again.

If our dog misbehaves in any way, for example bites on our hand, then the game stops, and all toys and food are removed.

5. Get strangers to toss food to our dog

When we have guests, give them some good treats to toss to our dog. This will help him associate new people with his favorite food, and lessen his food aggression when strangers are around.

If our dog has a bite history, make sure we have him on a leash, so that our guests are always safe. We may also place him behind a secure dog gate. Then, our guests may feed him by extending a chopstick or wooden spoon with food, through the gate.

6. Ensure there are no high priority food items lying around

To reduce food aggression, it is important that we do not let our dog practice that behavior, especially with people. Remove all food items, as well as food toys and high-priority toys, when we have friends and family over.

It is important to remove all food and all toys, when our dog is meeting with new dogs, or dogs that he does not know well.

7. Supervise our dog and prevent food aggressive behavior

Make sure we are always there to supervise and intervene, when our dog starts to show any food aggression. When I am not around to supervise, I remove all high priority items, so that my dogs do not guard food or resources, from each other.

I have a simple house-rule –
“All resources are mine, and I decide which of my dogs get what.”

Whenever I give them food toys, I keep them away from each other, to prevent stealing. In this way, they do not practice any resource guarding or food aggressive behavior.

If they start any guarding behavior, I remove the resource, and nobody gets it. If they show any aggressive behavior with me, they get a time-out, and the play and food session stops.

8. Do not give our dog constant access to food

If we leave food or food toys around, our dog may feel that he has to guard it, and become food aggressive. This can be very stressful for him, and may also lead to obesity issues.

Leaving food around may also weaken our leadership position, because our dog can get food by himself. He may decide not to follow our commands or house rules, because he does not need us for anything.

To be a good pack leader to our dog, we want to follow the Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) program. Only give him something, if he does something for us first. Stuff left-over food into his food toys, and make him work for all of the things that he wants. Remove the food toy once it is empty, or after a fixed period of time.

A busy dog is a good dog.

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  1. Rebecca says

    My 6 yo Cavalier KC Spaniel, Harry, is a rescue and was possibly abused the 1st year of his life. I also have a diabetic dog, so they are fed exactly every 12 hrs so I can give the other one her insulin on schedule. Harry has SEVERE food aggression & resource guarding. Hes become much more social and happy over the years, but this problem remains.

    He lunges for trash on walks and I have to use tongs to get it out of his mouth bc he bites me badly if I try to take it from him. At meal time, he flips out. As soon as I start preparing their food bowls he starts screaming and barking and neighbors have complained. I have to slide his bowl across the floor so he doesn’t bite me as I put it down. As soon as he’s inhaled his food, he runs at the other dog and barks at her nonstop, and I have to block him from attacking her with a broom, which he viciously attacks instead (I don’t hit him with it; I just block his way).

    He just goes into a RAGE. I’ve worked with private trainers, but their suggestions didn’t work–putting the dogs in different rooms or crates makes him bark worse. Squirting him or using a citronella collar had zero effect. Any reward based methods haven’t worked bc he is so flipped out he doesn’t respond or even notice. I even tried him on Prozac and sedatives but nothing helped.

    I borrowed a friend’s shock collar yesterday out of desperation. It increases the shock with each bark within 30 seconds, and it did get him to sit and be quiet. I tried it again this morning, and after eating half his food and then barking at my other dog and getting shocked, he curled up in his bed and refused to eat. That’s NEVER happened, EVER. I think he associated the shock with eating, and I feel terrible for trying this bc he was probably abused as a pup and wasn’t suited for shocks.

    I cannot afford a private trainer now, but I have no idea how to get him to relax at meal time, to not bark and be aggressive. I feel like he needs to be less wigged out before I can even try some of the reward techniques for food aggression. It’s like he goes to a dark, unreachable place! How can I get him to trust that he will get his food, as a first step on the path to teaching him to behave during meal time? Any ideas? Thanks.

  2. Cindy says

    We saved a Siberian Husky, female, 2,5 years of age, about a moth ago from a life in a shelter. She was very jumpy and nervous when she arrived. The bench we got her, seemed a prison to her. She drools and vomits in the car every time we leave, but knows that the car brings her to other places to walk. This far, no problems. She is sweet and family minded. Very protective of my husband and me and of the 2 other, smaller dogs in our home.

    Onfortunately, when we want to give sweets to all 3, Laïka, our husky, transforms into a monster. She gets this trigger with the smell of dogsweets or other foods that falls within her nearby reach. Her eyes turn evil and she doesn’t growl, to warn you. She jumps forward. Teeth first. However she will protect us and those smaller than her, even children, normally, when she is triggerd, she will attack the weakest first. She had attacked us both already in one of those moods. when she is calm, she comes and begs for forgiveness. It’s like, she knows she had done wrong, but that the need to be bad and evil is to strong.

    The tips above are good, but what do I do, with my little girl? We want to be able to take her with us everywhere, as we have done with every dog we ever had before her. Now we avoid markets because she would attack everyone to get to the food, if she sees it. If it’s in a bag, she mostly leaves it. That is impossible right now to walk within a crowd or go to a restaurant. Having drinks works on the terras. but winter comes, and that means, for now, she can’t come, with the lack off faith she will behave. I’m afraid to say.

    Doglovers as we are, our Husky is in our heart and we want to show her off, in good manners, for here they are known as dangerous beauty’s.

    please help?

    • shibashake says

      Guarding food is an important survival trait, especially for a shelter dog who has had to live in the streets.
      More on why dogs get aggressive over food.

      In order to help my dog be more comfortable with resources, I do two things-
      1. Desensitization and counter-conditioning
      I do desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises to help my dog re-associate having people and other dogs around food with positive and calm experiences. With desensitization training, I need to start small, in a structured environment, so that I can control the strength of the trigger stimulus, i.e. people being near food. For desensitization training to be effective, I need to get the timing, environment, and everything else exactly right. When I first started desensitization training with my dog, we did it under the guidance of a good professional trainer/behaviorist.

      More on how I desensitize my dog to people.
      ASPCA article on desensitization and counter-conditioning-

      I also desensitize my dog to being in the car so that he can be more relaxed.

      2. Management and success
      The more successful (structured) experiences that my dog has (through desensitization), the more confidence, trust, and positive associations he forms. Similarly, reactive experiences will undermine that confidence/trust, set back our desensitization training, create negative associations, and worsen my dog’s future behavior.

      Therefore, a very important part of helping my dog is to manage his routine and environment carefully, so that I do not expose him to situations that he is not ready for, and that will trigger an aggressive/fear response. I always try to set my dog up for success, so that he learns to trust me and to look to me for direction. If I miss something and we find ourselves in an uncertain situation, then we leave right away, before my dog becomes reactive.

      I set up a fixed routine and a very consistent plan. In this way, my dog knows exactly what to expect from me and what I expect from him in return. Routine and consistency help to create certainty, which helps to reduce stress and conflicts.

      For something like this, it is important to start small, set my dog up for success, carefully manage his environment, and slowly build up his trust and tolerance.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent. In cases of aggression, it is best and safest to get a professional trainer who can observe my dog in his regular routine and environment, as well as help me develop a safe and effective plan for rehabilitation.

  3. Christine says


    My lovely siberian husky is 1.5 years and is exceptionally affectionate and playful. She goes on play dates everyday and does very well with other dogs and is well trained can do anything I ask (in most cases). I have noticed, she is very territorial when in small spaces such as under the bed. Its not very often, but she does become aggressive when she is trying to hide a greenie and has bitten but not pentrated the skin and growls … When she has done this I usually Will tell her no but getting her out from under the bed is rough to punish her… I feel that I should just block the area but is that really the best solution?

    Do you have any solutions for getting my husky to be less territorial of small spaces?

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu showed similar behavior when he was a young puppy. High priority food items that he cannot finish with one bite will really stress him out and he will run around trying to find a place to hide it.

      With Sephy, I put him in his crate first, then I gave him his Greenie and shut the door. In this way, he can take as long as he wants to work on his Greenie, he doesn’t have to worry about it being stolen, and he associates his crate with getting high priority rewards. However, I stopped giving him Greenies because of possible risks of it getting stuck in a dog’s digestive system.

      Management and prevention is best with my dog. If I let him go crazy, then take away his Greenie as punishment, he will associate people coming near him with losing his high priority items. This will worsen his resource guarding behavior. Instead, I want him to associate me with getting rewards, and keeping him safe while he works on his chew.

      Sephy also learned very early on that if he ran to hide under the bed or under the papasan chair, it becomes difficult for us to get to him and stop him from doing his Shiba hijinks. It became like a game to him. He would start doing crazy behaviors and then run to hide under the bed or chair.

      To stop him, I put a drag-lead on him (Only under supervision and only with a regular collar. Absolutely no aversive collars). This allowed me to effectively stop him from running away. It also allowed me to get him out from under the chair and bed easily and without physically putting hands on him.

      In general though, I always want to set my dog up for success. If I know that a Greenie triggers stress and guarding, then I want to change the management process so that my dog doesn’t keep repeating those behaviors. The more reactive episodes my dog has, the more likely he will repeat those behaviors, with greater severity, and in a wider variety of contexts.

      Careful management of my dog’s routine and environment has served me very well. I want to maximize successes and not expose him to situations he is not ready to handle. With my dogs, prevention is always better than punishment after the fact.

  4. FK says

    Curious if you have any thoughts for me on this.

    I have three dogs. Two Shibas and a Corgi. One Shiba and the Corgi have been together and with me for 10 years. They’re old kids. Our other Shiba just turned a year old. We’ve had him since he was 8 weeks old. He went through all of the training classes and he passed with flying colors. For the most part, he is a very good, sweet boy. VERY smart too. But there are two things we have a problem with and I have no idea how to handle them.

    The first is food or treats. When he was little, our Corgi (who is a food thief) took his food. I didn’t have a chance to stop it. Since then, I cannot feed him in the same room as everyone else OR give treats together. He has zero food aggression with humans or our cats. Its with other dogs. But ONLY if he thinks they got a treat and he didn’t, or food falls on the floor and someone else gets to it before him. All hell breaks loose and he is all over the other dog, snarling, growling and in some cases biting. No one has actually gotten hurt yet, but it looks and sounds horrible. I pull him off and then he is calm and he and the other dog are friends again. I have no idea how to handle this or how to break it. Its my own fault for not being able to stop our Corgi from stealing his food that ONE time when he was a puppy, but that sure set him up for issues as a adult. he especially gets mad at her if he thinks she has a food something. I fear taking him to a friends house for bbq’s or the dog park due to this. He is a great travel dog and loves playing with people and new dogs, but I worry about what will happen say, if we’re at the dog park and someone starts passing out treats (happens a lot, so I usually go grab him and leave before something happens). Like I said, I don’t tend to treat or feed everyone together because of this.

    The other issue is with our cats. Our cats tolerate him just fine (They love the other dogs, because they just sleep a lot). But our young Shiba LOVES to chase the cats if they run (yay for high prey drive) and with one of our cats, he will tackle him and start trying to roughhouse with him, like he would with another dog. he is not trying to hurt the cat, he wants to play with him. And sometimes the cat will play back, but most of the time he won’t and he ends up with a chunk of hair pulled out and I have to physically pull the dog off of the cat. I don’t know how to stop this. He wants to play with the cat so bad and the cat is not all about this. Our older dogs really don’t play anymore. He has dog friends that live close by, but most of the time the owners don’t have time to get together for them to play, so my husband and I play with him. Its not the same for him. he wants someone to roughhouse with. The cats do have safe places to go. The upstairs is gated off and they have very high cat trees all over the place. We’ve tried water bottle, time out, reward for NOT chasing the cats and for listening and settle (where he lies on his side until he is calm). But they only work for about 10 seconds and then he is right back to it until he is bored or the cat has been removed from the room. He has gotten better about this in the last few months and I am hoping he just gets bored with it and stops.

    • shibashake says

      I helped my Shiba Inu with his dog-to-dog reactivity by doing desensitization exercises. I do desensitization training in a structured and controlled environment. I use distance to weaken the other dog stimulus so that Sephy can remain calm, follow commands, and learn. The more calm and successful encounters my dog has with another dog, the more confidence, trust, and positive associations he forms. Similarly, reactive experiences will undermine that trust, set back our training, and worsen his future behavior. More on how I did general dog-to-dog desensitization training with my Shiba. This general exercise can be adapted for a food aggression type situation. Both dogs are on lead, and far enough away from each other that both are calm and able to listen.

      However, desensitization training can be counter-intuitive especially at the start, so it was helpful for me to do it under the guidance of a good trainer.

      As for roughhousing with cats, I do not have any cats so I do not have any first hand experience. Before we got a second dog, we used to take Sephy to our local SPCA for training and playing with other dogs. He really needed an outlet for his roughhousing energy. As you say, playing with people is different. He can’t do his usual chasing and wrestling, in the same way that he can with other dogs. Our SPCA play sessions were always supervised, structured, and I manage Sephy’s excitement level by throwing in many play breaks. He can get over-the-top when playing with other dogs, so it was good to train him to have some impulse control.

      As for dog parks, they really were not appropriate for Sephy. He learned a lot of undesirable habits and his behavior worsened from going there. More on our dog park experiences.

      Dog daycare is another possibility, however, the experience will depend a lot on the temperament of the dog, the experience of the trainers at the daycare, and of course how good the facilities are. Sephy did not do well at daycare because they were too strict with him during play, and he got stressed being in an unfamiliar place without his people. Therefore, it depends a lot on the temperament of the dog.

      I do not leave my dogs alone together, until I am really sure that there will be no issues. Sephy can get pretty crazy when playing with other dogs, and even my larger Huskies can get overwhelmed.

      Hope this helps. Big hugs to your furry pack!

  5. Taylor says

    My dog is only aggressive about his food (and toys) with other dogs. He is an only pup, so it’s only when we are visiting friends or family with dogs that he displays this behavior. Our temporary solution is to hide all toys and tennis balls in the home, and everyone goes without play things for the duration of the visit. With feeding, we are able to feed only when supervised because my dog must practice his amazing “stay” commands to give the other dog space, and then the food gets put up when either dog begins to lose interest in eating. What’s the most confusing for us is that he seems to have no problem sharing a water bowl with other dogs – so it is just food and toys that trigger his aggressive behaviors. Is there any advice you could give in how to help address this behavior? We would love to have another dog in the future, but stuff like this must be addressed first so neither of them are stressed out when that day finally does come. Again, it’s only towards other dogs that this behavior is presented. He has no problem sharing his toys, or having his bowl moved around, when it is one of his parents doing so.

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and one very important rule is the no-stealing rule. I supervise my dogs closely during periods of high interaction, e.g. eating time, and make sure that everyone is following my rules. Each dog gets their own food toy to work on, and they give each other enough space to be comfortable. As soon as I notice one getting a bit close to another, I interrupt and redirect or body block him away.

      In this way, my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty, and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflicts.

      More on what I do with my dogs during meal-times.

      I have done this from the start, and now my dogs have learned that I will protect their resources, so they need not do so themselves. In the beginning, they needed more space around their food to be comfortable. As they gained confidence through positive experiences, they became more relaxed around each other. However, with really high priority items, e.g. bully sticks, they may still get protective. This is something that they really like and do not get often, as opposed to regular food like kibble or boiled chicken which they get very regularly. Therefore, for high priority items, I keep them separated. Also, they are comfortable with each other, but they may be less so with a new dog that they are not familiar with.

      I also did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu. This helped to raise his comfort level to other dogs. A variation of this can also be performed with food in the vicinity. We did desensitization exercises in a structured environment, with trainer chosen dogs, and under the supervision of a good trainer.

      With my dogs, I always try to set them up for success and not expose them to situations they are not ready for. The more positive meal times they have, with no incidents, the more they learn that I will take care of things and they do not need to concern themselves with others stealing their food. Similarly, negative or reactive events will undermine that confidence and trust, and worsen their guarding behavior.

      Dogs protect their valued resources because they know that other dogs may take them away. Different resources may have different values to a dog based on temperament, past experiences, rarity, etc. New dogs that they do not know, will be viewed differently than dogs that they already trust.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, and things become even more complicated when there are multiple dogs involved. For this reason, we got help from several professional trainers during Sephy’s difficult period.

      Hope this helps. And yeah, I also got dirty looks from strangers, and got embarrassed with Sephy’s behavior. More Sephy stories.

      Big hugs to your Shar Pei!

  6. Marcus says

    Could you give me advice on stopping my shiba’s food aggression? I’ve considered calling a trainer, but (1) she gets very excited about visitors and would hound the trainer for attention as she does with other guests, and (2) she’s not always aggressive around her food so I feel like I can’t demonstrate it at home (she’s the only dog).

    She only shows aggression towards my teenage brother and other dogs when she thinks they’re a threat to her food. It doesn’t help that my brother’s a bit skittish and is definitely a flight (vs fight/defensive) kind of person. Sometimes she can have food around them just fine, sometimes she starts screaming and biting when they’re around her and food. The aggression started after another dog (an untrained, aggressive one) bit her as a puppy, I think. Before that she was just fine.

    I’ve tried putting her in time out in another room or in her crate but it hasn’t worked. Having my brother hand-feed her and be the only one who gives her treats doesn’t seem to help. Our dad’s been suggesting that my brother defend himself and just hit her in the face and I don’t want it to come to that!

    When it comes to dog-to-dog food aggression, she kind of holds a “grudge” and I have to keep her in time-out for a while or she’ll go hunt the other dog down to give them a piece of her mind. When food’s not around period, she’s a good girl and plays nice unless a dog is otherwise aggressive to her first.

    How do I properly desensitize her? My brother wants me to just magically fix her without him putting any effort into it, and I just can’t do that. Making her not bite my brother is my main goal right now.

  7. Samantha says

    I also wanted to state that she does attempt to eat from everyone’s bowl. more so cheekos because he will grab food and leave because of her stare. or not eat at all. when I correct this with “ack-ack” she is non aggressive. only when cheeko stays to eat does she become….angry ]:

  8. Samantha says

    I have a year old pit, roobie, who displays food guarding/aggression only towards my 8 year old chihuahua, cheeko. I have another pit who is 5, Penelope, whom she isn’t bothered by.
    during food consumption I am present and I observe their behavior because she is a new dog to the house and I noticed she focus’ on cheeko to the point where cheeko will not eat as he normally does. food time is usually after we go running for about an hour. when I notice the staring begin I will attempt to redirect her attention and then she will take a bite at me for intervening. she’s done this numerous times. she’s also bitten my daughter cammi who’s 4 years old over her picking up a bone. this was months ago when she wasn’t my dog. help!

    • shibashake says

      Given that you have a very young child in the house, I would get help from a good professional trainer.

      I always try to set my dog up for success. I manage his environment so that I do not expose him to situations where he feels he has to resort to aggression. I do structured desensitization exercises with my dog in a controlled environment, where I can keep everyone safe, as well as help him start to associate resources and people, or resources and other dogs, with positive experiences. At the same time, I want to minimize negative experiences where my dog becomes reactive and starts showing aggression. During retraining, I start small, with very very low priority items and *very slowly* build up my dog’s tolerance. I make sure to keep him *below* his aggression threshold at all times.

      The more positive experiences my dog has, the less he sees other dogs as a threat to his resources, and the more comfortable he becomes with them. Similarly, negative experiences will undermine that trust, significantly set back retraining, and worsen his behavior. I.e. I want to prevent reactive or aggressive incidents by managing his environment, rather than trying to “correct” his behavior after the fact. Trying to physically correct an aggressive dog is dangerous and can lead to redirected aggression, as you have observed.

      Do not punish or intimidate your dog when he guards food. Remember that when a person approaches a food-guarding dog, the dog will react as though the person intends to take the food away. This makes sense because dogs naturally compete for food. Some people insist that “dominating” your dog and showing that you’re stronger and able to take away his food will make him stop guarding it. On the contrary, doing so is dangerous and unnecessary. It can sometimes cause resource guarding to get worse, and it can damage your relationship with your dog. It’s easier and safer to simply change the way your dog feels about people approaching him when he has food through desensitization and counterconditioning.

      I separate my dogs during meal-times if necessary, I use a lead if appropriate, and I always supervise and manage very closely and very carefully when there are children involved. I also remove *all* items of contention so there are no accidents with people or other dogs. Management is a very important part of retraining my dog.

      However, dog behavior is complex and very context dependent, so each dog and situation are different. In a multi-dog household, things become even more complicated. Based on what you describe, I would consult with a professional trainer as soon as possible. In the meantime, I would take every precaution to minimize aggression incidents by managing the dog’s environment and routine. I keep my dog on a leash and close to me when there are children about.

  9. Jeff Zhang says

    Hi, I have been reading many of your articles and I was wondering is filling a full kong toy or buster cube with food could replace a meal? Also, inside of the buster cube, or similar interactive toys, do I put treats in, normal food in, or a mixture of both?


    • Jeff Zhang says

      I’m sorry I forgot to mention, he is a 10 week old male shiba with a fair amount of exercise

    • shibashake says

      Congratulations on your new Shiba pup!

      With my Shiba I save the treats and good stuff for getting him to do grooming tasks, follow rules, do commands, etc. I use a bunch of my dog’s daily food rations as rewards for doing various tasks during the day. Whatever is left over I put in interactive food toys – usually normal food.

  10. Varun says

    I have a 7 month old lab. I had to adopt him when he was only a month old since his mother died. I believe that’s the reason for his aggression. He showed signs of food aggression very early. But we’ve had that under control by hand feeding, feeding bit by bit etc. But his toy aggression is worsening day by day. He bit me today really hard but didn’t penetrate. I’m really scared since the neighbours kids are always around. Please help me. There are no trained good at rehab around this place.

    • shibashake says

      Some things that I do with my dog to discourage resource/toy guarding-
      1. I play the object exchange game. The key is to start small, so that play-time is positive and fun. I start with very low priority objects, things that my dog is usually not very interested in, and reward my dog very well for exchanging objects with me. I talk more about what I do in the article above.
      2. I teach my dog the Drop command. Again, I start small with very low priority objects. I talk more about this in the article above.
      3. I set my dog up for success. Management is key with my dog and I make sure to manage my dog’s environment closely. I try my hardest *not* expose him to situations that he cannot handle and will resort to guarding. The more stressful situations he is in and the more he practices guarding, the worse his behavior will become.

      The key with my dog is not only to maximize positive experiences with objects and people, but also to minimize bad experiences with objects and people.
      – I remove all high priority items from my dog’s environment and only slowly reintroduce them as he improves with training.
      – I make sure to always have him on-leash and closely supervised when there are kids around, and I only let my dog greet kids who are calm and can follow my instructions.
      – I make sure there is nothing dangerous that he can get to, in this way, I never have to take things away from him by force – this is what caused my dog to start developing object guarding issues in the first place.

      Proper management and supervision are the two most important things for my dog when it comes to resource guarding.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and each situation are different. This is why in cases of aggression, especially when there are children around, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer who can observe my dog within the context of his regular environment and routine.

      More on why dogs guard resources.
      More on my experiences with my Shiba Inu and why he started guarding objects from me.

  11. Melissa says

    We have rescued a 1 1/2 old lab. Super sweet and listens well. She has food aggression . So we feed her and our 1 year old dachshund in the same room just on opposite sides. We stay with them and redirect them back to there own bowl. When they are not eating the bowls go up. My next problem is the water bowls. that is where they fight. What should we do with the water bowl issue?

    • shibashake says

      To help my dog with resource guarding issues, I do two things-
      1. I do desensitization exercises so that he learns to associate other dogs and people coming near his stuff with positive, calm, and relaxing experiences.
      2. I make sure to manage his environment very carefully so that I do not put him in a situation where he feels like he needs to start guarding his stuff.

      Successful, calm, and positive experiences help my dog build confidence and learn to associate people and other dogs with getting more stuff. Similarly, the more stressful experiences my dog has, the more it will undermine his confidence, set back our desensitization training, and worsen his behavior.

      Therefore, during retraining, I make sure to remove all items of contention, except when I am doing structured desensitization exercises, in a controlled context. For things that are needed, I make sure to supervise or separate my dogs when I cannot supervise.

      Desensitization can be a non-intuitive process, and dog behavior is very context dependent, so with my Shiba Inu, it was helpful to consult with professional trainers.

      ASPCA article with more information on food guarding and desensitization training.
      More on how I help my dogs get along.

      However, each dog and situation are different, so especially in cases of aggression, it is best to consult with a good professional trainer. My Shiba Inu is the only one who started to develop resource guarding behaviors, mainly due to me taking things away from him by force. As soon as I noticed this behavior, I quickly got help, changed my own behavior, and started doing desensitization exercises with him.

  12. Robyn says

    Our 5 month old rottweiler female has become very agressive at feeding time. She isn’t simply guarding her bowl – she wants everybody’s food at once! She tries to steal food from our 3 year old female rottweiler by going into attack mode. She scares our 2 year old Australian shepherd away from her food bowl. They are fed outside with separate bowls that are all 15-20 feet apart. Today the younger rott started in on the older rott while she was eating and the little one ended up with a bleeding paw. Any advice? Should I put the pup on a tie out to eat her food away from the other dogs? The older rott and the Aussie have never had any issues until now.

    • shibashake says

      I help my dogs get along by setting up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. I teach each new dog what those rules are. In this way, every dog knows what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty and certainty helps to reduce stress and stress behaviors. An important rule that I have is the no-stealing rule.

      During meal time, I supervise and make sure that my dogs give each other space. If one gets a bit too close, I redirect her away before things escalate. Then, I can reward her for doing the right thing. I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs.

      I always try to set my dogs up for success by managing their environment, so that things do not escalate into aggression. The more positive and calm experiences they have with each other, the more they learn to relax around each other. Similarly, the more reactive or aggressive episodes there are, the more likely they are to repeat that behavior in the future.

      Therefore, it is important that I not only maximize positive experiences, but also minimize reactive episodes. Supervision is key.

      Personally, I would *not* use a tie-down for food aggression, as limiting a dog’s movement when there are other dogs around, could create even more stress, and cause the reactive behavior to worsen. When my dogs work on high priority items, I usually have them in separate rooms, and usually in their crates. They are all crate trained and associate their crate with safety and positive events. In this way, they can work on their food in peace.

      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and situation is different. For example, I know my dogs’ temperaments and limits very well, so I can prevent stealing behavior, in a safe way.

      In addition, during the throes of a reactive episode/fight, dogs may redirect their aggressive energy onto nearby people, especially when we try to physically restrain or stop them (redirected aggression). This is why in cases of aggression, especially with large dogs, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer.

  13. Alicia says

    I have a 10 year old Husky/chow mix that I got a couple months ago. The people I got her from said she was rescued five years before. Also said she was fine all the time with all the little dogs they had. When we got her home, we figured out she is food bowl aggressive. There could be multiple bowls and she will pick a specific one to guard. It is only toward our other animals. She has only attacked 3 times in two months. First was our boxer that walked by her, then our kitten, then a dog we are baby sitting. If I say hey she stops and looks at me for direction so I know she sees me as the pack leader etc but I don’t want to have to find another home for her because she won’t stop because I love her and she is soooo freaking sweet otherwise. How could I get her to stop this?

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules so that they know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. During meal-time I make sure that they give each other space and that there is no stealing. If one gets too close to another, I redirect him into doing something positive. In this way, my dogs all know that I will protect them and their stuff, so there is no need for them to do it themselves.

      The key with changing my dog’s behavior is not only to maximize successes but also to minimize failures. The more successful eating together events that we have, the more confidence my dog gains, and the more relaxed he is, when eating in the presence of people and other dogs. Similarly, the more reactive or aggressive episodes there are, the more that will undermine his confidence, set back training, and cause him to become more reactive in the future.

      Therefore, I make sure to set my dogs up for success through supervision and management of their environment. If I am unable to supervise, then I separate them during meal-time so that there are no problems. I only have them together when I am very sure that there will be no issues.

      More on what I do when introducing a new dog.

  14. Isabel says

    Hi I have an American akita this is my first one he’s only 6 months old but I have found that when there’s food about and my other little dog is about who is 13 years old walks past he goes for her like he’s telling her that she is not getting any my husband always gives them food from his plate I have said he shouldn’t do this but he still does when I give them a treet I have them sitting side by side and he doesn’t bat an eye he’s happy for them to get treets together it’s just when we have our food that he doesn’t want her to have any from our plate why is this we have now stoped feeding him from our plate thanks Isabel

  15. Rebecca says


    Do you have any advice about aggression with children. We have a 5 year old female shiba inu and a 9 month old son. We’ve had our shiba, Koda, since she was a puppy. Just two days ago, our son Alex was crawling around and found Koda’s food bowl (our mistake). He began playing with the food and Koda began whining. We moved the bowl and and him and he found it again and Koda became more aggressive. She has since begun guarding food, toys, and the living space in the household. She has never acted this way toward us but has toward other dogs. We aren’t sure what to do. Right now Koda is outside until we can figure out something. We really don’t want to have to give Koda up but we don’t want our son to be in danger. Any advice would be SOOO great!

    • shibashake says

      Dog behavior is very dependent on temperament, past experience, and other surrounding context. Therefore, in cases of aggression, especially when there are young children around, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer.

      I always supervise closely and have my dog on-leash when there are young children about. When I cannot supervise, I make sure they are separated. I use gates, leashes, and other management equipment as necessary to keep everyone safe.

      I set my dog up for success by not exposing him to situations where he feels he needs to guard his stuff. I remove all high priority items, especially when there are children about. I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs, so they work for all of their food and learn to associate people as the source of good stuff.

      This ASPCA article has more on how to how to desensitize a dog wrt. food guarding-

      Note however, that the exercise is somewhat complex and needs to be performed in exactly the right way. During the entire desensitization period, it is necessary to keep our dog below threshold and prevent any negative or guarding instances. When I was having issues with my Shiba Inu, it was helpful to consult with professional trainers who could guide me through the exercises, help me with timing and technique, as well as help me develop a management plan that will keep everyone safe.

  16. Marn says

    My 4 month old bull-mastiff pup tends to growl when i pat her while eating. I have tried to put in treats when patting her while eating, as well as taking away the bowl as soon as she growls. I normally pat her back and end which will still make her growl. However, as you touch her neck or stomach it becomes much more intense growling, she will normally go very stiff, and tuck her tail. At this point we normally take the food away and say ‘no’. I only do slow pats, but even placing a hand on her will have the say affect. When there is no food she is lovely and you can pet her any which way, the same when she has a bone she will sit by you and chew, no growling at all. Its only when she is eating out of a food bowl at which the growling becomes a issue when associated with touching.

    • shibashake says

      In terms of food guarding, what has worked well for my Shiba Inu is to help him associate people being nearby with positive events.

      1. I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs. They “earn” their daily food by following house rules, doing simple commands for me, allowing me to do grooming, and more. In this way, they learn to associate me (and people in general) as the source of food and other valued resources. Whatever is left over I put in safe interactive food toys, so they work for those too. I often help them get food out of their toys, so they like having me around.

      2. The key is to make my dog’s food + people + touch experiences positive. I do this by starting small and rewarding my dog well for being and calm and relaxed. I keep my dog below threshold at all times so that the experience is *always* positive and rewarding.

      If my dog starts to show tense posture, then I have moved forward too fast. I stop and move back a few steps. I stop way before my dog goes into growling mode.

      This ASPCA article has more on how to desensitize a dog to his food bowl-

      More on how I desensitize my dog to touches.

      The more positive experiences my dog has with people and touches, the more relaxed he is around people. Similarly, negative experiences makes him feel more threatened and uncomfortable with people. Taking away his food during a touch session only made Sephy’s behavior become worse, because then he starts to associate people and touching with losing his food.

      With Sephy, it is best to prevent guarding behavior *before* it occurs or escalates. I do that by redirecting my dog, managing his environment, and not exposing him to situations that he is not ready for. I also do object exchange exercises with him, teach him the drop command, and more. In this way, I set him up for success, maximize positive experiences, and minimize instances where he feels compelled to guard food or objects.

      More on why dogs get aggressive over food.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and each situation is different. This is why especially in cases of aggression, it is safest to consult with a good professional trainer.

  17. Danielle says

    my almost 1 year old shiba has recently started showing aggressive behaviors toward myself, but worse my kids. she only shows these aggressive tendencies when she is guarding something she is not supposed to have. her favorite thing to sneak is paper products such as paper towels, tissues, and baby wipes. when we go to take them from her she snarls and will snap at us. this behavior needs to be nixed as soon as possible, cannot have her showing aggression toward my young children. any tips or tricks? my husband says if he catches her lunging at the kids aggressively or actually biting them one more time, she is going to have to leave our family.

    • shibashake says

      In cases of aggression, especially with kids in the house, I would consult with some good professional trainers-

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and each situation is different. When kids are involved, it becomes even more important to come up with a safe and effective retraining plan right away.

      With my dog, I use management equipment, e.g. gates, leashes, and a basket muzzle as necessary to ensure safety. I also visited with several trainers during Sephy’s difficult period. I talk more about my experiences with Sephy in the article above and here. Sephy started guarding food and toys *precisely because* I was taking things away from him by force.

  18. Lola says

    My German shepherd/great Pyrenees mix puppy Ambrose is ten months old and very friendly. The problem is she is incredibly over protective over me, her food, and my bedroom which is where she sleeps as well. Once she knows that I’m alright with a person coming into my bedroom she’s edgy but quits barking and lies her hair down, then becomes very friendly again. I don’t mind that too much though her territorial behavior worries me when it comes to other dogs. If another one of our dogs (we have two pit bulls) is out and roaming the house she will follow the dog and guard my room very carefully, standing with posture and nervous behavior. She’s never been into a fight with another dog until today when one of the dogs tried to run towards the dog food bag and stick her head into it. A fight immediately broke out and I separated the dogs with no wounds to either of them, however this has made me extremely anxious about the food aggression. I wanted to know if there was any way I could slowly work Ambrose into allowing other dogs around in her space as well as the food aggression because of the fact she’s already 70 LB and will continue to grow even larger due to her breeds. This was in another forum until I realized that this would be more accurate, I apologize for the repeat it’s just a very serious matter to me.

    • shibashake says

      Given that there are three powerful dogs in the household, I would get help from a good professional trainer.

      Some things that I do with my dogs-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules.
      Then I slowly teach each new dog what the rules are. In this way, each dog knows exactly what to expect from me, what to expect from other people, what to expect from the other dogs, and also what I expect from him. This creates certainty, and certainty helps to reduce stress and fear.

      2. I supervise and redirect behavior.
      I still supervise my dogs during meal-time and play-time. In this way, I can make sure they follow house rules and I can redirect questionable behavior before it escalates into something more. I try to always set them up for success, by carefully managing their environment. For example, when I give them high priority chews, such as bully sticks, I always separate them so that they can each enjoy the chew in peace. I do not leave food out, unless I am there to supervise. The less they practice guarding behavior, the less they are likely to repeat it in the future.

      3. I try to create as much positive together time as possible.
      I do group obedience sessions, and other positive structured activity. When they cooperate with each other, stay calm, and do work for me, they get rewarded very very well.

      More on what I do with my dogs.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent. When I was having problems with my Shiba Inu, I had private lessons with several trainers so that they could meet and observe Sephy’s behavior in his normal environment and context. In this way, I could more accurately pin-point the source of Sephy’s behavior, and come up with a safe and effective plan for re-training.

  19. Jennifer says

    My dog of 2 years guards his food. We have no idea why or what to do, but it seems to be getting worse. He is okay with my other dog coming near, but humans and my cat he has the problem with. My cat has never ate his food and we’ve never kept it from him. I am hand feeding him now, hoping it will help. If I leave him in a room with the food, he will literally sit there all day, alone, guarding the food. I am at a loss. Any suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      Have you had him since he was young? When did the food guarding behavior start? What is his daily routine like? What type of training is he used to? What type of dog is he? How does he react to people when there is no food around? How does he react to new people during walks?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent.

      When I am trying to change my dog’s behavior, I first try to identify the source of his behavior. To do this, I carefully observe my dog and take note of all the surrounding details. I take past experiences and temperament into account, and I try to remember what changed when the behavior started.
      More on how I change my dog’s behavior.

      When I was having troubles with Sephy, I also visited with several professional trainers who could observe Sephy, understand his temperament, guide me in reading his body language, and help me identify the things that were triggering his stress behaviors. In cases of aggression, it is usually best to get help from a good trainer, so that we keep things safe and start off on the right foot.

  20. Shannon says

    My dog has no problem with guarding food. We give food to her in a bowl (no interactive toys, I’ve just now been introduced to them). But she doesn’t eat it. Sometimes she goes so long without eating she throws up. We have to bribe her to eat with yummy treats. What do you suggest we do?

    • shibashake says

      How long has this been going on? How old is your dog? How is her energy level? How is her physical health? Does her pee and poop look normal? Does she eliminate regularly? When was her last vet visit? What is her regular daily routine? What type of food does she get?

      When my dog suddenly loses his appetite, the first thing that I do is take him to the vet to make sure that it is not a physical issue.

    • Shannon says

      She is about two and a half years old. We got her at the shelter and they thought she was about four months old. We know nothing about her background as she was found wandering the streets. She’s never shown an interest in eating dog food, but will jump at the chance for any other food. She gets IAMS. Her pee and poop looks fine, but she does act constipated sometimes. She’s a healthy weight. She’s always been an energetic dog. We think she’s got some collie in her. She gets to run around every day, since we have a few acres. She likes to sleep and chew on her toys. She goes on long walks everyday, which she loves. We try to have regular feeding times, but she doesn’t eat. My dad doesn’t really believe in yearly examinations to the vet, and thinks she’s fine, so I’ve been trying to find solutions and help online.

    • shibashake says

      Has she always lacked appetite for the over two years you have had her? How often and how long does she go without eating? How often does she throw up?

      If your dog is a healthy weight and she is not eating, how is she getting her nutrition? Is she getting a lot of extra treats? What kind of non-kibble food does she get? How much non-kibble food does she get daily?

      Has she always had IAMS food? Which particular IAMS food do you use? Some of their products contain wheat or corn, which many dogs are allergic to.

      When I first got my Shiba Inu, I fed him Eukanuba, because that was what he got at the breeders. However, it contained a fair amount of wheat and my Shiba was mildly allergic to wheat. After we identified his allergy issue, we changed to a grain free, high protein kibble, which he liked a lot better.

      Here is more on how I pick my dog’s food.

      However, lack of appetite can be the result of many different things, including medical issues, stress, etc. I rule out medical issues first by visiting my vet. Once I am sure that my dog is healthy, I can look at other triggers such as allergies, stress, or something else.

  21. Alaska says

    I have had him since he was 8 weeks old. But I never knew he showed signs of it until he was 4 months old. I started putting his food in a bowl that I’d hold in my lap. When doing so I thought I’d be able to control his eating and be able to pet him. It so far worked. But I can not put it on the ground and pet him he growls. But when I pet him I constantly tell him he’s a good boy. I start at his butt and go forward. If the foods on the ground I can only go to his shoulders. His tail would be tucked down low. But when I have it in a bowl I can play with his ears, put my finger in his mouth, pet him on the head. Is there something I’m doing wrong?

    • shibashake says

      In terms of getting my dog used to hugging and petting, I try to start small, go slow, and most importantly, to keep things positive. For example, I observe my dog and see where and when he is most receptive to petting, and that is where I start. I start with short touch sessions that are paired with high priority food and other fun stuff.

      In general, I want Sephy to associate me and people touches with positive experiences. Therefore, I carefully manage his environment and set him up for success. The more successful touch sessions we have, the more he learns to associate me touching him with being calm and rewards. The opposite is also true.

      When Sephy is busy with playing or eating, is when he is least receptive, so I leave that till later after I have slowly built up his tolerance. I am not always up for affection either, so I try to observe my dog carefully, and give them alone time when they need it.

      More on how I trained my dog to enjoy/tolerate touches and hugs.

  22. Alaska says

    My 7 month old puppy is having food aggression while eating his food. I can play with his food and he doesn’t mind , but he growls if I pet him. He’s been doing this since we got him at 8 weeks old. Is their anyway to get him to stop? ( I can even give him a treat and tell him to gently take it , and he listens.) I’m just extremely confused on what to do at this point.

    • shibashake says

      What kind of petting? Which part of the body? Is he ok with the same kind of petting when there is no food around? Does he enjoy petting in general? How long have you had him? Has he always shown this behavior? When did it start?

  23. Cheryl says

    Hi, I just came across your site. I do not have a shiba. We have a 3 year old male great pyrenees, he is very sweet, gets along well with other dogs. A little shy of people but very good with them. Problem – we just rescued a female, great pry/collie mix. They seem to like each other, they play a lot. Her second day he went at her at feeding time, I thought I solved it by putting them in totally different rooms and closing doors etc. Now today he went for her because she was in the kitchen while we were preparing dinner. I put him in a mud room and closed the door. Let him out after I put her outside, then put him back in the mud room while we were eating. I was hoping it was a one time thing to establish boundaries, but now I am concerned. Any ideas, thanks

    • shibashake says

      When you say “he went at her at feeding time”, what exactly did he do? what did the other dog do? what did you do? what was his response?

      With my dogs I set up clear and consistent dog-to-dog interaction rules so that each dog knows what to expect from the others, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them. This helps to create greater certainty, which helps to reduce stress for my new dog as well as existing dogs. I also set up a fixed routine and schedule for the new dog, which helps to create even more certainty.

      More on what I do when introducing a new dog into my home.

  24. Pamela says

    I have two dogs. The oldest a Shiba Inu and the youngest is a mini Golden Doodle. My Golden Doodle occasionally has periods where she refuses to eat her food. I am certain it is because my Shiba is bulling her not to. After the Shiba is done with her food, she stares intently at the Golden Doodle and generally is always showing dominant posturing over her. I now try to feed them separately and put my Shiba out of view in another room but the Golden still ignores her food, or tries to hide or bury it. I confident it is not the food type and she has done it with multiply food types. I have tried being in the room with her, leaving her totally alone, trying to feed her out of my hand, putting treats in with her food, using different bowls, putting the Shiba in a submissive position within sight…. She will eventually eat but will usually skip 1-3 meals. Any suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      In terms of reducing stress at home, what helps with my dogs is to institute very clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. I do not allow any kind of bullying, stealing, or other types of anti-social behavior. If there are any conflicts, I step in and deal with it before things escalate into anything more.

      I am more vigilant during meal times, but I enforce the rules at other times as well. I supervise them closely especially in the beginning to ensure that there is no sneak stealing or bully behavior. If I need to leave them alone before they are fully trained, I separate them.

      In this way, all of my dogs know what they can expect from me, from each other, and also what I expect from them. In addition to setting up a consistent set of house rules, I also set up a fixed routine to further increase certainty and reduce stress.

      More on how I keep the peace at home and reduce stress.

      How long have the dogs been together? What are their interactions like outside of eating time? Do they play together? What are their daily routines like?

  25. Anh2 says

    and thanks for a great article and blog, I’ve learned so much! 🙂
    At the end of Food Aggression Tip 7 you wrote: “If they start any guarding behavior, I remove the resource, and nobody gets it. If they show any aggressive behavior with me, they get a time-out, and the play and food session stops” How exactly do you remove the resource? Do you take the resource with power or do you give a treat for exchange and then do a time-out? My shiba is now 2,5 years and is the kindest dog, she’s never been mouthy ever since she was a small puppy, and never shown any sign of aggression, and everybody can do almost whatever they want with her, but recently she’s been developing resource guarding issues/aggression with her favorite toy, a tennis ball…whenever I let her play with it, she starts guarding it, especially if you come close. And if you come close enough, she starts to growl.. and sometimes she will drop the ball for a treat, and sometimes not. How should I remove the ball from her and correct her in this setting?

    Also the other day, I made the mistake of giving her a bone with some meat on after having dinner while I had my family over (tip 6), and at first I held the bone for her to chew, and then I left it on the floor for her, but she didn’t seem interested at all.. but then, for the first time ever, while my niece was passing close by her and her bone, she bit my niece! It wasn’t a deep wound and the skin didnt break, but still, we were all shocked! She has never shown this behaviour or aggression over food before, but I guess it is never too late? What should I do? She is the kindest dog ever otherwise (if the tennis ball doesnt exist and apparently with a huge bone that she has to guard).

    • shibashake says

      What should I do?

      I would get help from a good professional trainer. During Sephy’s difficult period, we visited with several professional trainers. Dog behavior is very context dependent, and for resource guarding, I really wanted to start off on the right foot, so that Sephy’s behavior does not get worse.

      Note though that the dog training profession is very unregulated, so it can be a challenge to find a good trainer.
      More on how I went about finding a trainer.
      I also read up a lot on dog behavior so that I could better understand Sephy, and can quickly filter out trainers who didn’t know what they were talking about.

      Some things I have observed with resource guarding and my dogs –
      1. The key thing with my dogs is prevention.
      I try to manage their environment and supervise them so that they are not put in a position where they feel they need to guard. The more they practice resource aggression with people, the more likely they are to repeat it and in a wider variety of contexts. The most important thing that I do, is prevent the behavior through careful management, supervision, and training.

      2. I *do not* remove items from my dogs by force.

      Here is why.

      Most of the time, I prevent. If I miss something and my dog gets something that I don’t want him to have, then I exchange the object with him. Since he is already comfortable with the exchange “game”, he is usually good about giving up stuff because he knows he will get something in return. Note that there is no aggressive behavior here – either from my dog or from me. I talk a bit more about how I get items back from my dog in the Drop section above (Tip 3).

      The only time I *may* use force is when my dog has gotten hold of something dangerous and small. However, I can do that only because my dog has good bite inhibition, I know him very well, and I know what his boundaries are. Still, prevention is best and I have not had to do this in a very long time.

      3. I only reward positive behaviors.
      I *do not* give treats for growling behavior or aggression. I prefer to prevent and redirect before it gets to that point. My dogs know that I am there to prevent any kind of stealing, so they can relax and let me take care of things.

      I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs. This teaches them that I am the source of good stuff, and also that they need to work for the things that they want.

      Remember though that each dog is different and each situation is very different as well. This is why it is best to get guidance from a good professional trainer, especially in cases of aggression.

  26. Audrey and Kelly says

    Thank you for this article and photos of the beautiful dogs.
    My puppy, all of a sudden, surprised me with getting rather nasty with a treat she had never guarded before.
    Your advice will prevent this from becoming a big problem. Hand feeding her now and teaching her restraint.
    She isn’t perfect, but still a baby and now heading in the right direction with good advice like this.
    There is so much conflicting information out there. Your method matches what her puppy class instructor told us last night. I don’t think the rough treatment that some talk about would be right for her.
    Kelly is a 14 week old GSD.

  27. Grace says

    I’m not sure if this is listed above, there are a lot of comments. I have a 11month old Shiba and a 4 month old Husky. Our Shiba is very food aggressive towards the Husky. We can hand feed, and do about all of the tips above with him, but when we feed the dogs we have to keep the Shiba from seeing the Husky when they eat or else he barks and then gets so mad he soils his kennel.
    Our husky does not mind, he does not have any problems, and is very relaxed. Both dogs are crate trained for the most part and eat in their crates.

    Any tips for this?

    • shibashake says

      Have you had the Shiba longer and only recently introduced the Husky puppy? How are the two dogs when there is no food around? Do they get along well? Are there other contexts where the Shiba shows stress or aggression? Did Shiba show this behavior right from the start or only recently? Has the puppy taken or played with any of the Shiba’s food, toys, or other resources? Did the Shiba’s routine change a lot when the Husky came along? What was his routine like before and what has changed since the Husky came?

      he barks and then gets so mad he soils his kennel.

      This sounds like he is experiencing a lot of stress.

      Here is a bit more on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent so when my dog shows sudden changes in behavior, I try to look at what has changed, and what things may have triggered it. Once I understand the true source of the behavior, I can take steps to help my dog manage and overcome it. For example, is it fear of food being stolen, is it fear of being attacked while confined in a small space with no escape, is it frustration of not being able to get to something, or is it something else?

      Because dog behavior is so context dependent, consulting with a good professional trainer can often be helpful, especially in cases of aggression. I consulted with several trainers when I had difficulties with my Shiba Inu.

  28. Jaimee says

    I am having difficulties with my husky puppy when it comes to bones. With his usual meal me and my husband approach him and let him know we are there and that we control his food and I also have younger kids approach and pat him whilst he eats with no issues. But when he has a bone it is a different story. He has recently lashed out a few times and attacked another dog. Today when he got very aggressive with my dad whilst chewing his bone I went to let him know who was boss and that I could take it away at any time if he behaves aggressively, then he started to snarl and me and bare his teeth so I went to take his bone away and he went to bite me. He is only 13 weeks old and there was only one other pup in his litter so I do not understand why he is behaving like this. Any tips or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

  29. Nicole says

    I just recently got a what he appears to be a 4 mo old german shepherd and husky mix puppy from a shelter less than a month ago from a shelter. He was in a litter of 7 puppies on the pts list. Since the first day we got him he has showed food aggression since the first day we have brought him home, but up until recently it was only towards our cat who tried to steal it. I have been allowing my 3 yr old son participate in feeding him and putting his food in his bowl (same time every night) since the day he came home. Tonight, after my son fed him he was doing fine til my son was picking up the dropped kibble and putting it in his bowl and the puppy started growling at him. Occasionally he growls at my son if he lays his head on him or gets a little rough, in which case I remind my son he has to be easy with him. We have a 4 yr old golden retriever which is AMAZING with kids and tolerates a lot so it’s a bit hard to get my son to understand the difference. I have corrected a few growls with a light jab with two fingers to the side and it has curbed a lot but this recent growling at food time really concerns me, any suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, and changing dog behavior depends a lot on the dog, past experiences, his routine, current environment, and more. Given that you have a young son, it may be best to get help from a good professional trainer. I visited with several trainers when I was having issues with my Shiba Inu.

      With my dogs, what has worked well in terms of preventing food aggression is to –
      1. Minimize situations where my dog feels he has to guard his food.

      I have a no-stealing rule in the house. I do not allow my dogs to steal from each other, and I do not allow people to tease my dogs with food. I also manage their environment so that they do not feel the need to guard anything.

      My dogs work for all of their food (Nothing in Life is Free). I give them food for walking properly, for following rules in the house, for being calm, for playing well with each other, for grooming, doing obedience commands, and more. Whatever is left over, they work for through interactive food toys. While they are working on their food toys, I make sure there is no stealing. In this way, there is no bowl to protect, and they know that they can get food directly from me by doing work and following rules.

      Dogs can be very opportunistic about food. When there is food on the ground, especially near them, then it is free game (unless they have been trained otherwise). If we go for food on the ground and compete with our dog, it may cause our dog to start guarding his food or to warn us away through barks, growls, or aggression. This can *encourage* guarding behavior and is dangerous when performed next to an already food aggressive dog.

      2. Help my dog re-associate people and food with positive experiences.

      My Shiba Inu started to show food aggressive behavior when he was young because he would try to get dirty things off the street, so I would take these things away from him, sometimes by force. This caused him to associate me and people in general with losing his stuff, which led to the beginnings of object guarding.

      To change his behavior, I needed to change my own behavior. I try to create positive experiences with people, and help teach him that –
      a) Food, toys, and other resources comes from people,
      b) Food, toys, and other resources can be easily earned by following rules and commands,
      c) Giving me something, results in an even greater reward for him,
      d) I will never steal or compete with him for food, but instead, I am an ally who helps him get more food and protects his food from being stolen.

      I set up a fixed routine for my dogs and a consistent set of rules (one of which is no stealing). This creates certainty, and helps them to understand what to expect from me and other people in the house, and also what I expect from them. I talk more about what I do in the article above.

      More on my experiences with my Shiba Inu and object guarding.
      More on why a dog may start to guard food and other objects.

  30. Josh Shears says

    I have an 8 month old German Shepherd. I got her when she was 6 weeks old (She was the runt) and ever since day 1, she growls when you stand around her while she’s eating and snarls when you put your hand down close. She’s a really good dog and I want to train her to be a therapy dog, but the growling has got to stop. Just the other day I hand fed her. She was really nice no growling or anything, but she didn’t eat it all. Any advice?

    • shibashake says

      With my two Huskies, I fed them a lot of frozen Kongs when they were young puppies. I would hold the Kong for them, and let them dig out the frozen food. In this way, they learn to associate me, and people in general, with giving them food, or helping them with their food toys.

      Now that they are older, I give them *a very small portion* of their food through interactive food toys. The rest of their kibble I carry with me in my pocket. I give it to them for behaving well during walks, for grooming, for doing commands, and following rules in the house. In this way, I continue to reinforce that food comes from people, and that they get food and affection by working together with me. They often come over to me because they know I always have kibble in my pockets. 😀

      More on the Nothing in Life is Free program.

      I didn’t do these things with my Shiba when I first got him, and he started to show some object guarding behavior when he was young. Sephy was always putting everything into his mouth during walks, so I would forcibly take those things away from him. After a bit, he started to associate me with losing his stuff, so he started to guard them.

      When I noticed this, I did a lot of object exchange exercises with him, together with NILIF, as well as many of the things I describe in the article above.

      I do a combination of management and training, and that has worked well with all of my dogs. When they have very high priority items (e.g. bully sticks), I make sure to give them a peaceful place where they can work on their food, usually in their crate or enclosure. For regular times, I supervise food time, help them with their interactive food toys, and make sure there is no stealing. I try as much as possible to teach them that food and other good things come from people, and that they can easily get food by working together with people. Here is a bit more on my experiences with Sephy and object guarding-

      As with most problem dog behaviors, I think that food aggression is partly based on experience (e.g. having to compete with siblings for food), partly based on temperament (some breeds and some dogs are more likely to guard than others), and partly based on surrounding context. Therefore, each dog will be a bit different in terms of level of guarding, and level of aggression. For this reason, consulting with a good professional trainer can be very helpful.

      We visited with several during Sephy’s difficult period and it was helpful to have someone teach us how to read Sephy’s body language and better understand his behaviors.

  31. Monica says

    We have a 16 month old shorkie named Bogey. He is a very sweet & living dog. Cuddles, kisses, plays, etc… full of energy. When adults come over he is sweet & loving with them also. When we take him on walks he does well with other dogs also.
    We are having a couple of issues that I really want to break with him & am hoping he can be retrained in these areas. He does NOT like his face bothered much at all with the exception of going to the groomer & my dad aka his “grandpa” always pets his face & always has & he lets him. My husband & I do as well & he is fine but with other people, especially children he growls & I worry he will snap at one of them. He is also this way occassionally when I brush him at home- sometimes he will growl & show teeth & other times he will completely nip & snap & growl at me & the brush.
    The other issue we are having is this- he is very good about dropping toys, leaving things if we tell him to before he gets them in his mouth outside or inside. However, if he starts to put something in his mouth outside or unfortunately if one of our cats gets a hairball or & he gets to it first he will become very agressive & growl, snarl & bite/snap at us if we try to get him to stop eating it or take it away. The funny thing is is that he is not this way with his food as he allows my husband & I to hand feed him & has eaten his food out of guests hands as well. And as I said he is not that way with toys.
    He is so sweet & loving, but there are just those 2 issues that make it where I do not allow him around small children (though he loves attention from anyone) & I don’t leave him overnight with anyone if my husband & I want to go somewhere because I wouldn’t want him to nip or snap someone else.
    He has nipped at us before & only one other person who he was not familiar with that got to close to him while he was eating, but as I said- other than that one time, he is very good with us hand feeding being around him while he eats & taking his toys or food.
    We have never disciplined him in a physical way. He does not get yelled at- only a stern tone & I have put him in his crate for time out when he has nipped or snapped. Do you have any advice on the issues we are having & how to break them & if they are breakable & also anything you feel we may be doing wrong? One thing I forgot to mention is we have not yet gotten him neutered which we plan to do in the near future. Thank you again for your help & sorry this is so lengthy!!

    • shibashake says

      I am very careful with my dogs around kids, and I do not let them meet kids that are too young or overly excited. I only let them meet kids who are naturally more calm, who are very familiar with and are not afraid of dogs, and who can follow simple greeting instructions from me.

      I want my dogs to have positive greetings with kids, so that they will learn to see kids as something positive, and not become fearful of them. Therefore, I protect them from bad encounters, and at the same time, I tell the kid what to do (and what not to do) during a greeting. Petting from above, especially hard pats, can be intimidating for a dog, especially a small dog, and especially with a stranger.

      I also tell my dog to sit and I manage her level of excitement by refocusing her attention back onto me and having greeting breaks. As soon as I see her get overly excited, I move her away. I do the same with people greetings in general, but I am a lot more careful with kids because they are much smaller, move faster, and are more easily excitable.

      Here is a bit more on how I trained my dog to enjoy/tolerate hugs and affection, and why some dogs may not enjoy it.
      More on dog meetings and greetings.

      As for resource guarding, I practice various exchange exercises with my dog using different objects, in different environments, and with different people. This helps my dog to generalize the training, so that he will be comfortable in a variety of situations. Otherwise, a dog may be ok with certain objects but may protect others, may be ok with certain environments but may be protective in others, may be ok with certain people or dogs but not with others. I start from the beginning in each new situation, and make sure that everybody is safe.

      I try to always keep experiences positive, start small, and go in very small steps. In this way, I maximize successes so my dog continues to build more confidence. At the same time, I minimize negative encounters so that my dog does not keep practicing aggressive behaviors.

      I talk more about what I do with my dogs in the article above, and also here –

      A bit more on dog socialization.

  32. Joey says

    Thank you for the great post, I have a pug who was the runt of the litter and is very protective of his food around other dogs. He does not have a mean bone in his body and loves to play with other dogs, but for some reason with treats and food he tries to guard them from other animals. He is only a year old and we plan on getting him fixed because he is also marking his territory with pee in the house. Regardless thank you for the helpful tips i’m excited to try them out.

  33. Rebecca says

    My mom has a 5 yr old Siberian Husky, who has been with her since the dog was 2. The dog was not treated well in her first family. My mom has made significant improvements with the dog, but Snowy continues to have a serious issue: she takes paper and cardboard wherever she can find it (newspaper, toiler paper, wrapping paper, kids’ homework, boxes/packaging, etc.) and guards it. My mom has tried bribing the dog with treats to get her to change her focus, sometimes this work, but usually not. The dog has bitten my mom several times. The dog has come very close to biting other people too – for example, my son’s friend (10 yrs old) was eating and tried to pick up the napkin she dropped. Snowy was right there and immediately did the Growl/Snarl of Death; the friend was terrified. I am 100% unwilling to risk any of my family or friends or guests being bitten by the dog; and my mom feels the dog “is who she is” and the biting is part of her personality.

  34. Mike says

    Hi ShibaShake,

    Our new Shiab Inu puppy is being a picky eater. It seems to be more a behavior problem than food problem. When we give him a bowl of food, he just grazes at it and rarely finishes one of his two servings for the day. However, if we hand feed him he will continue to eat his food. He also loves the treats we have for him. It’s a metal bowl, but so is his water dish which he happily drinks from. Any suggestions?

    While I’m asking about this, any recommendations to deal with his pant leg pulling/jumping behavior when he wants to play. I tried ignoring it, but he sits there tugging, and he rarely sits while tugging so I don’t have many opportunities to reward sitting with play time . I put him in a time out, which stopped the behavior temporarily, but he still persists with it when he’s really in the mood to play.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah Sephy is a very picky eater as well. When we first got him, he was on Eukanuba kibble (from his breeder). After I did some research, I decided to change to a grain free, high protein kibble, and that helped some. Here is a bit more on how I picked his kibble.

      Still, he would often try to hold-out in the hopes that he would get something better, preferably with cheese. 😀 What ultimately helped most is to –
      1. Set up a fixed eating schedule. When he was younger I fed him 3 times a day, now he gets fed 2 times.
      2. I let him have his food for a certain amount of time. If he does not want to eat, I take it away and feed him next meal time.
      3. He has to work for his food either through doing grooming, teeth brushing, commands, or from interactive toys. I think he values his food more when he has to work for it.
      4. I only give him extra special treats after he eats his kibble.
      5. I make sure not to overfeed him. I observe him carefully and adjust the amount of kibble I give him based on his weight. If I give him extra treats, then I properly adjust down his kibble intake.

      With pulling and playing, one possibility is to redirect him onto a toy. I play a bunch of different games with Sephy, but I always make sure to have strict play rules with him. He is motivated to follow the rules because if not, he knows that the game stops. In this way, Sephy has an outlet for his “play energy”, but it is also a good way to teach him self-control when he is in a more excited, playful mood.

      I make sure to manage Sephy’s excitement level by throwing in many play-breaks. I would stop from time to time and do some brief commands. In this way, he gets a chance to calm down and refocus on me. I make sure to reward him well during breaks.

      I do not allow Sephy to bite on clothing. If he does that I no-mark and then redirect him or give him an alternate command. If he persists, then I stop playing with him. If he keeps coming and biting, I put him temporarily in a safe timeout area (not his crate). If he goes back to biting on clothing when he gets out, he goes right back in for a slightly longer period of time.

  35. Julie W. says

    Hello! I have been following every tip on your site since I brought my Shiba home and I cannot thank you enough for all that you do. I have a problem/question that may be a little difficult to answer, if even possible.

    I got my shiba about 4 months ago and invested a lot of time into training him as I know how important it is with this breed. I lived in an apartment with my boyfriend at the time where we followed every tip regarding food, toys and treats. I enforced the N.I.L.I.F. program 24/7 and he was doing great, I saw no signs of aggression what so ever, although he was a very scared and timid puppy, but has gotten much better. I recently moved back into my parents house where it is myself, mother, father and a cat. My shiba, Gino, has grown to be very scared of my father for some reason and has shown food and high priority toy aggression doing a low growl and a hovering action. When I noticed this I immediately attempted to get back into the habit of petting him while he eats, unfortunately, he did the same growl and hover action to me. Since, he has started backing away from his food when people walk near but I can still sense the obvious tension in him. I try to hand feed him in the area right around his bowl and he backs away and will not take it from me. I have encouraged my parents to participate in these training exercises however without immediate progress (a few days) they have decided to give up and refuse their time. They believe the only solution is a shock collar which I do not agree with considering his problems are fear-based. They also refuse to join us in an obedience training program and are giving me a short time frame to get it under control. Their concerns are children and other liability issues of aggression since he is so young.

    My question: Is there anything you can recommend that I can do to make him more comfortable with everyone WITH OUT the help of my parents in training. Gino is 6 months old and is extremely intelligent as he has known tricks like sit, stay, leave it, lay, jump, sit up, paw, high five, roll over, etc. since 4 months old. I am desperate for help from ANYONE as I am not willing to give him away nor can I afford to move out right now.

    Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      Yeah when we moved, it was difficult for Sephy as well. Sephy really needs routine and certainty. Moving creates a lot of uncertainty, which causes anxiety, stress, and fear.

      Some things that helped with Sephy-
      1. I established a fixed routine and consistent rules for him right away. This helps to recreate some constancy and certainty. I make sure that everyone in the house is on the same page in terms of rules and training techniques.
      2. I make sure he has a quiet place where he can rest, where no dog, person, or anything else will bother him. In this way, there is *always* a safe place he can go to.
      3. I dog proof my house and only give him safe toys. I set up clear interaction rules for my dogs, and the most important one is the “no stealing” rule. This applies to people as well. In this way, my dogs know what to expect from each other, what to expect from the people around them, and what I expect from them. This creates more certainty and helps to reduce stress.
      4. I exercised Sephy more after the move so that he has a good way to relieve stress. Sephy enjoys walks, so I took him on long walks in quiet (very low stress) hiking trails. We also played chasing games, find-it games, and more. In this way, he could expend his energy on positive structured activities.
      5. I observe him carefully to see which things cause him stress, and then carefully desensitize him to those things.

      Here is a bit more on why dogs get aggressive over food and toys.

      For aggression issues, it is usually best to get a private evaluation from a professional trainer. A trainer can observe our dog, read his body language, as well as observe his routine and environment. All these details are important in identifying the source of a problem behavior, and in coming up with a good plan for retraining. A trainer can also help with getting everyone in the house to participate.

      They believe the only solution is a shock collar which I do not agree with considering his problems are fear-based.

      I absolutely agree with you. A shock collar will only make things a lot worse, as it will increase stress, anxiety, and fear.

      The Shiba Inu forum also has a lot of people who love talking “Shiba”.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes. Big hugs to Gino.

  36. Ruth says

    Thanks for your article about food aggression. So much better and more informative than Cesar Millan (my pet hate) who recently nearly had his hand taken off by a resource guarding Labrador after he bullied and terrorised her.

    We have trained both our Labs and all our previous dogs to sit and wait for their food. We also fed them in small increments getting them to sit and let us take their bowl between refills. Now they are so good with food we can even get them to stop half way through bowl of food and they will let us take it to top up or exchange for something else. (good when my husband accidentally gave one dog the other dogs antibiotics in her food!). We also trained them to exchange toys, so that when they take something they shouldn’t (a slipper for example) they are always happy to bring it right to you in exchange for a toy that is permitted (no chasing them round the house!).

    A great article. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      they are always happy to bring it right to you in exchange for a toy that is permitted (no chasing them round the house!).

      Haha, yeah it is great when they do that. My Shiba does that when he wants to play as well – it is adorable. Gotta love dogs! 😀

      Hugs to your furry gang!

  37. Babi says

    Hello, I really need some help with my newly adopted shelter puppy, she has food aggression, she snaps and growls at me sometimes if I touch her, I don’t know how she developed it but heres the story, I will make it short: the place I got her from is horrible, the strongest will survive, the animals are being neglected and beaten, she is about 11 inches long, she’s a very small puppy of 1 month of age, she would not survive if I was a day late, so that is why she has that kind of behavior I think, I tried to teach her “NO!” today, when she snapped me I got ‘angry’ at her and with a loud tone I said ‘bad girl! very bad bad bad girl!’ and put her away in another room, waited until she cried for about a minute and took her back, she still did it, then I tried the “NO!” thing, I would say it time to time and make her stop chewing her bone, after some time she obeyed and did not bite me at all, but I don’t know if it will work and if that is right, plus I think she’s breeded with a jack russell which means when she grows up she has a perspective to be aggressive, please help me and please give me as many tips as possible, thank you!

    • shibashake says

      the place I got her from is horrible, the strongest will survive, the animals are being neglected and beaten

      Is this a city shelter or a private shelter? If the dogs are being mistreated, they should be reported so that things will improve for all the dogs there.

      Here is an article on how I trained my dog, and taught him the yes-mark and no-mark.

      Dogs often get aggressive over food because they associate people coming near their stuff with something stressful or negative, e.g. people getting angry, losing their stuff, etc. Some things that help with my dogs –
      1. I try to always stay calm. If I get angry or frustrated, my dog will pick up on my energy, get stressed himself, and become even more crazy.
      2. I use the Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) program to teach him that he gets what he wants most, by doing work for me. In this way, he learns that positive behaviors lead to food, toys, and other resources.
      3. I set my dog up for success and help him to associate people with *positive* events. The more successful encounters we have, the more confident he will be, and the more trust he will build towards people. Similarly, the more he performs an undesirable behavior, the more likely he will repeat it in the future.

      Here is more on why dogs get aggressive over food and toys and how I deal with bad dog behaviors.

      However, dog behavior and retraining is very context dependent, and depends a lot on the temperament of the dog, his background, his routine and environment, our own temperament, and more. To rehabilitate dog aggression issues, especially for a dog with a difficult past, it is often best to get help from a professional trainer.

  38. casey montgomery says

    Hi. My husband and I have a 3 yr old welsh corgi named oilva. She is typically very sweet and loving but over the last year she has started growling when she has a rawhide bone she doesn’t do this with any other toys or food. It is just with treats. I have looked online may times to get ideas of how to correct this but nothing seems to work. Right now even if I have the bone in my hand and go to place it near her she will growl. So when that happens I move it behind me again and I keep doing this until she stay quiet when I place it next to her than I give her a piece of cheese. That only works for a short amount of time. She also tends to hid under our bed with her bone and will growl if we even walk by. She is not fixed right now but will be soon. This just started about a year ago out of he blue. Like I said she isn’t this way with her regular food or any toys she has. I don’t know what to do anymore I need some advice. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my dogs also have different priorities for different toys and food. Kibble is more low priority compared to chicken, and bully sticks are very high priority because they do not get it as often. I used to give Sephy rawhides, but then a trainer told me that they can cause choking if a dog chews off, and swallows too big a piece. I talked to a vet about it after, and she told me the same thing and that it may sometimes also cause digestive issues.

      My dogs also view smaller pieces of food differently than things like bully sticks and Greenies which are very high priority and which they get to chew on for a longer period of time. A small piece of food they will just eat it in one bite and there is nothing to guard. When I give my Shiba Inu a bully stick, he will run around trying to hide it under couches, or behind curtains. 😀

      What helps with my dogs is that I start training with very low priority food and toys. I get them used to giving up these things, and making positive associations with people. Then I very slowly increase the priority of the food or toy.

      In the meantime, I don’t give them anything high priority that will trigger the aggressive behavior. The more they practice the behavior, the more likely they are to repeat it, and vice versa. The key with my dogs, is to keep them below their aggression threshold, so that the training sessions are successful, positive, and rewarding.

      Each situation is different though, and dog training is very dependent on the temperament of the dog and surrounding context. In cases of aggression, it may be helpful to get help from a professional dog trainer.

  39. Jenn says

    Hello, my family has a 6 year old Mini Dachshund named Little Bit and over the past six months he has become very food aggressive to the point that I am afraid someone is going to get hurt. Little Bit doesn’t just guard his bowl when he’s eating- he goes after us if we’re eating. I can’t cook with him around because he will literally be under my feet, growling and barking, bumping me to make me drop food. We can’t open our fridge around him because he will jump inside to snatch food off of the shelves. We can’t even use our kitchen table anymore because he constantly whines, growls, and jumps on us. I can’t even use my counters for food storage because he will jump and try to grab things. Yesterday, he ate an entire brand new loaf of bread because my son left the end of the wrapper too close to the edge. When he gets food, he drags to the far corner under our table and we have stopped trying to get food from him because he growls, snaps, and bares his teeth. We have had to move our trash out of the kitchen because he will knock it over to get old food. Little Bit will trip my youngest if she is carrying her dinner plate, he has even jumped on her and snatched food right out of her hand as she was taking a bite. We should be able to eat in our kitchen- that’s what its for- without fear. Out of desperation we have bought a dog crate and two gates to keep Little Bit contained in one place while we eat and to be honest all he does he whine and growl until we let him out and immediately he starts hunting for food like he’s in the wild. We adopted him as a puppy at 8 weeks old and we’ve never had a problem until now. I thought maybe we weren’t feeding him enough so I have started adding dry food with his wet and we feed him twice a day. But even that hasn’t helped. Yesterday, my son was getting something out of the fridge and Little Bit jumped inside, grabbed a leftover egg and cheese crossiant from breakfast and ate it, wrapper and all. We love him but its getting to where I don’t even want him anymore- HELP!!!

    • shibashake says

      Did anything change 6 months ago when this started? Did his routine change? Any change in exercise, health, etc.? Any change in type of training?

      Dogs are very opportunistic animals, especially when it comes to food. If a dog jumps on people, and he gets rewarded with food (whether freely given or not) he will keep repeating the behavior because it “works”. If a dog growls and bumps us, and we drop food for him, he will also see this as a reward, and keep repeating the behavior.

      Dogs repeat behaviors that get them good results, for example, food, and stop behaviors that get them undesirable results.

      I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with my dogs. This means that before they get something that they want (e.g. food), they have to do something for me first. I also set up a consistent routine and a consistent set of rules. Dogs need structure, routine, and rules.

      Given what you describe, it sounds like getting help from a professional trainer would be best. Dog training is very situational, and depends a lot on the dog’s temperament, environment, past experiences, past training, current routine, and more. The energy of the people around him and accurate timing, are also very important.

      Here is a bit more background on how I trained my Siberian Husky and on how dogs learn.

  40. Nicole says

    hi there! my boyfriend and I just got a welsh terrier. he is about 3 months old and for the past couple weeks he has been very aggressive with objects when we try to take him away. like any dog he loves to get into paper products, the trash, etc. like with all of our previous dogs, we would say “No” “Drop it” and try to hold his mouth and get it ourselves when bribing him with a treat or different toy didn’t work. If we pick him up at all he tries to bite us, as if we were attacking him. So we have been trying to hold him in place by the collar (like many websites suggested) and we gently try to take it from him, providing better toys and treats. He still won’t stop though. Tonight he had some sort of ribbon and it took us about 10 minutes to work it out of his mouth. In the process he latched on to my hand, with the ribbon still in his mouth, and wouldn’t let go. my hand is okay but he broke through the skin quite a bit. I feel like we have tried everything with him, and he is normally so friendly until you try and take something he wants away! we have never had an issue like this. it was so bad tonight that after we took the ribbon away he still tried attacking us, so we had no option but to put him in the crate, for our own safety (normally i absolutely do not use the crate for punishment, but we couldn’t calm him). We never hit him or physically harm him, so we have no idea where he is getting this aggression from! He plays nicely with his toys and gives those to us, but never something he knows he shouldn’t have. If you have any advice, I would be so grateful, because this is adding a lot of stress on us and we just want to be able to stop this aggression now, before it’s too late.

    thanks so much,

    • shibashake says

      Hello Nicole,

      I went through a similar thing with Sephy (Shiba Inu). He would always be picking up trash, off the street during our walks, so I would take the stuff away from him. After a while, he started to protect whatever items he picked up with growling, and air snaps. He would also twist his head away or push my hands away with his paws. If I had continued to take things away from him by force, he would likely have moved on to biting.

      Here is a bit more on our experiences.

      Here is a bit more on why dogs may get aggressive over food or objects.

      In Sephy’s case, he started to get aggressive because he associated me coming near him with losing his stuff. The things that he got from the street smelled really good to him and they were things that he never got at home, so to him, they are very valued, high priority resources.

      Some things that help with Sephy –
      1. Prevention is better than cure.
      I try to set Sephy up for success by preventing him from getting to the bad stuff in the first place. If he never gets to it, then he doesn’t try to protect it. The less he practices guarding, the less likely he will repeat the behavior. I also teach him the “Leave-It” command, so that I can tell him what to do, and reward him well for it. In this way, he knows what is ok to take, and what is not. Most importantly, by carefully managing him, I no longer have to take objects away from him by force, which was the main trigger that started his guarding behavior.

      2. I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program.
      This teaches Sephy that I am the source of good stuff and that he has to work for what he wants. This motivates him to come to me for resources, rather than try to keep me away using aggression.

      3. Start small and set Sephy up for success.
      In the beginning, Sephy did not know what “Drop-It” means, so I start training with a very low priority item, e.g. a toy that he is not very interested in. Therefore, he is very willing to give that up for pretty much anything else. This sets him up for success, and motivates him to willingly give objects over to me. Through repetition, he learns to associate the command “Drop-It” with giving objects over to me, and getting rewarded well for it, by me.

      Once he gets better with very low priority items, then I can *very slowly* increase the challenge and use slightly higher priority objects. However, if I had started with a very high priority object in the first place, he would never want to give it up, he would continue to practice his guarding behavior, and he would not learn what I mean by “Drop-It”.

      Note though, that Sephy never broke skin even when he made contact with my hand.

      For more serious cases, it is best to get help from a professional trainer.

      As for holding a dog down (also called an alpha roll), I also tried this with Sephy when he was young. In our case, it made things worse. Here is a bit more on alpha rolls and why it is risky.

      Here is a bit more on how dogs learn.

  41. Casey says


    I have littermates that we got from the humane society at 7wks old. My husband and I trained them and they are really wonderful dogs, but with very different personalities. Our one dog, Caly shows signs of food guarding (I wouldn’t call it aggression). We first noticed this behavior with other dogs that would come over to play or stay at our house– she did not like them going toward the room she was fed in and would cry, try to corral them away, and if they didn’t get the hint she would growl/give a warning snap. She has never been the least bit aggressive with me or my husband (or any person) and it is not an issue with her brother or my parents dog– she seems to ‘trust’ those dogs, even though my parents dog will regularly try to steal her food. We recently noticed that she was displaying this behavior when a friend’s toddler was walking near an unopened bag of dog food in our kitchen. This really caught our attention and made us realize that we need to do something about this behavior (we are expecting a baby in July). We have stopped leaving food out for Caly and made the garage her feeding area since we recently moved into a new house. We are at a loss for what else to do to prevent this behavior since she only does it with other dogs/children and we would never want to ask anyone to lend their animal or human child for our training practice! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, what has helped is to help them make positive associations with people and other dogs.

      As you say, dogs treat new people differently from people that they already trust. I do people desensitization exercises to help my dogs be more comfortable and relaxed around new people. I always keep my dog on-leash and make sure to keep everyone safe.

      Some other things that I do with my dogs-
      1. No stealing. I make sure to always supervise them during eating and I prevent stealing from all dogs and also from people.

      2. I set-up consistent interaction rules for my dogs – with other dogs and with people. In this way, they understand exactly what is expected of them with people and with other dogs, and vice versa. I also make sure guests understand how to best greet and interact with my dogs. They have rules too. 😀

      3. When Sephy was young, we got help from several trainers with well-trained dogs, that could work together with us. A professional trainer can observe the dog, read his body language, identify triggers that cause reactive behaviors, and come up with a good plan for retraining the behavior. A good trainer can also help with techniques on how to introduce a dog to a new child.

      Here are a couple of articles from the ASPCA about preparing a dog for a new child-

      Even though my dogs do not show any food aggression towards me or with other people, I do many food exercises with them so that they continue to make positive associations between food and people throughout their life. I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program and make my dogs work for all of their food. I use their daily food rations for obedience, grooming, walking, playing, etc. Whatever is left over, I put in interactive food toys so that they work for that as well. In this way, my dogs understand that food comes from me/people and they know exactly how they can “work for it”. This gives them consistency and stability.

      Here is another article I recently wrote on food aggression.

      Hope this helps. Congratulations on your upcoming baby and big hugs to Caly!

  42. Kyle Watson says

    I have a 1yrd pitbull, we recently adopted him a few months ago. He had food aggression when we got him. we’ve manged to work through that. The one thing we haven’t been able to fix is his excessive shaking, drooling, and pacing when it’s feeding time. We don’t and have never made feeding time a big deal, usually we prepare the food while they are distracted and call them over to eat. We’ve been doing alot of hand feeding. We try to make sure his calms down before we allow him to eat, but he could be waiting for hours. He does get excercise along with the other dog daily. I’ve just hit a wall and need some helpfull advise.

    • shibashake says

      It sounds like it could be anxiety. Perhaps, he had some difficult experiences in the past, and did not know whether he would get a next meal.

      Some things that I sometimes do with my dogs-
      1. Feed smaller meals but more frequently.
      2. Very consistent feeding routine and schedule.
      3. Give the dog “some” control over his food by making him work for it. Often, food just magically appears in a dog’s bowl, and he does not know how or why.

      What works well with my dogs is to make them work for their food. I reward them throughout the day for following house rules, doing simple commands, grooming, coming over to be close to me, etc. They know that they can get food by working for me during the day, so meal time is not the only time that food is available. In this way, they also know what they can do to earn their food. In general, I follow the NILIF program with all of their resources (e.g. food, toys, freedom in the backyard, affection).

      When dealing with anxiety issues with my dogs, I find that consistency, structure, and rules help a lot to reduce stress. That way, my dogs know exactly what to what to expect from me and what I expect of them in return. This reduces uncertainty, which in turn reduces stress.

  43. Maria says

    Great article! My Australian Cattle Dog puppy (9mo) always guards his food. Now that he is growing and getting stronger, his aggression has increased much more around food. Today he snuck into the kitchen trash and as I went over to close the door, he growled at me. I made a loud noise to distract him and he immediately jumped at me 2x. His jumps were high enough that if I hadn’t backed up, he would have bit my face. He’s done this before and I can’t seem to find a method that will work for him. I’ve used puzzle toys for feeding and to slow him down, but the guarding didn’t go away. I’ve tried hand feeding and it worked for a while, but then one day he snapped at me because I didn’t let him have the entire meal at once. I’m willing to try hand feeding again, but do you have any suggestions on the best strategies for stubborn dogs? We’re also working on his training as it seems that he recently has become “aloof” lol. My boyfriend thinks it’s more of a ranking issue. He will still growl at my bf during feeding, but as soon as he speaks loudly in a stern voice, my pup backs down and freezes. With me on the other hand, he will lunge and try to bite.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Maria,

      Does he show aggressive behavior only around food or is it in other contexts as well? What sort of training did you use when you first got him? How much exercise does he get every day?

      Given that his aggression is escalating, it may be best to get help from a professional trainer. In cases of aggression, we want to keep everyone safe, including the dog. A good trainer can quickly identify the aggression triggers, so that we can properly manage the dog and make sure that nobody gets hurt. A trainer can also help us come up with a retraining plan that is safe, and addresses the source of the aggression.

      Some things that helped with Sephy –
      1. Controlling my own energy.

      Sephy is very sensitive to my emotions. If I am stressed, afraid, frustrated, or angry, he will pick up on that and become even more stressed himself. This will usually amp him up, and cause him to act even more crazy. If I am calm, then he is also more calm and more able to listen to me.

      2. Have a plan.

      What worked well for me is to have a detailed plan for each of Sephy’s difficult behaviors. Then, when he misbehaves, I don’t get stressed or fearful. Instead, I am able to take decisive action and just focus on my plan. Timeouts worked well with Sephy.

      3. Following the Nothing in Life is Free program.

      I follow NILIF with all of my dogs. I only give them what they want after they do something for me first. I make sure never to reward them for bad behavior. I also set up a fixed routine and consistent house rules. In this way, they have clear boundaries and know exactly what to expect from me, and what I expect of them.

      Some other articles on my experiences with training my dogs-
      How Dogs Learn.
      How I trained my puppy.
      How to stop bad dog behaviors.

      When we were going through Sephy’s difficult puppyhood, we visited with several different trainers. It can be difficult to find a good trainer, but aggression is serious business. Getting help from someone who is able to observe the dog and read his body language can make a big difference in terms of safety and training effectiveness. Timing and technique are very important in dog training, and a good professional trainer can really help with those two things.

  44. Karla says

    Hi – I have a 4 yr old female Shiba Inu. She appears to be getting more and more ‘skitzy’ as she gets older. She will be laying in one room and kids in another (with me) and will shoot up and run to bite one of them. She has also bitten 2 children visiting our home out of nowhere as well. How do I work with her to fix this? The kids love her and do not want to get rid of her, but I can not have her randomly out of no-where decide to bite someone. This is not something she does on a regular basis, therefore it’s difficult to know why when she is laying down (even in a separate room) she just jumps up and runs to bite someone. There has been 2 times when I was walking up the stairs and she ran after me as well. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  45. Chris says

    Great tips!

    My problem with my 9 week old sibe is that he won’t stop barking and keep jumping around when it’s feeding time, he really gets pumped up. It starts when he sees me grab the plastic container where his food is, and when he hears the bits pouring on his bowl.

    When I got annoyed, I put in a choke and leash and just pull him when he barks but it doesn’t work, I felt bad when one time I really got annoyed I pulled him up from ground with the choker. I taught him to sit when I hold his bowl or have food in my hands and he obeys, but sometime while at my command he just keeps barking.

    Any advice on this behavior? Also be commenting on Woof, Woof – Stop Barking for another issue.

  46. Alice says

    Hi i have a 4 year old chihuahua male. me and my mom got him when he was a puppy and tried to train him to be good, and not bite other people. he did good when he was little, but every since he turned 2 he’s been acting very badly. any time guests come over he would bark non-stop ad then growl when they came into the door. when they would walk in out house, or even try to talk to them he would lunge at them and bark really loudly. he’s always been food aggressive, and when you get just a tad bit near his food bowl he’ll growl at you. One day i was going to pick his bowl up to refill it with food, when he lunged at me and bit my hand. I said no very loudly, and grabbed him and put him in his crate. i didn’t know what else to do. i was afraid he was going to chase me or something. He loves my mom and me sometimes, but every now and then, when there’s food around he’ll growl and bite. Today he had smelled food on the couch, that was just a stain from the broccoli and sauce i had earlier, and he was licking and eating that spot on the couch. I said in a positive tone “Harry! come here,” and i told him to go over to the other side of the couch so i could sit down and instead of stop licking it, look at me while licking his lips, then turn and go to the other side of the couch to sniff my hand or something like he has been doing lately (with my “positive tone” training”) he growled at me. I am not going to be a dog owner who just backs away and lets there dog just pig out on YOUR couch where YOU want to sit down. I am dominant over HIM not him over me, but i didn’t know what to do, so i told him again to come over and patted my hand on the part of the couch i wanted him to come over to and he growled even worse. then i had had it so i made my voice harsh and said “Harry! now!” and he growled so bad i was afraid he was going to ripped the couch. so i grabbed him, but halfway through grabbing him and putting him in his crate he bit my finger and ripped my nail. its now red, hot, swolen, and bleeding. I washed it and put ice of it, and piut harry in his crate wright away and said stuff like “No” and “bad dog” he was growling till i held him up then he just look sad. and he was quiet. I put him in his crate and he just looked at me with sad eyes but i felt so angry and my finger hurt so bad i slammed the door and went to go clean the couch I don’t know what to do anymore! My mom was thinking about getting rid of him, but he;s been my dog for so long now it seems horrible I mean there are good moments to, when he acts like were above him and he’s nice, and we play, and cuddle, and go on walks and he does tricks and what we say happily. and then there are times where he gets aggressive (mostly around food) and lashes out. More good times but we’re getting sick of his attitude. We cant feed him anything! Even when we have food in our hand as soon as we sit down to eat it he’ll jump up and watch you. every time you lift your fork to put food in your mouth he’ll sneer and make a growls face while watching you put food in your mouth. it’s unbelievable.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Alice,
      Hope your finger is feeling better.

      1. Jumping up on tables and couches –
      Dogs repeat behaviors that get them good results and stop behaviors that get them bad results. If a dog jumps and sometimes finds yummy stuff on the table, he will likely keep jumping because the next jump may be the reward jump.

      What has worked well with my dogs is to make sure there is no food on the table or couch unless I am there to supervise. Then, I simply body block them away from the couch. Since they never get anything from jumping on tables, it is not rewarding, so they don’t do that much anymore.

      Another thing that helped with my dogs is to teach them the “Off” command. Initially, I say “Off” and then lure them off the couch. If they get down on their own, then I make a big deal out of it and reward them well with food and a fun game. In this way, they associate getting off the couch and listening to commands with great rewards, and will likely repeat the behavior.

      2. Food aggression –
      Dogs can get aggressive over food if they associate people coming close to them, while they are eating, to be a negative event. What has worked well for my dogs is to condition them to associate people+eating, with more food and positive experiences (more is described in the article above).

      I find that it is helpful to make my dogs work for all of their food through obedience exercises, bite inhibition exercises, grooming, etc. I also use part of their food during play and our daily walks. Whatever is left over, I put it in interactive food toys so they have to work for that too.

      When I am eating, I get Shiba Sephy to “Go to Your Mat”. Then I reward him well for staying on his mat. In this way, he learns that going to his mat is very rewarding but staring at me is not.

      3. Leadership –
      A great way to maintain leadership is through the control of resources and the NILIF program.

      Here is a bit more on my experiences with dog dominance-

      I had a lot of troubles with Sephy when he was young. He is a very stubborn and headstrong dog. We visited with several professional trainers, and the good ones can be very helpful in identifying the source of the aggression and then coming up with plans to redirect and recondition the behavior.

  47. Tyson says


    I have purchased and watched the Leerburg Establishing Pack Structure for a Family Pet and Basic Dog Obedience. I am married and have 2 children, girls aged 3 and 7. I have a German Shepherd male intact who is now 1 year, 3 months old.
    I have a 50 foot by 25 foot section of yard that is sectioned off which is used as his outdoor dog kennel which leads in through a dog door to an indoor crate. Since he has been a pup (we purchased when he was 8 weeks old) I have crate trained him and controlled his daily routine as taught in the Establishing Pack Structure DVD. He did not have free access to the outdoor kennel in the beginning until about 4 months of age. My wife and I work full time so I would come home at lunch time and let him out to pee/poop every day.
    I have been his handler the whole time and have established myself as pack leader. I am naturally calm and confident. My wife rarely handles him, she is more passive and is petite in stature. She is always home and we are always together, however she doesn’t walk him or handle him.
    Around 5 months of age, he started developing food aggression, he would growl while eating when anyone would get close. My kids know very well not to go near him when he eats, I taught them this before any growling occurred. It has escalated to the point where if my wife enters the room, he will snarl, growl and saliva will literally run out of his mouth. He gives a terrifying look like he wants to kill anyone who wants to come near. He has lunged at my wife before over food.
    I feed him 2 scoops – twice a day of Orijen kibble. He will always be food aggressive if I set the food bowl down, release him to eat, leave and come back to enter the room and he is still eating. If he is done eating he is back to normal. If anyone makes any sudden movements and stay in the room, he will slow down and look out of the corner of his eye and growl.
    Other than food aggression, he shows no aggression towards my children. It seems that he just “goes red” when he eats and goes into a different mode and once he’s done, he is the happy dog we know again.
    With all that said, I can alleviate all aggression by putting a tiny bit of food in his bowl, putting it down, releasing him and then immediately start dropping more food in his bowl (I keep the rest of his 2 scoops in my training pouch). Then throughout the feeding, I will alternate between making him do commands and hand feeding and dropping more in his bowl and releasing. I can even have my hand in the bowl because he realizes that my hand their means more food.
    My question is, is this a good technique? I don’t trust him at all with my wife. I have had trainers tell me to put a open ended mesh muzzle on while feeding and correct him or “hang him” if he showed signs of aggression. I tried this one time and although he can’t bite, I had my wife take the leash while feeding and the second I handed over the leash to my wife when food was near he tried to attack her and she had to “hang him” until he stopped.
    This seems to only make the situation worse. These trainers tell me that I need to “show my dog who’s boss”, however he is already obedient and well mannered in the house, it is the food aggression which I need to find a solution. It seems that making his feedings a stressful situation will only worsen the problem. I have control when hand feeding and dropping more in his bowl as he eats and it seems that if I do this long enough and have my wife slowly join in, he will start realizing that we are there to give, not take away and bully.
    Should I automatically assume that because my dog has food aggression that he considers himself above me and others in the family in ranking? Or does the food aggression always tie in with pack ranking?
    I would appreciate any suggestions/help you can give as I don’t give up easily and I want the best for my family and the dog.


    • shibashake says

      Hello Tyson,

      I also started with aversive training techniques with my Shiba Inu Sephy. I mostly used collar corrections and alpha rolls. We sought help from a traditional trainer who instructed us on the right way to do leash corrections, and other aversive methods. We did this for about 5 months.

      At the end of that time, I realized that it just was not working out for us. Sephy’s behavior did improve initially, but after a time, it degraded and then got worse. He became habituated to my collar corrections, and would start fighting with the leash during our walks. Sometimes, he would redirect that aggression onto me and others. Then he started using aggression in a greater variety of contexts, including at home.

      Sephy used aggression because it “worked” for him. He had learned to associate me and others with collar corrections and alpha rolls. Aggression often causes people to back off, leave him alone, and he can go back to doing whatever he was doing – in peace. Sometimes, dogs may also associate other elements in the environment, e.g. another dog or food with the aversive stimulus, and use aggression to get people or other dogs to stay away.

      This was not what I wanted for Sephy, so I did a lot of reading and research and decided to stop using pain based aversive methods. Instead, I found that I could more effectively maintain leadership by controlling his resources, and using the things that he wants most to get him to follow rules and listen. I also got everybody in the family involved in his training (in a consistent way), so that he views everyone as being part of the family. I did a lot of work in terms of socializing him with a variety of people, so that he started to associate people with positive outcomes.

      In terms of feeding, I do a fair amount of hand feeding with my dogs together with various training exercises, e.g. simple commands, bite inhibition training, touch exercises, grooming, etc. In this way, they are working for their supper rather than getting everything at once for free. Whatever food is left over, I put in interactive toys and they have to work for that as well. This also prevents them from swallowing their food at top speed, which can cause bloat and other issues.

      However, safety should always be the top priority, so only do hand feeding if it is absolutely safe for everyone involved. For dogs with a bite history, there are a variety of precautions that can be taken to manage things and keep things safe. Hiring a professional trainer can also be very helpful for safety and reconditioning. After I switched training strategies, I worked with several resource based trainers to recondition Sephy in a safe and controlled way.

      In terms of pack ranking, here is more on my views on dog dominance.

  48. Kiara says

    I have a 4 1/2 month old blue heeler/ Australian cattle dog. When I first brought him home he showed signs of agression towards people, and other animals around his food. I knuckled down on it and he’s normally very good even around other dogs whilst eating. but as of recent I have moved in with someone else, who has two dogs: makes four dogs in total. He now guards his food, only with the other dogs though. I’m not sure how to get him out of this, and it’s becoming habit now. The people I live with feed their dogs together – as in out of the same bowl. So I’ve tried teaching him to share and that there is plenty of food, but he just keeps slipping backwards. He also guards his kennel area, only from other dogs. Not humans, but I fear if I can’t stop him from doing this with other dogs, there is a chance he will end up doing it to me as well, and I will lose control. Feel free to voice some suggestions, I want to nip this in the bud >.<

    • shibashake says

      Hello Kiara,

      With Sephy it was not so much about the amount of food or toys available, but rather about uncertainty. Sephy really likes consistency and a fixed routine. When there are large changes happening in his environment, e.g. having new dogs in the family, he gets stressed and may use aggression to deal with that new uncertainty. What helps with Sephy is to establish a new routine as soon as possible, including new rules of interaction with the other dogs. For example, with my dogs, I have rules during play-time, rules during eating time, etc. I am around to supervise and make sure that everyone follows the house rules.

      Each of my dogs has their own food toy. During meal times, I make sure that each of them works on their toy and there is no stealing. I do not allow them to invade each other’s space. In this way, it is fair, and everyone knows that if there are conflicts, I will resolve them.

      With Sephy, it was really important to carefully manage him and keep him from repeating his guarding behavior. The more he repeats it, the more likely it will become a habit. Therefore, I supervise and prevent stealing, so that he does not feel the need to have to protect his food through aggression. I also do not allow my other dogs to bother him when he needs to rest and does not want to be disturbed (and vice versa).

      Here is more on what I do to keep the peace at home-

      Some things that helped with my dogs-
      1. Set the dog up for success and carefully manage him so that he does not feel the need to guard his food. Feed separately if necessary.
      2. Slowly desensitize the dog toward his aggression triggers by helping him associate other dogs with positive events. I do group obedience training sessions with my dogs so that they learn that they get rewarded most by working together.
      3. I teach them that I will prevent stealing, supervise and protect them, so that they do not need to do these things themselves. I will keep them safe.
      4. I follow the NILIF program. In this way, my dogs learn to associate people, commands, and being calm, with food, toys, and other valuable resources.
      5. Hiring a professional trainer for a visit can also be very helpful. Qualified trainers know how to read a dog’s body language and can identify where the problem areas are.

  49. Elaine says

    I have an 8 1/2 yr old springer spaniel that has been getting very people aggressive. He lunged @ me 2x’s today and the 2nd time he actually grabbed my shirt and pulled at it. He shows his teeth, growls horrible and his mouth quivers. Scary look, like a wild animal. The 1st time he did this I tried to get him away from the door when Comcast tech was @ the door. I couldn’t control him at all. I tried to get his harness on to walk him, he lunged at me and near bit my hand. The 2nd time in the afternoon, he wasn’t even around and I leaned down to close his crate door to put it back in another room and that’s when he lunged, growled and grabbed my shirt, I was so afraid, I grabbed the snack tray stand next to me because he was coming @ me again! I am sick over this behavior. he had done the same thing to my husband about a month ago. I had problems with toy & food guarding but he overcame that. This is bad now cause I don’t trust him at all. I have grandchildren that come over and I will have to put him away for fear he may turn on them. I don’t know what to do with him, he went to 2 different training classes and can’t stop,he is horrible to walk if other dogs come around too. Do you have any advise.

    • shibashake says

      When did he start getting people aggressive? Did it only start 1 month ago? Did it just happen suddenly? Was there anything that occurred around the time that the behavior started?

      How was his behavior like before the aggression started? Was he friendly to people previously? Is he aggressive around all people now? How would he have greeted a visitor previously?

      Is he command trained? Does he still do them for you?

      I leaned down to close his crate door to put it back in another room and that’s when he lunged,

      Is this something that you commonly do? What was his reaction like previously?

      I had problems with toy & food guarding but he overcame that.

      Does he not guard food and toys anymore? What type of training did you use to stop the guarding behavior? How did he respond?

      Given what you describe, I would get help from a professional trainer. Get the trainer to come visit him the in house and observe him in his normal environment and routine. In cases of aggression, it is important to observe the surrounding context of each incident to identify what is actually triggering the behavior.

      In the meantime, it may help to carefully manage him and not expose him to situations where he will continue to practice his aggression. What is his everyday routine like?

  50. rachel says

    I have a year old German Shepheard who is showing food agression. Not a problem with treat, unwanted thing picked up just over his bowl. He will growl even if put on his own in a seperate room. The biggest issue is growling & bearing teeth if anybody try to touch him. I have been hand feeding him for 2 weeks with no problem, marking it & he touches my hand. No agression shown, only if I was to try & touch/stroke him. Any help would be appreciated.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Rachel,

      Has the food aggression always been present or did it only develop recently? Does the aggression only occur around his bowl and nowhere else? Does he show any aggression when touched away from his bowl, outside the house, etc?

      How is he when meeting new people? Does he run/pull to meet them? Would he prefer not to greet them? What is his body language like?

      What type of training have you been using with him so far?

    • rachel says

      I think it may have always been present, now doing some research realise I may have missed the subtle early sings when he was younger. It is getting worse.
      He shows agression – growling/grumbling for 10/15 minutes after eating as wandering around the house. We tend to just ignore it & leave him alone.
      He is dog agressive on a lead, off he shows no signs he’s happy to play with everybody human & dog. I put this down to him being attacked on a lead when about 5 months old.
      He is unsure at times when greeting people especially if they show signs of being unsure of him, those thet just walk up to him he seems to have no problem with. He wants to sniff people as they walk past.
      He can be unsure of new situations, he ears become alert & I can feel the lead begin to tighten if I don’t or am not quick enough to distract him he will bark. This does not happen in all new situations.
      I am using marker/clicker training (we go to classes twice a week) with all the above but not the food agression, as I have had no guidence on what to do & don’t want to do it wrong.
      Alfie can be very focused & is both treat & toy motivated.
      I hope this is enough information for you.

    • shibashake says

      He sounds a bit like my Shiba Inu Sephy. Sephy also did not like too much touching, especially when we first got him. Some things that helped with Sephy –

      1. Touch exercises.

      I did a lot of touch exercises with him. In the beginning, I started with only very small touches, in areas of his body that were less sensitive. Sephy was sensitive over people touching his tail and butt area. He was also more sensitive over paws, ears, and muzzle. I started with very brief touches on his chest. I would just touch and treat. I kept sessions short and rewarding and he is free to leave whenever he wants.

      The key is to start small and go very slowly so that Sephy doesn’t feel the need to use any aggression. Ultimately, he started to associate touches with rewards and positive events. Here is more-

      2. Bite inhibition training.

      I trained Sephy to control the force of his bites. This was very helpful later on when he started with his leash biting phase.

      3. NILIF and working for his supper.

      I followed the NILIF program very strictly with Sephy. He also had very strict rules in the house and a very fixed routine. I put a drag lead on him (only with a flat collar and *not* an aversive collar) when he was young. This allowed me to easily control him without laying hands on him or grabbing his collar.

      Even today, all of my dogs work for all of their food. They get food for grooming, doing commands, doing touch exercises, following rules during walks, play, etc. Whatever is left over, I put in interactive food toys so they work for that as well.

      4. Controlling my own energy.

      Another thing that helped a lot with Sephy is in controlling my own energy. I was somewhat fearful of him when he started to show aggression towards me. Often, I would get stressed when we see other dogs, or when he started to get into his mischievous moods. The more fearful or frustrated I became, the worse Sephy behaved.

      After I was able to control my own energy and remain more calm, Sephy’s behavior improved significantly.

      5. Private training sessions.

      Each situation is different though, so it is important to read the dog’s body language, understand his motivations, and his temperament. This is an area where getting some private training lessons can be helpful.

      We did both group classes with Sephy as well as many private training sessions with several different trainers. The group classes were mostly useful for socialization purposes, but for fixing particular issues, the private sessions were a lot more helpful. We would first bring Sephy over for an evaluation session, and then we had a series of sessions after that focusing on one particular issue.

      I also did a lot of my own research so that I could properly evaluate the trainers.

      Here is a bit more on my early experiences with Sephy-

      Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

  51. Erika says

    Hi (: I think that your site is great. It has some wonderful tips!!
    I have a 6 year old Golden Retriever/Australian Shepard mix, and in the past year or so he’s been acting quite aggressive (and I’m assuming it’s food aggressive because it’s mostly around food; although sometimes it’s not). We got him from a shelter in Texas when he was a puppy, and had to fly out from Colorado to pick him up. He’s always been a very sweet dog. The first few years he wasn’t really all that crazy about his own food, but now it seems that he just gobbles it down. He’s never attacked any humans, but he has been fighting a lot with other dogs. Sometimes it’s because of table scraps, but other times he just gets really aggressive over nothing. He hasn’t been the healthiest dog in the world either, and I’m wondering if that might have something to do with him being aggressive. When he was a puppy we found that he had Luxating Patella, so we had to replace his knee caps. A few years later he was attacked by a deer that stomped on him, and he got a side full of stitches. And, in the last couple year he has developed an allergy and is being treated with a steroid Prednisone. I’m really not sure what it is. He’s never aggressive towards us, and he’s never been aggressive around his food bowl. He has bitten some smaller dogs, and he gets into fights with bigger dogs. People are scared now to let him around their dogs, because he’s pretty mean. I really don’t know what to do, I know that he is a total sweetheart and I’d like him to go back to way that he was!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Erika,

      In such cases it is best to get help from a good professional trainer. There are usually triggers for a dog’s aggression and a trainer will be able to observe the dog, read his body language and identify his aggression triggers.

      As you say, a dog that is under pain because of some physical issue may also be less tolerant and may feel more vulnerable to external threats. A vet checkup will be able to rule out/in this possibility.

      What other dogs does he get into fights with? Family dogs, dogs he plays with regularly, or new dogs? How did he act with other dogs before the aggression started a year ago? What is his daily routine like? Does he eat together with other dogs?

      In the meantime, it may help to carefully manage mealtimes and separate the dogs so that there are no conflicts, and so that he does not keep practicing the behavior.

    • Erika says

      Thanks a lot for replying!!
      Blu (that’s his name) has had some health issues, but I don’t think that he is under any physical pain. Could it be possible that the Prednisone he is taking is causing him to act this way? I heard that in addition to causing excessive thirst and hunger, Prednisone also causes behavioral changes.
      He gets into fights with all kinds of dogs. But what I can’t understand is that he gets into fights with dogs he’s known all his life. My Aunt has 4 King Charles Cavaliers and he has gotten aggressive with them. The other day he bit one of them, and I’m not even sure why (it didn’t seem to be over food, because no one was feeding them). Before he used to want to play with every dog he met. It always took a little while for him to get used to them. When they would start sniffing him, he would freeze up a little and then sniff them back. Then he’d want to play; he’d do the little “play bow”.
      We don’t have any other dogs, so he doesn’t eat with any other dogs. Would it help if he had a companion? He eats only in the morning. Do you think that we should space his feedings throughout the day?

    • shibashake says

      Could it be possible that the Prednisone he is taking is causing him to act this way?

      I haven’t seen Blu, am not familiar with his routine, and do not know the context surrounding his aggression, therefore, I can only speculate on the most general of terms.

      It is possible that medication or physical discomfort can be a contributing factor to the aggression, but it could also be something else. When Sephy comes home from the vet he is usually out of sorts from the anesthesia and soreness of teeth cleaning. In those times he does not want to be bothered by my other dogs, so I keep them away from him. He also does not want to go into his crate at night either, preferring to hang out downstairs instead. Once the effects wear off the next day, he is back to his normal routine.

      Did Blu start showing aggression at the same time as the Prednisone treatment? If so, I would have a chat with your vet to see if that is a common symptom and to look for alternatives.

      Would it help if he had a companion?

      Not in my experience. Sephy also showed some dog reactivity issues when he was young, in addition to a whole host of other things, and I made sure to deal with all of his behavioral issues first, before getting a second dog. Even then, it was a lot of work because I had to supervise and teach them how to interact well together.

      In fact, in the beginning, I would limit Sephy’s interaction with other dogs and carefully supervise him during *all* dog interactions so that at worst, we have a neutral experience. The more he practiced his aggression, the more he repeated it, so I try to make sure that he does not repeat undesirable behaviors. Dog to dog desensitization exercises also helped with Sephy.

      Do you think that we should space his feedings throughout the day?

      I feed my dogs in the mornings and evenings. I also treat them during the day for doing work for me. Whatever treats I give, I take it out of their daily food intake so that they do not overeat. They get the rest of their food through interactive food toys so they must work for all of their food. The interactive toys also prevent them from eating too fast.

      I am not sure that feeding schedule is the issue here though, since you say that Blu’s aggression is not necessarily food related. This is where a good trainer can be helpful because he/she can observe Blu and more accurately pinpoint the source of the aggression.

      What changed during the start of the aggressive behavior? Were there any changes in the family routine? Any changes to Blu’s routine? Feeding routine? Any changes to his play routine? The dogs that came to visit? It seems that his allergy (and Prednisone treatment) developed 1 year before the aggression – is that right? Was there any other event that occurred closer to the time of his change in behavior?

  52. Tara says

    We have a six year old male Chesapeake Bay Retriever who has always shown food aggression and resource guarding. After reading many articles from your wonderful sight, I can’t pinpoint why he does it.
    When we began training as a puppy, he did great with “drop it” and “leave it” and still does. We never had issues with needing to take things away from him. We had our first child (four children now) when he was about six months old. It was important to me to train him to leave baby toys alone and human food. He has never touched a baby toy and I’m proud to say our children can walk around with plates of food at eye level, leave plates on the floor and walk away, drop something in front of him or holding it in their hand and he won’t touch it unless he’s given the ok!
    Until reading your article, we have mostly always left his food bowl out. We were in the habit of setting it up if he decided to show aggression/guarding. In our previous home it was left in our kitchen and when we moved we decided to keep it in the laundry room downstairs, away from everyone, because of the problem. Not always, but quite frequently, he jumps up to guard his food if we’re walking around. It seems to be more when we first put food in the bowl. Sometimes he’ll growl pretty fiercely the closer we get. Everyone in our family can put food in his bowl, touch his food and hand feed him with no problems. We only take food out of the bowl to hand feed him. He also typically only eats if we’re in the same room or just outside the room and he’ll carry a mouthful to wherever we are to eat it.
    Any suggestions? Thank you so much!

    • shibashake says

      Not always, but quite frequently, he jumps up to guard his food if we’re walking around. It seems to be more when we first put food in the bowl. Sometimes he’ll growl pretty fiercely the closer we get. Everyone in our family can put food in his bowl, touch his food and hand feed him with no problems.

      Hmmmm, I am not sure I fully understand. You say at the end that everyone can put food in the bowl with no problems. Does he only guard when you are walking around and not carrying food?

      What has worked well with my dogs is to make them work for all of their food. They get some of their food during their walks, grooming, obedience sessions, and play time. Whatever is left over, I put in interactive food toys. They get a food toy session in the morning and another one in the evening. They must be calm and be in a down position while I am preparing their food toys. Otherwise, I stop working.

      In this way, there is no food bowl to guard. Also, this teaches them the following
      – I am the source of food (rather than their magical food bowl),
      – Being calm and following commands gets them their food faster, and
      – It prevents them from eating too quickly. Otherwise they will just inhale their food in 1 second. 😀

      I make sure to prevent stealing. They are not allowed to steal each others toys. I do this by body blocking them away when they get too close to a food toy that is not theirs. This allows them each to work on their own food without fear that it may be taken away a second later. It also teaches them that I protect them, and enforce the resource rules so that they do not need to do it themselves.

      Similarly, I do not take their food toy away from them, except to add more food. If we keep taking food away from our dog (for whatever reason), he may learn to associate us coming near his bowl, with losing his bowl. As a result, he may decide to escalate his aggression to keep people away. Instead, if my dogs show any aggression toward me, I calmly no-mark, and lead them to a brief timeout using their drag-lead.

      In this way, they learn that aggression = lose house privileges and access to people. However, nobody is stealing their food toy. They can still work on it when they come out of timeout.

  53. julia says

    Hi There! Loving your site. I know you deal mostly with Shiba’s, but I thought I would ask anyhow.

    I just (3 days ago) adopted a 5 month old yorkie havanese x from a young girl who had her as a “boob broach.” Never been on leash, not dog socialized (other dog in the house was an agressive poodle) or socialized with children.

    In the three days she has been around my three year old non stop and my four year old medium sized rescue special dog (who is pretty dis interested in her.) On day one while wiping her eyes (runny) she growled and snapped. I held her mouth closed and said “no” as she growled. Within the day I was able to wipe whenever I wanted. So real progress.

    She has spent hours at the farm, dog parks, and at home in three days. My problem is possible kennal agression. She is curious, out going, submissive, and affectionate all day, but when she is cranky and tired at the end, she will growl or bite if you touch her where she is trying to nap. My son reached in her kennal today when I wasn’t looking (three days of lots of new things) and, without warning, she snapped at him hard enough to give him a small puncture wound. I read that a dog awoken by touch may snap out of instinct, so I let it slide. When he cried she was beside herself trying to lick him better.

    However, same evening, she was playing under a blanket on the couch when I heard her munching on something edible. I reached my hand in to grab it and again, without a growl or any warning she bite me hard enough to draw blood. I grabbed her muzzle and said no.

    So in one day two bites. She is tired and having full days of new things, but she growled from the very beginning when it came to her bed. Wondering if you have any advice on dealing with kennal agression. I know I may have surprised her, but I can’t have her biting. Period.

    Any advice?

    So two hard bites not in play in one day.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Julia,

      Congratulations on your new adopted puppy!

      I read that a dog awoken by touch may snap out of instinct

      Yeah, some dogs do that, especially when they are touched during a deep sleep. I have experienced that with my Shiba Inu. He was sleeping by my feet, and I accidentally woke him up. He air snapped because he thought he was under threat. I imagine that is where the saying “Let sleeping dogs lie” comes from.

      Now, I usually get him to go to sleep in his own bed. He also has his own crate where he can go to when he does not want to be disturbed. In addition, I make sure he is aware of me before handling him, so that he is not startled awake. Handling desensitization exercises are also helpful with him.

      I reached my hand in to grab it and again, without a growl or any warning she bite me hard enough to draw blood.

      That sounds like resource guarding. As described above, most dogs guard resources from people because they have learned to associate people coming or grabbing with the loss of their stuff. When they use aggression, people tend to back away, which reinforces the aggressive behavior.

      For a dog that is causing puncture wounds, it is best to contact a professional trainer. A good trainer can observe the dog in real time and read his body language accurately. In this way, he/she can identify what are the triggers that are causing the aggression, and how to best retrain the behavior.

      With my own dogs, I try to teach them the following-
      People coming near them and taking their stuff away = They get more stuff in return

      – I teach them the Drop and Leave-It commands which helps me to communicate with them, and teaches them to give me objects willingly.

      – I play the object-exchange game with them so they learn that giving up an object, does not mean it is gone forever. In fact, they usually get it back with more stuff. I describe the object exchange game in the article above.

      – I try to show them that they get the most resources by working and cooperating with me (Nothing in Life is Free program). I have rules, but I make sure I am consistent and fair with those rules.

      – Most of all, I try to set them up for success and try not to place them in situations where they feel compelled to use aggression, to protect themselves or to protect their resources.

  54. Mari Yochum says

    Hi, i need help!
    i have two shibas! a female and a male.. my female shiba, Tsuki, shows possession towards food against Diesel, the male one. But Diesel not just shows possession towards Tsuki, he also acts with aggression towards me with food or whatever he thinks is important. We had decided to use shock collar, because its getting out of hand, he even bit me over a milk container he got from the recycling bin. But after reading your article here, i have to say that i’m very afraid and i have no clue what to do. Please i really need help.

    ps. we did try rewatds, but he attacks Tsuki over the rewards.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Mari,

      How old are your Shibas?

      Here are a couple of articles on my experiences with food aggression-

      In terms of keeping the peace between my dogs, I do group obedience training sessions and teach them that when they are calm and working for me, they get rewarded most. There is also no stealing. However, this assumes that there is no food aggression toward people.

      If a dog is showing food aggression toward people, it is probably best to get help from a professional trainer. I would focus on that issue first. In the meantime, I would separate the dogs during food time and not give them anything that would trigger resource guarding issues at other times. This will at least keep them from practicing the behavior while we get the people aggression under control.

      ps. we did try rewatds, but he attacks Tsuki over the rewards.

      Hmmm, I am not sure what you mean. Can you elaborate?

      I usually cut up food into little pieces when rewarding my dogs. This allows me to reward them more and prevents any kind of competition over rewards.

      Also, reward training is not just about food. It is more about controlling a dog’s resources including food, toys, his freedom, access to people, access to other dogs, access to space, etc. Here is a bit more on reward training and some of the things that I do to communicate with, and train my dogs.

      Good luck. Hope this helps.

  55. Bill says


    We live in the south of france and already have a womderful 9 year old chocolate lab. At the weekend we picked up a 4 year old male lab cross from the refuge and he has settled in very well. Godd with the kids, no fighting and very affectionate and full of energy! Just one problem apparent – he has displayed possession aggression with food. Nothing noticeable with his food from the bowl, but the other day he ran over to my compost heap and started diggin out some rotting potatoes. My son, who is 13, tried to pull him away by his collar and the dog made to bite (no real contact). I came over and took hold of him by the collar and dragged him away (and he was definitely trying to bite me plus whining, but he stopped after a few seconds. I have researched this and realise I didn’t do the right thing as he undoubtedly saw me as using aggression against him.

    What do you think is the best way of tackling this problem. Can I adapt your technique of luring him away with treats the next time he is scavenging outside, as I gues the behaviour will happen whenever he finds any food outside and tries to protect it.

    Thanks and great info in the website BTW!

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, it could be redirected aggression.

      When my Shiba Inu was young, he used to get really excited over playing with other dogs. When play got too rigorous, we would stop play so that things do not get out of control. If he is too excited, however, he will sometimes redirect that energy onto us, when we try to pull him away by his collar.

      I imagine it is not too different from restraining a really excited child or even adult. We may get hit as they struggle to get free.

      One thing that helped with Sephy is to put a short drag lead on him (but only with a flat collar and *not* an aversive collar). In this way, I do not have to pull him by the collar, but can just use the lead to control him. I make sure to cut away the loop on the lead so that it doesn’t catch on anything, and I only put it on when I am around to supervise.

      Also, it would depend on what the rule is. For example, are we trying to prevent our dog from digging in the compost? stop all types on digging in the backyard? Or something else?

      When I want to stop my dog from a certain behavior, I usually no-mark her as soon as she starts the behavior. My Sibe puppy Lara loves to dig, so I had to train her to not dig in the grass area in the backyard. She can dig in the back areas where there is no grass. As soon as she starts to dig on good grass, I no-mark her (Ack-Ack). Then I get her to do something else, e.g. chew on a toy or play Find-It.

      If she ignores me and continues, then I go over and body block her away from the area. If she keeps going back to dig, then she loses her backyard privileges (I take her inside using her lead). If she tries to jump on me or bite me while I am leading her inside, she gets a verbal warning (Ack-ack). If she ignores this, she goes to timeout.

      I try to start small and give her many chances to do something else. Then I slowly elevate the “punishment”, but only if she elevates her bad behavior.

      I also do bite inhibition training with all of my dogs. It is a very useful skill and helps to keep everyone safe.

  56. lisa says

    hi i have a 14 week old alaskan malamute his name is thor, when feeding time comes he jumps at the back of my legs whilest i am putting his food in his bowl and also howls .Is there any tips you can give me i always tell him sit then lie down and treat him for good behaviour but as soon as i turn my back he jumps again. My concern is that when he gets bigger which will be soon is that he will knock be over during feeding.He is not aggressive towards me i can take his food away and put my hands in his bowl i have also been hand feeding him bits aswel everyday any tips would be very grateful thanx lisa 🙂

    • shibashake says

      Hello Lisa,

      Congratulations on your new puppy!

      Both my Sibes are very food focused as well, so they always get excited during meal times. I always make sure that all my dogs are calm and in a down position before I do any food preparation. If they get up, then I no-mark (Ack-ack) and stop preparing the food. Once puppy is calm, I ask for a Down. If puppy does a Down, then I go back to preparing her food.

      In this way puppy learns that –
      calm and Down position = food preparation continues and food comes soon
      jumping = food preparation stops and no food

      I also make all my dogs work for their food either through handling exercises, bite inhibition exercises, or obedience training during the day. Whatever is left over, I put in interactive food toys so they must work for that as well. Interactive food toys also help control the speed of eating.

      Hugs to Thor! Would love to see pictures if you have some up.

  57. chris says

    We got a st. bernard, We just found out he was from a puppy mill. He reasently is showing signs of agresstion over food and water to other dogs. My family and I can put our hands in his bowl nothing. We have a dog park in our area and just reasently he has ben showing this agresstion. He is only 9mths old. Can you help? He is also showing agresstion with our pug over bones. Even if we give both of them one he will go take it away from him.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Chris,

      Yeah, my Shiba Inu Sephy also learned a lot of bad habits from going to the dog park. He loves to play with other dogs, and he was very hyper when he was young, so we took him to the enclosed dog park quite often. However, he actually started becoming more aggressive, and ultimately he redirected his aggression onto us.

      Puppies are like sponges and often, they will mimic behavior from other adult dogs. In addition, if another dog uses aggression to strong-arm puppy away from the water bowl, he may feel that he has to protect himself.

      With my own dogs, I make sure that nobody protects the water bowl. When puppy tries to claim the water bowl or prevent other dogs from getting near the water bowl, I no-mark her(ack-ack), and remove her from the area temporarily. After a bit, she gets to go back to drink. If she is calm and shares, then I praise her and reward everyone with treats and attention. This teaches all that dogs that if they are calm and share, then they all get rewarded very well.

      When I used to take Sephy to the dog park, I supervised him very closely. However, even then, it was still difficult to stop him from getting over-excited, and learning bad behaviors. Unlike the home environment, I only know and have control over my own dog, so it is much more difficult to teach good manners there.

      For these reasons and more, I no longer take my dogs to enclosed dog parks. Here is a bit more on our experiences-

      Sephy does a lot better with smaller, supervised, and structured play groups. Before I got my other dogs, I invited friendly dogs to come over and play with Sephy. I also took him to our local SPCA to play and train with the friendly dogs there.

      Here is more on what I do to keep the peace at home-

  58. Jessica says

    I read through your entirewebsite, as it has struck a cord with me. I don’t have a Shiba, but an Akita. We adopted her ~ 5 months ago, and she’s almost two.

    I have been doing massive research on this, and my problem is absolutely no ones gives a straight answer on how to deal with her problems. Everyone just says: hire a professional. But that hasn’t worked either.

    Her two problems are resource guarding and what I call ‘bedtime grumpies’. So her first problem is her protectiveness of food and toys. We’ve had (albeit slow) moderate success dealing with the toy protectiveness (offer a bit of food in trade, and she will ‘Drop It’). But I’ve had relatively no success with the food guarding. If you feed her by hand in increments, she’s a dream. If you let her eat from a vessel of some kind, she gets completely rilled up. She tenses up like a board the moment her face is in the bowl, eats like its a race until whatever you gave her is gone, and sometimes lets out gowls or a curled lip if anything interferes until its gone. I can’t prsonally hand feed her for the rest of her life (I do some travel for work and she will ahve to be watched by someone). My problem with this behaviour, is that some trainers say if they growl, or show teeth then don’t give them what they want (the food). But then others say, if the dog is already eating, taking the food away will make the protective behavior worse. So if the ultimate goal is that she eats at a normal pace from a bowl, relatively unsupervised, how do you get from hand feeding/metering the meal out, to eating from a bowl without the bad behaviour?

    My akita’s second problem completely confounds me (aka the “Bedtime Growlies”). This doesn’t just happen at bedtime, but that’s when the behavior happens most consistently. So it goes like this: my dog is laying down or curled up somewhere, just lazing around. If one walks too close, you can see she gets tensed up. If you bend down to pet her and say hi and the few times she wasn’t tense, she firms up like a board. And most times the tensing is acompanied by teeth baring. There has been an incident where someone was bit because this entire sequence happened too fast, and she snapped (as the culmination to the teeth baring). So can you give me your take on this? I have tried to desensitize her to this behavior – walk by her stop and touch and leave. If she curls her lip at me, I’d give her a “no” and wait (and she never relents by the way, she remains tense, but will put the teeth away). A few months of that did not work, so I have recently started bringing a bit of food over when I see her curled up to show her that if I approach, I bring good things. Brining food works for me, but not my fiance. She hisses at him even when he brings her food. So, how do you deal with a bad habit like this? And please, the answer isn’t “Just don’t approach her when she’s curled up or laying about!” I was told that by a trainer, and there are just too many times that that isn’t possible (like when she lays in front of the front door to the house.

    Your feedback would be appreciated.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jessica,

      Kudos to you for rescuing her. Sounds like she may have had a difficult time before.

      Dogs usually guard their food because they have learned two things-
      1. People coming near them is a negative thing because it means that they lose their food.
      2. Using aggression will keep people away, which means that they get to keep their food.

      Dogs may also guard their space because of similar reasons. For example, they may have learned that –
      1. People coming near them means that they lose their space, get startled, get stepped on, or something else negative.
      2. Using aggression will keep people away so that they can rest and sleep.

      Some things that I do with my own dogs-

      1. I make them work for all of their food. This teaches them that food comes from me (people), and that they get what they want by first doing what I want. This also gets them focused on doing something positive. I use food for touch exercises, bite inhibition training, grooming, walking, playing, etc. In this way, they learn that when they want food, they go to people and work for what they want.

      2. I protect them, hand out resources, and solve resource conflicts. When one of my dogs wants to rest, I make sure that she does not get disturbed by my other dogs. They each also have their own safe space where they can go to sleep and rest. This is usually somewhere out of the way. I teach them that all resources come from me, I protect them, and prevent stealing.

      3. I help them associate having people around as a positive thing. One way to do this, is through desensitization. With desensitization, we start with a weak stimulus of something the dog is fearful of or threatened by (e.g. people coming near her during meal time). The stimulus has to be weak enough that the dog is able to stay calm, and not become overly stressed. The key to desensitization is that we want to make it positive and very rewarding for the dog. At the same time, we want to go slowly so that the stimulus is never strong enough to trigger an aggressive response.

      There are two ways where a dog can be desensitized to people. Usually I start with moving my dog toward the person. It is less threatening when the dog approaches. The target person should be relaxed and should ignore the dog (no eye contact). Here is more on people desensitization. Once my dog is comfortable with that, then I can try approaching him, and tossing a really good treat from a distance. The key is to go slowly and at a pace that the dog is comfortable with.

      I had a difficult time with my Shiba Inu in the beginning. Shibas are aloof and do not trust easily, so it took a while before Shiba Sephy started to trust me. Here are some things that helped with Sephy –

      Walking and doing fun activities with Sephy also helped with bonding and trust. Sephy is pretty high-strung so I put in a lot of work to lower his stress, help him stay calm, and enjoy his lifestyle.

      You have probably read these, but here are a couple of articles on my experiences with Sephy and food aggression-

  59. Ruby says

    Hi. Thanks a million for this great website . This is my quick reference for anything that seems like an issue with my 5.5 Month old Golden. He was getting food aggressive by the day and I couldn never understand y . But your experience has helped me identify my faults . Firstly , when he came to us about 2 months back , he was unwell – Kennel cough and then acute bronchitis . So we did let him get away with a lot of stuff .I could start walking him outside only after a couple of weeks and then he would always eat mud, pebbles, plastic etc . I used to constantly pull things out of his mouth. I didnt teach him the “drop it ” command formally , but he learnt on the job – if u know what i mean 🙂 .Used to always give him a bigger treat when he dropped stuff . But then I realised he was ok dropping stuff when there are no other dogs around . He snapped at me recently when i asked him to drop something and there were two dogs around. It really upset me . Two problems here 1. I am not his Alpha 2. Resource guarding streak . While he is ok if i stroke him while having food or a Kong , he has a problem when he picks up something on his own outside . According to him , I control his resources at home and not outside . The worst is that he snaps at other dogs carrying food in their mouth . This is the bit I am more worried about . We have been religiously applying all your suggestions on Resource Guarding and becoming an Alpha for 2 days now and there is a noticeable progress . Funnily , he is happier that he is not the Alpha – helped taking stress off him :-). Btw , just a small tip for teaching a dog to go to stay at his place without giving him treats . Hide and seek works wonders . It keeps him stimulated , the treat is finding either of us and he loves it .May be you have covered it somewhere , but just felt like sharing . Thanks again . Pl give me suggestions for ensuring my dog doesn’t snap at other dogs if they have an edible/toy.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Ruby,

      From working with my own dogs it seems that they guard resources not so much because of dominance/alpha, but because they have learned two things-
      1. People coming near them means that their stuff gets taken away.
      2. Using aggression gets people to back away, which means that they get to keep their stuff.
      Shiba Inu Sephy’s Early Resource Guarding Issues.

      Dogs may also guard resources from other dogs for the same reasons. Therefore, to teach my dogs not to guard resources with each other at home, I do the following –
      1. “No stealing” policy. I do not allow them to steal from each other. When one tries to steal, I no-mark the behavior (Ack-ack) and body block them away. Very rarely, one of them will manage to sneak something off, in which case, the thief goes to timeout (i.e., loses his freedom), and loses what he stole. The victim (if he remains calm) gets the resource returned with an added bonus. This also teaches them that I enforce the “No stealing” rule, and they do not have to do it themselves.

      2. I hand out all resources. I teach them that I hand out all resources and if there are any conflicts over resources, I will deal with it. When they have disagreements, they will usually let me know by vocalizing, and I will resolve the matter for them in a fair and consistent way.

      3. Set them up for success. I try to always set them up for success. There are certain things that are very high priority, such as bully sticks. When I give those out, they each work on their own stick in a separate area. In this way, they won’t be tempted to steal, and they can work on their bully stick in peace. Similarly, when I am not around to supervise, I do not leave any high priority objects or food items lying around.

      Finally I make sure to reward my dogs well for working together and staying calm together. In this way, they learn that by cooperating, they get the most stuff.

      Here is more on what I do to keep the peace at home with my dogs-

      For dog-to-dog aggression during walks, I did a fair amount of desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu. I also make sure to always create enough space, and to make dog-to-dog encounters neutral and calm.

      I start desensitization exercises slowly, with a calm dog that is not doing anything. Once Sephy is comfortable with that, I very slowly increase the challenge, for example, by putting a very low priority item close to the other dog, etc. Here is more on dog-to-dog desensitization-

  60. Stacy Darlea says

    In the past, we have had food aggressive dogs who were that way with other animals, but never to us people.

    You have some very useful information that I will be putting to good use! Our Am. Bulldog/Boxer/Mastiff mix just celebrated her first birthday and has not EVER in the past year shown food or toy aggression towards us or other animals (we also have a Jack Russel & black cat). She is fed twice a day, is given treats regularly (when being a good girl; letting us know she has to ‘go’ by ringing the bells hung on the back door, sharing toys, coming when called, walking well on the leash-still in training for that one, etc.) She takes the treats ever so gently!

    However just the other night she showed food aggression towards me when eating and all I did was stroke her back once in passing(something I have been doing all along)! And all it was, was a growl, but one of those deep down ‘don’t mess with me’ ones – no teeth showing or snarled lip that I could see. You could have knocked me over with a feather upon hearing it.

    Hoping my response was in the right direction; With authority told her ‘NO’ and used my legs and body weight to shift her away from her food, which she allowed me to do with no problem. At the same time I picked up her bowl and removed it. I puttered around the kitchen for about 5 min. then proceeded to make her sit and wait while I put down her bowl again. Once she had permission, she started eating, I repeated the back stroke – getting a half hearted growl – so I repeated again. Third time was the charm; I even sat next to her petting her the entire time – on her back, back legs, neck, head and belly.

    I would love to say this one time ‘fixed’ it – but am continuing to show her there is no need for her food aggression.

    Any other time she is a loving, kissing, snuggling, 75 pounds of solid muscle mass just waiting to love and be loved – so I am sure you can see why I want to nip this in the bud.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Stacy,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

      As you say, it is surprising that she would suddenly vocalize. Has anything changed in her routine or in the routine of her family? Sometimes, it could also be triggered by physical discomfort.

      Big hugs to your furry pack and let us know how it goes.

  61. Kathy says

    I have two dogs that have been together for over 9 years , every once and a while the one dog guards the food bowl and lies next to the bowl blocking the other dog from eating. I really don’t understand because most of the time they share and eat out of each others bowls. Why is the aggression only sometimes. Oh, and whole guarding she doesn’t eat any? Any guesses?

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I have observed that they are a lot more serious about food when they are hungry.

      There are also other factors that can affect a dog’s mood, his level of tolerance, and how he reacts to others. When my Shiba is in a bad mood, he is a lot less tolerant, and is more forceful at warning puppy Lara away. Other times, he is happy to play and lie down next to her.

      In many ways, this reminds me of when I was young. Sometimes, I was willing to share my coloring book with my brother. But when I was in a bad mood, I didn’t want him coming near any of my stuff.

      I always step in and stop any guarding behavior, before it escalates. This teaches the dogs that guarding is not acceptable, no matter the circumstance. By the same token, when I see that Shiba is in a bad mood, I make sure the Lara does not go over and bother him.

  62. Pete says

    We have a 3 year cockapoo. He has had minor resource guarding issues in his past, usually only when he gets a hold of something new to him or something he really likes. We recently have had our first child who is beginning to crawl and occasionally spits up on the carpet and the dog loves to lick it up. However, when I go to stop him now he gets angry and has come very close to biting me. I do not want him to do this to our son if he gets too close to our dog while he eating, playing or licking up spit up and thinks our son is going to try to take it away. How can we stop this behavior in a dog that is 3 years old and may have made this a habit.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Pete,
      When my Shiba Inu was young, he was also very mouthy. Every time I tried to stop him from something, he would redirect and try to mouth over my hands and arms. Therefore, I put a drag-lead on him (only with a flat collar).

      When he tries to get books out of the shelf, I would first no-mark him (say Ack-ack or No), then I body-block him away from the area (no hands, just a body block). Then, I get him to do some commands, and to go to his bed. If he continues with trying to chew books, then I say timeout, and use his drag-lead to put him in his timeout area.

      In this way he learns that if he doesn’t follow house rules, then he loses his freedom in the house. In addition, by using the drag-lead, I get better control and Shiba cannot redirect his mouth on me.

      If a behavior is already a habit, it may take more repetitions and consistency to see a change in behavior.

  63. Charylle says

    I have a Yorkie that will be 2 years old in March. Beginning sometime last year, he started getting really angry and aggressive and snarling and biting whenever he would get ahold of an object that he was not supposed to have and I would try to take it from him. The first time he did it he bit me pretty hard and broke skin. It started out of nowhere and now he does it all of the time. He doesn’t do it with his regular food or toys but with pretty much anything else that he may somehow get ahold of such as a sock or a piece of paper. Once he gets it he runs and hides underneath my kitchen table where I can’t get to him and the only way that I can get it from him is to bribe him with an extremely high priority treat but he has now figured out ways to get the treat and still keep the object in his mouth or close enough to him that I still can’t get to it. He has most recently started guarding other objects such as my shoes and articles of clothing and when I go to reach for them he gets aggressive and snaps at me. These instances are the only times he shows aggression and he is very sweet and loving otherwise. Is there anything that you can suggest that might be the cause of this and what possible solutions there may be to this growing problem??

    • shibashake says

      Hello Charylle,
      When my Shiba Inu was young, he would pick lots of stuff up when we went out on walks. I would forcibly remove those things from his mouth, and after some time, he started to protect his stuff with aggression. This is because he has started to associate me coming near him with losing his stuff.

      What has worked with him is to teach him that people coming near him is a positive thing. Also, if he freely gives something up, it does not mean that he has lost it forever. I did a lot of food and object exercises with him and things got better for us. I taught him the drop command, played the object exchange game with him, and carefully managed him so that he does not get dangerous things into his mouth. Initially, I also removed objects that he is likely to protect so that he does not keep practicing the guarding behavior. The more he practices it, the more he is likely to repeat it.

      Once he gets it he runs and hides underneath my kitchen table where I can’t get to him and the only way that I can get it from him is to bribe him with an extremely high priority treat

      One thing that helped with my Shiba is to put a drag-lead on him (only on a flat collar). In this way, he can’t run away, start a chasing game, and hide from us. When he is successful at running and hiding, it is a form of reward for my Shiba, and will only encourage him to keep repeating those behaviors.

      Also, I *do not* reward Shiba until *after* he freely performs a good behavior, e.g. he free gives up an item. If I reward him before that, then I am rewarding him for guarding his objects, which will only make him guard them more.

      If there are serious aggression issues, it is probably best to consult with a professional trainer.

  64. Liz says

    Hi, My pyppy is now 6 months old. He is food aggressive but this happens only with some really yummy stuff (pig ears, some bones…). He doesn’t get those “special treats” so often, and I believe that is the reason he is so posessive of them. Also, he is very posessive of the stuff outside (chewing gum etc.) and will try to swallow everything if he sees I am trying to take them away (only dangerous things). He still lets me come near to his food bowl and add more food to it. He is not posessive of the stuff he steals (socks etc.) or the toys or bones he gets to chew every day. He lets me take those away without snarling.

    When he is food aggressive, he snarls really badly and I think he would be ready to bite. Sometimes I have tried exchancing yummy stuff with treats, but he won’t give up on his special treat. I haven’t had the courage to take the treat away from his mouth using force.

    He is a spitz, very independent and also very greedy for food.

    Do you have any ideas how to solve our problem? Thanks 🙂

    • shibashake says

      Hello Liz,
      My Shiba showed similar behavior when he was young. He would eat everything when we went out and I would go into his mouth to forcibly remove it. The more I did this, the more aggressive he got over his stuff. With Shiba, I found that the best way to stop his roadside eating is to stop him before he gets the stuff into his mouth. I keep him on a shorter lead and watch him like a hawk.

      In terms of special treats, I don’t give my Shiba anything that encourages food guarding. The more he practices food guarding, the more he is likely to repeat that behavior. I did a lot of food training exercises and hand feeding with my Shiba when he was young, first starting with lower priority items. Then, I would very very slowly move on to higher priority items. Bite inhibition training was also very helpful.

      I always make sure to stay safe and not to provoke an aggressive reaction. It is better to set our dogs up for success. 😀

  65. Suki says

    What a great website. I have a 6year old shiba female, who likes to pee and poo on the throw rug in my bathroom at night. We make sure she goes out before we all go to bed but we always find her mess in the morning. I’m afraid to remove the rug at night, in case she decides to pee and poo on another part of my house. Do you have any suggestions? I don’t want to crate her at night, she has not really been crate trained and doing it now would seem unkind.

    Please help….

    • shibashake says

      Hello Suki,
      I am currently potty training my new puppy and am getting reacquainted with the joys of cleaning up poop and pee. 😀

      The key thing that I am relearning with potty training is that constant supervision is absolutely necessary. I must be there to stop puppy or else I would have missed a valuable learning opportunity. In addition, the more mistakes puppy makes, the more likely he will repeat that behavior.

      At night though it is not possible for us to supervise therefore the only way I know of to prevent potty mistakes is to keep our dog in a limited area. Some possibilities include –
      1. Crate.
      Here is what the Humane Society of the United States and the American Dog Trainer’s Network have to say about crate training.
      2. Tie-down.
      3. Pen/Enclosure.
      4. Baby gates/ Room door.

      You can also try posting your question on the Shiba Inu forum. There are many knowledgeable Shiba owners there.

  66. harry hurski says

    i have a problem i have 2 dogs and 4 cats
    1st dog is an spitz
    and the 2nd is a mix breed
    we feed them apart and the cats are feed in another place
    we the mix guards the spitz food dish and we cannot stop it
    what can we do

    • shibashake says

      Hello Harry,

      One of my dogs, my Shiba Inu, is very much a rogue. During meal times he would wait until my other dog has gotten most of the food out of their food toys, then, he will move in and mooch off her.

      The thing that has helped most with this is supervision. I make sure my Shiba does not steal from my Sibe. In this way, my Sibe does not feel the need to guard her stuff. Instead, I teach her that I do the guarding for her.

      When they have really high priority items like bully sticks, I separate them. Then I only let them be together again after I remove those items. Since the dogs do not have anything to guard, they are less likely to practice guarding behavior.

      I also remove any unfinished food after their meals so that there isn’t food lying around for anybody to steal.

      Reward group training can also help to reduce food guarding. I usually do obedience commands with both dogs together so that they learn to work together, and they get rewarded together. The one that does the commands faster gets rewarded more frequently, so the competition also helps to improve their obedience training.

  67. Bojan says

    SHIBASHAKE,well she show aggression when someone of my family approach to her to take something that not suppose to be there in her mouth of curse.That’s have started when i found her with pencil in her mouth and i wanted to take it away i come close to her and said Bella give me that,she ignored me,then i come close to her she just look me in the eyes and continue her work,then i just said Bella drop it and i touch her on the head gently she snarl on me and start barking.With quests she really happy waving her tail,laing down,and not show any kind of aggression.Only show when she find something that is interesting to her and (dangerous.When she eats i pass close to her bowl but she just look at me and continue with eating.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Bojan,
      I had some similar problems with my Shiba Inu when he was young. He would pick up pretty much everything and sometimes I would have to forcibly remove the bad stuff from his mouth. However, the more I did this, the more he started to protect his items because he has learned that when I approach him, I just want to take things away from him.

      Some things that helped me most include –
      1. Stopping my dog from getting the object before he gets it in his mouth. I walked him on a shorter leash and was always on the look-out for bad stuff.

      2. Reduce number of force removals. I limited force removals to only dangerous items. Tissues and such I will try to stop him from getting them with the leash but if it is in his mouth I don’t forcibly remove it.

      3. Playing the object exchange game, adding food to his objects, and teaching him the drop command.

      4. Bite inhibition training.

      Here is another article on resource guarding that focuses on why dogs develop this behavior –

      A professional trainer can be very helpful in these circumstances.

  68. Bojan says

    I really need some advice. I have golden retriever 3.5 months old female.She start to snarl on me when i want to take something from her that not suppose to be in her mouth.It’t only for when she sees that i have food or treat in my hand,but when i am not she just start snarling on me and i have a few marks from her teeth.She is very angry

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, then it may not be food aggression.

      Does she just snarl at you or at everyone in the family? Does she show aggression towards young people, old people, men, women, dogs?

      Since she is so young and already showing aggression, it will really help to get a professional trainer to come over and observe her. A professional will be able to identify what triggers are causing the aggressive reaction (whether it is people, food, toys, dogs, or something else). Once you identify the aggression triggers, there are a variety of methods that you can use to lessen aggressive behavior. The method you use will depend on the aggression triggers so it is necessary to first identify the triggers.

      Sometimes dogs can also show aggression because of health related issues.

      Here is more on how I deal with changing my dog’s behavior-

  69. erin corinne says

    i love this site, very informative! i am really curious about “time-out” but the link won’t open because my computer doesn’t recognize the link because of the double ‘h’ in the http so it must have copied ‘hhtp, if you could please adjust this i’d appreciate it. it’s on the stop-food-agression-stop-resource-guarding page under tip 3

    • shibashake says

      Hi Erin,
      Thanks so much for letting me know about the broken link. I have fixed it.

      Please let me know if you run into more issues. These things are really difficult to catch so it is great when people report these bugs. Thanks!

  70. shibashake says

    Hi Beth,
    What has worked well for my dogs is to supervise them while they are eating and prevent any kind of stealing.

    Dogs tend to be opportunistic and will steal food from each other when they can. This may make them start guarding their food.

    When my dogs are working on their interactive food toys, I make sure that they don’t steal from each other. I also make sure to give each of them their own toy to work on.

    My Shiba is lazy though so he will usually just dally and not work on his own toy. Once my Siberian is done working on hers, i.e., she gets up and moves on to another toy, then I let my Shiba pick off whatever she has left behind if he wants to. But no stealing while she is still working on it.

    I also do joint training sessions with them together where they both get food rewards for doing commands, synchronized commands, and grooming. This helps them not to see each other as competitors for food, but rather as team-mates.

    There was once where my Shiba tried to bully my Siberian into giving up her food toy (my fault since I didn’t stop them before they escalated), and for his troubles he got a time-out and I removed all the food toys so that he got nothing when he came out. And I didn’t put the toy back into circulation for a few days.

    This way he learns that aggression to pack = does not get to be with pack and does not get the stuff either. Non aggression = everybody gets their own toys, gets to pick off what is left behind, and gets rewarded for playing nice.

    If I take charge of deciding who gets what, when – there is no contention between them, and they learn the very good lesson that I enforce the rules so that they don’t need to enforce the rules themselves.

  71. Beth says

    I’m so glad I found your site!! My oldest dog does not have any agression toward us, but she has food agression toward our new puppy, what can we do to help?

  72. says

    Hi Sarah,
    How is your bf? Hope he is ok.
    In terms of the bite, it sounds like it is more in response to being picked up rather than an issue with the food bowl.
    Shibas are a primitive lot and can get stressed about handling. My Shiba was very sensitive about people handling him and also with people picking him up. Even now, he doesn’t particularly like being picked up.
    From the dog’s point of view, being picked up is being put in a very vulnerable position. They are off the ground, their motion is limited, and if anything happens, they cannot get away because they are restrained and off the ground.
    From what you describe, it also sounds like your Shiba may not be totally comfortable with your boyfriend yet.
    I think it would be really helpful to get a good reward based trainer to come over and observe your Shiba and come up with a safe and more comprehensive program to desensitize your Shiba towards these triggers so that he doesn’t automatically resort to mouthing and aggression whenever he gets stressed.
    I think it would also be helpful to do bite inhibition training and to keep up with it continuously so that he learns to control the force of his bite. Shibas tend to be a very mouthy breed so I find bite inhibition to be a must with them. But only do it if it is safe.
    Since I cannot observe your situation it is difficult to exactly pinpoint what the issues are. That is why a professional trainer will be helpful -from a safety perspective as well.
    What I did with my Shiba was to slowly desensitize him to handling. I would briefly touch one paw, and treat. Briefly touch his ear and treat, and so on. But again, you would only do this if he is ok and not aggressive to these brief touches. I did this several times, every day, and he got better wrt. handling. This is something that I still keep up with today.
    Here is an article on handling –

    Still though, the best thing I think is to find a good trainer with Shiba experience. When I was looking for trainers, this trainer search site from apdt was helpful.
    Let us know what happens.

  73. Sarah says

    Please allow me to correct my first statement .. We have curbed his aggression towards people approaching his bowl WHILE he eating. We now have this other issue.

  74. Sarah says

    Hello again ShibaShake! Please help!!! :[ Well, I curbed my puppy’s aggression towards people approaching his bowl drastically, its almost non existent now. :] And I no longer allow my boyfriend to try to pet him while he eats either, haha. That has helped enormously.
    But we’ve run into another problem and I’m wondering if you’ve ever heard of puppies doing this or if you have any tips to fix it, SAFELY. We’ve had our puppy for 3 months now. For the first month and a half, our puppy’s water AND food dishes stayed on the floor at all times. He eats his meals twice a day, so most of the day his food bowl would be empty on the floor. But whenever he was near that empty bowl, he would be aggressive to the point that he would bite to break skin with no warning. No growl, no lip curl, nothing. He would just bite. He’s done it twice now to my boyfriend. At that point, I had underestimated how smart my little Shiba is and instead of teaching him that possessiveness over his empty bowl was not okay, I completely eliminated the bowl and now after every meal, his bowl goes up. Its been that way for the past month and a half and we’ve had zero problems and no biting.
    I have officially learned today that underestimating him was a big mistake and I never should have taken that empty bowl off the floor, but then again I didnt know what I could do. After his meal today, I forgot to put up his bowl. Of course my puppy knew I forgot too. He walked out of the kitchen into the room where I was, a room where his bowl is COMPLETELY out of sight. My boyfriend picked him up and without warning or hesitating, our puppy took a nice little chunk out of his lip.
    I know our little Shiba cant read minds and so I know he doesnt understand that I forgot it, for all he knew I may have purposefully left it to put more food in, which is what I’m sure he was hoping for. He’s gotten used to knowing that the bowl on the floor means food and when its not on the floor, food is done. NOW I would like to correct what I’ve done and be able to leave his bowl on the floor at all times without him being aggressive. I need to teach him that his bowl on the floor does NOT always mean food.

  75. shibashake says

    Hi Enelle, Good to see you again.
    Begging is a tough one to implement because it is difficult to resist the dog begging look – lol.
    As with any behavior though, just don’t reward it and your dog will stop doing it and try something else. Dogs are very clever and will only repeat behaviors that get them good results.
    You must be perfectly consistent though, which means no food of any kind for any type of begging. And everyone in the family has to follow that rule.
    If you give in and give them food sometimes, then you are intermittently rewarding them, which will make them even more motivated to repeat the behavior – similar to a jackpot machine. Sometimes it gives you lots of money but most of the time it gives you nothing – which makes us even more motivated to pull that lever! 🙂
    If it is begging at the dinner table that you don’t like, then you can give them an alternate command during meal times – e.g. go to your mat. Then only reward them intermittently for staying on their mat. I.e. walk over to their mat to treat them. Never treat them when they are close to the table because that is the behavior you want to discourage.
    Hope this helps 🙂

  76. Enelle Lamb says

    Excellent tips – will def be trying a few of these! Do you have any tips about begging? Am trying to retrain and replace bad habits – one of which is begging whenever there is a thought of food – kitchen, table, snack, anything…have seen major improvements but still has issues…

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