How To Stop Dogs From Growling When Eating

If you're experiencing the frustrating behavior of your dog growling at their food bowl, you're not alone. Many pet owners struggle with their furry friend's aggressive attitude towards their meals.

How to Stop Food Aggression in Dogs


It's important to understand that this behavior should not be ignored, as it can often lead to more serious problems such as aggressive behaviors. With the right understanding and training, you can effectively address your dog's growling at their food bowl and help them develop better manners at mealtime.

With this article, we aim to provide pet owners with valuable insights on how to address and prevent dog growling at food bowl, and help them understand the underlying cause of this behavior.

So, if you're looking for ways to stop your dog's food aggression and improve their overall behavior, keep reading!

Why do dogs growl?

You should know that dog growling is a part of their communication.

Dogs are social animals and this implies having a wide system of communication to understand each other within their own species and to make themselves understood with others, such as us.

Therefore, just like barking, howling or whimpering, growling is also a way of communicating.

With growling, dogs express dislike, but in a lighter version than a physical attack, such as biting.

However, it can constitute a very dangerous threat if this warning is ignored. Therefore, it is important to understand that growling is a way of marking their boundaries, a sound accompanied by raising their lips to expose their teeth.

But, why does your dog growl when eating?

Reasons why a dog growls when eating

The reasons why my dog growls when eating can be several.

Food protection

Food is an essential resource for survival, something basic for survival.

Even though your dog has food available to them every day:

  • They don't know for sure that you have more food stored away.
  • They have the ancestral need to defend it. Remember that dogs come from wolves, animals that live in packs and must defend their food from other members of the group when food is scarce.

That is the main reason why your dog growls: they are protecting their food.

Self-protection

Similarly, when an animal leans down to eat, they lose sight of their surroundings. That's why they need peace and quiet while eating, otherwise they'll feel like they can be attacked at any moment.

So, another of the causes for why a dog growls when eating is to protect themselves, warning those trying to approach them to stay away.

Both this reason and the previous one are part of canine instincts, but it being innate doesn't mean it should be ignored, especially because this warning can end in an attack.

That's why the ideal is to avoid this growling. But before showing how to do it, here are some other reasons that can make a dog growl while they have food in front of them:

Other causes why dog growls when eating

  • When the food is not the usual, but you have made something special that they love, they will more likely want to defend it and not be bothered while they enjoy it.
  • If it is an older, stressed, impulsive, or fearful dog, it is more common for them to want to protect the food.
  • When new dogs come to the home, they will feel that they are a threat that can steal their food.
  • If there is a visitor in the house that the dog mistrusts, their attitude may change in front of the food.

How to stop your dog from growling when eating

The most advisable thing to do is to avoid situations in which the dog can growl while eating. This can be easily achieved by:

  • Creating a routine for their feeding. This way, the dog will know that they will be fed at the same time every day and that they will never run out of daily food in their bowl.
  • Putting the dog's food bowl in a quiet place, so they can eat without anyone disturbing them.
  • Placing the food and stepping away.
  • Warning all family members, especially children, not to disturb or approach the dog while they are eating.
  • Teaching your dog to not approach their bowl, even if the food is already in it, until you give the command.
  • Feeding pets separately and using different bowls for each one.

Related: How Much Food For a Dog Per Day

If at any time you notice that the dog growls while eating and you see a strong possibility that this growling will lead to an attack, then you should try a distraction maneuver.

In these cases, you should divert their attention to something that they love very much. You can show them their favorite toy, one that they can't resist or the leash for a walk.

If this works and the dog stops growling, don't stop there. Play with them or take them out for a walk with the leash. Remember that in this moment, the most important thing is to avoid the possibility of an attack.

However, each particular case should be analyzed by a specialist. Therefore, consulting with a canine ethologist may be the best solution.

What not to do with a dog that growls while eating

In addition to knowing what to do when your dog growls while eating, it is important to understand what not to do.

  • Never confront your dog in these situations. This can be the straw that breaks the camel's back and cause them to attack you.
  • Do not handle their food bowl or touch the animal while they are eating.
  • Do not punish them if they growl.

In addition, remember that the overall well-being of your pet greatly influences their behavior. Make sure you are providing your dog with everything they need to be happy in their daily life.

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