You’re in the kitchen, your German Shepherd is eating peacefully, one of your friends approaches him and all of a sudden he starts mumbling and growling as if someone is going to take his food away. Your friend is not the only one who is startled.
And you’re probably wondering why this happens. A dog’s nature is to guard his food, any animal’s nature is to guard what is important to them. Dogs often have to fight for their food, so, the need to protect it is natural for them.
Of course this behavior is unacceptable in a family pet, unfortunately. But you can do something about it. The primary reason dogs guard their food is they fear it might be taken away. You are going to make them think otherwise.
Reinforce That People Are Givers, Not Takers
This works best if you start early on. Every once in a while go to his bowl while he’s eating and drop a tasty treat. You want to reinforce that approaching people mean something good, not that his food will be taken away.
Also have your friends do this, if he just sees you every time he is going to associate you with something good, but German shepherds will still be suspicious of strangers.
This is one of the biggest reasons house dogs still guard their food. Once you have dealt with this you’ll find he’s much more hospitable even when he’s eating. But doing this thing poses a different problem. If you’re not supposed to take his food away, then when can you take his food bowl?
Read more: How To Keep Feed Your German Shepherd
Establish And Reinforce The 15 Minute Rule
The biggest mistake you can make is to leave your dog’s food out all day. If there isn’t a specific time when his bowl should be taken away he’s going to think that eating is a privilege and that he has to guard his food as it might be taken away at any point.
So instead of leaving his food out all day wait for about 15 minutes after he starts eating, if he walks away by then he has had enough and you can take the bowl away.
This consistent routine will make your German Shepherd understand that that is his eating time and that he doesn’t have to worry about it because you will give him more when he needs it.
On the same chain of thought never remove food from a growling dog. If he’s trying to protect it and you take it away; then he will think he must protect it even more.
Don’t Disturb Your German Shepherd While He’s Eating
Teach your children that a dog should be left alone when eating. After all, your kids don’t like it when you come and take their food away, so why should the dog be okay with it.
Food guarding is a common occurrence because people unconsciously reinforce this behavior. Yet it takes only a little common sense to imagine what you would do if someone would take your fridge away.