Tips to Testing for Food Aggression

February 21, 2013

Animal shelters are over-run with dogs in need of homes, and testing for food aggression is part of the way dedicated shelter workers and volunteers prepare animal shelter dogs to find good Forever Homes. If you’re involved with food aggression testing, here are some tips to make it easier.

Tip: See a Vet First

Sick or hurt dogs are often aggressive dogs. That’s why it’s so important that all canine shelter residents be evaluated by a qualified veterinarian. Any obvious illness or injury should be treated, but the veterinarian should also check for hidden problems that can cause pain, such as tooth decay. Other medical causes for aggression include thyroid and adrenal issues, orthopedic problems, and sensory disorders.

Tip: Evaluate Dogs as Individuals

While it’s true that certain breeds of dogs tend to have certain characteristics, it’s more important to evaluate dogs on a case-by-case basis. The dog’s individual personality, as well as its history, are the primary factors that control how aggressive it may be, not what kind of dog it is.

Tip: Take Proper Precautions

You don’t want to hurt any of your animal shelter dogs, but you don’t want to get hurt either. Taking proper precautions can prevent injury to yourself as well as your canine charge. For example, use a soft prosthetic limb or other soft-ended reaching device to pull a dog’s food dish away (a standard test to judge food aggression). This will ensure that if the dog bites, it won’t hurt it’s teeth or your hand.

Tip: Don’t Punish

Punishing an aggressive dog will not help. Common motives for food aggression include fear and dominance. Punishing a fearful dog will lead to an increase in fear, while punishing a dominant dog will often cause the dog to “ramp up” the aggressive behavior in order to maintain dominance.

Tip: Do Counter-Condition

Counter-conditioning means teaching different behavior in response to aggression triggers. Consult your local ASPCA, Humane Society or a qualified animal behaviorist for advice on how to provide positive, reward-based counter-conditioning to help the dog overcome aggressive behavior.


One Response to “Tips to Testing for Food Aggression”

  1. George L. Verge Says:

    Reblogged this on George L. Verge.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: