Saturday, April 9, 2011

Managing Multiple Dogs - Feeding

Managing Multiple Dogs and Feeding

I get too many calls from owners who want to give up their pets due to aggression that started over food and ended in a scuffle. 
Dog-Dog food aggression is easily avoidable with just a few extra steps and precautions and can save all of your pets lots of stress as well as yourself. 

My number one Advice to owners of Multiple Dogs is to Feed their Dogs Separately!
No I do not mean feed them one at a time. I mean feed them in different areas, areas that are secure and prevent one dog from wandering to other dog bowls once their food is gone.This might mean feeding your dogs in crates, installing a baby gate to act as a barrier and feeding dogs on separate sides of that barrier or feeding one dog in a different room with the door closed. 
There are not many dogs, regardless of breed, that would not react to another dog nosing around in their dog bowl or steeling their food. Would you be happy if someone else in your house came up to you while you are eating your favorite food and took the fork out of your mouth? Especially when you are hungry. 
We also suggest setting a feeding time limit for dogs.
Now that you are separating your pets for meals, its now time to set a limit for how long food bowls stay down. One dog that takes hours to finish one cup of food and another who is done in under 5 minutes can also be a reason for tension at meal time. Set a reasonable time limit for meal times and once that time is up, the food gets picked up and put away so that everyone can settle and relax. 
Do not free feed your pets. 
I can not stress this point enough. If there is always food down, there is always something to fight over. Free feeding your pets can lead to a scuffle if your dogs are food protective. Get your pets on a set feeding schedule so that you control meal time as well as prevent fights over food.
Dog-Dog Aggression at meal time is very different then dog-human aggression.
Just because your dog is exhibiting food protective behaviors with your other dogs, this does not mean that your dog is human aggressive. It is your job as a pet owner to prevent scuffles between your dogs. Arguments over food may lead to a strained relationship amongst your dogs and can result in future problems. Again this does not mean it will lead to human aggression. Simple changes in feeding routines can keep multiple dog homes running smoothly and stress free.

If your dog is food aggressive with you or members of your family we suggest you find immediate training help to redirect and eliminate the behavior before it becomes a situation. You should seek training at the FIRST sign of human directed food aggression, don't put it off until it is something you can't fix.

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