Food Bowl Exercises
Food Bowl Exercises are designed to teach your dog that whenever anyone goes near their dish, good things happen. Dogs can become possessive of dishes when there is not proper Pack Structure and these preventative exercises have not been performed. Betas or Alphas are most susceptible, Omegas will generally never have a problem.
The following exercises are to be followed for a dog with aggression towards their food dish. If a puppy has shown no signs of food aggression you can follow the same steps to ensure there is no aggression towards the food dish.
Warning – If you have a bad gut feeling about the exercises or if your dog “freezes” when doing the exercise then use extra caution. Acquiring bite protection gear may be essential. Freezing is a tell tale sign of “if you go any further the dog will most likely bite”. Worst case we heard of was a dog removing his owner's finger for going near the dog's food dish so it is good to take precautions when doing these exercises. Most dogs we deal with only have mild versions of food aggression. An easy way to ensure safety when a child is present is to put the dog on leash and stand on the leash and have another adult with the child. The leash will keep the dog from going any further without consent. Even with dogs that have nipped children and drawn blood these exercises can be carried out with 100% safety. It is still highly advisable to never let the child feed on their own or go near the food dish when the dog is eating. For a food aggressive dog these exercises are designed to provide a safety buffer just in case a child ever goes near the food dish.
Here are the steps to follow:
1. Follow all other steps of Pack Structure 100%. Ensure everyone involved makes the dog follow all rules of Pack Structure. With children you will need to supervise and ensure the dog is not taking advantage of the child’s inability to have the dog respect them.
2. Remove the food dish altogether and just feed the dog or puppy by hand for 3-
3. For this step make sure your dog is showing no signs of growling or freezing. Have the food dish in your hand and put a few (5 approx) kibble in the dish and hold it at the same height you were when you were feeding by hand. When the dog finishes eating the 5 kibble, put in another 5 kibble and continue for 3-
4. Now you can begin lowering the food dish closer to the ground over the next few days while adding a few kibble at a time. This helps to teach your dog that human hands going near their food dish are a good thing.
5. After a few days of Step 4 you can then put a few kibble in the food dish while holding it and when your dog finishes the last of the kibble you will say “Leave it” and lift the dish up and put some more kibble in and then lower it back down and say “Take it” and repeat until that meal is done. Repeat this for 3-
6. This step requires you to go by gut feeling and watch for “freezing”. Put a few handfuls of kibble in the dish and toss in a tasty piece of cheese or steak or something high value while your dog is still eating the kibble. This is all done with you holding the food dish. This will teach them while they are eating, when a human hand comes toward the dish it means good things are happening. You can do this for 3-
7. Now you will allow your dog to be eating from the dish while you are holding it and toss in a tasty treat. Immediately after that one you will have another tasty treat and you can say “leave it” while your dog is still eating kibble and lift the food dish and put the tasty treat in and then lower the food dish back down and say “Take it”. Repeat this for 3-
8. Next you will be practicing putting treats in and lifting the food dish up with the food dish on the floor but keeping your hand on it the entire time. Again go by gut feeling, if it feels off it most likely is.
9. Your dog should now be able to leave the dish on command and you should be able to pick the dish up to replenish or re-
Make sure you are following all Pack Structure exercises and giving your dog the required exercise needed to burn off their excess energy.
Other Tips and Methods
Here are some other things over the years we have found or heard work for people:
1. You eat first -
2. Bite Glove -
3. Scruff Grab & Shake -
4. Leash Correction -
5. Remote Collar -
6. Handling Exercises -
7. This Way (Long Rope) -
8. Bed Command -
9. Possessive of Bones -
10. Giant Bite Suit -