How to Handle Food Aggression in Border Collies

Border collies are not inherently aggressive, but they are protective.

Border collies are not inherently aggressive, but they are protective.

Border collies are herding dogs, it’s in their nature to be protective. This instinct for being protective can manifest in negative ways if the dog doesn’t have an enriching environment with plenty of stimulation. Food aggression is a classic sign of resource guarding, a trait that typically appears in dogs with unmet behavioral and psychological needs. You can help your pooch get over this nasty habit by altering his routine and gently persuading him to be more tolerant.

Exercise your border collie. The breed has lots of energy and needs to be exercised for at least a couple hours each day. A hyped-up border collie with energy to burn is more likely to become edgy than a tired out dog. Dog trainer Cesar Millan believes lack of exercise is the root cause of most aggression problems. He advises owners to ensure their pooch is getting enough if they are experiencing aggression problems.

Mentally stimulate your border collie. These are highly intelligent dogs and will misbehave if under-stimulated; food aggression is just one of the ways he will display his agitation. Play games that speak to his herding instincts, let him chase you and avoid repetition in training.

Hand feed your border collie. By taking the food bowl out of the equation, there is no resource to protect, instead food becomes something he has to go through you to get. This neutralizes his protective behavior. Hold small portions of the food out and let your border collie eat it. This method reduces the impact his herding instincts have on his feeding habits. Once you have got him into the habit of eating in your presence, put the bowl in your hand and feed him from there.

Train your dog to accept being approached. Give him a toy to play with, wait a minute, then walk toward him and join in the play. At first he may run off with his toy, which is a typical response from a protective border collie. Be persistent, reward tolerance and demonstrate that being approached doesn’t equate to losing the resource. This will help him accept the presence of other dogs and people when he’s eating.

Create a calm feeding environment. Although your dog needs to accept the presence of others when eating without becoming aggressive, it’s a lot to expect a border collie to ignore streams of running children and pets. His herding instinct drives him to chase and control movement. Make it a rule that when Lucky is having dinner, the family walks past him quietly.

 

About the Author

Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.

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