Tag Archives: food aggression

My Dog Bit Someone Unexpectedly! Dog Bite in Northern Virginia

As the highest rated dog trainers in Northern Virginia, we deal with a wide variety of people and dogs on a daily basis. We are known for our high-level of obedience training; however, one common issue we also deal with is aggression in dogs (towards people and other dogs).

When dealing with aggression, the owners are almost always in a frenzy, stressed, and find themselves and their dogs hiding away from people and society. One thing that we commonly hear in aggression cases (mainly with people) is, “There was no warning sign, he just jumped up and bit the guy.”

What they are saying is, “There were a lot of warning signs, but none “I” noticed.” Once we really start breaking down the incident (how, what, where), then we can generally easily formulate a “why.”

Say for instance, a scenario that we may hear is, “I had a friend come over, out of nowhere, he jumped up and bit him.”

*Note, I say “him” because my experience shows me that generally dog bites tend to happen more on men than women*

I almost never find a dog bite to be “that” cut and dry. All dogs have what we refer to as a “bite threshold;” meaning, under what circumstances does it take for me to react with a bite. If you think about it, many people have this same “fight or argue threshold.” You do, I do, and every one of your friends and family have this. Think about this for a minute to help you better understand what I mean.

Do you have a friend who gets upset far quicker than you? Do you have a friend or family member that the smallest thing can set them off and they are ready to fight or punch someone? Do you have a friend or family member who can take A LOT of abuse (physical or mental) and they still keep their composure and remain calm?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you now see that EVERYONE has a different amount of “pressure” before they react in a certain situation, some it takes very little and some it takes an enormous amount. Also, you see that people react DIFFERENTLY once this threshold is met. Welcome to your “threshold.”

Now that you understand the point I am trying to make (if you did not initially), dogs have this same threshold for reacting and HOW they react, just like with people.

So, you see the chart I illustrated below? This is to give you an example of how a dog doesn’t normally “just bite” someone. Generally, when we actually break down the event, the dog’s background or temperament, and the sequence of events that led up the bite, we can see what actually occurred.

Again, to jump back to the initial call or email that, “I had a friend come over, out of nowhere, he jumped up a bit my friend.”

After discussing their dog with them, we are able to see what “actually happened.” So, here is an example conversation below:

“Well, Rex can sometimes be shy/sketchy around new people. He also has growled at us on rare occasion if we push him off the couch or try to take his ball. He has also growled at the vet when they clip his toenails or mess with his paws. However, Rex has never bit anyone! I cannot believe he would do this!”

Then, I begin to break down the series of events that took place which led up to the friend being bit.

“Rex was laying on the couch, had his ball between his paws, and was just laying their playing with this ball and Mark (stranger) walked in, sat down on couch beside of Rex, and started petting him. Then, he went to move Rex’s paw so he could throw the ball for him and that’s when Rex just bit him out of nowhere.”

Do you all see what just happened? It was a bunch of minor events that normally gets a reaction out of Rex; however, all of these events came together in one scenario in order to create “the perfect storm.”

He didn’t like when the stranger came in (gave him anxiety), then he sat down next to him on the couch (which owner acknowledged he can be territorial), then he moved his feet WHILE Rex had a ball (again, both things the owner knew Rex doesn’t like).

Again, this is a very generic scenario; however, this is generally what dog bites break down to. For the severity of the reaction and the bite, I would recommend reading my blog on “How Fixable Is Your Dog’s People Aggression?”

So, it is YOUR responsibility as a responsible pet owner to find out what (if any) your dogs triggers are, get them addressed, and ensure that they never come together to create “the perfect storm.”

If you need help, contact us at:


-Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Northern Virginia Dog Bite

How Can I Stop Food Aggression In My Dog?

We deal with food aggressive dogs at our training facility in Northern Virginia, a lot. So, many of you are probably wondering, “How can I stop food aggression with my dog?”

Click here to see a before/after video of a food aggressive Pit Bull we just recently trained at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia.

Food aggression in dogs can be caused by numerous things, a couple of the main things are poor pack leadership and the dog having to be food aggressive prior (common with shelter or hoarder dogs). Where the dogs “had” to fight over food.

There are a lot of steps you can start taking in order to begin fixing your dog’s food aggression problems. First, I would like to point out the 5-step approach we use that I wrote about in my blog on dog and people aggression .

When working with food aggressive dogs at our training facility in Northern Virginia, I always preach that we do a 5-part approach to this: Obedience, Confidence Building , Positive Association with People, Pack Leadership, and Proper Correction for the Negative Behavior. I have found that this is a fundamental approach that is imperative to start working a dog towards rehabilitation, and all 5 components are necessary to be successful.

First, we focus on obedience and confidence building, as I always say, “You cannot fix any issue in a dog that doesn’t listen to you.” If you cannot get control over your dog, it’s pretty much impossible to fix any issue that your dog is having. Also, obedience naturally bolsters pack leadership for you

Second, start by establishing yourself as the pack leader. There are many things you can do which I cover in the Pack Leadership blog in order to help establish this. Remember, if you watch pack animals such as Lions, when you see them eating a Gazelle the alpha males will always scare off the lower members of the pack so they can eat. This is essentially what your dog is doing to you, generally because he doesn’t see you as the alpha.

Third, start putting his food on the floor or a mat, this way it prevents your food aggressive dog from having a specific object to guard and try to protect. Just put a little bit of food down (about 7-8 pieces at a time), once he eats that, he will look up at you, put a little bit more down. Repeat this until his normal feeding is complete. This is just another small step to show him that YOU control his food.

Fourth, start having your dog sit or down while you are pouring his or her food (this is why control over your dog is important), once you finish putting his food on the floor or a mat, wait a minute or so and then release him to eat. This is a small drill that teaches your food aggressive dog that YOU are the one that controls when he eats.

Fifth, positive association with you approaching his food. While your dog is eating (on the mat or floor) approach his bowl from about 3-4 feet away (depending on your dog’s tolerance level with his food aggression) and toss a couple pieces of hot dogs (or anything your dog finds as a high-valued reward) near him. As he gets comfortable, slowly move in closer and toss the hot dogs into his food. Progress this until you can stand right next to him and put the hot dogs in his food. What this drill does is it teaches him to associate you approaching his bowl with someone positive! In your food aggressive dog’s mind, they learn, “Anytime this person gets close to me or my bowl, it means something good for me.”

Sixth, PROPER correction for the negative behavior. Again, this is where your dog obedience program comes in, find a qualified trainer to show you how to properly correct this behavior (properly being the key word). There has to be a correction when the dog displays the negative behavior (growling, snarling, snapping, etc). Just like there would be a correction if a lower pack member tried to correct the alpha male of the lion pride. Letting your dog know that there is a consequence for displaying the food aggressive behavior, and letting your dog know there is a reward for not displaying the behavior.

In summary, if you follow these 6-steps, you should be able to drastically help your food aggressive dog and/or completely stop the food aggression in your dog.


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