Does raw meat make dogs aggressive?

If your dog is showing aggression, do not hesitate to hire a respected trainer in your area for help. Every situation is unique.

Will feeding your dog a raw diet make him aggressive?

Well, it’s not that simple.

Dogs that have an existing problem with resource guarding before switching to a raw diet might show an increase in resource guarding when given raw meat.

This is because the dog sees the raw meat as more valuable than dry food. He may be more likely to show aggression in order to prevent a person or animal from taking this highly valued food.

[yikes-mailchimp form=”9″]

The raw food itself is not the problem. The problem is food aggression or resource guarding in general. The raw food just might make the problem more obvious, similar to a dog that growls when you try to take away a rawhide or bone. It’s fairly common, but not something we want to encourage.

But will feeding your dog raw meat make him “bloodthirsty” or more aggressive in general? No, of course not. This is a just another myth on the Internets.

A dog’s diet is not going to make him “bloodthirsty” or more aggressive to other animals or humans.

Raw dog food and resource guarding

A raw dog food diet will not turn a normal dog into an aggressive dog. Duh!

However, dogs that have an existing problem with resource guarding before switching to a raw diet might show an increase in resource guarding when given raw meat.

This is because the dog sees the raw meat as more valuable than dry food. He may be more likely to show aggression in order to prevent a person or animal from taking this highly valued food.

The raw food itself is not the problem. The problem is food aggression or resource guarding in general. The raw food just might make the problem more obvious.

I’ll use my cat to show you what I mean. Yes, my cat shows food aggression.

Cat is obsessed with food

My cat Beamer is obsessed with all food, and that’s an understatement. (2019 update: Beamer has passed away.)

He’s a cat who will sprint across the kitchen if I drop, say, a frozen green bean. Beamer is obsessed with all food – raw potatoes, bananas, crumbs, paper towels that touched food – you name it.

This cat is nuts, and we can’t leave any food out. We actually have to confine him when we’re not home.

Now, if I give Beamer some dry cat food and try to take it back, he’ll frantically gulp it down.

But if I give my cat raw food such as a turkey neck and then try to take it away, he spits, growls, hisses and tries to bite. He becomes like a wild animal and will fight anyone off to defend his food.

My cat Beamer is an extreme example, but this type of food aggression is fairly common with dogs. You give a dog some dry food and he might growl a bit if you take it away.

But give him a bone or some raw meat and try to take it and he becomes very aggressive. I’m not saying this behavior is acceptable. I’m saying it’s fairly common.

What should I do if my dog is aggressive around raw food?

If your dog is aggressive around raw food, I’m guessing he’s also fairly aggressive around other things such as dry dog food, rawhides, treats and maybe even toys. It’s not the raw food diet for dogs that’s causing the problem. But the raw food might be making the problem more obvious.

Here are some tips for how to deal with a dog that is showing food aggression:

1. Hire a trainer.

If you’re not sure how to handle your dog’s aggression, don’t hesitate to hire a trainer who can come observe your dog and offer suggestions. I don’t want you or anyone else to get hurt. Even small dogs (or cats!) are scary when they show aggression.

2. Teach your dog solid obedience skills.

This is not about dominance. It is about being a respected leader to your dog. A dog that responds to sit, come and stay 99 percent of the time is a dog that has learned self-control.

This is a dog that respects his owner, and this is a dog that is less likely to show aggression. If your dog is showing possessive aggression of anything – toys, beds, people, food – one of the first things you should do is work on the dog’s overall obedience skills.

*Get our three FREE raw dog food recipes now! Click Here

3. Make your dog earn everything.

This applies to most dogs, but especially dominant or aggressive dogs. You want to make the dog earn everything of value – treats, attention, walks, food. For example, before giving your dog his food, make him lie down and stay quietly for five minutes.

Before heading out for a walk, make sure your dog sits on command and waits quietly.

4. Teach your dog a drop command.

All dogs should know the commands for “drop” and “leave it.” Ideally, you should be able to tell your dog to drop a raw bone and he should obey. You probably won’t be able to get to this point overnight, but it should be your goal. To teach a dog to drop, you’ll need to start with lesser-valued items in exchange for higher-valued items.

For example, tell your dog to drop a tennis ball in exchange for some jerky treats. Then progress to more challenging objects. Here is my post on how to teach a dog the drop command.

Even once your dog “knows” the command pretty well, you should still practice. My dog responds very well to the drop command, and he’s never shown aggression to humans over food.

However, every couple of days I still ask him to “drop” his raw meat while he’s eating. Then I instantly reward him with either some raw liver or I give him the original food right back.

5. Fix the food-aggression problem before switching to a raw diet.

If your dog shows aggression around dry food, he’s definitely going to show aggression around raw food. Try lessening this problem before you switch your possessive dog to a raw diet. Or, at the very least, feed your dog his raw food in his crate for now.

Dog eats whole raw chicken

6. If you have multiple dogs, feed them in their crates.

If your dogs show any type of food aggression to each other, it’s best to feed them in their crates. Yes, I know this isn’t exactly solving the problem, but it’s an easy way to keep everyone safe. 

My cat Beamer has an issue with food aggression. He will try to take the food from my other pets, so he has to eat in his cat carrier.

7. Hold the raw food while your dog eats it.

This will not work for all dogs. Some will be too aggressive, so don’t try this method if you are unsure.

Simply hold the meat while your dog eats. If he tries to gulp it down or take it, you calmly say “no” and pull the food away. If he eats it nicely, he gets to keep eating while you hold it.

You can also work on the “drop” and “leave it” commands in this way, making sure to reward with something even better like pieces of chicken liver. As long as you are holding the meat, your dog won’t be able to take it and start guarding it. Make sure to reward generously for good behavior.

Raw dog food and prey drive

A final issue I want to mention is a dog’s existing prey drive.

If your dog already has a strong prey drive and tries to chase or kill cats, then feeding him raw food (especially the whole prey model) might highlight this problem.

Again, it’s not the raw food diet for dogs that’s causing the problem. It’s a failure to manage an existing problem. Some dogs do try to chase and kill small animals, but this is not caused by the dog’s diet.

What suggestions do you have for dealing with a dog’s food aggression?

*Get our three FREE raw dog food recipes now! Click Here

5 thoughts on “Does raw meat make dogs aggressive?”

  1. My kitty, Gina, s crazy for people food too. As strict as I am with the dogs, I always let her lick my bowl/plate and give her little bits of my meals as long as she’s not too pushy. Luckily with her own food, she just grazes her dry food and never eats more than a spoonful of can food at a time. I’ve fed her raw a few times and he loves it, there is a lot of greedy meowing:)

  2. Hi Lindsay,

    First and foremost, thank you for your most informative piece on raw feeding and aggression. We rescued a female Carolina dog three years ago and another 2 1/2 years ago. They showed aggression towards each other right from the beginning; however, once domination was established life has been “relatively” aggression free. Both dogs were started on raw diet when we adopted them. They are not aggressive what-so-ever towards us with their food. I will take a chicken quarter out of their mouths when their eating with no problem. However, they just got into a fight just as I was preparing to feed them their breakfast. The main purpose for my researching your site:) Their diet consists of ground meat and steamed vegetables and/or raw chicken quarters. They become extremely aggressive with one another when those raw chicken quarters appear! This was the first time they actually got into a fight over them. It was a short fight and as always, they kiss and makeup afterwards. Any thoughts?

    Carol

  3. yes so your going to tell me if i give my dog a whole raw chicken (basicly a live damn chicken) my pit will not crave a live one?? are you kidding me, im pretty damn sure my dog would think its his food and eat any live chickens.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *