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Food Aggression Golden Retriever

Hi John,

I have a concern regarding my 7 year old golden retriever/chow mix. Recently we have taken Fret from my father inlaw because he can no longer walk him. My problem is that Fret is aggressive when it comes to his food bowl. It is the only thing that seems to bother him. He is a big pushover with everything else (eg. Kids, other dogs etc). When we come near him when he is eating he will growl at us. I have been told that he has been that way all his life. I am wondering if I should be concerned with this behaviour or not. I have a 6 year old son who knows to stay away from Fret when he is eating. I just worry if this could progress into something worst. I feel I should let you know that even though he growls he has never bitten anyone or anything. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you


Dear S.R.

Thanks for the email. We have to keep in mind that I haven’t met your dog or can ask the questions I would ask in a consultation but I can say I do run into this with Golden Retrievers from time to time and have over the last decade. Before that period, in my experience, it was virtually unheard of in the breed. There are various strategies that are often recommended that can help to a certain degree but I’ve found the dog’s improved behaviour is at best contextual as in, perhaps reduced aggression around their food but not so much with a bone or a “found” treasure and this is where unaware people are often caught off guard and bites occur. When I run into this problem with other breeds, where the problem is more of a learned behaviour problem rather than something in the breeding of the dog it is much easier to resolve. As to which it might be with your dog, I couldn’t say without more information.

– John

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