Are raw-fed dogs aggressive? Short answer: No!
Update 2020: I’ve been feeding raw dog food since 2015 and have never had any issues with food aggression in my dogs.
When I first wrote this article, I was 5 months into raw feeding and still learning about it. After all, there are a decent amount of technicalities to figure out. For example, how much to feed every day and where to buy secreting organs!
But there are also moments when people will throw some unexpected comments or questions your way. They’ll ask things like “are raw-fed dogs aggressive?” and “won’t my dogs get sick from eating raw meat?”.
It’s these questions and comments that inspired me to create this mini-series of raw dog food related myth busters. I’m linking to the remaining 4 in the Related Reading section at the end of this article.
Disclaimer: Some links in this blog post are affiliate links.
Are Raw-Fed Dogs Aggressive?
Let’s start with the question about aggression in raw-fed dogs.
I was first asked this question when I had a vacuum sales rep in my living room who did his best to convince me to buy a $3,000 vacuum wonder. Spoiler alert: Nope, I didn’t buy it.
Either way, since my pups Missy & Buzz were hanging out in the living room with us, we got to talking about their raw food.
As soon as I mentioned “raw”, he froze and asked “As in raw meat? With blood and everything? Doesn’t that make them aggressive?”
What Causes Food Aggression In Dogs?
Most dogs consider food a valuable resource, regardless of whether it’s cooked, raw, or dry food.
That said, food aggression has nothing to do with the particular food a dog is eating, but it’s the outcome of how he was raised, socialized, and trained to behave around it.
There are kibble-fed dogs who will take your hand off if you get too close to their food. Been there, experienced that in my capacity as a former professional dog walker and pet sitter!
Likewise, there are also raw-fed dogs who will growl and bite if you step into their feeding space.
One thing these dogs have in common is certainly poor training, but it’s also a lack of structure.
Dogs who don’t go on regular walks and who don’t have to follow any rules around the house will quickly make their own rules. Food aggression and possessive behavior around furniture, toys, and even their humans are usually it!
It’s Important To Teach Dogs Polite Behavior Around Food In General
I raised my first pups Missy & Buzz from 8 weeks of age and made sure to teach them polite behavior around food, especially when human hands are involved!
My First 2 Dogs Missy & Buzz
Check out the video below where my pups Missy & Buzz are calmly eating their raw dog food without showing the slightest bit of aggression. Even when I put my hand into each of their bowl and touched their raw meaty bone, a duck neck.
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My Third Pup Wally West
I adopted my third pup Wally when he was 1.5 years old and not used to eating raw dog food. Of course I went ahead and switched him from kibble to raw, and I also taught him to accept my hand on his raw food.
As you can see in the video above, Wally doesn’t growl or bite me when I touch or hold his food. On the contrary, he’s gentle and good at respecting my hand on his bone!
I also make him sit and wait for my release before he’s allowed to eat his food, just like I did with Missy & Buzz. That goes to show you can teach a dog a new behavior. You just need to be consistent and patient in your approach.
Are Raw-Fed Dogs Aggressive? Bottom Line
Neither Missy & Buzz, nor Wally are food aggressive. That’s because I taught them that feeding time only happens when they’re calm & relaxed, regardless of the type of food that’s in their bowls.
All pups learned to eat with my hand in their bowl. Consequently, they never growled at me or bit me.
Side Note: When I taught Missy & Buzz to accept my hand in their bowls, they were on a kibble & wet food diet. When we made the switch from kibble to raw via homemade dog food in early 2015, I just continued putting my hands into their bowls, and that was that.
Were you familiar with this myth? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!