Snatching Food

Last updated: March 17, 2016

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Animal Training and Behaviour Centre

Food snatching can have its origins in a number of causes including hunger, competition, anxiety and attention seeking. If you have a problem with a cat or dog snatching food then it is important to follow the guidelines below.

  1. Make sure the animal is not hungry. Please refer to our feeding guidelines.
  2. Make sure there is no opportunity for the animal to snatch food, from other animals or from people. Keep the cat or dog away from areas where you eat or prepare food until the problem has been resolved.
  3. Make sure all animals in the household can eat in a quiet, relaxed environment, without fear of someone else taking their food. If there are other animals in the house, then this may mean feeding each animal in a separate place, so that each can be alone and relaxed when eating. If you only have one feeding place, then feed one animal at a time, making sure the others are securely away in another area at the time.
  4. You can teach an animal to feed gently and quietly by placing the food in a closed hand. With the food in your fist it is physically difficult for you animal to bite. Simply teach the animal to be gentle and open your hand for a reward.
  5. Reward the cat or dog for calm, appropriate feeding behaviours.
  6. As the behaviour improves, and the animal becomes more relaxed about feeding, then you can try feeding them closer together. If the snatching begins again, then continue to feed separately.
  7. If food snatching does occur, ignore it if possible. Do not reward it with attention. Go back through steps one to five to stop the behaviour.

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RSPCA animal training courses are available across Australia:

  • Queensland: call the RSPCA Animal Training & Behaviour Centre for further information in regard to courses available on (07) 3426 9928.
  • Victoria: for any information on training and behaviour in Victoria call Amanda Murcutt on 92242521.
  • West Australia: call the RSPCA PawsCentral Adoption Centre for further information about courses available near you on (08) 9209-9309 or visit the RSPCA WA website.
  • NSW: Information is available on the RSPCA NSW website.
  • Australian Capital Territory: Information is available on the RSPCA ACT website.
  • South Australia: Contact information is available on the RSPCA SA website.
  • Northern Territory: Contact information is available on the RSPCA Darwin website.
  • Tasmania: Training is available at the Hobart Animal Care Centre in Mornington. Go to the RSPCA Tasmania website for further information.

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