View Full Version : Fighting!!

25th March 2008, 07:47 PM
I normally "police" dinner times as Rio who is our youngest male is food aggressive towards Ashton!
Ashton has never tried to take his food but if he walks near Rio whilst he is eating he just constantly growls at him, Ashton is normally very very tolerant about this and just walks away but a couple of times now he has snapped at Rio when he has growled but tonight was something different, I stepped out of the room and heard Rio growling so I went back in but Ashton snapped and they were actually fighting:eek::mad:

Nothing happened as we prevented anything from happening but Ashton really meant it and it was quite frightening!

I know that this was my fault for stepping out and they must be kept seperate at meal times and treat times but what can I do to correct this behaviour?
Why would Rio be so food aggressive? He was like it from the moment we bought him home as a puppy!
How can I stop him being like this? He is happy for us to take food from him etc just not Ashton??

25th March 2008, 09:24 PM
I have 2 boys too, and my younger one is more food aggressive than Miles...We have trained them to stay in their separate areas while eating, but if Miles gets too close while Truman is eating then Truman will growl at him. We never let them linger around while the slower eater is finishing his meal. I have noticed that they're much more protective of their food when they're eating their raw meat since it can take them awhile to finish their meal. We just watch them while they eat and don't let them get too close to each other...they're pretty good about leaving each other alone - they'll get scolded by us if we ever catch them trying to steal food from each other...not sure if that helped at all, but good luck, you're not the only one with this problem! :rolleyes:

25th March 2008, 09:31 PM
Thanks, its nice to know that I am not the only one who suffers with this!;)

Its so horrible and frustrating as it feels silly having to watch them every meal or treat time:rolleyes:

25th March 2008, 11:18 PM
You don't correct it, but really, you do need to be feeding them *in crates* or otherwise physically separating them -- watching over them isn't enough. Once dogs have shown ANY inclination to fight over food it iss IMHO far too risky to ever rely on just watching them. This is very common behaviour between dogs and it is better to prevent the situation happening in the first place by feeding in crates. Many people with more than one dog use this approach. Some dogs will deliberately bait the other -- it is like kids fighting. If mine fight they get a 10 minute time out in separate rooms and I take away what they are fighting over. But you can't not feed them. From now on I'd recommend all meals and all chew treats only be given in crates as you know they are willing to fight. :thmbsup: It is just a normal part of managing multiple dog households and the responsible approach when you know you certain items or activities cause friction. Don't underestimate how bad a fight can get -- I know someone whose dog slit open the neck of one of her smaller dogs and the dog barely survived. Normally these two dogs were friends.

25th March 2008, 11:29 PM
Good article:

Feeding Multiple Dogs at the Same Time

Canine Behavior Series
Keeping dogs together who fight is miserable for them as well as for their human family members. It also gets expensive in medical costs, both veterinary and human ones. A dog who has had to defend food from another animal may start defending it from humans, resulting in dog bites to family members, children in particular.

Dogs who would never start fighting with each other for any other reason will often start over food. Too often, the fighting among the dogs extends to other situations if the humans don’t act quickly enough.

The best way to handle this—the safest all the way around—is to establish a system in your home of feeding each dog in a noncompetitive manner right from the start. The ideal family dog doesn’t even have reason to think about the possibility of anyone taking that food away.

Chances are you don’t know about every eating experience your dog has had. Even a dog you adopted as a puppy may have been pushed around excessively by other pups in the litter after the pups started on solid food. Genetics also influence how easily a dog will become defensive of food. Obviously as a survival instinct, winning the fight and eating the food would determine which dog stays alive and thrives and which one starves, in situations where there is not enough food to go around.

Sometimes when dogs do okay eating together, it’s because there is no limit to the food. But what if the dog is really hungry, the other dog gets the food first, and it’s an hour before you notice and refill the dish? For some dogs, that would be enough of an experience to make it seem the resource of food is limited.

Competing with other dogs for food will cause some dogs to overeat. It will cause others to swallow food—and chew toys, which to a dog are also food—without chewing. The dog may throw up food eaten too quickly, or may swallow chunks of things that are too big to pass through. Veterinary expenses follow.

If you have one dog and have been just putting food into the dog’s dish as you notice it being empty, adding another dog means it’s time to change the feeding routine. By doing this, you ensure that each dog gets the correct amount and type of food, including medications mixed with the food if needed. And you reduce the risks of all the problems mentioned.

If you are currently feeding your dogs together, changing to separate feeding is important, whether you’ve already had problems or not. Even if you’ve fed your dogs together for years, tomorrow may be the day it becomes a problem. Once that happens, your chances of one or more dogs developing dangerous behavior that will be difficult or impossible to reverse begin to climb.

Separation Options

To set up a system for feeding your multiple dogs, determine what it will take to get each dog safely into a separate spot, keep them safely undisturbed there to eat, and release them safely when finished so you won’t have a fight start then. Eventually it may become safe to let them check each other’s dishes when all are emptied, but it’s best not to start out that way. You can avoid this problem by removing each dog’s dish out of reach of all the dogs before you give them access to each other’s feeding areas.

Don’t let the dogs charge out like racehorses leaving their starting gates! Too much excitement at this point in the routine can trigger a fight. Heavy exercise after a big meal is suspected as a risk factor for often fatal (and expensive) gastric torsion.

In fact, being agitated, especially at mealtime, is thought to increase a dog’s risk of gastric torsion. So when your dogs are eating and after they have eaten, they should relax. Make that a goal of your feeding system. You can see that this is yet another reason to take competition out of the feeding process.

If you have crates, you can feed the dogs in those. You don’t have to feed all the dogs in crates. If you can get the dogs safely separated, keep them that way until they have finished eating, and then release and reunite them safely and calmly; quite a variety of systems can work. But be realistic about their level of training as well as the ability of the person who is supervising the dogs.

Separate rooms with closed doors between the dogs can work. If dog A is in the bathroom and dog B is in the kitchen, with either a closed door or a safety gate to keep each dog in the right room until released, here’s how you could proceed:

1. Give both dogs a chance to eliminate. Many dogs cannot eat without first doing this and it takes emotional pressure off them, too.

2. Put dog A in the bathroom and confine.

3. Prepare the dog dishes.

4. Confine dog B in the kitchen. If you have more than two dogs, handle each of the others the same way.

5. Take dog A’s food dish in and give to the dog.

6. Deliver dog B’s food dish.

7. Monitor to see when both dogs are finished, or when the designated time has passed. Dogs will learn to eat the food when offered if you limit the time it’s available. In the case of a picky eater, ask your veterinarian to help you decide what a good time limit is: it’s probably between 10 and 20 minutes.

8. The release is easiest to do safely if you have a fenced yard. Open the back door. You can increase comfort in the house by having some airflow protection at the back door, such as a drape you can pull across the open doorway. A doggie door you can latch and unlatch works, too.

9. Which dog to release first depends partly on the floor plan of your home. If the dogs go through the kitchen to get out the door, you’ll need to release dog B first, the one who ate in the kitchen. But you don’t want dog B to follow you and fight with dog A over dog A’s dish! So, go pick up dog A’s dish and put it out of the dogs’ reach before you release either dog. Pick up dog B’s dish, too, and open the back door so dog B can go outside. Then go open the bathroom door and escort dog A outside.


Keep in mind that after feeding in a crate, a dog needs to exit that crate calmly—and in fact, it is important to teach dogs to always exit the crate calmly. For the purpose of this discussion, a calm exit reduces the risks of fighting and of gastric torsion, but it has a lot of other benefits, too.

Feeding in the crate is almost always a good fallback position. It’s hard to go wrong doing this. It helps shape a dog’s thinking that it is not a place for elimination. But if you do feed your dog in a crate, also feed in other places occasionally.

In fact, do that no matter where you routinely feed a dog. Otherwise some dogs will become so accustomed to their usual place that they will refuse food anyplace else. This can put the dog’s health at risk when traveling, hospitalized, or being cared for by someone else.


Handling your multiple dogs correctly at feeding time may save them from having to be permanently separated and one or more of them re-homed. That is a common outcome of fights that start over food and spill over into other issues.

As so often happens in training and behavior modification work with dogs, what could have been a weakness can be turned into a great strength. Every time you feed your dogs can renew their good structure as a group. It doesn’t take any extra effort—in fact, it’s easier. Handling feeding time this way makes it more relaxed and enjoyable for every member of the family, including the canine ones.


Cathy T
26th March 2008, 02:35 AM
I had this exact problem several months ago with my two. I know that Shelby would "eyeball" Jake and he would attack her in return. I fed them in crates until we could get my trainer over to watch what was happening and help me figure out a way to curb this annoying behavior. Our solution is not a universal solution. I start with both of them sitting on the couch waiting and watching me while I fix their food. They aren't allowed to look at each other but have to "watch me". They must remain in a "stay" on the couch until I release them put their food down. I don't have any problems when they are eating. They both inhale their food in about 60 seconds and Shelby has learned to immediately walk away from the kitchen while Jake finishes his food. I stand between them while they are eating just in case. As I said...this is definitely not a universal solution or anything I'd suggest. This is what my trainer worked out as our solution. And so far...so good.

26th March 2008, 06:12 AM
I have to feed mine in seperate rooms, it only takes a small lapse in my concentration and its ON if they are together, even when I'm supervising. When they were puppies they were all fed together from the one dish and there were 5 pups in the litter so you pretty much had to fight for your place and your food. I think this goes someway as to how or why this starts apart from just normal animal instinct stuff.

26th March 2008, 08:14 AM
Its sad but I think you are right I will need to feed them in crates!

It is like having dogs with split personalities as they normally adore each other!:rolleyes:

Rio was a little porker when we got him and apparently the whole litter was very greedy so maybe that is where it came from where as Ashton was the only one in his litter!:)

26th March 2008, 08:51 AM
I have a couple of my dogs who are fed seperately from the others too, on the whole they get along but I do have an oldie who eats slowly so she is fed on her own to stop the others helping her to finish off! :p

26th March 2008, 09:06 AM
I would never feed 2 dogs at the same time,even if they did get along.I just think its an accident waiting to happen.I really think you should split them allways,even be careful when handing treats out.

26th March 2008, 01:23 PM
We were told that Pippin was a little on the greedy side when we got him from the breeder at 7 weeks...He tends to stare at Gus when he is finished and then sometimes tries to charge at him so Gus reacts and a fight starts...If it is over a toy they get time outside( whoever started it) and the toy is taken away. As regards feeding they are fed seperatley divided by a pen.I now have to divide them 3 ways as I have 3 dogs! Yes it is a nuisance but if I want more than one dog thats the way it has to be..I even now seperate giving treats, that may take a while to eat , as it is not easy to stand between 3 dogs when they are eating..

By the way Pippin looks up to Gus and follows him everywhere and sleeps in the same bed cuddled up to him..but when it comes to food Pippin is my little mad man, when he growls at Gus he sounds like something from the exorcist!

26th March 2008, 01:52 PM
That's interesting that Ashton was the only one in his litter and Rio, who had siblings, is more food aggressive towards Ashton. I have the exact situation! Miles was the only surviving puppy (there was one other puppy who died when she was only a few weeks old) in his litter, and it's Truman, who had 3 sisters, is more protective of his food...his breeder also said his sisters picked on him - poor little guy! :( That's very interesting...:rolleyes:

26th March 2008, 02:06 PM
My mum had 2 Alsations,fine toghether and best of friends but when there was food and even when my mum dished up the dinners a massive fight would start.Once my brother and i where caught up in it,it was the worst thing and the thing i remember the most about the dogs.Lucky we werent harmed.Another time they had a punch up on the landing over a stone,i did get caught in that one as was bitten on the leg.

27th March 2008, 03:06 AM
I have the same situation with a single survivor (Holly, who takes her time eating) and a litter pup (Amber - food inhaler extraordinaire). I feed them both in the kitchen. Holly always gets her first but she has sit and wait quietly for me to put it down. While she starts eating, I will bring Amber to the opposite end of the kitchen, tell her to sit, and put her bowl down. Amber's a bowl licker, so the amount of time she takes to finish her larger portion AND lick the bowl equates to Holly's more leisurely demolition of the smaller portion.
Only problem is when they're given kibble and Holly decides to be neurotic about the handful of nuts on the bottom of the bowl. She barks at it. And barks... and barks... and meanwhile Amber is sitting there quietly, eyeing the remaining kibble longingly!

27th March 2008, 12:17 PM
Our 3 boys are fed together when they have wings or necks for dinner.

I make them all wait while I put their food down, and they are not allowed to start til I let them.
Their plates are about 2 feet apart.

Guinness usually finishes first, if he wanders off from his plate he jets a 2 fingered (light) jab. And will sit next to his empty plate in the hope that the other 2 will leave some and I let him have a bit more.

When we have a mush/mince day - then the plates are all touching, in a triangle. All heads go in together and are often touching.

We rarely have any problems.

Thanks in part go to Cesar the Dog Whisperer; and us for putting some of it into practice.

Cavalli CKCS
27th March 2008, 01:44 PM
Erm....Cavaliers should not fight at all!

27th March 2008, 03:04 PM
My Cavaliers have fought in the past.

I think any dogs are capable of fighting imho.

We have to be cautious as we have a pack of 6 Cavs, but we have a set routine and everyone gets fed in their own spot every day. We know (as far as it is possible to know) where flashpoints would arise ie: Cailean and Bradley, Jemima and Marlon so keep those pairs separated.

We have 3 in the kitchen: Marlon crated
Cailean in his corner
Jemima in her corner

3 in the living room: Bradley, Kevin and Cazy in different parts of the room

The 'living room crew' are good together and have never fought (yet!). These 3 would all share leftovers from the same plate and often do.

I agree it is a good idea to keep them separated, as fights are traumatic and expensive ;), but I wouldn't be too horrified - I'm sure lots of us have witnessed arguments over food.

27th March 2008, 03:17 PM
Alfs has got cross a couple of times with other dogs and has shown teeth.It has allways been over chews.

27th March 2008, 05:21 PM
Cavalli CKCSErm....Cavaliers should not fight at all!

They didn't have time to get into a full blown fight so I can't say for sure that would have happened but if you know dogs you will know that ANY dog of ANY breed has the potential to fight another dog.

(I say potential in a bad way!)

Carrie - Yes thats really odd, perhaps the litter has alot more to do with it than we think!!

27th March 2008, 08:32 PM
Erm....Cavaliers should not fight at all!

I think any dogs can fight and cavaliers as much as we like to think are near enough to human:) are at the end of the day..dogs.

28th March 2008, 04:07 AM
I always feed my guys separately. Sam (the Boxer) has his out on the veranda and Sonny & Beau have theirs inside the house, but separate from each other by an x-pen. Even for dogs that are not food aggressive, it is best to feed them separately because they are then more relaxed and will not wolf their food down in fear that it will be snached away from them by another.