Food Fight

king charles

Question:

I have a 3 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He has been getting aggressive towards my other two dogs about his food. He won’t let the 2 year old near it and attacks him, causing a fight. We have punished him. I don’t know how to stop it besides keeping them apart. They all get along except when it comes to food. My 2 year old pup is getting scared of him now.

Dr. Nichol:

Food competition is normal. Dogs have successfully scratched out their existence for millennia in the unforgiving wilds partly because they are genetically programmed for a life of scarcity. Food is essential. Our pets are a domesticated species but they retain their survival skills.

Your King Charles, like most dogs, believes that a famine will start in about 20 minutes. Never mind that dog food is abundant at your house. This boy is protecting his future when he threatens your other dogs. I must be part dog. If we have lunch together and you try eating from my plate you should be scared.

Forget about punishing. Focus on the risks. The threats and epithets your King Charles hurls at your other dogs can extend beyond food to other contexts. They could start to squabble over favored resting areas, access to furniture, or proximity to you. Dog fights are dangerous.

Feed your dogs at the same time but in separate rooms. When they are together there should never be food of any kind or anything remotely resembling food. Store their bowls out of sight. Don’t eat or even watch the Food Channel in their company. Keep it simple.

At 12 noon on Thursday, May 9 I’ll speak at the K9 Resort, 4740 Pan American Frwy NE. Admission is free.

For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (drjeffnichol.com). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Email pet behavior or physical questions to drjeffnichol@drjeffnichol.com or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.

The post Food Fight first appeared on Dr. Jeff Nichol – Residency Trained in Dog and Cat Behavior.