Dogs Fight at Meal Time

DawnSmithOctober 11, 2013

My 2 Shelties started fighting (after being together for over 2 years) immediately after I feed them in the morning. They both inhale their food and then attack. This morning, one got a slice on his chin that was bleeding.

I would like to fix both the fast eating & the fighting. I tried separate rooms. This helped the fighting, but not the fast eating and honestly it is a pain for me to do this. I have to carry the one dog upstairs and close 2 doors before the first one finishes eating.

I would love to have 2 bowls out, one that drops food as needed and let them eat when they want. At first I think they would both over-eat, but any advice on how to make this work would be great! I was thinking this way it would resolve both issues.

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As far as the bolting, you might try one of those bowls with molded-in bumps and knobs. It's definitely gotten my little piggy to slow down.

I have a small dog who eats very quickly and a large dog who like to take his time. I used to have to stand by and warn the small dog to wait until he was done and had walked away, after which she is allowed to lick out his bowl as well. Now she spends enough time on her own meal and cleaning her own bowl, so he has time to eat in peace and I no longer have to supervise.

She's a Chihuahua mix, and the only size bowl that they had at the pet store was very large, but that turned out to be a feature too since I dab her wet food into the nooks and crannies and add a little warm water, so she has a lot of real estate to lick out and she stays occupied.

As far as afterwards, my 2 also get a big surge of energy shortly after eating, but it turns into a chase-me-chase-you rolling and tumbling kind of thing - no aggression.

You might immediately take your guys outside after eating for a strenuous walk or play session to burn off some of the rush.

I would definitely feed them in different rooms, or opposite ends of the room, or out of each other's line of sight. One or both of them might just be giving the stink eye to the other!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 10:46AM
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Aren't dogs exasperating?

Sometimes they remind of my brothers...

The only thing I can think of is a sort of addendum to ilovepoco's advice;
maybe tire their little hineys out *before* you feed them.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 11:08AM
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I think you need to start supervising when they feed, I had to do this with my dogs in the beginning. If one dog finishes and makes a move to the other dog's food, I find a very stern "ugh!" although to begin with you may have to also hold them back physically. It's basically teaching them to respect each other's food, so that they learn it's not a free for all.

the more you do this, the more they'll start responding the the vocal deterrent, and eventually when they get it, you'll be able to gradually stop with the supervising.

You need to figure out who is causing the fights, and focus on pulling them up on it right from the start, in other words use your voice to deter them from approaching the other dog's food, pull them back physically if you have to. You need to set the rules and be the guardian until they learn it. It just takes some practice and they do get it. As long as each dog has finished it's ok to let them have a lick around the other bowl, but don't allow them to take over the food while each one is eating.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 1:52PM
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I had a similar problem with one of my dogs, but after standing in the room and shaking the "glass marbles in the tin can" technique to dissuade the behavior a few times, this is no longer a problem.

The glass marbles in the tin can is the best deterrent to bad behavior I've found with my two pooches.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 2:26PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Definitely feed them in separate rooms. I have always fed my dogs separately and never had a problem. Everyone deserves peace from the worry of having their food stolen while they eat!

I have a gate between the kitchen and livingroom. One dog eats on one side of the gate; the other on the other side. Perhaps you can install a gate. (You shouldn't need to carry a dog up stairs or close two doors.) Or feed one while the other is outdoors in a fenced yard, then switch places. Whatever, once you get them used to the 'eating in separate places routine' the fighting will stop.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 3:42PM
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Stink eye? LOL I love it, never heard that expression, but bet I remember it and use it often.

They've gotten into a catch-22. Since they seemed to have gotten on well for a couple years, there must have been an incident to start this pattern of behaviour. I suspect one of them got nosy, perhaps from finishing first and tried to steal from the other. That started the food guarding and bolting down the chow. One feeds into the other. It's a hard one to break.

I know my daughter seemed to have broken hers from doing this, but honestly I don't know how. She's worked with animals her whole life, and is a dog/horse whisperer anyway. ;-) I just had to set with my dogs when they ate and stop whichever one made a move toward the other. I only have one dog now, so it's not an issue anymore. And when there are any other animals or children around, I put his bowl up just in case so there's nothing to guard.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 8:45PM
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