Despite being domesticated pets, dogs still retain some of their natural instincts. In fact, they can be fiercely competitive, especially when it comes to food, toys, and bones. There are a variety of reasons why dogs fight over food, so keep reading to learn more about the causes and solutions to this problem. In this article, I’ll discuss two of the most common causes of food aggression: Early possession aggression and Preference gradient.

Resource guarding

One common question you may have is why dogs fight over food. The reason for this behavior is not always obvious. Although resource guarding is perfectly acceptable in canine society, it is frowned upon in human society. You may even be guilty of resource guarding yourself. While you may ignore the dog’s cries for food, your actions are likely to cause your pet to become aggressive in defending his resources.

Regardless of the cause, resource guarding can result in your dog biting you, especially if the food is in a high-valued place. This behavior is common and often accompanied by attacks by your pet. In order to prevent your dog from biting you, try to avoid stressful situations where your dog feels threatened or intimidated. By taking things slow, you can eventually teach your dog to respect your space and your belongings.

Preference gradient

Dogs often fight over food because the more dominant dog perceives that its chances are better than the more subordinate dog’s. When the more dominant dog succeeds, the aggressive dog often gives up and leaves. In some households, aggressive displays are nonexistent or very dramatic, which may support a hierarchy. Depending on the dog’s age, health, and previous experience, the apparent winner of a confrontation can shift.

Historically, canine-dog interactions were interpreted in terms of dominance hierarchy, with the higher-ranking dog gaining access to resources. However, current interpretations of canine behavior challenge these beliefs and question the motivations of dog-dog interactions. In contrast to human hierarchy, dogs show a preference gradient for resources, indicating a variable desire to acquire and retain resources. In addition, past confrontations predict a dog’s ability to obtain and retain a particular resource, including food. These signals are conveyed through body postures and actions, which are used to signal the relative importance of the resource.

Variable desire for certain resources

During feeding, dogs and wolves show variation in their desire for certain resources. While wolves and dogs are predicted to feed together when they are close in rank, it is not clear how this affects feeding behavior in dogs. The most dominant dog was found to monopolize the source of food in the study. This suggests that rank may not have a strong effect on proximity to the carcass.

Early possession aggression

There are a few things you can do to prevent your dog from fighting over food. If your dog is displaying early possession aggression, it may be because he has seen other dogs as competition. When your dog growsls and growls, be sure to handle him gently and firmly. It may be tempting to force your dog to give up his possessions, but that will only result in an injury. Instead, teach your dog to respect your boundaries by offering a more desirable reward instead of his food.

Possession aggression in dogs develops in the whelping box, where young puppies learn how to share their environment with their littermates. This behavior often manifests itself as aggression when it matures. If this behavior is ignored or untreated, it can escalate to a serious problem. Dogs may growl over their food bowls or bite to protect their food. Puppy possession aggression can be triggered by a novel object, such as a garbage can tissue, a toy, a piece of rawhide, or even a human food.


Dogs are natural aggression machines, so it’s not surprising that they will fight over food. But when these dog fights get out of hand, they’ll bite you. There are ways to stop them, however. Patience is the key! If you’d like to keep your dog from fighting over food, you’ll need to understand what’s causing the fights. Here’s a look at what causes these conflicts.

First, consider the age of your dogs. If one is younger than the other, it may challenge the older one. This behavior can persist if the older one won’t relinquish its resources. The older dog might not want the fights to end, and the younger one may feel left out. Sometimes the owners may want to intervene to break up the fighting, but the owner might not want to make any changes.


Many animals fight for food with incredible persistence. African wild dogs, for example, follow their prey for miles at a time at very low speeds. They can only pursue their prey at night. In colder climates, they can also pursue their prey during the day. This ability to stay ahead of prey may explain the persistence of dogs fighting over food. And it may be why humans have evolved to become so adept at hunting.

When two dogs compete for the same resource, the two most likely to fight are those that are equally confident but have different needs. In some instances, the more confident dog may consider its chances to be high against a less bold opponent and will fight until the bolder dog gets its way. If the fight persists, the owner’s intentions may be to discourage the fight by intervening. But the dog’s behavior is difficult to change unless you intervene and put the dog in a position to win.